Cornwall

Trip Start Apr 13, 2010
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Trip End Oct 13, 2010


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Tuesday, May 4, 2010

After the horror that was Newquay, we decided not to stay for the second night but sacrifice our $40 in favour of sleep and clean beds.  That decision being made we headed to the south coast of Cornwall to visit a place called Polperro.  This was something of a pilgrimage trip for Cait, owing to it being the setting of a rather neat computer game called the Lost Crown (nerd alert!!).  Polperro is full of tourists.  That being said, it's impossible not to be impressed by the place.  You drive down an incredibly steep hill (more about that later) and have to park at the bottom as the streets are too narrow to let cars through.  Photos would be handy here, we have them, just not the camera which hopefully will be turning up sometime soon.  It seems to be enjoying Bath more than we did and decided to stay.  First stop at Polperro was the bakery where we got to savour the delights of the true Cornish pasty.  It makes us rather embarrassed about what we call pasties in Australia.  Second stop was the Net Store (Jo and Dad (Peter that is) are possibly the only ones reading this who will appreciate how incredibly cool this was.  I'll stop being nerdy in a minute, it was just a rather neat experience!!)  We explored sea caves, climbed cliffs and generally gazed awestruck at the Cornish coastline before deciding that we should probably hit the road as it was a reasonable drive to our next hostel at Golant, near St Austell.  Golant hostel was a little larger than we had expected.  Right off the beaten track, up a very large winding driveway - it was absolutely enormous - a Georgian manor house famous for having hosted Garibaldi.  A rather nice evening was spent in an early night although Mel suffered the trauma of English houses being built for short people and headsmacked a doorway coming out of the kitchen (Cait adds that there WAS a sign on it saying 'mind your head' - Mel adds it was on the outside.... sure.......).  The next morning we headed for a brief look at Fowey (pronounced Foy - although we've been pronouncing everything we don't know how to say 'Bob'), parked the car and went for a brief hike to St Catherines, a military outpost of Henry the VIII.  Decided to drive back to Polperro and see the rest of the place that we had missed the previous day.  Here's where Cait's sense of direction really shone through.  We were aiming for the lighthouse.  My logic here is that it needed to be near the coast and reasonably high up (as we had seen it from the opposite side the previous day).  Ergo, I took a left hand turn up a hill.  The hill kept going up, and up...and up... and up some more.  By the time we realised that we may have taken a wrong turn we were so high up that it seemed a little silly to turn around and walk back down.  Fortunately we came across a rather nice family who informed us that there was a track leading to the coast road that we needed a little further up.  We think they may have underestimated 'a little further'.  About 15 minutes of straight up later, we finally reached the top, found the path and discovered we were about 100m higher than we needed to be and had to climb back down the cliff to the light house.   We did however find it in the end and celebrated with a cream tea.  Terrible shame.  With most of the locations from the Lost Crown now discovered, only the very creepy church remained.  We hunted in Polperro, Talland and Looe but to no avail.  Finally we stumbled across the very small town of Duloe whereupon we found our church.  Possibly the creepiest place we've visited so far, very quiet apart from the Ravens screeching from the rafters, cold, dusty and dating back to at least 1200.  A little way out of Duloe was Cornwall's smallest stone circle, a delightful place dating back to around 2000BC.  There is a really neat system in England of 'public footpaths'.  You find these dotted all over the back roads.  They generally go through people's properties and are filled with sheep and cows but every now and then you come across some truly wonderful archeological sites.  
  
Owing to a slight booking error on the internet, we were obliged to stay near St. Austell the next night at a hostel called Boswinger.  Boswinger hostel was a really pleasant surprise.  Another smallish place right on the coastline.  Many cups of tea (really) consumed that night and an early night had us on the road at a reasonable hour whereupon we went to Mevagissey purely in search of internet so that we could check out ghost tours for the next night.  What a lucky thing.  Mevagissey is how Polperro should have been.  A real fishing village smelling of (what a surprise) fish.  Fishermen wandering the streets having just brought in their catch and a free aquarium of local species down on the harbour itself.  Intending on only staying for 30 minutes, we spent every minute of our two hour parking with seconds to spare, visiting a museum, a secondhand bookshop (where we both wanted to live forever) and lunching on our first real fresh cod and chips with salt and vinegar.  

Next on the list was a place we had really been looking forward to, Boscastle on the north coast of Cornwall just near Tintagel.  Same set up as Polperro, i.e. village in a valley at the bottom of a really big hill but with none of the tourist sell out.  They were still there, they just left a lot earlier and the place reclaimed itself at about 5.  Our hostel was right down on the waterfront.  Those of you interested should google 'the Boscastle Flood' of 2004 to really get an idea of what the place is like.  We visited a fabulous museum and were adopted by the locals after participating in their quiz night.  We didn't do too badly for the itinerant Aussies who had no idea of 'who the first man to appear on Channel 4' was (we had to ask what was Channel 4).  We didn't come last at any rate.  In the morning we were intending to go to Tintagel castle but we listened to a local tip instead and did a coast walk between the two towns to a place called the Rocky Valley.  Steep going but well worth it with some careful searching revealing some Bronze age carvings called 'labyrinth stones'.  A couple of extra side trips later and we were on our way as we had a very big drive ahead of us to the south-west tip of Cornwall.  

Penzance was another enormous YHA.  Huge manor house, just renovated so it was more of a hotel than a hostel.  Mind you, we still had to share a room with tiny scary lady.  Enough said.  Mel was more frightened than I was, but I still cowered every time she came in the room.  Must have been her lack of height.  From Penzance we ducked up to St Ives for our first ghost tour, FINALLY!!!!!!   A two hour wander through the rather maze-like streets of St Ives listening to the stories of paranormal events that have occurred there during the past 200 years or so.  The guide was certainly determined to be as plausible as possible which did involve him repeating the fact that these things had occurred many times about 30 times or so during the tour, having said that I suspect that telling him we were ghost tour guides ourselves BEFORE starting the tour was perhaps not the kindest thing in the world.  No ghosts on the tour, but definitely an entertaining evening.  We did discover that our hostel was supposed to be haunted and our room in particular was said to have a ghost cat.  It may have been drowned out by the cacophanous noise of the heater that nearly rattled itself off the wall.  Renovated my a****. 
 
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