Short Break in Cornwall

Since I had a few more of my annual leave left to be used, we decided to do a short and quick tour of Cornwall (Kernow in Cornish) or at least a small part of Cornwall in the early week of December. It was a 5-day break but only three days effectively in Cornwall. We used two days to drive. We had booked a self-catering accommodation near Hayle and it was about 4+ hours drive there. We decided not to stress ourselves too much and take a break during the drive and chill out for the rest of the day. Taunton was our stop-gap but we didn’t venture to explore the city as such. We kept the focus only on Cornwall, mostly the southern part of it. The map below gives a view of the places we visited during our stay. The weather wasn’t great the first day and it was off-season so it was a risk to start with, but then we decided that we rather risk the weather than risk the crowd during peak seasons.

Bird’s eye view of the trip

On our drive to our place of stay near Hayle, the weather was great for the first leg of the journey but after our lunch stop at Taunton, the moment we entered Cornwall, it was up and down with drizzle, heavy downpour, and sunshine. Pretty much what we expected to be honest 🙂

Our host of the self-catering cottage was a very old but very charming fellow. He had such a lovely little cottage not too far from Hayle or Penzance and he had all the mod-cons that you could think of (Alexa, Netflix, fancy heating, fancy coffee maker, whatnot…). We also noted a few interior design ideas from his place. It was very homely and cosy. All we did on the arrival day was to go and get our grocery shopping from the local Sainsbury’s and then just Netflix and chill, literally I mean. Glad to be able to watch a few Bollywood movies with subtitles (for Mr M).

Our host also had various documents where he had trips planned for us and he had a lot of ideas and pamphlets about the whole place. We had planned to go to Land’s End that day but then changed it when we saw how foggy and muggy the day was. So instead we went to Falmouth. We weren’t very sure of the place, but when we arrived there we were thoroughly impressed. No wonder it is a popular tourist destination. What interested us was the huge navy ships near the Maritime Museum, all three of them. Had good and sumptuous lunch and then went for a walk around the place. The fog cleared up after a bit but then it started to rain now and then. But we had a good nose around the place, all decked up for Christmas. Lots of quirky shops and places to see. Their benches on the streets are inspired by nature and the sea. We also found a place where they sold Italian Hot Chocolate (yum!). The place is very well kitted out for tourists and the time was just about right with mostly local shoppers and hence less crowd. But the persistent heavy downpour after 2 pm or so drove us out back to the comfort of our cottage, played some scrabble and watched another Bollywood movie to end the day.

The next day looked brighter and more promising, so we ventured to St. Ives. One of the very popular tourist destination spots of Cornwall. The drive is amazing and the view from the car park next to the leisure centre is breathtaking. We thought that St. Ives wouldn’t take long as it is mostly the walk around the harbour but we ended up spending almost the whole day there. There is so much to see in the nooks and crannies of the place and the walk along the harbour to the Porthgwidden beach and the hilltop next to it with the wind pushing you over the rocky cliffs….it was AMAZING! We had so much fun just exploring the place on foot (no other option, really). If you are ever in the area, it is a good plan to have St. Ives for a whole day really. It was suggested to take the train during summer as it gets overcrowded. I am glad that we did this in winter where we could park in the city and walk everywhere. Also, the parking place near the leisure centre is high in altitude and you would have to climb down via steep steps to get to the city centre. There is also a bus that takes you to the city centre if you don’t fancy walking the steep roads or can’t. Here are a few pics of the place to give you a glimpse of what it is like. A definite must-see place.

After what seems like a whole day of sunshine and beach and gusty winds, we decided to travel to Carbis Bay to check out a Christmas market there in the Carbis Bay Hotel. It was just a 10 mins drive from St. Ives and the market was a very cosy outdoor market held near the beach. We got to hear some sea-shanties sung by local folk who take care of marine animals while enjoying some mulled wine but we couldn’t stay for their Christmas carol which was scheduled for an hour later.

On our way back to the cottage, we decided to take advantage of the good weather and have a quick photo stop at St. Michael’s Mount. The sun was going down and there was a band of clouds which were chasing us. I took advantage of the small-time gap I had to take some shots before the heavens opened on me 😀

But the clouds soon passed and we headed towards Penzance to see the city centre before the next band of rain could reach the place. For some bizarre reason, Penzance felt so deserted. There was no soul in the streets. No clue why, but we hit some quirky shops which sold some cute and unique chocolate gifts and just walked around the place, taking cover under the awnings whenever there was a drizzle.

On our way back from roaming the streets of Penzance before the start of another downpour we were headed towards the car park near the harbour when we encountered the starling murmurations. My God! It was such a wonderful sight to behold, even though it felt like they were going to attack us. I wanted to take a video but forgot to turn the video on as I was dumbstruck watching the birds do their thing. But I have a couple of photographs to remind me of that sensational event, which gives me goosebumps even now just thinking about it. We then went around to a place called Angarrack, where they were switching on the Christmas lights. Apparently, the whole place gets decked up and celebrates the festival with lights and displays almost in every household. When we went around it was not quite 5 pm so only a couple of them were on, but then we didn’t find a place to park to walk around either. So we had to abort the plan and head back. It had been a very long day and we were ready to hit the sack.

The next day was going to be our last in Cornwall, which was also a Sunday and given the predictions for the weather seemed to be much better, we decided to do the Land’s End which was one of my must-see places of Cornwall. But we decided to do a tour starting from Mousehole (pronounced not as it is written). A quaint little village where you feel the essence of a living place rather than a tourist spot. It has a nice vibe to it and not too far from Hayle bypass either. They have already turned on their harbour lights for which they are quite popular but that didn’t have any effect on the bright sunny yet windy day. After roaming around the place for a bit (and sadly witnessing an old person reverse into a building while trying to park near a church 😦 ) we headed towards Minack theatre.

Mousehole harbour

We already knew of Minack Theatre (Minack in Cornish means rocks) but a recent programme by Susan Calman (where she travelled to a few places in Cornwall) also ensured that we don’t miss the place. It was on the way from Mousehole to Land’s End. When you see these places on television, it looks grand, but when you see them live, it is much grander. It just took our breath away (the wind and the sun had a hand in it too). We also found the stone laid by Susan Calman where she carved Helen 2021 (Helen is her Caravan’s name).

The beach next to it is a hot spot for surfing and we could see so many out there trying to ride the waves. To just go down the steps to where the stage is by itself a journey. There are so many things that entice you down the path. You do have to pay to get in, but it is worth the money as you can see that it takes a lot to maintain the place and during summer I am sure it is jam-packed.

From Minack Theater we headed towards Land’s End. The one place I have been waiting to see. I would have loved to do a boat trip to Sicily Isles, but the weather wasn’t great and they do stop the boat trips in October/November when the weather takes a turn.

The wind here at this time of the year is so gusty that it takes all your strength to stay upright, especially near the cliffs. It is truly amazing how far out you are and I am glad that we made this trip to this iconic place. There are a lot of shops and experience places inside but all of them were closed (not in season). We had Cornish Cream Tea to commemorate our trip to this place at Land’s End Hotel and made sure we had “Jam First” (the Cornish style) for our scones. You could do some walks around, but given that we had a tight agenda and also the weather was not that great for walks, at least for us, we decided to move on once we had relaxed a while there in Land’s End.

We decided to take the scenic drive towards Portheras Cove (we just looked at the map and then picked a place along the coast to visit really :D) via St. Just (nothing much was happening there, the place was entirely deserted). The Google maps almost took us to Pendeen Lighthouse and then through a road to the cove which we were sure isn’t suitable to drive. So we just stopped at Pendeen Lighthouse, took some photos of not just the lighthouse but also of the Geevor tin mines visible through the spray of the water.

The crashing of the water near the coasts of Cornwall gives you a picture of the rugged nature of the coast as opposed to a calm atmosphere here in Wales (at least around Swansea and Camarthen). Again we could see some surfers a further bit away trying to tame the waves.

It was starting to get dark so we decided to head to Hayle’s Golden Sands which we had ignored so far. But by the time we went there, the tide had come in and some of the places there were closed as it was off-season, so we stopped for a quick photo and then headed back to the cottage.

We were glad to have had a glorious day of sunshine on our last day in Cornwall and to end the day with the beautiful sunset in Hayle. We headed back to Swansea the next day and to the news of the new omicron virus taking root in the UK as a whole. The weather also turned and it was raining for almost a week. We were very lucky to have had this short break and enjoy the places in Cornwall. You could see from the photographs that this wasn’t a popular time to visit Cornwall as it might rain and it was cold and windy that we had to have our gloves on almost all the time. But the places were worth it and I am glad we planned this and were able to execute it with less hassle and in a safe way too.

Also in Cornwall, no place is too far away, especially South West. By staying near Hayle we were able to cover almost all of the area. We also ensured that we got some R & R in between the travels. All in all a very good trip and a very memorable one too.

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