Once again I was in the UK visiting family. I had driven down to the West Country (as us Brits call it) with my mum, to spend the weekend with my dear old school friend, Debbie, who had moved down there the year before. Debbie actually was living in Bideford, Devon, close to the border with Cornwall, so we just used her house as a base and drove southwest into Cornwall to explore.
The Eden Project
Our first day there was very rainy and dreary, so we decided it would be a good day to visit The Eden Project as a lot of this attraction is indoors. The Eden Project is not too far from St Austell on the South coast of Cornwall and opened in 2001. It is located in an old Kaolinite Pit and consists of 2 big Biomes, one with a Rainforest climate inside, and one with a Mediterranean climate, as well as educational exhibits and an outdoor botanical garden area. An adult ticket is £25, children 5-16 £14.
First we ventured into the Rainforest Biome, which is on he left of the above photo, and is huge. It is built into the side of the cliff, so there is a mix of terrain in there with some really large trees and jungle plants, and it’s very humid of course.
There is even an elevated section of walkway so you can see across the Biome from a different elevation, like walking in the tree tops.
On our walk through we came across a replica of a Malaysian Hut with it’s own vegetable plot and bird life including quite a few hungry roul-roul partridges.
From there we moved on into the Mediterranean Biome, much less humid, so more comfortable to walk around. The flowers were lovely in here, lots of Geraniums and Bougainvillea among others. There was a café in here too, but we had brought a picnic with us, so headed back out to the covered outside dining area of the main restaurant to sit and eat. While in the restaurant buying us a cup of tea I couldn’t help but notice the amazing looking Cornish Pasties on sale, and later found out that The Eden Project has hosted the World Pastry Championships since 2012. If we didn’t already have food, I definitely would have had one of those!
After lunch we walked around the outside gardens for a while, then finished our visit off by going through the seemingly obligatory shop, which was pretty good actually, on our way back to the car.
By now the weather was clearing up a bit, so on our way back to Debbie’s house we decided to make a slight detour and briefly visit Padstow Harbour on the Atlantic coast of Cornwall. Padstow Harbour is a pretty historic harbour dating back until before the 1500’s and is a busy popular tourist stop. We were visiting in October, so it wasn’t outrageously busy but still far from what I would call quiet. I can only imagine how crazy it gets in the midst of summer. We parked and walked around a little, I purchased some Cornish Clotted Cream Fudge as a gift, there were quite a few of the usual cute tourist shops to look around. I took some photos and then we continued our drive back to Debbie’s house at the end of a lovely day.
For our second day in Cornwall the weather was much better, in fact just about perfect. We drove southwest down through Cornwall to the Atlantic coast fishing village called Port Isaac. This is a very picturesque village and harbour which since the 1980’s has been used in a number of TV productions including the film called ‘Saving Grace’ (2000) and the TV series ‘Doc Martin’.
Because the streets are so narrow in Port Isaac, traffic that is allowed down into the harbour area of the village is limited and there is virtually no parking down there. My mum cannot walk very far, so Debbie drove us half way down the steep hill to the harbour, where she dropped us, then drove back up to the car park at the top. My mum and I walked the last hundred yards or so down to the harbour and found a nice restaurant right there called The Mote Bar and Restaurant. They had a pretty little outside seating area overlooking the harbour, so I sat my Mum down and went inside to order us a couple of cappuccinos and wait for Debbie.
It was a great spot to sit and people watch and enjoy the view. The restaurant looked to be very nice, 2 floors of seating inside with a lovely ambience, and the staff were very helpful. The waitress who served us our coffee was particularly nice, telling us we could sit as long as we wanted to and also telling us that we were indeed allowed to drive the car down to the harbour to pick up my mum when it came time to leave.
Debbie found us and we enjoyed a little stroll around the harbour area and again took photos. I would like to have explored more, but with my mum having limited mobility it wasn’t possible on this occasion, so Debbie kindly retrieved the car, we picked up my mum and were on our way north to Tintagel.
Tintagel Village and Castle
Tintagel village and the nearby Tintagel Castle are associated with the legends surrounding King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Because of this it has become very popular with the tourist crowds and can be very busy in the summer. By the time we arrived it was time for some lunch, so after we took a quick look around we decided on Tintagel Kitchen as they served fresh crab sandwiches and my mum and Debbie were craving that.
I have never been a fan of crab, so even though it was something wonderful, fresh and local, I had to pass.
Instead, I couldn’t resisted the chance to consume some more clotted cream, so chose a Cream Tea with two scrumptious looking scones and a pot of the afore mentioned amazing clotted cream!
I have to say, it was one of the better Cream Tea’s that I have had, even the jam was obviously homemade and fabulous, and my mum and Debbie really enjoyed their fresh crab sandwiches, so it seems that we chose wisely in the Tintagel Kitchen Café.
After we had eaten we walked along Fore Street from the Café to Tintagel Old Post Office. The Old Post Office is a Grade I listed building dating from the 14th century and is now owned by the National Trust. The cost to go inside is £4 for an adult, but if you have a National Trust membership, or like me, a Royal Oak membership then you can get in for free. It is well worth a look inside if you have time, it is beautifully preserved and you get a real feel for the age of the building.
We moved a little further along Fore Street and parked the car in the Castle Car Park and in the building next door we paid the £7.90 each to access Tintagel Castle. It is a steep walk down to the Castle and sea shore, and I had read how there are many steps to explore the Castle area, so my mum chose to stay put in the car and read her newspaper while Debbie and I went to explore. You can pay a small fee for a Landrover to drive you down to the Castle (and back up), but you would still have a LOT of steps to navigate once there.
We walked down and once there we realized that they really weren’t joking about there being a lot of steps and steep climbs, but the views were just stunning!
We had great fun climbing up onto the peninsula and exploring all the ruins and fabulous views both north and south along the coastline. After 2 hours we were running out of steam a bit and felt that we had left my mum alone long enough, so we paid the £2 each to ride the Land Rover up the hill back to meet my mum.
Back in the car we continued our drive north up the coast enjoying the fabulous coastal scenery as we went. Our next stop was in Crackington Haven at the Coombe Barton Inn where we sat out on the patio in the sun watching the surfers and drinking a Ginger Beer. It seems that every coastal village you come across in Cornwall is just so picturesque, you could spend years exploring them all. After finishing our drinks we moved on and drove up the coast again passing by Bude (which brought back childhood memories for my mum as she informed us that she meet her first boyfriend there while on holiday), and driving to Hartland Quay which experiences some of the roughest seas in winter and is a former harbour. The sun was beginning to set over this amazing coastline, so we snapped a few photos to try to capture a bit of the beauty to end what had been a wonderful day and weekend in Cornwall. I will definitely go back, and with my friend Debbie living there now, it will probably be sooner rather than later!