Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Saturday, 23rd September - Cornwall

The pointy bit of Cornwall was our agenda today - the most western and southern part of England. We drove for about an hour through yet more narrow roads and scenic pastureland (one thing you notice here compared to Australia is the way every bit of land is used. Not surprising, but it does make for a different driving experience). First stop St. Michael's Mount - a rocky island outcrop connected to the coast at low tide by a causeway. Sounds like Mont St Michel? Looks like it too, though smaller. Apparently the island reminded William the Conqueror of the one back home in Normandy. Sadly however closed on Saturdays! But they still wanted to charge us £2 for parking.

We persuaded the man to let us take some photos for free & drove on to Land's End. Parking £3 flat rate! There is virtually no free parking anywhere (there just isn't the room) but most parking is ''Pay-and-Display'' so you can choose how long you want to stay. This was the most expensive we had come across - and wasn't worth it. Land's End is the first place we have been this trip that we needn't have bothered. Tacky & expensive "attractions" (we skipped them), nice coastal views (but not spectacular) and the wildlife centre was closed for lunch.

Not a very auspicious start to the day so far! But the next place (which was the main reason we went to the area) made it all worthwhile. The Minack Theatre is a modern classical amphitheatre built into the side of a cliff in a most spectacular fashion. It was built in the 1930s by a remarkable woman, Rowena Cade, who funded the building but also did much of the physical labour herself. It's an amazing achievement and in summer it would be terrific to see a play there. We had a good look around and tried to remember some Shakespeare quotes to recite.

Next stop was the little fishing village of Mousehole (pronounced Mow-zel), another charming little town with a tiny harbour surrounded by little stone cottages. It seems to be home to a thriving art colony - there are about 8 shops in town and 6 of them are galleries. We had a long chat with a Scottish man who runs one of the galleries, about life in Mousehole.

The harbour was largely created by a sea wall, which is where we were directed to park (for £2 of course) which seemed somewhat precarious but there were other cars there so I guess it's common practice. But I did start to worry when we saw puddles of water on the road - with fresh seaweed in them. As the roads were barely wide enough to drive along let alone park we left the car there with some trepidation. Later as we passed through Penzance we saw huge waves crashing over the top of the sea wall and cars covered in seaweed, although the sea seemed fairly calm, so our worries weren't entirely unjustified!