Tag: Cornwall

Dreams come true in Cornwall

If you’ve watched TV’s Doc Martin or marvelled at the scenery in Poldark, then you know a little about Cornwall.

But, this historic and endearing area – a key part of England’s West Country – is a traveller’s dream.

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The rugged Cornish coastline

In a nutshell, Cornwall is as far west as you can go on Great Britain’s south-west peninsula. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the River Tamar and the county of Devon.

Cornwall has heaps of attractions, from animal and bird conservation centres and general amusement parks to historic gardens, fine Tudor mansions, steam railways and many reminders of the county’s  industrial heritage

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Well known for its stunning cathedral, Truro is the county’s unofficial capital and adminstrative centre and in the Middle Ages it controlled Cornwall’s flourishing tin mining industry.

Truro has some wonderful examples of Georgian architecture, and Lemon Street is one of the best preserved Georgian streets in England.

But, knowing our liking for the English countryside, you probably won’t be surprised that we are particularly fond of Cornwall’s north coast, with its striking scenery and charming villages.

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Travelling through this area is unforgettable, with villages like unspoilt Portreath; ‘Doc Martin’s’ Port Isaac with its whitewashed cottages and narrow alleys; Tintagel’s eye-catching Cornish castle ruins; scenic Boscastle; and picture-postcard Bude by the sea.

There’s something calming and extraordinary about sampling villages in an area where life and surrounds have changed little over the years.

Cornwall works for us – and we can’t recommend the county more highly.

 

Review: The Wellington Hotel, Boscastle, Cornwall, UK

The Wellington Hotel, in the delightful coastal village of Boscastle, Cornwall, is an imposing sight.

Located in a 17th-century coaching inn with a castlesque turret, the hotel is tucked into the hillside overlooking the bridge that crosses Boscastle’s Elizabethan-era harbour.

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We booked online before leaving Australia and – with the exception of Trip Advisor reviews – we knew little about the Wellington Hotel at the time.

However, all our research suggested that Boscastle was one of the most beautiful spots on the northern Cornish coast – and a ‘must-see’ destination.

Everything we had heard about Boscastle proved correct.

And the Wellington Hotel proved to be the icing on the cake.

On the way to northern Cornwall, we read that the hotel had counted among its guests Thomas Hardy, who fell in love in Boscastle; Guy Gibson of Dambusters fame; and members of the Royal Family. And we were soon to find out why.

Detailed review
Q: Were there any problems with the booking?

A: None at all. We had booked two months ahead of our arrival, yet when we checked the night before reaching Boscastle, the staff knew who we were and were expecting us.

Q: Was there adequate parking space at the hotel?

A: This is always a concern in southern England, as on-site parking can be difficult to secure at some coastal hotels. However, at the Wellington Hotel, we were able to park our hire car directly outside the front of the building, in a well lit and secure parking area.

Q: Did check-in run smoothly?

A: Like clockwork. the reception staff were friendly and efficient. Check-in took only a few minutes and we were shown to our room.

Q: Was the room as expected?

A: The room was spacious and straightforward, with traditional furnishings, a comfortable bed and an en-suite bathroom. There was a TV and tea and coffee-making facilities. The free Wifi worked well and the room had adequate and well-placed power points.

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Q: Did the room have a view?

A: Yes. there was a pleasant view over the front of the hotel to the heart of the village and harbour walk.

Q: Was breakfast included?

A: Cooked breakfast was included. As usual at English country hotels, the breakfast was hearty and filling.

Q: Did you use the restaurant?

A: Yes, we had dinner on our first night at Boscastle – and the restaurant offered a large range of European cuisine in a stylish dining room.

Q: Would you return to The Wellington Hotel and recommend it?

A: Without hesitation.

Independently owned, the Wellington Hotel has 14 bedrooms, three suites and a public bar.

A bewitching reason to visit Boscastle

The north coast of Cornwall boasts some of the most striking scenery and charming villages imaginable.

We’ve spend treasured time in this lovely area of England, visiting villages like Portreath with its unspoilt coastal character; ‘Doc Martin’s’ Port Isaac with its whitewashed cottages and narrow alleys; Tintagel with its eye-catching Cornish castle ruins; and picture-postcard Bude by the sea.

But, among all this Cornish beauty, tradition and friendliness, we’ve developed a particular fondness for the quaint harbourside village of Boscastle.

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Located a short distance north-east of Tintagel, the Boscastle area has a particular appeal.

For a start, it has a wonderful Elizabethan-era harbour protected by two stone walls built in 1584.

The village of Boscastle then extends inland from the harbour up the valleys of the River Valency and the River Jordan.

The mainly stone cottages, visitor’s centre, hotel and sprinkling of shops are set against tree and bush-lined hills that creep right to the edge of the village.

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Streams and rivers dominate the landscape and the sound of water can be heard running beneath many of the buildings in the heart of Boscastle.

Because rivers converge in the harbour and hillsides loom almost above your head, Boscastle has suffered severe flooding, never more so than in 2004 when heavy rain caused extensive damage to the village.

The village lies within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which affords it the same status and protection as a National Park.

Boscastle was once a small port, importing limestone and coal, and exporting slate and other local produce.

Forrabury Stitches open fields

These day, much of the land in and around Boscastle is owned by the National Trust, including both sides of the harbour.

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The Trust also owns an area of land high above the village known as Forrabury Stitches – a site of great historic, landscape and wildlife value.

The fields on Forrabury Stitches are farmed in the ancient ‘stitchmeal’ open field system – once widespread in England but now extremely rare.

Oats, barley and grass are grown in the stitches and sheep or cattle graze there in winter.

Like much of the Cornwall’s north coast, the Boscastle area is popular with hikers and England’s South West Coast Path winds through the village.

A special enchantment

With such haunting natural beauty, it’s probably apt that Boscastle is also known for its link with witchcraft and the occult.

The village is the site of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, which houses exhibits about folk magic, ceremonial magic, Freemasonry and Wicca.

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Established in the area since the 1960’s, the museum is a popular tourist drawcard and, on our last visit to Boscastle, the village was hosting some type of European witchcraft conference.

In an area of the UK where stunning natural scenery and quaint villages are around almost every corner, the geography of Boscastle stands out from the crowd.

It is a beautiful and peaceful village, in a tranquil setting along one of the finest stretches of coastline imaginable.

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Distance from London

Boscastle is in Cornwall, about 250 miles or about four-and-threequarter-hours drive from London via the M4 and the M5.

Alternatively, the journey can be done by train and bus from London Paddington. This journey takes about eight hours.

Thanks: Main harbour photo courtesy JUweL Wikimedia Commons 2hoto of witchcraft museum courtesy of Überraschungsbilder Wikimedia Commons.

Where’s the round table at Tintagel?

The legend of King Arthur, Merlin and the court of Camelot can be intriguing for visitors to southern Britain.

In some areas, the lines between folklore, romantic fiction and just plain tourism promotion can be blurry indeed.

And, like Juliet’s balcony  in Verona, Italy, the Arthurian legend also has its props.

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Take Tintagel Castle, in Cornwall, for example. The history and heritage of this craggy and beautiful area, with its jaw-dropping scenery, seems fascinating enough.

While visiting Tintagel village – where the wind whips in from the Atlantic Ocean – we walked down a peninsula to see the remains of a castle on an island close to the mainland.

The island is believed to have been a seasonal or ceremonial seat of the royal house of Dumnonia between 400AD and 700AD.

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In the 13th Century, a  castle was built on the  easily-defended site by Richard, the Earl of Cornwall, after the area had been subsumed into the kingdom of England.

After falling into disrepair down the years, it was later investigated by archaeologists – and has long been a popular tourist attraction.

That history is amazing enough – especially the link with Cornish kings – but Tintagel Castle has also had a long association with the legends of King Arthur.

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In the 12th Century, Tintagel was described as the place of Arthur’s conception in a fictionalised account of British history, the Historia Regum Britannia.

In this account, the infant Arthur was said to have been carried away by Merlin through an opening in the cliff known widely as Merlin’s Cave.

This ‘cave’, which locals described to us as an old coal mine, is now the centre of a controversy involving the English Heritage organisation that manages the Tintagel Castle site.

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It seems that English Heritage engaged a sculptor to carve an imposing image of Merlin’s face into the natural rock near the ‘cave’, to help attract visitors interested in the King Arthur connection.

It’s one of several promotions that English Heritage plans at Tintagel, but the facial image has drawn criticism from Kernow Matters To Us, an organisation dedicated to preserving the integrity of Cornwall’s history and culture.

The organisation apparently feels that the rock sculpture dimishes the genuine heritage of the area in the name of a fiction.

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Regardless of the merits of the debate, Tintagel is a fascinating place that we wholeheartedly recommend.

Why not see the Merlin face for yourself – and make up your own mind about the promotion?

Tintagel is in Cornwall about 257 miles or about four-and-a-half hours from London via the M4 and M5.

By train, it is a four hour trip from London Piccadilly.

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‘When the sun shines, there’s nowhere more beautiful’

SAM_0297Visitors can only reach the centre of Port Isaac on foot, but it’s certainly worth the effort.

The picturesque Cornish fishing village is truly a sight to behold.

At the heart of Port Isaac, stone cottages and stores, linked by a tangle of narrow alleys and walkways, cluster around a glistening harbour.

Located on the Atlantic coast of north Cornwall, where waves crash against the craggy cliff face and the countryside spreads out like a lush green tapestry, Port Isaac provides some of the best scenery in the UK.image11

Villagers describe it like this: “when the sun is shining, there’s nowhere on earth more beautiful.”

Port Isaac pier was built during the reign of Henry VIII.

Fishing is said to have started in the area before the 16th century and, at its peak, the port was home to almost 50 boats.

The centre of the village mainly dates to the 18th century, when Port Isaac also handled cargo such as coal, wood, stone, limestone, salt and pottery.

SAM_0266Today, the picture-postcard village, increasingly, attracts travellers from across the UK and around the world.

Many are there to soak up the scenery, but others are also drawn by the lure of the ‘Doc’.

Port Isaac is the setting for the internationally popular TV series, ‘Doc Martin’ and there is a steady flow of visitors keen to photograph Fern Cottage and other buildings that appear regularly in the show.

However, it doesn’t take long to realise that Port Isaac was a special place long before it was discovered by film and television studios.

Admittedly, only a few fishing boats still operate from the harbour and SAM_0272most buildings in the village centre are now second homes,

But the natural beauty and old world charm of Port Isaac certainly justifies a visit – even if you wouldn’t know Doc Martin from Bob Martin.