Region Focus – South Devon and Cornwall Part 2 #adeoontheroad
Welcome to the second part of adeo’s adventures in South West England! If you haven’t read the first part about South Devon, you can catch up here, otherwise please feel free to continue reading our adventures in North Cornwall below. As always, I share too much – so please expect Part 3 next month to read about the very tip of Cornwall – and definitely our favourite day of our trip!
In this post however, I’ll start from our return from the market town of Tavistock back to Exeter for our final night. Working from hotel’s lounge area before dinner and drink was our evening routine. During the day, we tried to take as much from the journey as possible – research the history of the area, wildlife, nature spots, nearby attractions and entertainment. You need to trust me on this – single travellers, couples, groups or families of different interests and hobbies will always be able to find something adequate in the region – there is plenty to do!
Well rested and after a delicious English breakfast in the morning, we set towards North Cornwall.
Our first stop was the Elizabethan fishing village of Boscastle. As you can see on the photos below, the weather wasn’t great that morning… Wind and rain made it almost impossible to take photos for my little camera, though despite the conditions and slightly darker sky, I managed to capture the clear blue waters of Cornish coast with white waves crashing onto the rugged shores.
During our stroll to the dramatic coastline, we have noticed a white building on the hill and immediately thought of a lighthouse. It occurred to be the lookout building for coastguards set on the headland, Willapark, as the nearby area of the coast tends to be very dangerous for boats and ships. Despite treacherous location, people have seen its potential since the Iron Ages; archaeologists discovered ditches of a cliff fort/castle on the promontory from 200 BC. Moreover, since the Middle Ages, a rare form of farming, Forrabury Stitches, are practised here until today. Besides the gorgeous views of boats resting in Boscastle’s natural harbour, there’re also few cafés, gift shops, a second-hand bookstore and even a place full of mystery – Museum of Witchcraft – with a plethora of magic and occult related objects, some of which connected to the local Celtic legends and myths.
Speaking of those; leaving Boscastle, we travelled to spectacularly set on the rugged Cornish coast Tintagel Castle. A visually dramatic and historically intriguing place, shrouded in myth of Arthurian Legend and the love story of Tristan and Iseult, Tintagel is one of the most important points on Celtic legends’ map – the believed birthplace of King Arthur.
The town itself is charming and perfect for tourists! With many cafés, gift shops, arts & crafts shops, bookstores and traditional Cornish pasties bakeries – you have a wide range of choice to take lunch, grab a snack or enjoy hot or cold drink. You can even enter the Old Post Office looked after by National Trust organisation. Besides its characteristic wonky roof, Victorian-style Cornish cottage garden and a 16th-century fireplace, you can see the early communication system items in a typical postal office.
The highlight however is Tintagel Castle itself, it is absolutely spectacular. With nearly 150 steps and a bridge leading to the headland, you can enter through the wooden door into Richard’s, Earl of Cornwall, Great Hall; see the remains of Dark Age houses built there between the 5th and 7th centuries; walk the West Coast Path which runs past the island; take a photo with the 8-foot-tall bronze sculpture of King Arthur overlooking the Atlantic Ocean; and most importantly, admire the breath-taking views of coastline and the horizon. But that’s not all! On your way back, you can climb down to the beautiful Tintagel beach and explore the mysterious Merlin’s Cave, before heading to a museum for a dose of history and myth about castle’s intriguing story. Don’t forget to visit a gift shop crammed with books, games, toys, decorations, collectables and even an own range of alcohol, before walking or taking the ride back.
We headed for lunch to the picturesque traditional fishing village of Port Isaac. Famous for being a filming location for “Doc Martin” and “Poldark” series, it’s one of the most popular destinations of Cornwall. With narrow cobbled streets, 18th century white cottage houses and a beautiful seaside setting, Port Isaac also attracts with a working harbour full of boats and fishermen bringing back the daily catch of fish, crabs and lobsters. During summer, you can board a sightseeing cruise to enjoy the views from a different perspective, or take a fishing trip to see how it really works. After, perhaps relax in one of few restaurants, pubs, cafés, local galleries or arts & crafts shops; take a photo outside Doc Martin’s house from the series; or wander to cliff top path for a 2-mile walk from Port Isaac to Port Gaverne.
Returning from Port Isaac after lunch in a local café, we took the longer way via Bodmin to see the outside of the famous in the area jail. Built in 1779 for King George III, Bodmin Jail has played an important role in Cornwall’s history, keeping locked some of the most dangerous human beings of the region and beyond. Its walls hold grim and blood-curling secrets, and its cells seen unbelievable stories. You can take a self-guided or themed tours with a guide to discover the deep corners of this shadowy place. But don’t be too scared! The prison, as well as an attraction venue, serves as a HOTEL! Fancy spending a night there?
If you’re interested in military history, you can head to the Bodmin Keep which is Cornwall’s Army Museum. With a large collection of over 12,000 items, including uniforms, medals, weaponry, documents and flags, the place will take you back in time. For local history, you might prefer to see the Bodmin Town Museum with artefacts, photographs and displays telling stories of life in the town. Nearby Lanhydrock House & Garden is also worth a visit! If you are a fan of castle-like buildings with gardens full of colour and flowers – this would be a great place for you to visit.
As it started getting dark, we travelled south to our new overnight base, in lively port town of Falmouth. One of the busiest and most famous towns of Cornwall, Falmouth is visited by millions of visitors each year. Many hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation venues are located closely to the sea, offering astonishing views for the harbour or open waters making your morning even better.
In the evening, Falmouth turns into a student nightlife hub, but there are plenty of bars and restaurants that are quieter (so you can either join students or hide from them). The food scene in Falmouth is incredibly good and diverse. From local seafood dishes, British favourites and European foods, to African and Asian cuisines – you’ll be spoilt with choice! Local pubs and bars offer a wide range of drinks and spirits, making it a perfect base for southern side of Cornwall.
The daylight however, reveals narrow streets full of independent bustling businesses and colourful decorations next to the picturesque harbour full of boats and seafront restaurants – all creating a summer-vibe atmosphere. One of the main attractions are the hilltop Pendennis Castle with original castle features and astonishing views for the coast; and the National Maritime Museum where you can embark on voyage of discovery through displays of impressive boats, maritime objects and extensive information. To fully enjoy the delights of this seaside location, you can take a stroll by the beach or dip in the sea at nearby Swanpool or Gyllyngvase Beaches.
But more on beaches (and promised Cornish pasties) in the next post! Meanwhile, please feel free to check our own Treasures of Cornwall small-group tour, which takes you to the highlights of Devon and Cornwall, or check our website for other small group tours, as well as our itineraries for rail or self-drive journeys. Please do not hesitate to contact our agents to get your British journey started!
April 14, 2023