Day forty-nine!! YES!! That means we will complete our entire loop of mainland Britain’s coast today. We are both feeling super excited!
Photo of the day
Driving on Uphill Beach
From Bridgwater we made our first coastal stop of the day at Burnham-on-Sea. As we arrived the sun was just rising over the local sailing club & the mouth of the River Brue.
The sailing club walls, with the colourful Burnham-on-Sea mural detracting from the security atop!
The warm morning light gave Burnham-on-Sea’s beach a deep bronze glow, contrasting with the bright white Low Lighthouse…
…and behind that, the High Lighthouse was towering above Burnham-on-Sea’s coastal houses.
Just outside Burnham-on-Sea, the 13th century St Mary’s Church at Berrow. As we wandered around, we realised the church had flood protection…
…as we walked behind the church, we realized why. Just the low-lying Burnham and Berrow Golf Course were separating it from Berrow Beach and the Bristol Channel. In the distance you can also just make out Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station, an area that we skipped at the end of yesterday’s journey.
We tiptoed down Berrow Beach.
Groyne posts lined (fairly) neatly down the beach. There’s always one annoying one out of place 😉
A solitary fisherman was patiently fishing in rather rough and chocolaty brown looking sea. Brean Down and its Fort in the background.
Driving past many static caravans hugging the coast, we arrived at the National Trust’s Brean Down. Despite the sunshine it was very cold and windy at the top of the limestone peninsula.
Looking back inland along the ancient field system to Weston-super-Mare to the north and Berrow to the south.
On the northern side of Brean Down, after quite a detour inland, we arrived back at the coast at Uphill Beach, with Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier coming into view. The beach was busy with kite-surfers.
Look how murky and churned-up that Bristol Channel water is!
Driving on Uphill Beach. In the distance you can just about see Steep Holm island off Brean Down in the middle of the Bristol Channel.
Pastel coloured beach huts lining Royal Sands as we drove into Weston-super-Mare.
Driving alongside the seafront promenade past Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier entrance. Like so many piers, it had been badly damaged by fire in 2008. After a whopping £39-million restoration it was reopened two years later.
Meanwhile further along the seafront, the Birnbeck Pier was looking a little sorry for itself. The closed and deteriorating pier is unique in that it links the mainland to an island (Birnbeck).
There was a small cafe and information hut near the original pier entrance. The volunteers explained the several regeneration attempts of the pier since it closed in 1994. But so far sadly nothing has come to fruition.
As we continued along the coast we stopped briefly at Sand Bay, with views north to the National Trust’s Sand Point.
The rather elegant Clevedon Pier, originally opened in 1869 as a landing for ferries crossing the Severn Estuary to South Wales.
If you had mentioned Portishead to us before this trip, we would have thought you were talking about the 90’s band. Anyway, it turns out the band Portishead was named after the place, and here we are! The Battery Point Lighthouse at the end of the esplanade.
Around the corner from Battery Point, we arrived at the surprisingly large and busy Portishead Quay Marina.
Before crossing over the River Severn, we decided to drive inland to another National Trust property, Tyntesfield House and Estate. The Gibbs family had made their wealth in the guano trade (bird excrement fertiliser). The Victorian Gothic mansion looked stunning in the afternoon sun.
A couple of handsome horses were pulling a cart up the estate driveway.
As we drove back along A403 and the Severn Estuary, we struggled to see anything worth taking a picture of. The area was mainly one long industrial estate. So we continued on our way crossing over the Severn Bridge….
… and back into Wales (sorry a little blurry as we drove by).
The north side of the estuary felt far more rural than the south. After a few little dead-end detours, we finally made a stop near Uskmouth Power Station, for a short walk at the RSPB’s Newport Wetlands. Although we didn’t see much bird-life today, we did see the East Usk Lighthouse peeping over the nature reserve.
The afternoon sun briefly came out again, illuminating the wetland meadows.
As we crossed the River Usk, the unusual Newport Transporter Bridge came into view. It was completed in 1906 based on a french design. It solved the problem of crossing the fast Usk currents, enabled tall ships to pass under, and came in on budget.
The ‘ferry’ is cleverly suspended like a gondola from a high level boom, and can carry 6 cars and 120 people every 7.5 minutes. OK that’s us geeked-out for the day 🙂
Leaving Newport for Cardiff, we made our final National Trust country house stop at the Morgan family’s Tredegar House. We have definitely squeezed every penny out of our National Trust membership on this coastal road trip 🙂 The volunteers were all in costume and the house was all decked out for Christmas inside, maybe a little too much. It reminded us of our Christmas visit to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Florida a few years ago – the decorations there were so OTT!
Our final stop of the day and road-trip! Back in Cardiff Bay, we had celebratory cappuccino and a wander around the Wales Millennium Centre (AKA Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru). The impressive arts and entertainment venue that was completed in 2009.
The centre’s sweeping staircase, one day we’ll have to come back for a performance.
Yay! We did it. Back where we started 49-days ago! That’s the entire British mainland coastal road trip completed. What an amazing journey! Go on, give it a go yourself… 🙂
Almost there! One day to go until we complete the circumference of mainland Britain. Today we will continue along the north Devon coastline and into Somerset.
Photo of the day
White Lady in the Valley of Rocks near Lynton.
We made our first stop of the day at Westward Ho! Beach, still looking a little sleepy. 😉 The unusual village name came from the local author Charles Kingsley’s book Westward Ho!
We don’t normally photograph pebbles, but these were lovely pebbles…. if you can call pebbles ‘lovely’?!
Overlooking the River Toridge at Appledore. We briefly parked up on the Churchfields Slipway, but there was a parking attendant lurking around, so we moved on…
Fishing boats moored at Bideford.
The medieval Bideford Long Bridge reflecting in the calm River Torridge. The stone bridge is one of the longest of its age in the country.
More reflections, this time on the River Caen at Velator Quay near Braunton Burrows.
Skirting around the flat fields and marshlands of Braunton Great Fields. The area is Britian’s first Biosphere Reserve, designated by UNESCO.
Jarno busy with a little more sand-graffiti at Saunton Sands.
There were plenty of surfers taking the day off from work….
…and as we left and drove around the headland to Croyde Bay we had a magnificent aerial view of all the surfers at Saunton Sands.
Around the headland Croyde Bay and views to Baggy Point. A lovely crisp and fresh November morning.
Yet more surfers in Croyde Bay, looking back from Baggy Point.
Looking through some house gates at Baggy Point, this was their driveway and view – pretty cool!
After several country lane diversions which lead us on a long journey inland, we finally ended up back at the coast on the north side of Baggy Point at Woolacombe. The beautiful wide open sands of Woolacombe Beach in Morte Bay. The beach is considered one of the best in the world, often winning prizes.
Then looking north from Woolacombe Beach, past Barricane Beach and Grunta Beach to Morte Point.
The unusual double conical design of Ilfracombe’s Landmark Theatre, also know by locals as Madonna’s Bra ; -)!
Ilfracombe was full of surprises, including Damien Hirst’s Verity bronze sculpture on the harbour front.
To be honest the picture doesn’t do justice to how huge and impressive the Verity statue really was. We loved that a small town had embraced art like this.
The more expected and traditional view of Ilfracombe Harbour.
Some dodgy looking character caught in Watermouth Castle’s stocks.
Yachts below the castle in Watermouth Harbour.
Coombe Martin Beach nestled in a narrow valley. Random fact of the day – the village holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest street party!
As we continued our journey east, we drove slightly inland stopping in the tiny village of Parracombe. Winding our way through some of the smallest village lanes on our road-trip we finally found St Petrock’s Church up a muddy dirt track.
The calm and quaint church originally dated back 13th century. In the late 19th century the poet John Ruskin helped save the church from demolition with a £10 donation.
As we arrived in Lynton we first made a little detour through the Valley of Rocks. Glorious views west from the Valley of Rocks past the White Lady towards Wringcliff Bay and Woody Bay….
…. and north across the Bristol Channel from the South West Coast Path.
The West Lyn River gushing through Glen Lyn Gorge. In 1890 Lynton & Lynmouth were one of the first places in the country to be powered by hydro-electric power (from the East Lyn River).
The local thatched-roofed pub built down Lynmouth’s steep hillside.
Foreland Point across from Lynmouth’s seafront.
Looking down on Foreland Point as we drove up Countisbury Hill.
Views south across the rolling green Exmoor National Park from the National Trust’s Foreland Point.
Crossing from Devon into Somerset, we took another detour from the main road. We winded down through the picturesque Porlock Manor Estate Toll Road overlooking Porlock Weir and Hurlstone Point.
Another thatched-roofed pub as we reached Porlock.
Horner Water tumbling through woodland to Bossington Beach.
Tall chimneyed cottages lining the narrow lane from Bossington to Allerford on the Holnicote Estate.
The warm glow of the late afternoon sun illuminated the All Saints’ Church in the tiny village of Selworthy.
Wow, this is how we imagined Somerset… and we were bang on. Selworthy’s cream thatched cottages on the National Trust’s Holnicote Estate.
Selworthy Green, and so so quiet, again we were the only visitors as we wandered around.
If you say Minehead to us, we think of Butlins (for the non-Brits – a holiday camp), but the view at dusk from the harbour couldn’t be more different…
The sculpture on Minehead’s seafront by Sarah Ward, marking the end (or start!) of the 630-mile South West Coast Path.
The view across Blue Anchor Bay back to Minehead.
After passing Dunster Castle, we made our final stop of the day at Watchet, where we found the harbour car-park surround by interesting street-art murals. We then continued our journey via the National Trust’s Coleridge Cottage (which was closed) to Bridgwater for the night. Just one day to go until we complete our 49-day British Coastal Road Trip!!!
It’s just three days to go before we complete our entire coastal road trip! Today we are finishing off north Cornwall, driving alongside its famous golden sandy beaches, before we re-enter Devon as we drive towards Bideford.
Photo of the day
The sun setting as we headed down to Hartland Quay.
Long shadows in the early morning sun. We made our first stop of the day looping back from Newquay to the National Trust’s Holywell Beach.
Walking past the sand dunes towards Carter’s Rocks (AKA Gull Rocks) off Penhale Point.
Shells and their shadows scattered across Holywell Beach.
The Gannel Estuary at Crantock Beach, beside Rushy Green.
So it was a morning full of beaches… next stop the famous Fistral Beach, a surfers paradise, but none out this morning – yet.
Views back across Newquay Bay from the cliffs above the curiously named Lusty Glaze Beach (The Times Beach of the Year 2017)…
…and the view north towards Bedruthan Steps and beyond to Trevose Head.
The wide open sands of Watergate Bay, as we headed along the scenic B3276 coastal road.
A small plane flying overhead into nearby Newquay Airport.
The River Menalhyl streaming down Mawgan Porth Beach.
Peering over the Carnewas cliffs at Bedruthan.
Dramatic views north past Pendarves Island, Queen Bess Rock, Diggory’s Island and Park Head. In the distance you can just about make-out Trevose Head Lighthouse.
Another beautiful empty beach west of Padstow at Treyarnon Bay.
The South West Coastal Path along Chair Cove, behind some rather expensive looking houses at Constantine Bay. Some locals walking a dog stopped to talk to us, and asked if we were bankers!?… it seemed many locals were!
We seemed to be the only people on Cornwall’s beaches this morning not walking a dog 😉
A little alley in Padstow, AKA ‘Padstein’ after its famous local celebrity chef – Rick Stein.
Small fishing boats lining the quay. Quiet at this time of year, but heaving with tourists in the summer.
The coastal village of Rock, beyond the sandbank in the River Camel. We will drive past Rock as we continue northeast, but as we had been last year, we won’t stop this time.
Looping all the way around the River Camel, we made a brief stop to watch the surfers on Polzeath’s Beach.
Driving past The Rumps we stopped at the cosy Port Quin inlet, taken care of by the National Trust.
Driving to Port Isaac we realised we were going to end up driving right through the tiny village. We had remembered the lanes were really narrow from our trip here last year, so re-routed to park at the top of the village and walk down.
The TV series Doc Martin is filmed in Port Isaac. To be honest we have never watched Doc Martin so weren’t as excited as some visitors….
Choppy waters at the mouth of Port Isaac looking towards Varley Head.
Port Isaac Bay, with views northeast to Treknow.
Catching another glimpse of Port Isaac Bay over the fields near St Teath.
Wow, what a perfect day to visit. Tintagel Castle is normally packed with tourists, today it was just us and a few seagulls. So if you want to avoid the crowds come on a Monday afternoon in November 😉
The remains of the 13th century castle perched on the jagged slate cliffs.
The castle had been built here by Earl Richard of Cornwall, believing it to be the birthplace of King Arthur.
Boscastle had been devastated by the flooding of the River Valency in 2002, but has since been lovingly restored.
Fishing cottages down the cobbled Valency Row in Boscastle.
Widemouth Beach, popular with surfers, with Dizzard Point in the distance.
The clouds were parting like a zip to reveal the blue sky above Widemouth Bay.
At last!…. beach huts again on Summerleaze Beach at Bude, we had been missing beach huts on this stretch of coast.
The entrance to the Bude Canal. Started in the 1820s with the idea to link the English and Bristol Channels… however it didn’t get very far with the arrival of the railway later in the 19th century.
Leaving Bude and heading along the Hartland Cornwall Heritage Coast towards Morwenstow, the view was dominated by the satellite dishes at GCHQ Bude.
Before leaving Cornwall we stopped at Morwenstow, Cornwall’s northernmost point. We had intended to walk to the Hawker’s Hut along the cliffs. But a very muddy field was slowing our progress, we weren’t exactly sure we were on the right track, and light was fading fast. So we made do with the Church of St Morwenna and St John the Baptist across the fields.
On the way to Bideford, we made our final stop of the day at Hartland Quay. As we drove down the coastal track the sunset reflected beautifully off the car bonnet. Originally we had planned to also stop further along the coast at Clovelly, but it seems it was probably closed, and it would have been dark by then anyway. Oh well, we will leave Clovelly for another trip!
We will be driving just over one-hundred miles today as we head along the south coast of Cornwall to Land’s End, and back up the north coast towards Newquay. The weather has improved from yesterday’s miserable effort – yay!
Photo of the day
The stunning Porthcurno Beach.
After leaving our base for the night at Helston, we drove straight down to the coast at Portleven to take in the early morning views back down the west side of the the Lizard Peninsula.
Portleven Harbour was just waking up on this early Sunday morning.
At Rinsey Cove we walked down to Wheal Prosper, an old engine house that was used to pump water out of undersea copper and tin mines. Even the National Trust car park had been built above an old mine shaft.
Wow, what a position for a house. Perched on Rinsey Head with magnificent views across Mount’s Bay to Mousehole, Black Rock and Lamorna.
Marazion and St Michael’s Mount
St Michael’s Mount across Mount’s Bay came into view as we drove towards Marazion. Over the years the original Abbey on the island was absorbed into a fort, then later a grand house built by the St Aubyn family. When we have time we would like to go back and take the ferry across to explore the small island properly.
Penzance was a curious town, and like Falmouth yesterday, it was larger than we had expected. Walking down Chapel street we came across the unusual Egyptian House.
Further down the road there was a Cornish pirate on the roof of the local pub (Admiral Benbow Inn).
Cutting down to the harbour, tall palm trees surrounded St Mary the Virgin Church.
The very smart and newly renovated Penzance Jubilee Outdoor Bathing Pool. Remind us, where are we again? It looked like the Mediterranean not Cornwall…
More pirates at the next pub!
The Newlyn South Pier Lighthouse at the entrance to Newlyn harbour, just southwest of Penzance. The harbour is home to the largest fishing fleet in Britain.
Yes, you read right, there is a place called Mousehole. What a cool name, though it is actually pronounced ‘Mowzall’. We stopped by the Rockpool Cafe to look at the views across Mount’s Bay….
…. and south to the granite cottages overlooking Mousehole’s harbour front. We then set-off to wind our way through its narrow Cornish lanes.
Continuing on towards Land’s End, we drove alongside a trout stream, through the beautifully wooded Lamorna Valley, down to Lamorna Cove.
Waste from the cove’s 19th and early 20th century granite quarries was precariously heaped down the hillside. The cottages looked a little to close to those huge boulders for comfort. The quarries had been used to provide granite to build London’s Thames Embankment.
The view out past Black Rock to Mount’s Bay. Wandering around the quay, we noticed this sign on the way back to the car… bit late.
The cove’s waters were crystal clear.
No chance of having our morning coffee here, the Lamorna Cove Cafe was closed until next year.
The truly spectacular open-air Minack Theatre at Porthcurno, with its stunning turquoise sea backdrop. The brainchild of Rowena Cade, who started building the theatre with her gardener in the early 1930s, a true inspiration. The entry fee also included access to a small but interesting exhibition telling the theatre’s story.
The theatre really was the highlight of our day. We would love to come back in season and join the 80,000 people that enjoy a performance here every year.
Porthcurno Beach, next to the Minack Theatre, was equally impressive. The golden sand and the turquoise sea were glowing in the midday sun.
Finally we reached Land’s End, the most westerly point of mainland England and Cornwall. Land’s End should be 838 miles by road from the most northeasterly point of mainland Britain, John o’ Groats. However, after leaving John o’ Groats on day 24, we traveled the long way around! 😉
The rather brutal looking Longships Lighthouse, just off Land’s End on Carn Bras.
Waves crashing over the rocky coastline surrounding Land’s End.
We had great views north from Land’s End across the rather choppy Whitsand Bay to Cape Cornwall.
Driving north along Whitsand Bay, we arrived at Pendeen and the National Trust’s Levant Mine. Like Wheal Prosper this morning, these were the remains of engine houses that pumped water from the undersea copper and tin mines.
The National Trust had restored many of the buildings, and the site contains the only remaining and operating Cornish beam steam engine in the world.
From the Levant Mine we could also see Pendeen Watch Lighthouse, looking out across Cornwall’s northwestern peninsula. Though it was tricky to get a good shot, as it was so windy.
As we passed another National Trust mine at Carn Galver, the coastal road started to feel more barren and windswept.
St Senara’s Church in the small village of Zennor. Alphabetically, Zennor is the last parish in Britain…. random fact of the day! 😉
Continuing along the B3306 towards St Ives we had sweeping views past Treveal to the Atlantic Ocean.
Arriving in St Ives, we made our first stop at Porthmeor Beach looking towards St Nicholas Chapel on the headland.
Waves were crashing against the rocks below the Southwest Coastal Path.
Salty sea spray filled the the afternoon air behind Porthmeor Beach and the Tate St Ives.
As we left the town we looked back at the Harbour Beach and the St Ives New Lighthouse at the end of Smeatons Pier. We had seen its identical twin lighthouse yesterday morning at Mevagissey…. who would have know this trip would lead to a deeper lighthouse interest and knowledge! 😉
Looking back across St Ives Bay and kite-surfers enjoying the breeze at Gwithian Beach.
We look a bit cold at windy Gwithian Beach!
Godrevy Island and its lighthouse, northeast along Gwithian Beach.
Godrevy-Portreath Heritage Coast
Driving along the cliff tops towards Portreath we stopped to peer over the edge of Hell’s Mouth towards Navax Point.
Then a little further along the coastal road, the red North Cliffs seemed to be crumbling away. You can just make out St Agnes Head in the distance.
Looking behind us, golden sun-rays were bursting through the cloudy late afternoon sky.
Continuing our journey towards Newquay, we made a quick stop to look down on Porthtowan Beach.
The National Trust Chapel Porth Beach was nestled into a cosy quiet cove just south of St Agnes Head.
The sunlight had almost gone by the time we reached Perranporth Beach, hence a slightly grainy picture! But the Watering Hole cafe lit up on the beach looked quite inviting. Newquay was our next stop for the night.