Over the Hill, Part One Hundred and Thirty-Seven; Finding The Ends Of The Earth: In Cornwall
After a big breakfast at the house we were staying at, we headed off for our first destination; Saint Michael’s Mount, a small island that is connected to the mainland by a small stone path that is accessible only at low tide. When we arrived there were already a lot of people there (the main car park was already full), but we parked nearby and walked down the beach, with the island staring at us, completely blocked off by the tide. That isn’t a barrier to getting to the island though; when the path is under water there are boats that carry you across for a couple of pounds. So we jumped on board and enjoyed a quick boat trip before disembarking at the island.
Once on the island we had a look around; there are a few buildings at the dock, before it slopes upwards to a small castle at the top of the hill. We bought tickets to access the rest of the island (you don’t have to buy tickets, but if you don’t you’re pretty much restricted to the docks), and made our way up to the small castle, which was originally an abbey modelled after Mont St Michel in France (and was owned by the same monastery). They were expelled by Henry VIII though, and after that it passed through several owners before the current ones, who’ve occupied the island for 400 years. I don’t know how much they actually live in the castle (there were blocked off areas as we roamed around), but they must make a pretty penny from charging people to go inside, judging from the number of people climbing up with us.
The castle is surrounded by small stone walls, and a selection of tiny cannons, and the only way to reach it is to go up and series of long, uneven steps. Once inside, the castle is a mixture of recreations of rooms from it’s ancient past, and rooms as they are now, with the present owners. There are a lot of weapons on display in a couple of the rooms, and lots and lots of random portraits. The best room was a banquet room, the largest in the castle, which was beautifully decorated with some amazing stucco-style artwork on the walls and around the ceiling. There was also a large rooftop area, with a tower at one side, and some incredible views of the nearby town, and the coast on both sides. There wasn’t a lot of history as you walked around, which was a shame, as it obviously has a lot to tell, but considering how many people come through, maybe they thought it best to keep everything as brief as possible.
After exiting the castle we got a quick lunch (toasted sandwiches, scones and tea), which was really nice, before heading over to the Gardens, which surround the castle on two sides. There was a bit of a line to get in, but once we got inside we were greeted by a large open space, which led to a series of rock gardens, full of variety and colour. We had a nice wander around, drinking in the plants and the view, before deciding to take our leave. The island was getting incredibly crowded (I was very glad that we got there early, instead of at lunchtime), and we had other places to be. The walk back across the stone road was interesting, as we were surrounded on both sides by seaweed that had been stranded on the sand by the tides. It was one of the more surreal walks we’ve been on so far.
Getting in the car, we headed off for our next destination; Lands End, which is not just a clever name. After one wrong turn due to a missed sign, we arrived at a massive car park, and what almost looks like an amusement park. Lands End is the westernmost tip of England; beyond that point (apart from a couple of small islands) there is nothing until you hit North America. There are some beautiful views once you get past all the kids entertainment and restaurants; not Cliffs of Moher good, but still very impressive, with a lighthouse just visible on a small reef of rocks a few kilometres distant, as the area is notorious for shipwrecks. We sat there for a bit, enjoying the scenery (and the quiet), before attempting to make our way back to the car.
This was stopped, however, by a most unusual occurrence. A large ‘robot’ was wheeled out in the middle of the amusement area, a large crowd quickly gathered, and the robot (who was over seven feet tall), came to life and started a show, which involved lots of crowd interaction, singing and dancing, and water squirting out of its eyes. Seriously. It wasn’t an actual robot (obviously), but it was pretty entertaining, and a strange and quirky way to end our day. From there we drove back to our Airbnb, Alex made an amazing paella, and we settled in for the night.
The net day, after a quick breakfast, we packed our things, said goodbye to the cute little country house we’d been staying in, and set off to leave Cornwall behind, but not before visiting Lizard first. Lizard is a town, not just a variety of reptile, that has a point of land that is the southernmost tip in England. After driving down we managed to find a car park right near Lizard Point (in fact it turned out to be cheaper than the main car park, which we’d accidentally driven past, so hooray for that), and wandered down to the point, which has a lot less people than Lands End, which makes a big push for the family crowd. Here it was just a few people bird watching, and small groups watching the sea stretch out the distance, with nothing but sea from this point until Africa. There were some nice cliffs on either side, and we went for a short walk down one side before heading back to the car. It was just a short trip, but it was still a cool destination, especially as we plan on visiting the northernmost point of the UK later on in the trip.
Driving through Lizard, we took a right turn and stopped outside a tiny shop called Ann’s Pasties, which does, well, pasties. It turns out that the whole operation is a small unit at the back of someone’s house, but we headed inside with high hopes, as we’d been told to go there by one of Alex’s second cousin’s. After getting three pasties to share, we attempted to drive onwards, but they were a little hot to eat while driving, so I pulled over so we could finish them off. There was a vegetable, a cheese and a meat pastie, and they were all really good. The vegetable one was the highlight I think (lots of potato).
From there we were driving to Glastonbury, which should have taken three and a bit hours, but there was an accident on the main highway, and because of this the trip ended up taking over five hours, so by the time we arrived in Glastonbury it was almost 5pm. Erghhhhhh. After a quick chat to the nice person at the information office, we set off to see our next destination; the Glastonbury Tor, which is a large hill that people have (apparently) been worshipping on for almost 10 000 years. On the top of the hill is a tower, the remains of a 14th Century church. It was quite a walk up there from the car park; thirty minutes, most of it uphill, but when we finally arrived the wait was worth it. You had an amazing 360 degree view of the surrounding area, including the town of Glastonbury, plus the tower was an impressive sight in its own right. We sat there for a few minutes, enjoying the view, but also enjoying the people watching, as Glastonbury is home to a large hippie community, and there were a few people up there meditating in the tower, with a plethora of tie dye shirts and white dresses on display.
After finishing at there we wandered back down, jumped in the car and continued on, finally arriving at our destination of Timsbury via the supermarket just after 7pm. It had been long day, and we chilled out with some pasta while planning our next adventure; to the nearby town of Bath.