Autumn Getaway

I’ve returned from time-travelling travel to present day travel for this week’s post.

It occurs to me that we, [that is to say, Husband and myself] have not got the hang of this Covid thing at all. Yes-we are practised in the art of mask-wearing. Yes-we wash our hands lots. Yes-we keep our distance [not from each other, you understand]. Yes-we don’t throw big parties. But we haven’t got to grips with planning ahead, reserving, booking and being organised.

We have come west to Cornwall, via Dartmoor in Devon, where we stayed at a pub campsite and took advantage of the hearty meals on offer. Our departure was delayed due to Biblical quantities of rain which penetrated our house roof [again]. But that is another story. The rain has turned from relentless deluge into squally, intermittent showers punctuated with gusts of wind, a marginal improvement, although I wouldn’t volunteer to swap places with the occupants of the two tents on the site.

We head off in the morning, making for St Just, beyond Penzance, which is towards Cornwall’s ‘toe’ and on the Atlantic coast. But we aren’t in a hurry and having picked up home-made pasties in a farm shop we attempt to park in Launceston without success then find a picnic area where we can stop, make coffee [a distinct improvement on the kiosk Nescafe from yesterday] and continue on our way. After a blustery drive we stop for a break and spot a castle perched on a hill, poking up behind a field. It is, of course, St Michael’s Mount, twin of French Normandy’s Mont St Michel.

It’s years since I visited St Michael’s Mount. We decide to take a detour. When we reach Marazion, the tiny town that faces the mount, the car parks are choc-a-bloc and having been denied access to the National Trust park we have no choice but to pay a steep £8 to park in the ‘alternative’ one.

Then we battle our way across the cobbled causeway towards the Mount, sandblasted and peppered with rain, but when we get to the threshold there are NT staff in masks checking tickets and there is nothing for it but to turn back. We fight our way back across the causeway, mercifully still not breached by the waves and have a stroll up through Marazion, which, though pretty enough is upstaged by St Michael’s Mount sprouting from the broad beach in a dramatic fashion.

We return to the car park where we feel smug making a cup of tea to utilise our £8 fee.

We head off to our pre-booked site at Batallack, near St Just and a few strides from the coast path. The owner is amenable, the site pleasant, with a smattering of occupants.

Next day is cloudy but dry as we set off to walk along the coast path towards Pendeen, where we can get a bus back to the site. As soon as we reach the path the scenery is rugged, rocky cliffs falling steeply down the sea and peppered with the remains of chimneys and wheelhouses from all the old tin mines, all of which have been at least partially restored. The path dips and rises, providing some stiff climbs and descents. In one cove the rocky cliffs are striped with green where arsenic has leeched from the old mines.

After a couple of hours a dank October drizzle sets in, soaking us as we climb steeply up towards the road to Pendeen. We reach the village, legs aching, and scan the main road for a bus stop. The map app on Husband’s phone has disappeared so having spotted a car park sign I make the assumption this is the village centre and we make for it, nipping into the village pub to confirm we’re en route. Sure enough there is not only a bus stop but a shelter! and a few minutes later the double decker ‘coastal breezer’ comes around the corner to take us back to our site. Bliss!

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