August 2021 - Cornwall - Day 4
Todays plan involved driving up to the North coast of Cornwall for the first time and walking around St Agnes Head. Despite it only being about 14 miles away the Sat Nav showed that it would take about 45 minutes to get there presumably due to the road network.
We aimed to set off at 9.15am as we wanted to get there before the crowds and not have any not have any problem parking, but it was nearer 9.45am before we left. I had become used to driving down narrow country lanes with overground hedgerows, but these ones were so narrow that we were brushing hedgerows on both sides at the same time desperately hoping not to meet any traffic coming in the opposite direction.
St Agnes Head is owned by National Trust and is high point on the cliffs. It is in the middle of almost nowhere and well off the beaten track. It is also not that well known and basically consists of a rough and ready car park that was almost deserted when we arrived.
The weather was cloudy but dry and quite breezy when we got out of the car. I could tell from Karen’s face she was not happy though. She was yet not feeling the place and thought it was an elaborate plan to get her blown off the cliff into the sea. In fairness though the coastal pathways were gravel covered and rocky which does cause havoc with her ankle and knee.
We set off in a westerly direction. The views were moody and magnificent. Many scenes from Poldark were filmed along the cliffs. Our destination was Wheal Coates an abandoned tin mine which had also featured heavily in the series. The cliff tops were beautiful with purple and pink heathers win flower along with the yellow gorse. This is how Cornwall should always was, and always should be; to misquote something from Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
It was about ¾ mile to Wheal Coates and Karen cheered up as she realised the going wasn’t too bad for her. The mine was derelict but had been preserved by the National Trust to prevent any further deterioration. The mine was abandoned in 1914 as they failed several times to get much tin out of the ground. Incredibly the mine shaft went down 185m which was well below sea level, and it must have been extremely dangerous to work it.
As we walked and looked around, we realised there were a few other people doing the same thing. It all felt as I had imagined Cornwall to be. Wild, splendid and charming all at the same time. Perhaps we had turned the corner in our relationship.
Back in the car we ate our Spam rolls Karen had prepared. We both enjoyed them but agreed that we wouldn’t want Spam every day.
Despite our fears regarding parking, we decided to go and have a look at Perranporth. We had read an estimated 9000 people being on its beach at the weekend. Perranporth is not a pretty place, but it made up for it with loads of car parks. We found a spot without too much difficulty and went for a walk. There is an enormous not especially nice beach that did look rather crowded. The beach just looked grubby. The small town was busy. We ended up walking on the road to avoid the intermittent crowds on the pavement.
It is not a pretty place. It is more Hemsby than Southwold, with tacky shops a plenty. We wanted a nice coffee shop but there was nothing suitable. Bizarrely though, snuck in a quiet corner we saw a Wetherspoons called The Green Parrot that had some nice seating outside that were almost deserted. It was also almost the most upmarket place in town. We found a table and used the app to order some hot drinks for the princely sum of £1.98.
It was then time to head off and Karen suggested as it was still relatively early that we go back via Redruth. Again, we found a car park space easily. But it was another grim run downtown with one main street on a steep hill full of cheap tat shops and charity outlets. Apart from a couple of statues it had no redeeming features.
We wondered if we just had an idealistic view of what we expected from these places. In our minds we pictured quaint coffee and tea shops, independent outlets selling locally produced goods and of course bakeries selling pasties. Perhaps a fisherman or two walking by singing sea shanties and the odd pirate thrown in every so often would have been a bonus. Karen would add she would like Poldark to take her coffee order.
Instead, we have just found run down towns with no soul to them. Obviously, the pandemic has not helped and may have dealt the final death knell, but it is apparent the problem precedes well before this. These places could be a real asset and would draw tourists from the better-known coastal resorts – which aren’t even trying to compete in that market.
We only paid for 1 hour’s parking and were back in the car with 20 minutes to spare. Back in the annex in Falmouth we chilled out for the rest of the afternoon reading and doing crosswords.
Tonight, I had managed to secure a table at another local pub called The Boslowick Inn located in the middle of a nearby housing estate. It looked grim from the outside and was as grim inside. The menu was sparce but promised to be home cooked, so we decided to brave it. The place itself was huge and we got a table near a wide-open door. I think the regular 50-year interior redecoration must be almost due again.
The staff were friendly though and so we ordered a Pasty and chips for Karen whilst I had the Burger. Actually, the food wasn’t bad at all, and we both cleared our plates. We still left though as soon as we had finished – after paying of course.
Cornwall: today you started well but overall continue to disappoint. Whilst the weather is not great we have not been impacted too much by it as such, but it would be lovely to see it resplendent with blue skies and sunshine. We would love to be able to sit out and enjoy the weather, place and view. Is that too much to ask? Instead we are just reminded why once we could afford it we started taking as many breaks out of the UK.