Cornwall is the prime location for the British family vacation. During the summer months, it is absolutely jam-packed with holiday-makers either lounging on the beach, walking on the coastal path, or trying their luck at surfing. We headed down to Cornwall the other weekend at the complete wrong time of year: at the end of November. However, I think we sort of lucked out. We ended up with nice, sunny weather, and although it was a bit chilly, it was pretty perfect for doing a strenuous hike. It also meant that it was a lot less crowded. We only passed a few people on our walk.
We headed down to St. Ives, Cornwall on Friday after work, and we came back on Sunday night, so we only had a short weekend break. It would have been really nice to have more time there, but that seems to be the case with most of our travels. Too much to see and not enough time.
Our friend Fritz, came along with us as we were staying in a two bedroom cottage. The cottage is actually owned by the brother of one of my colleagues, so it was nice to have a personal connection. It was originally a fisherman’s cottage built in the 1800s, but now it has been done up as a cosy vacation cottage. The location was ideal, right in St. Ives across from one of the best surfing beaches in the area, Porthmeor Beach. One of the bedrooms even had a sea view. Here is the link to the cottage if you are interested: http://www.aspects-holidays.co.uk/cornwall/west-cornwall/st-ives/porthmeor/p/cosy-cottage. I especially loved all the bunting decoration and the turquoise accents.
Friday evening we didn’t do much since it was already pretty late. We had dinner at The Hub, a local joint with craft beer and BBQ. The beer was good, but the BBQ was not. I thought it would be good since it said it was applewood-smoked for 12 hours, but the ribs were particularly dry and tasteless. I guess I shouldn’t get my hopes up when I see BBQ outside of Texas, or just the States for that matter.
The plan for Saturday was to do a strenuous 6 mile hike along the South West Coast Path. The South West Coast Path is the longest public footpath in England, stretching 630 miles along the coast of Cornwall and beyond. The portion we did started in St. Ives and ended in Zennor, at a renowned pub of course. We figured we would just do a one-way hike and catch the bus back to St. Ives.
The hike was actually pretty strenuous, with tons of ups and downs, slippery mud portions, and some scrambling in there as well. I’m happy to say that I never fell down, although the same can’t be said for Doug…
The scenery was absolutely gorgeous! I was stunned by how turquoise the water looked! It was as if we were in the Mediterranean! We had a nice, sunny day, so that helped as well. I even felt hot at points. At this time of the year, the days are becoming really short. The sun is setting by 3pm, and by 4pm it’s dark, so we figured we better get an early start so we wouldn’t be caught out in the dark.
One of our favorite things to do in England is to finish a nice, long walk at a cosy pub. Whether we get a meal, or just a pint, it is always so rewarding. This is something I will definitely miss when we are back in the States. There might be nice hikes and walks to do in the U.S., but there definitely won’t be a cosy pub greeting you at the end. This old pub was called The Tinners Arms and we had some amazing food that was definitely a step above your normal pub food. I had fresh bay scallops served with chorizo. We also had some liver pate and a massive crab sandwich, which were also delish. Throughout England, I am often disappointed by the lack of seafood (the country is an island, for goodness sake), but it took going to Cornwall to find some good seafood. I had some more at dinner that evening.
After our pints and our meal, around 3:05 in the afternoon, we inquired about the bus stop. Unfortunately, we were told that the bus had just come, at 3 o’clock, and wouldn’t come back until 6pm because it was off-season hours. So while we were asking the bar staff to call us a cab (no cell reception), some of the local patrons asked us where we were headed. We told them back to St. Ives and they generously offered us a lift as that’s where they were headed. It turns out the nice couple and their dog own a B&B in St. Ives called The Olive Branch, and even though we didn’t see their B&B, I would recommend it just based on how friendly the couple was!
We were very grateful for the lift back so that we could explore some of St. Ives before it got completely dark and also before everything closed up shop. St. Ives used to be a fishing village, but now it is more of an artist haven. Tons of artists live here, so there are lots of unique little galleries all over town. There is a Tate Gallery, as well as some other museums and exhibits. In addition to the galleries, the town has a lot of cute little boutique shops and independent restaurants. I really enjoyed walking down the narrow lanes and seeing the unique stores. You could tell we were in the off-season as it wasn’t that crowded and some of the stores and restaurants were closed until March. I saw tons of ice cream shops around town – all of them closed.
That evening we went to one of the oldest pub in Cornwall – The Sloop Inn, circa 1312. The place definitely smelled like it was 700 years old, so we just had a pint and decided to go elsewhere for dinner.
For dinner, we ended up at The Mermaid, and we all had delicious seafood meals that were not fried. That’s surprisingly hard to do in England, but I’m glad that Cornwall delivered.
After dinner we were all exhausted and the guys passed out while watching TV.
On Sunday we did a driving tour instead of a walking tour. We wanted to see some of the more extended parts around Cornwall, so this was best done by car.
Our first destination was Land’s End, the most westerly point on mainland England. This place was extremely disappointing. It is set up to be a tourist trap, where you have to pay for a full day of parking, but since we were in off-season, we still had to pay for the parking, but none of the tourist stuff was even open! And actually, even if it had been open, it would have still been disappointing. The views were not that incredible, and there was really nothing cool about this place. I guess we can say we’ve been there, but Land’s End is definitely worth a miss.
Up next on our driving tour was the Minack Theater, which is this dramatic outdoor theater located right on the cliffs of Cornwall with the ocean as a backdrop. It would be really cool to see a show there, but it’s the wrong time of year for that, so we settled for just touring it.
As we left the Minack Theater we saw signs for a Craft and Christmas Fair, so we decided to check it out. It turned out to be a really festive Christmas fair, with tons of craft stalls, delicious food, and live music and storytelling. We spent awhile here trying out various food samples and listening to the music. It was cool to stumble upon a local event like this.
After the Christmas Fair, it was already getting dark, and with a 5 hour drive ahead of us to return to Derby, we decided to say goodbye to Cornwall. It’s a shame that we didn’t have longer to enjoy area.