Recently had the chance to visit Cornwall in the UK for a three day trip with my friend. Honestly, the reason was purely because I couldn’t get my visa for Spain in time for the intended trip to Costa del Sol and Madrid, and I desperately needed some sun and sand. However, having said that, Cornwall is arguably the most beautiful part of England.
The County of Cornwall is at the south-western tip of Britain, and the tip basically stretches out into the sea. So Cornwall’s north coast faces the Atlantic while the south coast faces the English Channel.
The area, although being small, provides a varied option in terms of landscape and activities. The north coast is grander with more golden sand and surfing beaches, while the south is more sheltered beaches with coves and bays. The very tip (called Land’s End for obvious reasons) is more remote and rugged than anywhere else in England. Newquay and St.Ives’ are a couple of popular towns on the north coast and Falmouth, Truro and St.Austell on the southern coast. Since we had three days and we did not want to keep driving around everywhere, we decided to choose between the north and the south. We eventually decided to go for South Cornwall, as the beaches are less touristy and more quaint, it is quicker to reach by train from London and also has a couple of extremely popular gardens that we wanted to check out. On top of it we learnt that Daphne Du Maurier, who wrote ‘Rebecca’, one of our favourite novels, based it around the area we were intending to visit. That made the excitement two-fold.
We booked a nice hotel in a little village called Tywardreath, where the writer used to live. The train journey from London to Par (our station) was just under 5 hours, and we arrived just after noon, and the train was uh-so-slow by European standards most of its way. But nonetheless, we came across some great views on crossing from Devon into Cornwall and around Plymouth on the way.
Tywardreath is a nice little English village and means “the House on the Strand” in the old Cornish language. Our Hotel was called Elmswood house, and is owned by a sweet helpful couple, who gave us all information required on local coastal walks related to “Rebecca” and the gardens and fishing villages around. In fact, we found their hospitality very professional indeed over the span of the next two days.
We decided to set out straight away along the coast to the village of Fowey, which was hosting a Daphne Du Maurier festival as well at that time. Our main motivation was the walk itself and we were told we would be able to do it in three hours leisurely.
We reached the coast and walked on towards the beach of Polkerris. It was a typical touristy beach with the seaside pub and a café, with a unique curved breakwater. We stopped for a bit and decided to move straight on. We climbed and came down along the seaside cliffs on the designated coastal footpath. There was a lot of stinging nettle growing along the path so we had to be cautious, even then we did manage to get stung on a few occasions, it’s quite a nasty feeling though just for a short while.
Soon we came across Polridmouth Cove, where the beach and the beach house provided inspiration for Rebecca and the estate of Menabilly behind it, the setting of Manderley. We couldn’t resist getting our feet wet at this place, but that was all we managed as the water was quite cold. Still there were a few kids frolicking in the water as if it was like their bathtub.
The next stretch of the walk was the high point. We walked across some fields into a pasture that overlooked the sea from the top of a steep cliff. The blue expanse that suddenly came into focus was awe-inspiring, also really unique was the fact that it was a pasture we were standing in! There were cows grazing around, and small yellow and white wild flowers growing everywhere. So all-in-all it was a large but pretty meadow overlooking the grand blue sea. We just tried to absorb every bit of the view as we walked. Sights I remember clearly include a lighthouse on a distant cliff shrouded in mist, sail boats and the white streak in the blue water of a couple of speedboats visible, the swaying of the flowers in the grass in the gentle breeze and just the crystal blue backdrop of the sea. Yet another heaven…
Soon we came close to Fowey, and came across a broken down castle ruin and the beach at Readymoney cove. This is where we sat on the rocks by the sea, and briefly enjoyed the wine and crisps that I had lugged all the way in my backpack. We soon left as the water began to rise rapidly with the evening tide.
We reached Fowey later than we had anticipated as the walk had taken us almost four and a half hours. The village is a typical beautiful English coastal village with small lanes, pastel coloured houses and lovely lamp-posts all the way. The Du Maurier festival was on as well, and there were singers performing in the village, and the schedule also included speakers and other cultural festivities. Later, we spent some time checking out the cafes and bars before taking a cab back to our hotel, as there was no way we were walking all the way back.
The next two days in Cornwall were spent in two very special gardens, which I shall write about in my next post.