Friday 16 August
Today was mostly driving to our friends’ place in Cornwall. We weren’t planning to go but they had contacted us while we were in Belgium and so we changed our plans. Mum and I had met Jon & Helen in Paris in 2007 so it would be good to catch up.
The drive would have been a bit shorter if we hadn’t stopped at a few places on the way, but how could we not. We must have been dazzled by the scenery because we hardly took any photos.
Lunch was at the Cobweb Inn in Boscastle. This pretty little village has had more than it’s share of flooding, partly due to the narrow entrance to the harbour. The water doesn’t have anywhere else to go.
Tintagel is home to the ruins of King Arthur’s castle. We admired it from the viewpoint but decided not to walk down. I suspect we were getting a little sick of up and down by this stage and our feet were calling us nasty names.
Port Isaac, home of Doc Martin, has never really embraced its fame in the same way that Goathland (Aidensfield of Heartbeat fame) has and doesn’t encourage visitors. At least, I didn’t feel welcome, not even 6 years earlier when you could drive into the village and park on the beach at low tide. Now there is a dreaded Pay and Display carpark above the town and, with no loose change, we didn’t stop. Pity.
On to Jon & Helen’s at Redruth and dinner at the pub. They are as mad as I remembered and good fun.
Saturday 17 August
A late start to the morning. Well, I did warn Jon what would happen if he had a 2nd Drambuie.
It was nearly 11.00 before we had breakfast at Smokey Joe’s Truck Stop. It was packed – and not with truck drivers. Very popular and very good. Stu was obviously having trouble reading the blackboard menu because he asked what a “beef stiffy” was. To be fair, it did sort of look like that. But what it actually said was “beef stirfry”. This has now passed into holiday legend and I laugh everytime I think about it.
Next stop, Mevagissy, where we visited the witch shop, the fudge shop and the lolly shop. And the pub where we sat and watched the rain, and the runners on some sort of lunatic 2 day jaunt. I issued an impromptu infringement notice to the truck driver who dared to park in front of the window and spoil our view.
In Truro, we introduced Stu to clotted cream and a cream tea at Charlotte’s Tea House. No one was very hungry when we got to St Ives, so it was lucky we couldn’t get a dinner booking until 9.15. We had time for a walk around this pretty, but very touristy town, and a couple of drinks.
And, it seems, an entire day without photos.
Sunday 18 August
Another late breakfast, this time at Hell’s Mouth between Portree and Hayle. A beautiful spot but also apparently a favourite jumping off spot for suicides.
Another friend had recommended visiting the Minack Theatre and, it turns out, Helen and Jon are members so we went and enjoyed watching a rehearsal. This is definitely somewhere I’d like to go back to to see a performance. The story behind it is well explained in the small museum, too.
We drove through Penzance and Marazion with views of St Michaels Mount
and on to Mullion Meadows cider farm where we bought mead and cider to take with us to The Lizard where we had a late lunch/early dinner at the most southerly cafe in Britain. (Lands End is not the most southerly point, did you know?) We ordered jugs of lemonade to mix with the mead to make mead fizz to drink while we watched the weather roll in.
Monday 19 August
Getting away just before 7.00 seemed a good move to beat the traffic, but a bad move for coffee. It took us a while to find some.
Craven Arms sounds like somewhere to go for a drink, so we did, even thought that’s actually the name of the town. The pub was almost deserted but the lunch was surprisingly good.
Arriving in Llangollen (pronounced “Clangocklen” – yes, Welsh is weird) around 3.00 we headed for the Visitor Centre to find a B&B. The UK Visitor Centres are fantastic places to find accommodation and will charge a small fee to book it for you. Worth every cent. At this one we chose Gale’s Wine Bar B&B. How could we not – with “Wine Bar” in its name?
A walk round town and a drink overlooking the river before dinner at the wine bar. Possibly our best meal so far on the trip, and an excellent bottle of wine.
Tuesday 20 August
Stu had found a place where he could go trout fishing so we headed out there for a couple of hours. I had a nice quiet morning and Stu enjoyed the fishing but no trout for dinner.
Walking out onto the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct isn’t the ideal activity for anyone with a fear of heights. Not only is it high, there’s also no railing on one side. Fortunately, not the side where the walkway is. Next time I might brave the canal boat ride.
Lunch at the local pub before heading north to the Lake District where we’d booked into the Helvellyn Youth Hostel for 2 nights – the only vacancy I could find.
We stopped for a drink at Kirkstone Pass at the top of “The Struggle” – aptly named by the look of the cyclists stopping for a breather.
The hostel is not the best I’ve ever stayed in. Not the worst either, but expensive for what it is. I can only imagine you are paying for the location, but if I’m in the area again I will spend the extra for a B&B or stay elsewhere. It is a good spot for serious walkers (which we’re not) and people who like remote locations (which we are).
Wednesday 21 August
We had planned to do some sort of walk today – nothing too adventurous, but walking is what you do in the Lake District. A combination of the weather and my newly sprained ankle limited us to a 2 mile walk to Aira Force waterfall. I’m still struggling with miles/kilometres. 2 miles doesn’t sound as far as 3.2 kilometers.
The dismal, dismal weather sent us searching for something less exposed to do. We opted for a boat ride up Ullswater to Pooley Bridge where we had lunch and a walk around town before heading back for a quiet night in playing cards with other hostellers.
Thursday 22 August
Of course it’s a beautiful, fine day to leave the Lake District. I did suggest staying but we headed out to visit Hadrian’s Wall on our way to Edinburgh.
I had high hopes for Birdoswald, being the longest remaining section of the wall, but was disappointed that there was no real sense of the size or height of it. There was no audio guide, only a guide book (a common occurrence) and when you have to think about luggage weight, you can’t buy them all. We did get to watch an excellent presentation by a “real” Roman Centurian explaining aspects of weapons, rank, uniforms and life of the soldiers.
I decided we should go to Housesteads which I felt gave a much better impression of the wall. Stu went for a walk along the wall but my ankle told me to settle, so I hobbled back down the hill.
In no rush to get to Stu’s cousin’s place in Edinburgh, we made a few stops, including:
The Gun Inn at Ridsdale for lunch. This is a really friendly, family run pub with lovely food. Just the sort of place you hope to find but rarely do.
Across the border into Scotland, which has a reminder, just in case you miss it.
Scott’s View for a beautiful view.
A William Wallace Memorial that was huge and unexpected.
The Leaderfoot Viewpoint on the River Tweed, which looked like a nice fishing spot but was a “no go” private area.
Dinner & drinks and an early night in Edinburgh.