Hi all, its Tony the traveller, bringing you another update.
Since my kidney transplant on 19th December 2008, I have been recovering slowly. Since the end of March I have been taking the opportunity to explore England during my weekends.
I began with Cornwall, Penzance to be exact – the most South-Westerly town in England. I used Penzance as a base to explore the surrounding area, even taking a day trip to the Scilly Isles.
The highlights were; Minack Theatre, a Romanesk outdoor stage with seating cut out of the cliffs. Begun in the early 1930s to enable performances to be held. One lady with the help of almost no-one, dug out the theatre by simple tools and at times her own hands. she carried bags of rocks from the beach on her back – an amazing feat as pictures show.
The other notable attraction besides the beautiful sea and beaches, was St. Michael’s Mount. This is an island castle home. There is a rocky causeway which can be walked at low tide. However, it is extremely uneven and a difficult trek and is uncrossable at high tide when the only access is by boat. Once on the island, the only way up to the castle-stately home is by rough jagged steps cut out of the uninviting rock. It is a steep climb for the fittest and what with the unevenness of the rock steps, I would have found it almost impossible alone. Luckily, I met a nice New Zealand lady at the hostel who agreed to accompany me and together, we managed the climb – admiring the quietness and the view as we ascended.
As pictures show, (see photo gallery), the views to the mainland are spectacular – the castle itself vast and impressive. The Well, had an interesting story concerning a giant who was enticed into a makeshift pit, an interesting tale if inaccurate!
I enjoyed the tranquillity of the place and explored the plethora of cannon. the house itself, which is still occupied by descendants of the St. Austel Family, has many stately rooms and a corridor of portraits and maybe a ghost or two!
It is a National Trust property and is subject to an entrance fee unless a member. The boat costs £1.40, the causeway and/or boat crossing are subject to weather. Good footwear is recommended. Not very accessible to disabled visitors unless accompanied.
The castle itself has several rooms of interest with narrow passages and several stairs. One can see the wealth of the different centuries and the splendour of both the castle and church chapel where family weddings occasionally occur.
Penzance is a lovely old seaside town, with cobbled streets and historic buildings and pubs, some dating back to the 14th century. The coastal walks and countryside makes for a pleasant stay. I encountered strong winds, rain and days of sunshine during my visit. Walking up and down hills with the wind in my face and the smell of the sea in my nostrils was delightful, the elements and terrain awakened all my senses.
My boat journey to the Scilly Isles cost £30 return for a 3 hour ride each way. I landed at St. Mary’s, the main island of the Archipelago. There are 4 other large islands and these can be reach by small boat. I only had 4 hours of exploration so remained on St. Mary’s. I found it had little to offer after a crowded high-street with narrow roads and heavy traffic. I was able to walk the small island in less than 3 hours and apart from a coastal walk, some beaches, an old fortress with a couple of cannon, and many birds and flowers, I found little to occupy me. however, the boat ride itself was worth the effort.
Penzances’ other nearby attractions are, Lands End, the actual end of the British landmass with its visitor centre and coastal footpath and The Lizard, another coastal walkway with a cove. the Lizard is also a National Trust property and is well worth a visit for the views and scenery alone.
Transportation around the area and in Penzance, is reasonable, buses run fairly frequently to many of the attractions, though times vary on weekends and sometimes only arrive every 2 hours or so. Both trains and buses go to Penzance and there is also a nearby airport, which takes passengers to and from the Scilly isles.
It was an interesting area to begin my wanderings around England.
Look out for the next instalment sometime soon.