Cornwall Capers

Written by Haydn Williams

Generally when you mention that you’re going to Cornwall in October, people comment that the weather is going to suck. Thankfully we were blessed with sunshine all week.

Staying near Padstow on the north coast, our cottage had no reception of any kind; TV, radio, mobile phone or 3G. Once I’d stopped hyperventilating, I realised it was actually a pretty nice place, with a garden overlooking Little Petherick Creek and all manner of wildlife wandering / paddling / swimming up and down depending on the state of the tide.

View from the decking at high tide. Copyright Haydn Williams 2010
View from the decking at high tide. Copyright Haydn Williams 2010

We spent the first day visiting a beach, as is tradition on a holiday to Cornwall. A walk around Trevose Head provided a breezy, but by no means unpleasant, introduction.

Constantine's Bay looking blustery. Copyright Haydn Williams 2010
Constantine's Bay looking blustery. Copyright Haydn Williams 2010

The next day started drizzly, which was convenient as it meant everyone else stayed at home, and thus we had the gorgeous beach at Bedruthan Steps to ourselves! The rain stopped mid-morning anyway, so by far the worst part of the day was the 142 tortuously steep steps from the cliff top down to the sand. I managed to absent-mindedly submerge only one of my feet in wet sand before starting the walk back to the car, which I consider to be a successful trip.

Shouty beach dog. Copyright Haydn Williams 2010
Shouty beach dog. Copyright Haydn Williams 2010

The state of the weather was irrelevant the next day, as we went to the Eden project. It turns out there’s actually quite a lot of it outside, but fortunately it was another fine day anyway. The two big ‘biomes’ (Mediterranean and Rainforest) were reasonably interesting but we weren’t convinced the experience lived up to the hype which seems to universally surround it. For somewhere that touts its eco-credentials a lot, I found it strange that there didn’t seem to be much evidence of this; the toilets seem to be standard affairs, compared with the water-saving ones at Coed-y-Brenin, for example. Maybe it’s all hidden away behind the scenes, but it would be good to see some of it more prominently.

Anyway, the following day saw the beach trips further broken up by a jaunt to Bodmin Moor.

Morning sunshine on Bodmin Moor. Copyright Haydn Williams 2010.
Morning sunshine on Bodmin Moor. Copyright Haydn Williams 2010.

We walked a loop from Roughtor Road over Showery Tor, Little Rough Tor, Rough Tor and from there across to Brown Willy, the highest point in Cornwall at a whopping 420m. The area is covered in ancient features; on this one morning amble we passed a stone circle, ancient stone huts, and the site of a long house. I enjoyed it so much that when we got back to the cottage I grabbed my running gear and went back to do it all again at a faster pace!

On top of Rough Tor. Brown Willy, highest point in Cornwall, behind. Copyright Haydn Williams 2010
On top of Rough Tor. Brown Willy, highest point in Cornwall, behind. Copyright Haydn Williams 2010

Two days away from the beach meant that we felt obliged to go back the following day, so we ventured to Hawker’s Cove, just along the coast from Padstow. The good weather continued and even provoked a spot of paddling.

Doesn't get much better than this. Hawker's Cove. Copyright Haydn Williams 2010
Doesn't get much better than this. Hawker's Cove. Copyright Haydn Williams 2010

By this point Tess was getting a little worn out, but for a hound with very short legs she always seems to cope admirably.

Canine footprints. Copyright Haydn Williams 2010
Canine footprints. Copyright Haydn Williams 2010

The following day saw more coastline, this a little more exposed and windy but just as sunny.  First on the list was Daymer Bay, and a quick look at St. Enodoc’s church in Trebetherick. This originated some time in the 12th century, but by the mid-19th century had become so covered in wind-blown sand from the surrounding dunes that the only way in for the annual service was through a hole in the roof! It’s also the final resting place of former poet laureate John Betjeman.

Church of St. Enodoc. Copyright Haydn Williams 2010
Church of St. Enodoc. Copyright Haydn Williams 2010

Lunch consisted of chips from one of Rick Stein’s seven cafes/restaurants/shops in Padstow, which were nowhere near as nice as a proper Cornish pasty I had earlier in the week. I always thought I hated Cornish pasties; turns out people are just rubbish at making them outside Cornwall. Our final section of coastline was probably the most rugged, with a visit to Port Quin, a tiny hamlet tucked into a narrow rocky inlet.  From there, we wandered up to the headland at Doyden Point for a great view across the bay.

Quintessential Cornwall: Port Quin Bay from Doyden Point. Copyright Haydn Williams 2010.
Quintessential Cornwall: Port Quin Bay from Doyden Point. Copyright Haydn Williams 2010.

Sadly that was the end of the holiday. Not only did we have a very nice time, we also proved that it is possible to live without constant mobile phone reception or internet for an entire week. I did spend two hours sat on an exposed headland in the rain after dark in a valiant attempt to get more lighthouse photos for my ongoing project. However, a combination of poor astronomical conditions (i.e. no moon) and not being fully comfortable with my new camera meant that the results weren’t exactly amazing. Never mind, that’s an excuse to go back again methinks.

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