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.