CORNWALL. A SEA-SIDE AFFAIR!

Tripoto

Surrounded by the Celtic sea in the north and west, the English channel in the south and Devon over river Tamar (an English county) in the east, Cornwall is best suited for a coastal expedition. It would be heart-breaking to see this breathtakingly beautiful region of Great Britain break loose from the peninsula, if they succeed in their struggle to gain an autonomous identity. I recently had the privilege of travelling there.

I knew I was already breathing the Cornish air, when my train stopped at Newquay. The colorful harbor visible from my window filled me with delight.

Photo of CORNWALL. A SEA-SIDE AFFAIR! 1/1 by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh
Boats lined up at the Newquay harbour, for a water-sport event.

At 2pm, I got off my train at the Penzance train station. At the tourist information office outside the station, I picked up the tide timetable and headed straight to the beach

1. PENZANCE BEACH

I spent the afternoon at the walkway along the beach. It offered some fantastic urban and scenic views, alike. Everything from the fairy-tale houses, the blue seas, the distant green countryside and the pleasant skies, held me captivated. In my confusion about what to admire, I hadn't noticed how my ears had got accustomed to the ironically pleasant screeching of the seagulls.

Day 1

Sea gulls flew everywhere. They would circle overhead in groups or even fly solo, in style.

Photo of Penzance, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

Views of the city from the Penzance Beach.

Photo of Penzance, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

As I walked, I discovered the secret to Cornwall's fresh air and the ever-so-blue water and skies. Not only did tourists do it for a fun activity, but most natives cycled around the city, too!

THINGS TO DO!

Rent a bike and ride along the walkway, at the Penzance beach.

Photo of Penzance, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

Relax near the light house at the Penzance beach and watch boats and ships sail by.

Photo of Penzance, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

2. THE OLD DOCKYARD AND THE JUBILEE POOL

The Old dockyard, Jubilee pool and Rock Islands were minutes away from the beach. The ropes that anchored the abandoned boats at the dockyard, were thick with algae and lichen.

Some interesting flora adorned the dirty walls of the old dockyard.

Photo of CORNWALL. A SEA-SIDE AFFAIR! by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

I was astounded at how even kids swam bravely in the Jubilee pool. Mind you. It was no ordinary swimming pool. This one was a natural. Sea-water filled it directly. Although the thought of swimming in the middle of the sea appalled me, a pool wouldn't scare me in the slightest.

The wondrous structure of the pool had me so enraptured that I soon gave up guessing how it would feel to be in there!

Natives walking the rock islands during tide-out times. Notice Mount St. Michael's in the distance.

Photo of Jubilee Pool, Penzance, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

3. ROCK ISLANDS

I could barely contain my excitement when I was free to explore the tiny rock islands. It was tide-out as per that day's time-table. The islands remain submerged, otherwise. I had to be careful, as some areas got slippery due to the algae.

While at the islands, I noticed another thing about the city. Everybody walked a pet dog or a cat. And I had never seen so many breeds in one city. After enjoying my tour of the rock islands, I made my way to the Penzance Backpackers hostel. The host, Michael greeted me warmly and showed me to the 6-bed female dormitory. Their spotlessly neat kitchen even motivated me to cook a meal, after one long tiring day in Penzance.

The interiors of the Penzance Backpackers dormitory. Just 14pounds a night. Unbelievable, isn't it?!

Photo of CORNWALL. A SEA-SIDE AFFAIR! by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

Next morning, from the bus station outside the Penzance train station, I caught my bus to Land's end. I took my seat in the open air section of the double-decker bus. Although, I had to frequently duck down to avoid low hanging branches from smashing my face, the ride was most rejuvenating. On both sides of the road, meadows stretched as far as my eyes could see. Some were even equipped with windmills.

Cattle grazing lazily in the meadows that outlined the route to Land's end.

Photo of CORNWALL. A SEA-SIDE AFFAIR! by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

DAY TRIPS FROM PENZANCE

1. LAND'S END NATIONAL PARK

Indeed, as the name itself suggests, it is where the land ends. And it is also where water currents from the direction of New York, the United Kingdom and the isles of Scilly converge. The emotions that the visit stirred in me are inexplicable. For the ardent photographer I am, here are a few shots that I managed to get. Words just cannot described this place enough.

Afer spending half a day here, I caught a bus to Porhcurno from here. It is a beautiful but tiresome hike to Minnack Theatre from there.

Hike to the top of the national park and let your gaze linger on those blue waters forever.

Photo of CORNWALL. A SEA-SIDE AFFAIR! by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

Take note of the tiny pink flowers which grow there in plenty.

Photo of CORNWALL. A SEA-SIDE AFFAIR! by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

Stop to admire all the little wonders the hike has to offer.

Photo of CORNWALL. A SEA-SIDE AFFAIR! by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

I could only marvel at what I saw. The views along the trail at the Land's end park were incredible

Photo of CORNWALL. A SEA-SIDE AFFAIR! by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

Cow boys still exist. And they walk ponies to their farm in the Land's end National Park.

Photo of CORNWALL. A SEA-SIDE AFFAIR! by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

Relax at any bench that you find along the trail & listen to waves crashing against the Land's end.

Photo of CORNWALL. A SEA-SIDE AFFAIR! by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

MINNACK THEATRE AND PORTHCURNO

Day 2

Watch surfers catch the waves at Porthcurno.

Photo of Porthcurno Beach Flat, Penzance, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

Make sure you look through the gaps in the huge boulders at the Porthcurno beach.

Photo of Porthcurno Beach Flat, Penzance, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

Visit the sandy PorthCurno beach.And hike all the way upto the Minnack Theatre.

Photo of Porthcurno Beach Flat, Penzance, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

After the tiresome hike from Porthcurno, you can catch a show at the open air Minnack theatre.Sadly, I didn't make it before the last show which is at 5pm.

A view of Porthcurno from the colourful garden at the Minnack theatre.

Photo of The Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

2. ST. IVES

There were plenty of direct buses o he place from Penzance. Strolling along is white walled streets with petite shops is such a delight. The beach may be the main attraction, but is worth it to not miss out on this walk!

Day 3

I was too broke to catch some lunch at a rooftop restaurant in St. Ives.

Photo of Saint Ives, St Ives, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

Walk the picturesque streets of St. Ives. Shop for souvenirs & eat some delicious Cornish Pasties.

Photo of Saint Ives, St Ives, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

Sail the Atlantic and witness its fierce currents to reach the seal island from the St.Ives harbour.

Photo of Saint Ives, St Ives, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

3. MARAZION AND MOUNT ST. MICHAELS

Marzion is just one stop away from Penzance. It is where you must go to see Mount St. Michaels.

Photo of Marazion, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

From St. Ives, I took a bus back in the direction of Penzance hat dropped me off a Marazion, from where it was a short walk to Mont. St. Michaels. But the castle can only be reached by ferry during tide-in times. My experience at Mount St. Michael's castle was one of a kind. Although, I had to take a ferry to reach, my tour of the castle gardens came to an end around the time when the tides were out. It is a mystery how the unique castle grounds haven't yet succumbed to the mighty waves that come crashing in, during high tides. I will always cherish the opportunity that I had to walk to the land, from the middle of the sea. The feeling was a mix of apprehension and joy. Actually, you need not fear being swept away. The pathway from Mount St. Michaels to Marazion, is made accessible only during tide-out. And the timetables are quite reliable.

Walk on the ancient cobble way. Sadly, many of its stones got swept away in the 2014 storm.

Photo of Saint Michael's Mount, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

Hike to the castle at Mount St. Michaels, through its gardens, which are home to some unique flora.

Photo of Saint Michael's Mount, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

Pack yourself some lunch and dine by the sea side, at the castle grounds for free!

Photo of Saint Michael's Mount, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

As I walked towards the hostel on my last evening in Penzance, I stopped to admire and shoot an unusually beautiful garden outside a certain house. Out came its owner. It was a pleasant surprise that I didn't get told off. Instead, Joy Batten welcomed me inside her compound to take a better look. I accepted her kind invitation into the house to meet her cats, Gwenfer and Sennen. She showed me around and discussed how her cats and she even took a dump together. And here I was thinking nobody could love cats as much as me.

It was only when I pointed to a beautiful painting on her wall, that the modest old lady confessed her passion for photography. As a youngster, she had shot some brilliant pictures of Cornwall. And had got them printed off on canvas. I must say, they looked more appealing than regular prints. She even had her own titles for them. I was most touched by the one she called "MEETING POINT". It was a picture of the beach at the Sennen cove in Cornwall. The waves from two directions met at a point. As per her understanding of the scene, it was as though the waves came to combine her parents ashes that she and her brother had scattered into the sea, a few years ago. She shared how she had been a teacher in Switzerland for many years and came back to look after her mother, whose health had started to deteriorate. Before I took leave, she gave me a book full of her photographs. I couldn't say if her eyes were slightly wet when she said, "Do come and visit me, if you happen to return to Penzance".

Joy Batten's garden and her cat, Gwenfer. One furry adorable thing he was.

Photo of CORNWALL. A SEA-SIDE AFFAIR! by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

I felt overwhelmed after my encounter with Joy Batten. That evening, the statement "All that glitters is not gold" seemed a tad bit more true. The houses these Cornish folks own at Penzance are certainly enviable. But behind those closed doors, there live people who have spent their lives indulging in some remarkable deeds. Sadly, their stories still remain untold. She lives all alone with just two cats to accompany her during her old age. She spends her time tending to the plants in her extraordinarily pretty garden. Above all, the love and time that she is willing to give to others reflected in the way she warmly greets, even strangers. I didn't have anything much to give her. But I was glad I could share with her, a little bit of what I had. My time.

4. THE LOST GARDENS OF HELIGAN

My last destination in Cornwall was the Heligan woods. The trek through the dense wilderness is an everlasting memory. Crossing a rope bridge across a gorge had been a dream. The one in the jungle in Heligan was definitely worthwhile. At least for a first-time experience.

Day 4

Explore the wilderness at the Lost Gardens of Heligan.

Photo of The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

Cross the rope bridge across a gorge, somewhere deep in the dense Heligan woods.

Photo of The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

I had seen flower and grass sculptures before. But nothing like this one!

Photo of The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

Cornwall was home to many breeds of dogs. Don't forget to visit the farm animals at Heligan gardens.

Photo of The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, United Kingdom by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

As I reluctantly boarded my train back to Guildford, the seagulls flocked to see me off.

The seagulls encircling the interesting street lamps in Penzance.

Photo of CORNWALL. A SEA-SIDE AFFAIR! by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh
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