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Originally posted April 16 2012 at 22:04 under General and Friends and Moments. 0 Comments. Trackbacks Disabled. Last modified: 19 April 2012 at 20:14

Pasty Tasting

Missing Cornwall
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Must get things out of draft! On which note, taking far too long to write up as usual (perhaps I should try writing these things more as they happen), a look back at a very relaxing week’s break in a very sunny Cornwall, as undertaken by Janet and I. There was plenty of sun, and walking, and beaches, and pubs.


It started with a morning train out of London Paddington. That unfortunately took 5 hours (the only downside to Cornwall I could see is that it’s so far away—not a problem once there!) At least our carriage had back of seat entertainment screens (the actual video content available from these was entirely uninspiring but there was a news feed and the real time position map kept us amused—even with a terribly unresponsive zoom button—eagerly waiting to see Penzance appear in the corner. It seems to have been ripped from an airplane design, given who eager it was to tell us our trains altitude—presumably from sea-level!) Eventually, around quarter past three in the afternoon, we reached the very sunny end of the line, and immediately looked for a pub of course.

Finding a pub turned out to be remarkably difficult (we later realised that had we just turned a corner the other way from the station we would have fallen over one, but those are the breaks). We eventually reached the Star Inn, where we were greeted by a very friendly caretaker landlord, who was from Leeds. All that way, for someone from Leeds. Never mind, on from there to our accommodation…

Nestled just opposite the harbour, with views of the busy shore road and across the sea towards St Michael’s Mount, the historic Dolphin Tavern has been around for a while. The interior has a modern feel though, despite the age and paraphernalia (such as the big brass diving helmets) around the place. Certainly the room the friendly and helpful staff showed us to could have almost been in a new build rather than a few hundred years old!

Rested up and settled in we went hunting for some food. Not fancying sampling what the Dolphin had to offer yet, we wandered until we found some traditional chips (complete with unasked for batter—to use the northern term—which was a bonus). It’s ages since either of us had just strolled around eating proper chips, and doing so in the fading warmth of the day with the sea laid out below at the bottom of hilly Penzance was pleasurable indeed. We eventually made our way to the Dock Inn, just about next to the Dolphin, where there was a dog content to have a pebble in its mouth rather than a stick. We were tempted to recommend the Dolphin to the guests who came in to be informed that despite what they’d been told porridge wouldn’t be available for breakfast in the morning! In the end we retired for final drinks in the Dolphin before making the short trip up the stairs (how convenient!) to bed.


Tuesday brought another bright and sunny morning, into which, after a nice breakfast in the bar, we set off with purpose, heading for the island we could see from our window. We went eastward along the shore. Somehow we managed to miss the seaside path at the station and so ended up on the “wrong” side of the railway lines. It was still a pleasant enough stroll the high way though, and we soon found a footbridge back across the lines to the seaside. Shortly after we discovered the reason for the helicopter emblazoned caution signs along the roadside we’d been following, as the taxi service from the Isles of Scilly came in low to land near us. After that bit of excitement (and watching a surprising number of people emerge from the helicopter) it was a relaxing stroll along the edge of the beach, watching the dog walkers. Amusingly at one point a jogger and her dog came running towards us just before the dog decided it had had enough of that and went of to play with its friends on the beach :-) There was even a man metal detecting.

With sand now filling our shoes we had a toilet stop at Long Rock before admiring the wildlife sanctuary and continuing to the Godolphin Arms at Marazion, which afforded a fine view of our destination from its windows while we refreshed with a pint. So rested we headed down and across the causeway to St Michael’s Mount

The Mount’s harbour and little shops at the bottom are nice, but it’s a bit of a climb to the top! Whilst it describes itself as a castle there is unfortunately very little fortification remaining, and the building at the very top of the steep island has the feel of sprawling, if teetering, manor house rather than anything else. I have to say that wandering around the building was actually something of a disappointment. While the views from outside are beautiful one doesn’t really get a sense of where one is inside, to the point of being abruptly surprised to emerge once more next to the entrance.

Getting back down from the Mount is no simple feat either, with not so much stairs as some rocks to climb down—not good for a nervous Janet. We took it slowly though, with plenty of rests, until we found ourselves once again crossing the causeway to explore the rest of Marazion. The Kings Arms seemed nice, with a lovely chocolate coloured labrador outside. There was a quiz on at nine, to which Colin would be going—and presumably Michelle the barmaid would be serving. Before we left another chocolate lab arrived, in some sort of Cadbury versus Mars battle.

After a bit more of a wander—never quite finding the curious looking white building we’d seen from the Mount—we caught a bus back along the road to Penzance, and prepared for the evening. That was actually fairly uneventful. We had some food in Penzance’s Wetherspoon (they’re everywhere!), brought to us by a pretty harassed young man who probably wasn’t being helped by the seeming incompetence of his superiors taking the orders. Then it was a back to the Dolphin where we joined in with jukebox song selection (well, had to get some decent music on) before heading once more for restful sleep


Another breakfast and another sunny day. Having went east the day before this time we headed westward, armed with an OS map. We started along the promenade and then into Newlyn (a fishing village these days seemingly differentiated from Penzance more by the turn of the land more than anything else). There we rested up in a proper dockside pub. While the Dolphin maybe all comfort and modernity in an old building (don’t swear!) the Star Inn (another one!) is a typical workers pub, complete with fisherman discussing in rough terms the intricacies of fishing quotas. We had to get on though, so headed along the docks and past the harbour to climb the hill towards Mousehole*. The walk up has a lovely view across the sea, enlivened by the allotments we passed with strange scarecrows and other items adorning them in a quirky way. Mousehole itself is probably my favourite place we visited; another fishing village, but more isolated and feeling much smaller, with a wonderful harbour. The pub offered good beer and the chance to listen to one of the local fishermen pass on his culinary tips, and how he once cooked Sunday dinner in a force seven gale!

On we had to go though, as our goal still lay some way before us. We followed the coastal path round until coming to a steep, step strewn descent. As mentioned, Jan isn’t the biggest fan of steps (happily bungee off a bridge at the drop of a hat but stairs…well). After a bit of a sit down to contemplate, and a fellow walker ascending the other way warning of worse to come, we decided it may not be the best idea to head that way (to be fair, even I was packing things more tightly and making sure both hands were free). So back we turned up the spectacular path to find a more inland route. Consulting the map we tried finding a path marked as heading for Lamorna where we could pick up our intended route but after a traipse across a muddy field decided there was no hope of telling where it actually was! Still undeterred (and made more determined by the setbacks) we ended up simply following the actual road around, so we could finally descend into the picturesquely beautiful Lamorna valley. Where the pub (delightfully named Lamrona Wink) was shut :-(

Not suitably refreshed therefore we could at least pick up the original plan and head off into the country. Although the diversions meant we’d now walked a bit further than originally intended we did at last come to our destination, the neolithic stone circle known as the Merry Maidens. On climbing the style into the field Jan was so overcome with the beauty (and tiredness, and maybe an expectation of something slightly bigger) that she burst into tears! Quickly recovered though we both collapsed into the circle of stones, and didn’t move for a while.

It’s a slightly surreal place, lying there in the sun with the stones silently standing as you can imagine them having done so for centuries, looking on. We toured them, walking the ring, feeling their coolness and wondering just why they were there—waymarkers, observatories, ancient tourist attraction? My plan had been to catch a bus back to Penzance; unfortunately there wasn’t one, at least for hours. A glance at the map showed St Buryan “only” a couple of miles away. That would normally have been fine, but after walking all that way already… Never-the-less we set off through more glorious countryside (passing a burial mound) and followed the twisty country road towards the distant church tower. There were at least some sheep and lambs at the outskirts who posed for Jan, and she realised this is where part of Straw Dogs was filmed. We staggered into the pub, to be greeted with an enthusiastic chorus of “Welcome to the St Buryan Inn” in a very friendly, if a little strange, manner—and finally a pint.

The bus back to Penzance passed the Merry Maidens and through Newlyn, my head by now glowing due to having truly caught the sun. We ate in the Dolphin (very nice steak and ale pie) and managed to climb the hill to Penzance’s oldest pub, the Turks Head (with a friendly feel; what seemed to be family either side of the bar) before basically collapsing into bed.

* Pronounced more like Mauzill apparently, but what a wonderful spelling!


After the excursions of the day before we skipped morning breakfast to give a little more rest before setting out on the day’s mission. We headed off to do something we’d foolishly thought we might have time to fit in the day before and catch a bus to Lands End. The bus route through to St Buryan was by now beginning to feel familiar, passing by our favourite ring of stones. The countryside gets even more spectacular after that—and the ride even wilder when sat at the front of the top deck of a double decker. Twisting through narrow country roads, down very steep gradients with hairpin turns, bus driving in Cornwall seems to be some sort of extreme sport. Our driver deposited us safely however, leaving us literally no where to go—we’d run out of land!

Lands End itself is a little strange. The scenery is of course amazing but the “venue” itself seems more geared towards those with children (the rather strange experience of Brian Blessed’s booming voice inviting us onto some sort of quest). There is at least a bar but a walk up to the last and first refreshment house turned into the last and first disappointment as it was shut (apparently we managed to miss the last and first inn, which is in the village of Sennen about a mile’s walk away). We did finally have a pasty—though it was so hot one could barely taste it; we wondered if this was some sort of protest against VAT on hot pasties! And of course we stood by the famous sign post (though we weren’t going to pay the extortionate fees to the official photographer). The gift shop was another disappointment, being filled with tack (including I Heart London things!) Hint, sell little miniature sign posts, possibly personalised with various town names—I’d have bought one of those.

Having taken in the scenery and “attractions” it was back to the bar. There we spent some time watching several pints settle (barrel had just been changed). As we sat in the conservatory (the wind having forced us in from our earlier outdoor perch) a man we took to be the owner came and asked “Is everything OK… Goood” in peculiar american accent. Strange.

Despite the seeming hours waiting for a pint to settle we still managed to pick up the bus back. It’s indicative of the feel of the place that the driver stopped in one of the smaller villages to post a letter, and would later inform a passing fellow driver of a woman waiting to be picked up to go to St Just. As we headed once more through St Buryan the day was still fairly young and we’d liked it so much yesterday that we decided a return to Mousehole was in order (partly because Jan was regretting not having bought anything in the gift shop there). We jumped off the bus in Newlyn therefore to head back up the road, pausing to watch some guillemots in the Dolphin Inn (are pub names in Cornwall restricted or something!?). The gift shop gave forth the usual magnets and heart shaped stones (one day I’m going to have to read the tale of the Mousehole Cat). The pub was as nice as we recalled, made quite a bit nicer by the knowledge we wouldn’t be walking quite so many miles on leaving this time!

We did decide to enjoy the early evening and walk back down to Penzance though. On the way into Newlyn we stopped off at the Red Lion. In my opinion all pubs should have a cat and this one was sat proudly on a stool by the bar. According to the barmaid it doesn’t live there but lives next door and just comes in. I’m not surprised given that she proceeded to feed it!

Talking of food we headed off in search of some. As Janet likes Italian we found ourselves in Gino’s by the promenade. Our waitress (proprietor?) seemed very nervous as she seated us and handed the menu. We then got to watch in amusement as a group of Japanese tourists arrived and tried to pick their own table, only to be moved in no uncertain terms (the restaurant is large and was empty other than us). It’s a good job there was some amusement given that they brought Jan a slightly wrong meal with rice which was undercooked. Mine was OK though; still, wouldn’t exactly recommend.

We know we went out after that but, thanks to the beer through the day and the two bottles of wine with dinner, neither us can actually really remember what we did!! So, there we will have to leave Thursday in anticipation of a hungover Friday.


Friday morning found us staggering down to breakfast—fry-up to recover, served by the laughing chef. The Dolphin were good enough to hold onto our luggage as we went exploring for our last day. We didn’t want to go too far afield so went a little round the corner to delight in the sub-tropical Morrab Gardens before crossing to Penley Museum and gardens, where we relaxed in the orangery (I had an apple juice, which despite what Jan might say, isn’t the same as cider).

Then it was for a final wander round town, taking in the little bits (like the wharfside shopping centre) we’d managed to miss so far. Unfortunately we had a train to catch at two so couldn’t take too long. We headed back down the hill towards the sea, calling in the Union Hotel (where Nelson’s victory and death were first announced to England) before a final call to the Dolphin for our bags and a goodbye pint. There was just time for Jan to actually run to a shell shop on the way to the station before we had to regretfully watch Penzance slip away from the trains live map. We will be back.

Lots more photographs now available!

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This Crazy Fool

Dr Ian Scott
Croydon (and Gateshead), United Kingdom
Bullding Services Engineer (EngDesign), PhD in Physics (University of York), football fanatic (Newcastle United), open source enthusiast (mainly Mozilla)

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