Rent a car, she said. It'll be fine, she said. Probably the scariest thing I've ever done in my life. And, to add disappointment to anxiety, I need to tell you (spoiler alert...) If there are any pirates left in Penzance, they are few and far between.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Leaving Oxford we white-knuckled it 130 miles to Eastbourne on the English Channel south of London. At home this would have been a two hour drive. Here, it took nearly 6, what with friday afternoon traffic through the outskirts of London. I have few recollections of that drive beyond an overwhelming sense of fear and dread. We made it, found a parking spot right in front of the hotel. I spent the next 3 hours on the beach decompressing.
We left Saturday morning on the 320 mile drive from Eastbourne to Penzance. After a quick stop at Beachy Head to photograph the white cliffs cute red and white lighthouse, we headed out. Nine hours and 87 roundabouts later we arrived, exhausted, in Penzance.
Penzance. Again, no pirates, but a nice place. Incorporated in 1614, Penzance is a relatively young city! We spent three very lovely nights at Penmorvah, a B&B on Alexandra Road in Penzance. There is lots to see in the area. We had two days. We picked...
St Michael's Mount. What an awesome setting. The counterpart of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France, this island castle is far less well known. At low tide you can walk to the island. We took a boat. The original church was destroyed in a 1275 earthquake, and the current church dates from the late 14th century. We arrived at 11 am sunday morning, just in time for the service. Part of the island is still privately owned and occupied by the the family of Colonel John St. Aubyn who purchased the mount in 1659. Like they say, location, location, location... Here's a video clip of the boat ride out to the island and the organ playing inside the chapel.
Mousehole is a small fishing village a couple miles south of Penzance. We just happened to be there on a beautiful sunny afternoon in September. It was a beautiful day in a very picturesque village.
Land's End is not a clothing store in a mall. It is the very end of the Cornish Peninsula. The weather was location appropriate.
The Geevor Tin Mine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tin mining played a significant role in the Cornish economy until the crash of tin prices in 1995 making it no longer economically feasible to continue mining in the region. Tours are led through the mine by miners who lost their jobs when the mine closed. It's hard to imagine the scope of this mine, which reaches a mile out under the ocean, and depths where the ambient temperature approaches 90 degrees F.
St Ives is another quintessential Cornish fishing town. Narrow winding streets complete its charm. Well, that and pasty. I haven't mentioned pasty yet. It is traditional Cornish cuisine that was a staple of the miners in the region. A fresh baked pasty will hold its heat for a very long time. It's durable enough to survive in a coat pocket and still be hot for lunch. We purchased fresh baked pasty from a stand in Victoria Station in London before we went on our Thames cruise. Two hours later when we ate them, they were still too hot to eat without pausing between bites for the next one to cool off. Anyway, so we had more pasty in St Ives.
- Sept 9 - Drive to Eastbourne
- Sept 10
- Sept 11 - Penzance
- Sept 12 - Penzance