Cornwall, Southwest England – Part 1

CORNWALL – North Coast – SOUTHWEST ENGLAND – My stay in Penrith was done on Saturday the 19th of July.  I left Penrith for Manchester Airport.  There was supposed to be a direct train and it’s only supposed to take 2 hours but the train line had other ideas.  The train was late and we had to switch trains at Manchester Piccadilly but I still arrived Manchester Airport in about 3 hours, maybe a little less but when something interferes with your plans it can seem like it takes a really long time.  I stayed overnight by the airport to catch a flight from Manchester to Exeter.  Things went pretty smooth for me here and my arrival in Exeter.  Now, speaking of cars, I did pick one up at the Exeter airport (Hyundai i30) and drove to Tavistock.  The hotel I picked there, The Bedford Hotel, has free parking for it’s guests and looking at the Traveline info and the places I wanted to visit, a car for a few days was the right choice.  
The drive to Tavistock from Exeter was a little over an hour and had a mix of, what we call, highways and what I consider tiny roads.  After a bit of time trying to find the A30 out of Exeter, I didn’t have any problems finding the hotel in Tavistock.  The Bedford is a very nice hotel.  Some of the furnishings are starting to look a bit worn in the rooms but the bathroom I had was very new and the rest of the hotel very nice.  The food served here is very good.  The breakfasts have been wonderful and are included in the price of the room.  I paid 55 pounds per night here.  I think that’s about $95.  But, I had eggs Benedict with salmon this morning with coffee and grapefruit juice and it was very fresh and yummy.   Even back home that breakfast out would be about $20.  You can also order what you’d like and today I had 2 poached eggs on brown bread.  They are very conscious of dietary needs here in the UK and both this place and the Foundry up in Penrith have gluten free and vegetarian options.  They also have a variety of herbal teas and decaf items if you need that.  I did splurge for dinner here when I arrived Sunday night and I had a lovely beef and oxtail pie covered in mashed potatoes which make the “crust”. It was accompanied by some very fresh veggies, asparagus, green beens, baby carrots and broccoli.  I had it with a nice glass of Syrah from Chile.  I haven’t written much about food since I mostly try to stay in apartments and cook for myself.  Here in the UK, it’s not been about the food, it’s been about where I am and where I’m going.  
This is a very luxurious hotel and I picked it both for the price and the location.  I’m on the border between Counties Cornwall and Devon.  I’m trying to be an hours drive or so from where I want to be and with this in mind, I knew I wanted to go up to Tintagel and Port Isaac which are an hour north of here on the North Cornwall coast.  That’s where I went yesterday.  Without getting lost, I did get to Tintagel in a little over an hour.  Tintagel’s story is that it was home to King Arthur.  There is a castle ruin on a dramatic coastline with tons of trails and views of the coast.  There is the mythical Merlin’s Cave – which can only be reached at low tide.  I wasn’t there for that but it was fun roaming around the site and hearing the tie to Arthur.  I only paid for 2 hours worth of parking – dumb so I thought, let me go to Port Isaac.  Port Isaac is now famous because the show “Doc Martin” films here.  Back in the US it’s on PBS and here in the UK it’s on  ITV.  Well, on my way to Port Isaac from Tintagel, I did get lost but it was a glorious wrong turn.  I ended up about 10 miles East of Tintagel, when I meant to go West, in a different more secluded cove/harbor town of Boscastle.  The parking here was easy to find and again I paid for 2 hours worth.  This town had a few trails that sprung out one on each side of the port to stunning views of the cove and cliffs beyond.  It has a Witchcraft museum, which I did NOT go in to but seemed to be decently popular.  I stopped for a drink in a riverside pub and with that it was time to go.  I was determined to get to Port Isaac and this time I did not miss my turn when I got back to Tintagel and in about 40 minutes arrived into Port Isaac.  Luckily the parking area was at the top of town before you come in because the couple of roads you can take your car through are crazy small.  As I was going to pay for parking, an older could came up and said they had gotten an all day ticket that was valid till midnight and did I want it.  Score!  It’s about 1/2 mile to the harbor from the parking lot but it’s clearly marked.  It’s a quaint place and I had some battered shrimp and a drink before I left.  I was really craving some fresh fish or mussels, but I arrived at 4pm and lunch service was over and dinner service didn’t start until 6pm.  We get so spoilt in the US.  Most places open around 11a and run continuously until 9p or so.  That is not the case here or in Europe.  Most places do lunch 12 – 3p and then close and reopen 6 or 7p to about 9p or 10p unless they are takeaway (take out) places.  Anyway, I enjoyed Boscastle more than Port Isaac and I’m glad I spent more time there.  As the poets Public Enemy would say, “Don’t believe the hype”.

So, today I am touring the World Heritage site town of Tavistock, catching up on the blog and photos and planning the rest of my week in Cornwall.  I will be going further West and staying in the town of Penzance for a few days.  I leave Tavistock tomorrow afternoon and will stop near Plymouth before heading West.  I will probably turn in the car the day after tomorrow as what I want to see from Penzance is all easily reached by public transport.  I then will head back to London completing my circle journey of the UK.

Here’s some pics and if you want to see more, go here:

North Cornwall Coast Photos



Port Isaac

Tavistock and the Bedford Hotel


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