I couldn’t let the day go by without a post.
My plan was to give you all a rest for a couple of weeks as we wandered around some familiar territory. But then I was flattered by a few emails reminding me that most readers know little of Cornwall and asking that I keep at it.
So here we go.
The Far West.
There’s so much of Cornwall that I love.
The coast above Newquay all the way to the border is superb.
The Roseland Peninsula is a calmer, more gentle area.
The south coast near the Tamar River that I can’t remember the name of right now.
And of course Gwithian. Three miles of sand that was my happy place for the years when I lived at home with my folks.
Yet for me none of these can touch West Penwith. This place retains the essence of the Cornwall of a different time.
West Penwith is easiest defined as the knob on the end of Cornwall, west of the Hayle River. It’s largely moorland, craggy granite coast, small villages and only has Penzance as a real town. St Just is a town by dint of having a town council, but is a village in most people’s eyes.
Let’s narrow things down here.
West Penwith, yes, wonderful, I could live most places here, but truly it’s St Just that draws me. I’ve been coming to St Just regularly since my late teens when my friend Dominic moved to nearby Trevegean.
The town’s hard face, austere character, often foul weather and close knit community all make it a special place. The Co-op is the meeting place for most people and all the news can be heard there.
Visiting home as a tourist.
Seeing home after a year of traveling has been a revelation. Suddenly you understand why people are eager to pay astronomical prices to own a small part of this beautiful land.
We spent a week in the very special Mill House above Sennen’s idyllic beach (thank you Annette). You can book it through The Cornish Way. At the house you wake and go to the window to soak in the view across the dunes and beaches then on out to sea. It has more space than I have ever experienced indoors.
When we left we didn’t go far – just to the bottom of the hill to park in the Sennen Life Boat car park for Saturday night. Dinner in The Old Success was typically expensive, but surprisingly good. Waking overlooking such a great beach was even better.
Minty’s favourite breakfast cafe is Strong Adolfo’s near Wadebridge. Bloody miles away. But not if you have a morning flight. We planned to stay between the cafe and airport at lovely Porthcothan to enable a morning feast before her flight north.
Alas although we camped where we planned, and I took long coastal walks that reminded me that we don’t have a monopoly on beauty in the far west, the breakfast didn’t happen.
On Monday Minty had a new and difficult filling to repair her cracked (in Italy) tooth and was off food for a day or so. Shame.
Trevaskis Farm Shop and Restaurant.
Trevaskis is a west Cornwall institution. And one of my mum’s favourites.
The large farm introduced us to pick-your-own decades ago and probably made a big difference to the Cornish fruit intake.
When they opened their farmhouse kitchen it was an immediate hit with the oldies giving them a sure fire great lunch at a reasonable price.
It’s now a big restaurant, and a big farm shop, and a huge pick-your-own, yet it still delivers great food, good service and isn’t too badly priced.
Mum and I always hope to indulge in the sweet counter after our meals, but we’ve yet to have room. Perhaps one day we’ll start our meal with desert.
Camping on the carns.
I’m writing this at Carn Gloose, above Cape Cornwall. My view is spectacular, and even familiarity does nothing to remove its polish. I can see out to Lands End, and down to the Cape (the original Lands End before map making improved).
It’s not easy though. There’s a gale howling outside. Every pour of coffee or milk has to be done in the sink as the van is rocking as if we were out to sea. The new Heki roof lights are doing their job though and there’s no draught and much less noise than we had with the previous Fiamma ones.
Sitting here all morning is interesting. So many cars come. People get out. Have a look. Drive off. I want to stop them and implore them to spend a few hours, to wander down to The Cot, then back up the valley to town. Or down to The Cape, and across to the wild and beautiful Kenijack.
There’s such depth to the experience here, but it needs time to absorb. Perhaps a couple of nights sleeping here have given me more than I’ve previously taken from the spot. I certainly know that I’m lucky.
A few nights back I was on Carn Galva, above the Bosigran climbing cliffs where Minty and I were wed. The view from the top of the carn there is one of the best.
The Star. The Commercial. The Welly. The Kings.
Although I favour The Star, all four pubs in this little St Just town are beauties with character in spades.
Many friends met in the pubs make nothing of our year away. Life goes on and if I happen to have travelled east of Redruth then that’s my look out.
Terry Sturgeon at Carn Bosavern Garage serviced and repaired the van. Reluctantly I have swopped its sexy wheels for ArchieVan’s old steels. The price of huge low profile tyres was too much to bear after £2000+ worth of upgrades and repairs. Archie doesn’t look quite as distinctive now, but I believe the ride is a little better. The alloys can go back on after the big trips have slowed.
On Monday I’ll have lunch with mum again, and try to encourage her to renew her passport so that she can come and meet us in some foreign place again.
After a gurt licker of a pasty I’ll head off across England to meet up with Minty again. Ten days apart are healthy for us, it allows us to spread our wings in a different fashion, but more importantly it allows us to miss the person who has been at our side for so long.
Yay! Then we should make it out again before the gates are shut.