The stress of driving the back country roads diminished my desire to explore any more backroads and towns than necessary on our drive through Cornwall once we got off the main highway, the A38 somewhere west of Plymouth. The landscape was green and we got occasional views of the English Channel as we drove through a lot of small towns and too many traffic circles! Our goal was to get to Penzance. St. Michael’s Mount was across Mount’s Bay and a short drive away. Lands’s End was 9 miles west and St. Ives was to the north.
Penzance and Cornwall have always held some mystical place in my mind. These were places I’ve wanted to visit since I was a teenager. I love rugged coastlines, cliffs melting into the sea, picturesque villages, and the Arthurian legends.
We arrived in Penzance after noon and followed signs to the tourist information (TI) station. It was closed and we really hadn’t done our homework about what there was to do in town. We were there for the scenery mainly I suppose, and we got LOTS of that! (I’ve since bookmarked a number of sites about Cornwall and hopefully one day I’ll get back and have several days (rather than a few hours) to explore it!) There was public parking across the street from the TI, so we pulled in and noticed the Blue Bay Cafe. Best clotted cream and scones we ever found! (They also did a good lunch – I had a great bacon & brie panini.) We explored a couple of nearby stores where I picked up a fabulous 2009 Cornwall calendar and a Cornwall coffee mug. We walked a couple of blocks away from the bay only to discover many places were not open on Sunday. Back to the car… we drove along the coast for a mile or so, then decided that we’d head for St. Michael’s Mount, which by the way, was visible from Penzance.
St. Michael’s Mount looks awesome from the coastal road that leads to a parking area near the causeway & the beach. From what I’ve read, the oldest part of the castle there dates back to the 15th century. It would’ve been really cool to walk across on the causeway if the tide had been out but that wouldn’t happen for several more hours. We parked, walked along the beach, and took lots of pictures. It was really cold and very windy and the sea was very rough though that didn’t stop a windsurfer there!
It was getting late so we decided to begin our trek back to ensure our arrival in Exeter before dark. We ditched plans to travel further west then along the northern route of the peninsula. We’d looked at a route that would have taken us to some higher elevations and across the moors where there might be more snow. Other than almost getting creamed by a red sports car on one of the traffic circles, we had an uneventful trip (with a bit of hail along the way) until we had to drop the car at the airport rental office in Exeter. The signs there were confusing, and since it was after-hours, we had to navigate the place without help. By the time we figured out where to leave the car and drop the keys, we discovered we’d missed the last bus to the train station! A cab to the train station cost about 15 pounds! Ouch. Then we’d have the cost of the train to Torquay. Another ouch. Luckily, there were 2 young women whose flight had been late. They were headed to the conference in Torquay, so we split a 60 pound cab fare for the 23 mile drive.
Next…. in and around Torquay