CORNWALL – April 2019

First of all, I absolutely cannot ignore it, so let me start by saying that I am writing this during probably the weirdest time that any of us will experience in our lifetimes. COVID19 is sweeping the world and people are dying in their thousands (probably millions if we knew the real numbers). My ‘day job’ is in healthcare so I know better than anyone the strain the NHS is under, so all I’m going to say is please please stay home and stay safe.

That doesn’t mean though that we can’t dream of gorgeous places and happier times, so I thought today I’d share how I spent Easter a year ago- on a fantastic break in beautiful Cornwall.

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I’d been to Cornwall once before many years ago, and we stayed near Looe which was lovely. This time, I was keen to do three things -visit St Ives about which I’d heard so much, see the Lost Gardens of Heligan and go to the Minack Theatre – because of course if you’re a travel and theatre blogger, you want to go to the most stunning theatre of all!

As a result of this, we decided to split our time between two bases- one in St Ives itself (St Ives Harbour Hotel) and one nearer to Lands End and the Minack (The Saddle and Stable Rooms) which worked pretty much perfectly for us (except for one small timing mishap, which I’ll get to later!) We were lucky enough to be blessed with perfect weather the whole time, in fact I managed to get sunburnt 😉

What We Did

Day One – we set off from London fairly early in the morning as we’d decided to stop at the Lost Gardens of Heligan on our way to St Ives (to minimise the amount of driving we’d need to do). Thanks to traffic being in our favour we arrived right on schedule at lunchtime and immediately got stuck into lunch in their lovely cafe, followed by scones with jam and cream (well when in Cornwall after all!!) We then walked it all off by exploring the stunning gardens. The jungle rope bridge was my favourite 😉

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We left the gardens in the late afternoon and it took us about another further hour of driving to reach St Ives. We found the hotel and the helpful staff checked us in quickly and valet parked our car.

Our room was lovely with a fantastic view…

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AND free gin and whiskey!! How exciting!

We freshened up quickly and took an evening stroll down to St Ives harbour…

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…where we had a lovely dinner and the odd cocktail at Rum and Crab Shack, before slowly wandering home to bed.

Day Two – after a very substantial breakfast at the hotel, it was time to explore St Ives. And if you know me, of course you’ll realise the first place I wanted to stop at was Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. I was not disappointed- the garden especially was gorgeous and we spent a happy couple of hours wandering and admiring the sculptures and art.

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We strolled down to the beach and sampled some Cornish pasties for lunch, before deciding to take a boat trip along the coastline to spot some seals…

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We had another stroll through the back streets of St Ives before popping into Tate St Ives, which I did like, but not as much as the Barbara Hepworth gallery. I think she just seemed so quintessentially St Ives…

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We stopped for a cuppa on the beach before heading back to the hotel to freshen up, as that evening we were eating somewhere that had been highly recommended to me- the Porthminster Beach Cafe. Perched right on the beach (it’s actually the white building you can see in the corner of my photo above showing the view from our room) it’s one of the best seafood restaurants in St Ives. We were not disappointed…

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Day Three – having done plenty of eating, we decided it was time to walk some of it off and followed this circular walk from St Ives to Carbis Bay and back along the coast. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves…

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And when we made it back to St Ives we had to make a quick stop at Moomaids of Zennor for an ice cream- well all that walking does work up an appetite…!!

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We headed back to the hotel after that and tried out the spa and pool, which was a little small but a nice way to pass a couple of hours. That evening we relaxed in our room with burgers from room service and a film!

Day Four – time to move on from the lovely St Ives to our next stop. We also had tickets booked for a matinee at the Minack Theatre that afternoon so we had a schedule to stick to! Unfortunately we somehow misjudged how long it would take us to get from St Ives to Lands End…we had always planned to walk from Lands End to the Minack Theatre via the Southwest Coastal Path, both because it’s a beautiful walk and to avoid the mad traffic on the tiny roads near the Minack Theatre. Unfortunately somehow we didn’t actually arrive at Lands End until just after 12 noon, to begin a walk which Google Maps informed us would take 1 hour and 47 minutes, for a show which was due to start at 2pm…!! So yes, we were up against the clock, on a hot hilly stony path, and I hope never to have to do a power walk like that again! But we made it and it was all worth it…

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We saw ‘Whistledown the Wind’ and it was just amazing. I love an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical anyway but seeing it in such a stunning outdoor setting, with the sea and the cliffs as a backdrop, just took it to a whole new level. Unforgettable and a real life highlight for me.

And then, of course, we had to do the same coastal path walk back. But at least this time we could take our time and take some photos…

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By the time we made it back to Lands End, we were more than happy to collapse in the pub with a drink and some food to watch the sunset…

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…and after that it was only a short drive to our lovely cosy new home, which was a welcome sight!IMG_0771.jpg

Day Five – our last full day in Cornwall and we took it fairly easy after the exertions of the day before!! We wanted to see a bit of Cornish mining history so headed to Levant Mine, where we were able to find out a bit about tin mining in Cornwall, as well as the tragic mining accident that led to the closure of the mine- and then subsequently the restoration of the mine and the beam engine powered by steam, which was fascinating.

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From here we drove on to Sennen Cove and had lunch and a stroll by the beach…

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…before heading on to our next stop, the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum. In these days of mobile phones and Wi-Fi, it’s easy to forget how difficult it used to be to communicate, and this museum was a great insight into the handling of telegraph signals and its importance in military and civilian life.

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By then we were ready to head back for a cuppa and some leftover Easter chocolate!! We had planned to have dinner in the pub right next to our room (The First and Last Inn) but disappointingly it was closed that evening, so we ended up driving back to Sennen Cove where we had a fantastic dinner in The Old Success Inn.

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Day Six – sadly our lovely Cornish break was at an end and it was time to head back home to London. We left mid-morning as we wanted to get back at a decent time, but we did have a stop for a picnic lunch at Okehampton Castle on our way back- which I can highly recommend if you’re ever in the vicinity, it was lovely.

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As you can probably tell from this post, I had a fantastic time in Cornwall. I think I’m often guilty of wanting to go abroad whenever I have a few days off, so it was lovely to have a reminder that sometimes it’s just as nice to stay in the UK and appreciate all that we have on our doorsteps. As and when the restrictions get lifted, I’m definitely planning to make the most of all that the UK has to offer! Any suggestions for where I should visit next?

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