Cornwall Favorite Tips by iandsmith Top 5 Page for this destination
Cornwall Favorites: 79 reviews and 110 photos
Fancy a weekend here?
Favorite thing: Sometimes you go to a place and, well, you just love it. The National Trust Garden is, and may I quote here from there brochure, "...made by its setting: a sloping, wooded peninsula embraced by Lamouth Creek to the north, the winding estuary of the River Fal to the east and Channal's Creek and the Carrick Roads to the south."
The only problem is the vagaries of the weather. While some parts are protected, others are on exposed hills and suffer the ravages of gales, a not unknown weather feature in Cornwall with the most recent one in 1990. Though planting commenced in the 19th century, the 1930's were when Mr and Mrs. Ronald Copeland began laying out a complex network of open lawns and specimen trees, broad flowerbeds and fromal paths, towering shrubberies and a shady dell.
As soon as you park your car and alight, the first thing you notice is the Water Tower, erected around 200 years ago to assist in pressure due to their elevated position. The squirrel weathervane and family coat of arms were added by Carew Gilbert.
The attractive piece of rustic architecture is now available as a holiday cottage.
Nothing moving here
Favorite thing: It's not only the Roman Empire that rose and fell. This town still does - every day!
Just the thing for your trivia night quiz.
Cambourne is a fair sized town in Cornwall that isn't on the list of must-sees for any tourist but I happened to see it most days I was there due to the fact that I was staying down the road at an even more unlikely place called Praze-an-Beeble. Cambourne is good for shopping though, having at least three supermarkets and many other facilities you'd expect in a town of this size.
What sets it apart from all others is that it moves, literally, every day with the tide. Apparently it rises and falls about 10 centimetres or 4 inches daily, a fact I found extraordinary as the town is nowhere near the sea.
Fondest memory: This shot is of the southern end of the main shopping street.
Brick chimneys dotting the landscape
Favorite thing: They're all over Cornwall. Chimney stacks from the glory days of copper and tin mining. Though still practised, more modern methods are used and the brick chimneys are ever more at the whims of the elements
At least in some places you can go and see what things used to be like and Geevor is one such place and it only closed in 1990 so things are still pretty much as they were. An added bonus is that you can go underground (claustrophobia notwithstanding). You can check them out on www.geevor.com
Fondest memory: One of the features at another site, Levant, is the steam engine, one of those beasts that almost seem alive, and George Blenkworth (see pic 2) may well be here to show you just how the famous Levant Steam engine works. This is a National Trust site so, if you're already a member, this experience will cost you nothing.
Just a little tip. If you wander over to the east you'll go past some other chimneys and you'll be able to see the working of a modern mine from a distance.
Fondest memory: The thing that's exciting about Tintagel is not so much what it is, but where it is. Perched atop an island of rock, accessed only by a footbridge, the climb adjacent to the steep cliffs with the ocean pounding below you is even more dramatic than any fairy tale that may be associated with the site.
As explained elsewhere, the slate steps can become treacherous with rain, a fact that several signs attest to, but their zig-zagging path is full of wonderful views over the seascape that draw your attention constantly. It's worth blowing up the first pic to see just how dramatic the scene is.
Another thing that made me pause a couple of times was the colourful vegetation eking a living out of this exposed site. It never ceases to amaze me at where some plants find a home (see pics 2 and 3).
Classic eating houses at Tintagel
Favorite thing: The wind ruffled the tufted grasses and rode the exposed rocks. It accelerated across the hill tops and flexed the surface of the sea, bringing with it the rain-bearing pewter clouds that dispensed occasional showers and had people reaching for their umbrellas.
Yet still they came. By bike, by car, by busload. I'm glad I wasn't here when it was busy. Everywhere reminders of the mythical King Arthur were thrust in your face. The name of every second building seemed to echo with something pertaining to the legend and tacky souvenirs bespoke success in promoting the image in times past. I was pleased that at least the pre-Tintagel video sought to bring some sanity to the issue but, I couldn't help but notice when I was there that we were the only ones who stopped to view it.
Fondest memory: The eating houses at least seemed to offer quality. We ate directly across from the access road entrance, where fresh pasties of considerable size were offered by an apparently well-known purveyor of this Cornish delicacy.
Seeking refuge from the potential rain we wisely decided to eat indoors, a wise choice as luck would have it as was but five minutes later when the water again descended.
We had descended on Pengenna Pasties, one of a chain of three outlets on the north coast of Cornwall that serves, in my estimation, some of the finest pasties in the land. I say that only having tasted the Lamb Pasty (their spelling) but Rosemarie seemed similarly happy with the vegetable pasty.
Porthcurno Beach where she got the sand for concre
Favorite thing: Determined as ever, Rowena slowly brought the Minack magic back to life.
As its reputation spread, Rowena realised that she would have to separate the Theatre from her garden and she and Billy Rawlings completed this huge task with granite walls, an access road, a car park and a flight of 90 steps up from the beach.
When Billy died in 1966 Rowena inscribed the one granite seat in the whole auditorium as his memorial.
Rowena Cade became the master builder. Unable to afford the cost of granite, she had developed her own technique for working with cement. Using the tip of an old screwdriver she decorated the surfaces with lettering and intricate Celtic designs before they hardened. Rowena fetched sand from Porthcurno beach: to start with in bags on her back and latterly in her cars, soon rusted out by the sea salt.
Tom Angove "Builder's Mate" from 1953, retiring in 1993, recalled how single handed Rowena carried twelve 15ft beams from the shoreline right up to the Theatre. Customs men looking for this "wreck" from a Spanish freighter met her on the beach. Challenged as to whether she had seen the timber, Rowena admitted that she had taken up some wood that morning. She suggested that the men should come and see it. Concluding that such a frail looking woman could not have lifted what they were looking for, they went on their way. "I didn't tell them a lie now did I?" said Rowena as she and Tom built the twelve beams into new dressing rooms.
So Rowena Cade worked on in each winter in all weathers until she was in her mid-eighties. When she died, just short of her ninetieth birthday, she was still thinking of the future. She left elaborate sketches suggesting how the Theatre might be covered on the days when it rains.
With the outbreak of World War II and with the threat of invasion the Minack Theatre fell silent. Actors and "props" were replaced by entanglements of barbed wire. Rowena Cade penetrated these defences, regularly crawling under the wire to cut the grass.
Fondest memory: After WWII she converted the gun post into the theatre's Box Office.
Threats of bombing and then the Blitz itself drove waves of evacuee children from London and Rowena Cade became their local billeting officer, helping hundreds. 1944 saw the Minack chosen as a location for "Love Story" starring Stewart Grainger and Margaret Lockwood. The unit arrived complete with the grand piano that was to make the Cornish Rhapsody a wartime "hit". Rowena Cade admired Shakespeare greatly. His poetry paints all the scenery that is needed: yet it is never upstaged by the theatre's dramatic backdrop.
Good amateur theatrical groups are encouraged to play at the Minack Theatre. Among their number will you spot the stars of tomorrow? Michael York, Sheridan Morley, John Nettles, Sue Pollard, Sarah Brightman, Will Self, Jack Shepherd, Hugh Dancy and Charlotte Church have all appeared on the Minack's stage.
When Rowena Cade started work on the Theatre she did not worry about the cost. Soon she realised that the takings from each short season of plays were never enough to cover her running costs. Rowena never received a penny for what she did. In the 1950s Rowena Cade approached a London drama school and the National Trust, but neither was able to give her financial assistance. Then the Cornwall branch of the National Council of Social Services was persuaded to take on the challenge. Sadly, following three years of losses, they gave up and left Rowena to carry on alone. which is what she did: gradually adding to the fabric; always working on a shoe string.
In 1976, when she was well over eighty, Rowena Cade gave the Minack Theatre to a Charitable Trust. A little later she bought a bungalow and some more land thereby providing the Theatre with its independent offices and a larger car park.
The Trustees extended the season, built a Visitor Centre and enlarged the retailing operation. These moves attracted bigger audiences and at last the Theatre was able to pay its way.
Minack Theatre, getting there is half the fun
Favorite thing: It's an extraordinary tale of a passionate woman. Rowena Cade was born in August 1893 in Spondon, Derbyshire where her father owned a cotton mill and her ancestors had lived for 300 years. Joseph Wright, famous painter of the industrial revolution, was her great great grandfather.
The second of four children, Rowena represented the fifth generation of her family to live at "The Homestead" where she spent a happy childhood. As a tomboy of seven she remembered climbing from her bedroom window onto the spreading branches of a cedar tree and thence down to the ground.
In January 1902, aged 8, Rowena took the title role in her mother's production of "Alice Through the Looking Glass". There was a cast of eleven local children. The two performances had audiences of 27 and 43 respectively. None of those present could have guessed at the impact Rowena Cade would later make on the English theatre.
It was no surprise that the Cades moved to Cheltenham when Rowena's father retired in 1906. His brother was headmaster of Cheltenham College Junior School and his wife had grown up in the town. James Cade bought "Ellerslie" an imposing town house previously owned by Sir Walter Scott the novelist. But, just as Rowena came of age, the First World War changed all that. She went to work in the re-mount stables on Sir John Gilbey's estate at Elsenham and lived in an old shepherd's caravan. There she selected and broke horses which were shipped out to the front lines in France and Belgium.
With the war over, her husband dead and the family scattered, Rowena's mother sold their home in Cheltenham.
The two women did not settle permanently for some years; then they rented a house at Lamorna. Nearby Rowena discovered the Minack headland and bought it for ?100. There she built a house for herself and her mother using granite from a St. Levan quarry. It was hurriedly extended to make a home for her sister and family returning from Australia.
Fondest memory: Through the twenties entertainment in West Cornwall was invariably self made. Minack House and its garden provided the setting for many such productions. Rowena found that she had a talent for designing and making the costumes needed by her family and friends. And then in 1929 a more ambitious project was organised. Just a mile or so inland "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was to be staged in the open a
Whilst looking for a site to perform "The Tempest" she countenanced the opposite side of the bay. Then, looking into the gully above the Minack Rock she said "I wonder if we could make a stage here?". It took six months for Rowena and two Cornish craftsmen to build a simple stage and some rough seating.
The first performance in 1932 was lit by batteries, car headlights and the feeble power brought down from Minack House. Then, as the moon shone across the bay, the magic that is The Minack Theatre touched its first audience.
Shakespeare's great poetry complemented by live music in this idyllic setting prompted an article in "The Times". Rowena Cade realised that she had started something that just had to continue.
Rowena Cade was already thirty eight when she undertook to provide a stage for "The Tempest". Until that moment the nearest she had come to manual work was sewing and mucking out horses. During that first winter of 1931-32, she laboured as apprentice to her gardener Billy Rawlings and his mate Charles Thomas Angove.
Using the skills of the two men, granite was cut by hand from a pile of tumbled boulders. Stones were inched into place. All this work took place on the slope above a sheer drop into the Atlantic. With the coming of World War II, it seemed as though all the back-breaking work might have been wasted as Rowena looked out over a ravaged Theatre. The Army, Gainsborough's film unit and prisoners of war sent in to clear the coastal defences had reduced it back to what it had been in 1932.
A great save
Favorite thing: This delightful building, whose roof line seems to echo the rise and fall of the swells nearby, is on the western side of the main street.
Originally built as a small manor house in the 14th century, the building is a rare example of this type of early domestic dwelling. Its life as a post office began in the 19th century. By 1844 the village and surrounding parish were generating 125 letters per week, and so the General Post Office decided to establish a Letter Receiving Office for the district. A room was rented from the owner of the old manor house and a Letter Receiving Office set up. From the 1870s it was run by William Cobbledick Balkwill, who doubled as the local draper and grocer.
In the late 19th century, tourism reached Tintagel – primarily due to the Arthurian poems written by Tennyson, who had visited Tintagel in 1848. Many of the village's old buildings were torn down, to be replaced by tacky guest houses, shops and hotels.
In 1892 the owner of the Old Post Office decided to sell it for redevelopment, and the General Post Office moved its business across the street. By 1895 the building had become virtually derelict and was put up for auction. However, a group of local artists who had become concerned at the threat to the Old Post Office, decided to act. One of them, Catherine Johns, bought the building for £300 on the understanding that means would be found to preserve it. This was achieved through sales of prints after pictures of several well-known artists in 1896, and the fabric of the building was repaired by the leading architect, Detmar Blow, according to the strict principles laid down by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
In 1900 the National Trust agreed to buy the building from Miss Johns for a nominal £200, raised by public appeal. The purchase was subject to a lease to Miss Johns for her lifetime and the building was finally vested in the Trust in 1903.
Fondest memory: The building is typical of many late medieval manor houses with a central single-storey hall open to the roof, flanked by smaller service rooms and a kitchen (now the parlour) with bedrooms above.
When acquired, the Old Post Office was bereft of contents, apart from a late medieval kitchen table situated in the Hall. The rooms were subsequently furnished with items from farmhouses and cottages in the vicinity. One of the rooms remains as a Victorian village post office. Outside on the wall is an example of the first standard wall letter box of 1857. Only 14 such boxes remain in existence, mostly in the south and west of England. This particular box is characterised by having no hood over the aperture and its door sited in the middle.
The Old Post Office is also home to a unique collection of historic needlework samplers dating from the mid-17th century. The Old Post Office has been at the centre of life in Tintagel for many hundreds of years. It has provided an essential service to the local community during its life as a post office, and now this small but unique building welcomes over 45,000 visitors each year; not to mention the many hundreds of thousands of visitors who walk past it on their way to see the ruins of Tintagel Castle.
It costs just 2 pounds to visit, or did when I was there.
Time to get your money out
Favorite thing: Most people will have parked in one of the carparks and have taken the option to walk down to the site. This not unpleasant walk sort of shields you from your destination until you are almost on the site itself.
Fondest memory: You may even be wondering what all the fuss is about but, once you round the corner at the bottom and see the ever-so-enticing steps you'll only be too happy to pull your wallet out in order to continue your journey. This is run by the English Heritage people, one of two bodies, the other being the National Trust, who run a large majority of this type of thing in England.
The basic formula is, the more popular the site, the more you pay. Tintagel is popular.
One thing I would commend to you to do, in case you've been totally overcome by the King Arthur scenario, is to view the excellent little video in their shop before you go onto the actual site itself. This may serve to bring you back to reality.
Be careful of slippery slate - we were
Favorite thing: According to one legend the infant Arthur was thrown by the waves on the beach by Merlin's cave. King Arthur's time in history was in the fifth century. He is identified with the known history of a Celtic chieftain of the period who led his countrymen in the West in their resistance against Saxon invaders. Many believe that Arthur was of a mixed Roman and British parentage.
It will be always difficult to prove if Arthur did exist but, what can be said is that there was a great warrior in the West of England who had some kind of fortress where Tintagel Castle (King Arthur's Castle) is today. The original fortress has gone but archaeologists have found proof in their diggings on the Tintagel Castle that fifth century citizens lived on the site. The replacement Castle was built between 1230-1236 and what is left is now nearly 800 years old. Within two hundred years the Castle was in ruins. Earl Richard of Cornwall paid for the construction of the Castle & it is owned by the Duke of Cornwall.
For many years it has been managed by English Heritage, acting as the agents for the Duke.
Fondest memory: If walking isn't your thing then Tintagel is something you may not enjoy although, having said that, there are rides to the site that you can avail yourself of. However, once you're there, you'll still have to climb many slate steps, and, if it's wet, they can seriously be dangerous though, with a little care, you shouldn't have any trouble.
Me, I loved it. Occasional rain showers and the driving coastal wind only added to the atmosphere of the place, setting around it an aura of times gone by.
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