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Villages of South England - Part 6

After leaving Lanhydrock, the bus drove to Port Isaac, where the Doc Martin show is filmed. We walked halfway down a steep hill to the port and then decided we didn’t care what the town looked like if we were going to have to walk back up that hill. We opted for a break in a nice garden along the way, which we vacated when we suddenly realized it was someone’s private garden. We strolled around a path above the rocky coast. The tide was coming in and we could see caves that had been used by smugglers.

The bus took us on to St. Ives where we checked into Tregenna hotel, which is in an old mansion. The rooms were nice and big and we had a room in the front with a view out over the lawn. Outside of our room was a large landing with beautiful stained glass windows and lovely ivory-painted wainscoting. In the midst of all this elegance, we did laundry and ordered room service.

Day 10: While the rest of the group went to a tin mine and made Cornish pasties, we had made arrangements to be picked up by a local guide service because we really wanted to see some of the prehistoric sites in the area. We returned to the hotel at 5:00PM, walked to a nearby Tesco supermarket and bought fruit and drinks. We had a picnic of peanut butter sandwiches in the room.

Day 11: Off to St. Michael’s Mount. The causeway was flooded so we took a boat over to the island. Then we began the very steep climb to the top. There were benches to rest along the way, thank goodness. The castle has everything a good castle should have—turrets, a chapel, and great views out the window. It also had its share of quirkiness, including a replica of the mount made from champagne corks, a samurai warrior outfit, and a lock of Napoleon’s hair. The site was a former monastery but has been a private home for 400 years and part of it is still a private home.

We had hoped to walk across the causeway back to the mainland but the winds kept the tide in so we had to take a boat back. We did have some entertainment watching people braving the half-flooded causeway with water up to their knees. Also enjoyed an impromptu guitar duet by a couple who sang Simon and Garfunkel and some Beatles songs. Great voices. Nice little extra.

After we got to the mainland, we took the bus to St. Erth, then a train to St. Ives. We did not see seven wives but they could have been there lost in the throngs of tourists. Of all the places we visited, this was by far the most crowded. The sidewalks were narrow and would sometimes disappear so that we were forced to walk in the streets with traffic. This was not my favorite town but we did have a good experience at a church we happened into. A piano player was practicing for a concert and he was terrific. We sat in the church and listened for a few minutes but were hungry and went down the street for lunch. By the time we got back he was gone. We then tried to get a taxi back to the hotel. While we were waiting at the taxi stand, we saw lots of city buses stopping across the street. We jumped on one and asked the driver if he went to Tree-jeena castle. He told us it was “Tra-gina” and that he went right past it. After we got back, we walked around the grounds for a brief time, but it began to rain so we went inside.

Day 12: We were out the door early to beat the crowds at Tintagel Castle. It was an hour bus ride past lots of sheep, rolling hills and wind turbines. Cloudy and slightly foggy but it was dry upon arrival. We had to walk down a very, very steep road to get to the entrance to Tintagel. There was a castle on the site in the 13th century but the site is associated by legend to King Arthur. We climbed lots of steps up to the site. Along the way, encouragement was carved into the handrails with phrases like, “You’re nearly there!” We needed that.

Posted by
9718 posts

Thanks for posting about the rest of your trip!

I'd love to know more about the guide you all found for the Neolithic sights and what you. I saw Chysauster Village and Lanyon Quoit on a Road Scholar tour of Cornwall last Fall as well as Hurler's Stone Circle. We saw the Cheesewring but it was pouring buckets so the group opted not to walk to it altho it's a geological formation not Neolithic. I'd love to see Men-an-Tol but don't want to drive those narrow roads to get to it!! Anyway, I'd love to know what you did!

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Pam, we went to Carn Euny, which had a beautiful underground passage (fogou), a lot of stone foundations, and a very nice view out over the countryside as it is on a slight hill. On the way there, we passed a small holy well with a tree that had a few ribbons on the nearby tree. This site was free and we were the only ones there. The company we used is called Alvajoan and it was more of a driving service than a true guide who was steeped in archaeological knowledge. However, he was a great driver, really a magician when it came to navigating the narrow lanes and navigating past other cars we met, and he knew a lot about the areas we drove through. You're absolutely right, I would not have wanted to drive those roads.
We also saw Chysauster Village, which was much larger, and required an admission fee. As you know, it also had a great view and the "houses" were more intact than an Carn Euny. We also went to Pendennis Castle in Falmouth and ran out of time so we weren't able to go to the last place we had planned--Carn Brea. In addition to the Neolithic site, there is a castle at Carn Brea that has a restaurant inside. I read reviews that said it was a fabulous experience to eat at the castle but finding vegetarian food was a little more difficult. Besides, we hadn't made reservations and we were tired from a lot of walking so we skipped Carn Brea. I regret it now, but you can't see everything.

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9718 posts

Thanks for the extra information! That fogou looks great at Carn Euny. The only one I saw was the small entrance at Chysauster. Pendennis Castle is interesting - the Road Scholar tour stayed in Falmouth so the castle was kind of visible from the tour hotel. Carn Brea looks good as well but you are right...you cannot see everything!

I love all the Neolithic sights and yes, really enjoyed the ones in Cornwall - so many fewer people than the biggies that are on everyone's radar. I'll have to consider just getting a driver if I go back to Cornwall, thanks for that idea!

Posted by
27 posts

It's far from the south of England, but the passage grave at Newgrange in the Boyne Valley in Ireland is absolutely spectacular. I was there many years ago and it is still the most memorable place I have ever visited.

Posted by
9718 posts

Oh yes....have been to Newgrange and it's fabulous!

On the Best of Scotland tour which I did in June after the Southern England tour we went to Clava Cairn near Inverness which has small passage tombs - missing their lids. This was a neat site because, like the ones in Cornwall, not many people were there. What I thought was funny was that according to the RS guide, a previous owner apparently planted a lot of trees around the site during the Victorian age because he wanted it to look more druid-y!!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clava_cairn