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Completing Cornwall

Cornwall - Land's End, St. Ives & St. Austell

semi-overcast 21 °C
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Managing to get some sleep the previous night, we awoke for the second full day of our trip. After a busy first two days we decided to try and take today a bit easier, and after a lie in made our way to the Eden Project near St. Austell.

Although it didn't seem far on the map, it still took us an hour to get there. Upon arrival at this former quarry pit that has been converted into an ecological attraction, we made our way down the slopes and after entering gained view of the two biomes and surrounding landscaped gardens.

Eden Project

Eden Project

We started by exploring the gardens, which contain plants from the local area and the country as a whole, before making our way to the Tropical Biome. In here, there are an array of tropical plants, and a few animals that live in a tropical climate, kept at 28˚C and at the correct level of humidity.

Inside the Tropical Biome

Inside the Tropical Biome

After viewing the interesting alternate climate, we crossed the bridge and entered the Mediterranean biome. Less interesting as we had seen this climate for real many times, it was still clever how the plants can survive outside their natural area and it was very well kept.

Eventually we headed back to the car to continue our journey for the day. Our next stop was not far away - the small fishing village of Mevagissey, around 20 minutes on the other side of St. Austell.

Mevagissey

Mevagissey

We didn't stop long here, but enough time to wander around and get a feel for a real Cornish fishing village. Our next stop was Falmouth, which still took almost an hour to reach. Here we would stop at the Pendennis Castle, with views over the estuary where many small boats are moored.

By this time it was getting late so after driving back through Falmouth, through some of the streets that felt like they belonged on the other side of the English Channel, we headed back to our hotel.

Streets in Falmouth

Streets in Falmouth

After having dinner at the restaurant next door we chilled for the evening when a sore throat started to come on! The following morning after a nice rest the sore throat was still there but nevertheless we progressed with our final full day in Cornwall.

We first started at St. Michael's Mount, a tidal island located off the coast near Penzance. Wanting to be able to walk along the causeway we checked the tidal times and thus went there first thing.

St. Michael's Mount

St. Michael's Mount

After parking we walked along the beautiful causeway and walked into the port where the shops were beginning to open. It was a very small quaint place and after buying some souvenirs we continued with today's trip by heading down to Land's End.

Although it didn't seem far on the map, again it took much longer than expected. After about 40 minutes we arrived at the very commercialised attraction, bought some souvenirs, and took in views of the last point on Great Britain.

Land's End

Land's End

The next place on our list was the Minack Theatre, located just around the corner. This theatre is built into the cliff face and has beautiful views of the sea and nearby beaches. At the time we were there, rehearsals for the next play were taking place so we got to witness a performance without having to pay for it!

Minack Theatre

Minack Theatre

After this we headed down to Lizard Point, the southernmost point on Great Britain, and the only bit located below 50˚N. Unlike Land's End this was not as commercialised, but still had stunning cliffs.

Lizard Point

Lizard Point

On our way back from Lizard Point we stopped off at Loe Bar, a tombolo which has created a lake in a former estuary.

Loe Bar

Loe Bar

After walking along the Cornish coast we had just one more place to visit whilst down here, and that was the town of St. Ives. By this time however I was fed up of the other tourists, from being downright inconsiderate to the worst of what England can offer. It's almost as if all the manners that English people have suddenly disappears the moment they are on holiday. Everytime we saw some nice people, they turned out to be foreign!

Upon arriving in St. Ives it was a mess. Car parks were located all around the town, which was completely incapable with coping. It has small winding extremely hilly streets which end up on the main promenade, full of people who couldn't care less if they were about to be ran over. And yet there is no way around it, as there is a one way loop. When you eventually end up where you need to be it turns out the car park is full anyway. What the town needs is a large car park outside that can cope with all visitors, with a bus/footpath into the town. All roads beyond this point being pedestrianised and for locals only. The amount of money that the council make from car parking could easily fund this but simple disorganisation and mismanagement prevents it.

To make matters worse, when we finally found a car park with spaces, the machines went down preventing anyone from buying a ticket. However as the town did look beautiful we went out of our way in order to pay it a visit.

We didn't stay overly long, with the skanky tourists, the harassing seagulls starting to grate, as well as the time getting on, so after a walk around the town and relax on the beach we headed back to the hotel for dinner and a chilled evening.

St. Ives

St. Ives

After breakfast the following morning, we got the rest of our bits together and headed on our way back home. Again this would take hours, so we made a few stops en route.

After an hour we still hadn't reached where we left the main road to the Eden Project, but the further we got out of Cornwall the better the roads tended to get. We branched off as we got to the Cornwall/Devon border and headed into Dartmoor. Again many winding roads, but as we drove through the moorland we did see lots of scenery and wild animals.

Cow on Dartmoor

Cow on Dartmoor

After a brief stop at the visitor centre we continued the long drive through the winding roads of Devon, before eventually making it towards Exeter, and onwards home. Managing to dodge an 90 minute traffic jam by whizzing around the local roads near Salisbury we eventually made it home just before rush hour!

850 miles in the last five days, but we had managed to see such beautiful scenery. Had the other tourists not lost their manners it would have been more enjoyable but it was still a nice trip away.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 03:15 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged animals nature beach scenery island cornwall Comments (0)

Beyond Britain

Cornwall - Salisbury, Shaftesbury, Camborne, Penzance & Isles of Scilly

semi-overcast 19 °C
View Cornwall on kmmk17's travel map.

Just ten days after getting back from Lithuania, our next holiday was upon us. We were going to take a road trip down to Cornwall, similar to the one we took back in 2016 to the Bristol area, although this time it would be longer.

Avoiding the upcoming school holidays, which would add even more travel time to this already long enough journey, we travelled down on Thursday morning after rush hour with plans to stop off and break up the journey en route. After around 2 hours we reached the first stopping point - Salisbury.

Salisbury is an old traditional city in Wiltshire, and has a couple of sights. The first we planned to stop at was Old Sarum - the old hilltop where the city was previously located. However when we arrived we changed our minds about entering - it seemed very overpriced and we weren't going to stop for long, so instead we got back in the car and headed to the centre of the city.

We then stopped at Salisbury Cathedral, one of the most impressive cathedrals in the UK, and also took a look at one of the surviving copies of the Magna Carta which is on display here.

Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral

Dodging any traces of Novichok after walking past the Zizzi's restaurant, we had a look around the city centre before heading back to the car to drive across Cranborne Chase, to our next stop in Shaftesbury.

Shaftesbury is a very small town in north Dorset, which we stopped at due to the beautiful Gold Hill, a steep cobbled street made famous by the Hovis bread advert.

Gold Hill

Gold Hill

After a short stop viewing the hill, we then carried on with our long drive, stopping off at the odd service station before finally entering Cornwall. Not long later we made it to Bodmin Moor, where we stopped off at the Jamaica Inn, a traditional coaching inn with a history of smuggling.

Jamaica Inn

Jamaica Inn

Eventually after spending all day driving down to Cornwall we arrived in Camborne, where we would be staying for the next four nights. However we still needed to grab dinner and food for the weekend, so we quickly headed back out to grab a quick meal. Whilst there we stopped by a local tin mine that had been converted into an attraction, before stopping by the local supermarket to buy supplies and fill up with petrol.

Mine

Mine

The time driving between home and Exeter and that of Exeter and western Cornwall was almost the same, despite the latter being a much shorter distance. Although the roads in Cornwall were not as bad as I had been expecting, they were certainly substandard with many bottlenecks, even on the major arterial roads. By the time we had arrived I had already taken the view that we should see everything now so we didn't need to come back and visit for another 25 years!

Having been a long day today, and with an early start the following morning, we took an early night. Annoyingly though I couldn't sleep, and in the end I must have got less than two hours all night - not ideal!

Nevertheless as the morning progressed I didn't feel quite so bad, so we continued with our plan to visit the Isles of Scilly - there would still be time to turn back, but ultimately this was unnecessary, even though I did start to develop gum/toothache.

Penzance Harbour

Penzance Harbour

We had arrived nice and early ready to board the boat for our 2hr45m journey from Penzance into the Atlantic. Having napped during the boat trip, eventually arriving at midday we had four hours to wander around Hugh Town, the largest town on St. Mary's - the largest island in the archipelago.

Hugh Town

Hugh Town

The sea around the islands is a luscious blue, and there are an array of more tropical plants growing naturally than can be seen on Great Britain. It had a mix of a Mediterranean feel, mixed with traditional English buildings. We started by taking a walk up the hill to the west of the town, before walking around the town itself.

Beach

Beach

After having lunch at a local restaurant we headed towards the west end of the town, sitting by the beach as well as waking up the hill.

Views over Hugh Town

Views over Hugh Town

By now it was almost time to head home, we boarded the boat and found it much busier than the outward bound trip this morning. Being a Friday afternoon there were lots of returning school children headed back to the mainland. Unfortunately we got stuck amongst them, and one group (with their ringleader 'Ella') proceed on shouting "Merry Christmas" to every passing peer. After three hours this became quite tiresome, especially as she was dressed like a slut parading around with tiny shorts and a massive hoodie.

Finally we arrived back in Penzance, and after squeezing past all the parents waiting for their annoying children, we made it back to the car and headed back to the hotel, where hopefully I could get some sleep tonight!

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 03:38 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged islands boat beach summer cathedral cornwall Comments (0)

Sectarian Saturday

Ireland - Derry & Belfast

semi-overcast 20 °C
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After the first day of exploring the northern coast, today we spent the morning looking around Derry itself before making our way to Belfast.

After a well earned sleep, we had breakfast in our B&B before we headed into the city. Parking up beside the River Foyle, we then began our walk around the city, heading first up the hill towards the City Walls. As we made our way, we entered the only unionist area on this side of the river - the Fountain estate. This was unlike anywhere I'd ever seen. Not only Union Jacks flying, but the kerbs were painted in Red, White and Blue, and there were several political murals.

Fountain Estate

Fountain Estate


Derry Walls

Derry Walls

Walking just a bit further up, we walked through a gate and headed onto the walls themselves. These are some of the only intact city walls never to have been breached in the world. As we walked around the walls clockwise, we soon saw the fence separating the Fountain estate from the rest of the city. Not too much later we had a great view over the Bogside area - the main nationalist area of the city.

Bogside

Bogside


Free Derry

Free Derry

We then took a walk down into Bogside, past an Irish cross, before arriving at the Free Derry sign, a remnant of the three year autonomous area formed in the early 1970s. We took a walk around the area, past the many murals commemorating the Troubles, including those of Bloody Sunday, as well as more recent signs about interned community members and anti-Brexit/pro-unification messages.

Bogside

Bogside


Peace Flame

Peace Flame

We then headed back up the hill to the walled city, buying some souvenirs, before heading towards the peace flame and the Peace Bridge over the Foyle. Having now seen all the sights in the small city, we stopped by the local shopping centre before heading back to our car to head back to Belfast.

Peace Bridge

Peace Bridge

We dropped the car back off at the airport, before getting on a bus bound for Belfast, which after around half an hour arrived in the centre of the city. After grabbing our two day transport tickets, we got on a bus bound for the west of the city, where we would see the Peace Lines.

Peace Lines

Peace Lines

These lines are some of the worst examples of the sectarian violence in the city during the Troubles - a big metal fence separating the unionist and nationalist communities. We headed to Bombay Street, on the nationalist side, where the fence sits just metres from the back of houses, which have glass barricades over to prevent any damage from any objects thrown over the fence. This grim reality however almost seemed lost on a generally happy atmosphere walking through the area.

We then headed back and took the bus to the Titanic Museum - a museum celebrating the brilliant engineering achievements of the city that resulted in a ship it built sinking on it's maiden voyage! Nevertheless it was a very good museum, even if it was a bit overpriced, with lots of information and examples of what the ship was like.

Titanic Museum

Titanic Museum

By now it was already getting late, so we headed to a pub for dinner, before finally making it to our hotel on the outskirts of the city.

The following morning we headed back to the city, seeing a steam train pull through the local train station before we made our way to Stormont - the parliament buildings of the Northern Ireland assembly. This grand building sits imposingly on a hill over a grand park on the outskirts of the city, with an avenue leading from the road.

Stormont

Stormont

We waked up part of the road before heading back to the city, and took a wander around before our onward travel, stopping off at some of the shops, the docklands around the River Lagan, and taking a look inside the City Hall.

City Hall

City Hall

Inside City Hall

Inside City Hall

We then headed to the bus station for our onward travel over the border to Dublin.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 09:02 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged park city ireland old border Comments (0)

Following Finn McCool

Ireland - Causeway Coast

sunny 20 °C
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With Northern Ireland being the only part of the UK I had yet to visit, it has always been on my list as somewhere to visit. And with Brexit just around the corner causing uncertainty as to how this tense and unique part of the country will look in the not too distant future, we decided to quickly pay a visit and literally walk out of the UK at an unmarked border whilst we still could!

With the weather always being unpredictable, expecting rain constantly, we were pleasantly surprised to arrive to a warm and sunny morning at Belfast Airport.

With the first part of the trip being about seeing the north coast and the Irish border, we hired a car from the airport, being much cheaper than taking our own over on the ferry, and after picking it up we headed out to our first stop, just up the road in Antrim.

We stopped by the shores of Lough Neagh, the largest lake in the British Isles. The legend states that Finn McCool (or Fionn mac Cumhaill), a legend in Irish Mythology, was fighting with a Scottish rival, and scooped a bit of land to throw at him - missed, and this formed the Isle of Man, whilst the missing earth flooded and created the lough. This seems highly unlikely, but nevertheless it was a nice spot to stop after getting used to the car, looking over the lake, which was so big that the other side could not even be seen.

Lough Neagh

Lough Neagh

After getting back in the car, we then stopped by the Tesco in Antrim to stock up on some supplies, before we made the decision to head up to the north coast today.

After an hour or so driving through the Antrim countryside, we made it to the port town of Ballycastle, where surprisingly the beautiful blue skies had disappeared amongst the mist clinging over the town. worrying, as our first site was on 15 minutes down the road, where we had hoped to obtain views over the Straits of Moyle in the North Channel over to Scotland. As we drove around the hilly rural roads towards Torr Head, with the weather clearing, we found a good vantage point, where it was just possible to see the Mull of Kintyre. Guessing that it would likely be no better down the road, we decided to stop here, enjoy the views, and then continue on our way along the Causeway coast.

Straits of Moyle

Straits of Moyle


Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Our next stop was just half an hour up the road - the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. The bridge is a modern version of the traditional bridge in use for almost 400 years to connect a rocky island just off the coast to the mainland, at 30 metres above the sea level below. Upon arrival it was quite busy, being a major stop of the tourist trail, and as we walked the twenty minutes down the beautiful coastline we passed many tourists - mostly Germans and Spanish.

Causeway Coast

Causeway Coast

When we got to the bridge itself there was a little wait, as only 8 people can cross at once - however it didn't take too long before we made it to the other side.

Crossing the bridge

Crossing the bridge

After returning back to the car, we headed out for another 20 minute drive along the coast towards the jewel in the crown - the Giant's Causeway. However as we left the car park we were stuck behind a German tourist coach, then then proceeded to take the same roads as us, clearly taking the Germans to the causeway too.

Eventually we arrived at the car park for the causeway, and after taking a look at the visitor's centre, we made our way down the coast to the shore, where we could walk along the causeway itself. The legend of it's creation is that Finn McCool (yes, him again) built a causeway to fight a Scottish giant, destroying it upon his return. In reality it's of volcanic origin (with similar landforms in Iceland amongst others) and these are the last bits to remain above sea level, uneroded.

Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway

Although busy, the area is big enough to still enjoy it in it's full glory, and with the blocks forming steps it was also super easy to get around.

On the Causeway

On the Causeway

As we started to leave the area, we were stopped by a pushy Russian-American who wanted a photo. Before even answering he has given me his camera and directed how I should take the panoramic photo of his family on the rocks. Cutting out the signpost I swooped around, before stopping to cut out the tourist who had just walked into the area. Handing it back to him he then wanted another one, this time wider, and with less rocks - to which his wife smirked "that's what we're here to see". Next thing I was back taking yet another photo for this rude man. Thankfully he didn't want another perfect photo and we quickly made our mistake back up the hill.

As we got back to the car, it was another relatively short drive to our accommodation for the night - a B&B on the outskirts of Derry, close to the border with the republic. We arrived and checked in, before heading out to get dinner. We did however quickly stop by the village of Muff, just across the border. As we couldn't drive across due to the terms of our rental agreement, we parked up just metres away, and walked across the border, where the only sign of the border was a change in speed (km/h instead of mph) and signs welcoming us to County Donegal.

Muff

Muff

We then made our way to the local McDonald's to grab some food, before we went back to our B&B. We then went for a walk just 15 metres down the road where the rural track crosses the border. Even less noticeable than in Muff - just a solitary speed sign at a stream. As we walked back it occurred to us just how arbitrary this really is, and how deeply affected this part of the word is going to become should Brexit not work out well.

Chris over the border

Chris over the border

After a long day, it was now time to finally sleep, and tomorrow we would explore Derry before making our way back to Belfast.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 09:50 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged hills coast borders lake ireland island border geology geography Comments (0)

Road Trip

Bristol, et al.

semi-overcast 22 °C
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Having spent the last few years jetting off abroad for weekends away to new cities and countries, it made me realise there were still patches missing that I had never visited in my own country.

Despite having seen mouse statues in Lithuanian sea side towns, and art villages in rural Germany, I had still never seen Stonehenge, Cardiff or Bath. Therefore whilst I was in the midst of visa approvals I had decided that I would take a visit to the West country on a nice weekend during the summer, similar to my trip to North Wales a few years back, stopping in a few places for a few hours before heading to the next. Keeping in mind the school holidays as well as the weather forecast the weekend chosen was the last in July, and together with Chris we set off early on Saturday morning towards Stonehenge.

Hearing it was best to prebook our tickets in advance we looked to be arriving on time. However despite the satnav telling us that we were only two minutes away, with a dual carriageway merging into single lanes, and everyone wanting to slow down for a photoshoot of the rocks themselves it ended up taking us 45 minutes to finally arrive!

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Once parked up at the new visitor centre we then took a short bus ride to the rocks themselves for some photos, surrounded by half of China. After taking in the sophisticated neolithic structure and grabbing a bite to eat we then continued our journey on to Wookey Hole.

Wookey Hole

Wookey Hole

The caves at Wookey Hole included a guided tour, and after raving it up with our glow sticks we entered to observe the stalagmites and -tites as well as the erosive features.

Cheddar Gorge

Cheddar Gorge

Our next and final destination of the day was Cheddar Gorge, where we walked up the side of the gorge to gain views over it as well as of the Bristol Channel and South Wales, before heading back down and stopping for a coffee inside the Gorge.

Inside Cheddar Gorge

Inside Cheddar Gorge

After resting up we then drove up the Gorge itself for some stunning views before heading to our hotel in Portishead for the evening.

Portishead

Portishead

Arriving at the hotel we checked in, had dinner and then took a quick drive to the coast before heading back and chilling with a bottle of wine after a long day.

Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay

After some rural attractions, the following morning we headed towards Cardiff, stopping at Cardiff Bay and viewing the waterside regeneration before driving through the city centre and then into the valleys, stopping by the house of my great grandmother.

Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle


Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Heading back to England we then took a brief visit to the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol before our final destination on this busy weekend - Bath.

Us at the Roman Baths

Us at the Roman Baths

After taking a look around the Roman Baths we then headed for a walk around the city looking at the architecture before our final drive back home.

Royal Crescent

Royal Crescent

A long and tiresome weekend but a great one - helped by the weather, but also by being able to drive around to enjoy the sights without getting bored!

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged landscapes bridges history cave roman capital ancient Comments (0)

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