Cornwall & The South: Pt 7 – Boscastle

Moving on from the historic village of Tintagel, we arrived in the small village of Boscastle, on the River Valency…


Status: Cornwall Unitary Authority & County, Village, England

Date: 03/08/2015

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: River Valency, The Old Mill, Wellington Hotel, Riverside Hotel, River Jordan, Old Lime Kiln, Harbour, Harbour Walls, Church of St Symphorian, Museum of Witchcraft etc

Bos 1

Boscastle village centre has a number of fine Listed Buildings, many of which dominate the high street and instantly draw the eye, starting with the aptly named “Riverside Hotel”, shown above. Boscastle is historically a fishing port, and whilst you will still see fishing boats aplenty down by the harbour, much of its economy is now geared towards Tourism. The Riverside Hotel began life as a Warehouse in the 19th century, presumably to do with the Fish trade coming in from the Atlantic. It was later converted into housing, first as two individual houses, evident from the two different doors at the front of the building, and then into a Hotel which took over the entire structure.

It sits directly opposite the Valency which runs through the centre of town, although as the locals well know, the river has both it’s benefits and it’s drawbacks. In 2004 the entire village was submerged after the Valency broke its banks during heavy rain, with almost 3 metres worth of water in some places. The village recovered, with modern, up to date flood defenses which proved their metal during similar situations in 2007, keeping the town relatively safe.

On the other side of the river, over a small road bridge are another set of Listed Buildings, backing on to the Riverside Hotel, separated only by the river. The first is the “Old Mill” in the first picture, and as it’s name/position by the Valency suggest, it was built as a Water Mill in the 19th century. The main portion of the Mill is over to the left, whilst the rest of the building was the accompanying Millhouse, the residence of the Mill Owner, which may have previously been a standalone house from the 18th century. The Waterwheel still exists here, although I am unsure whether it’s original or a reconstruction.

The two buildings have since been converted into Shops, along with a number of “Apart-Hotel Suites”. They form part of the “Wellington Hotel”, located behind the Mill. The main building has 14 bedrooms, whilst their 3 aparthotel suites are to be found in the Mill.

The hotel has the appearance almost of a Castle, with a large turret at the Western end. Unlike the other buildings we have looked at, the Wellington is effectively still being used for it’s original purpose. Thought to have started as a 16th century Coaching Inn, the building was later rebuilt in 1853, and turned into a large hotel. Of course Coaching Inn’s were basically the hotels of their day, where weary travellers could rest before continuing their journey, so the Wellington still adheres to this idea.

Bos 4

Boscastle lies in idyllic surroundings, completely surrounded by large, towering hills. Small cottages line the riverbank, and a long path leads from here down the Northern bank towards the harbour itself, on the very edge of the village where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean in a spray of foam and water.

Bos 5

The Valency itself is but a small stream, however it runs through a cutting that allows it to swell to many times its usual size. It really adds to the picturesque quality of the village, and has been at the heart of the local economy for centuries, offering a portal into the sea, and a safe haven for fishing boats inland.

The Valency also meets another river as it passes through Boscastle, called the River Jordan, which flows openly until it reaches the Wellington Hotel, where it retreats underground to meet the Valency.

Bos 6

We set off down the path towards the Harbour, which soon took us past one of the village centres most iconic landmarks, the ruins of a large Lime Kiln. Constructed around the end of the 18th Century, the Kiln used Limestone (which at that time was being imported through boats arriving at Boscastle) to create Quicklime. The substance has a variety of uses, from checking fuel to providing heat and light.

Luckily this one still exists, and you can find out more about it by visiting the Boscastle Visitor Centre, shown to the left.

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The Visitor Centre also backs onto the “Museum of Witchcraft”, originally founded in 1951 by Cecil Williamson (1909 – 1999, who did work for MI6 during WWII). The Museum first opened in Castletown, on the Isle of Man, but after a fallout with his friend Gerald, he left the Island and returned to the mainland. The Museum had various homes over the next few years, from Windsor to Gloucestershire, before moving to it’s final home, here at Boscastle, in 1960.

The Museum contains various artefacts related to the occult that Williamson owned as part of his private collection, from old folklore to devil worship. Despite changing hands at least twice since Williamson himself retired in 1996, it remains a popular attraction for the village. You can find out more by visiting their official website here.

Bos 8

Moving past the Museum, we left the “mainland” and set out along the narrow concrete path visible on the right, which takes you all the way to the mouth of the Harbour. The views so far were stunning, but the best was yet to come…

Bos 9

Boscastle Harbour is an incredible place, and with the tide out, the exposed rocks covered with seaweed provided an epic backdrop to the now dwarfed fishing boats, waiting their turn to get back into the open sea. Just to the right of the boats you can see one of the vast Harbour Walls, one of a pair that protect the inlet from the Atlantic.

Our path continued, snaking its way around the Harbour towards the second Wall, a bit further along.

Bos 10

Looking back, the main portion of the village was now far out of site, with a few pleasant looking buildings, topped with slate roofs (slate being one of the exports of the village through this port) nestled cosily between the surrounding hills. The Harbour feels a world apart from the hustle and bustle of the village centre, but as we began to hear the waves just ahead of us, that soon changed.

Bos 11

We finally reached the vast stone Walls that protect Boscastle Harbour from the sea. You can stand atop either of them, depending which side of the river you have walked. We were on the Northern Wall, slightly further West towards the river mouth.

The towering Walls were built in 1584, by Sir Richard Grenville (1542 – 1591, who owned various areas of land in both Cornwall & Devon). Despite Boscastle only being a small village, it had historically been a major port, as it was one of the few ports along this area of the Northern Cornish Coast.

Past the Walls, the Atlantic waves crash heavily against the cliffs, an awe inspiring sight. As mentioned earlier, Limestone was one of the imports brought into Cornwall using this port, along with another important commodity, Coal.

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If you look at the top of the cliff in the previous picture, over to the left, you will spot a small square tower in the distance. This is an old lookout station, built by Thomas Rickard Avery at the turn of the 19th century. Whilst he used it as his “Summer House”, with some stunning views out to sea, it was taken over as a lookout for use by the Coastguard. More recently it has been refurbished, and reopened as the Boscastle NCI (National Coastwatch Institution).

Bos 13

Leaving the main portion of the village, around the centre/Harbour, we made our way up towards the local Parish Church (sadly we didn’t have time to visit the famous Minster Church), dedicated to St Symphorian. It covers the Parish of “Forrabury & Minster”, of which Boscastle is the major settlement.

The Church has it’s origins in Norman times, when the original Church was constructed around the start of the 12th Century. Little of this remains, although the British Listed Buildings website notes that a few sections of the Nave/South Transept may be from this period. The rest of the building is made up of various sections from different centuries, although the bulk of the Church was remodelled in 1687. The Tower was first erected in the 15th century, although today only the base is original as the rest was rebuilt around 1760. The next major event for the Church was the Victorian restoration orchestrated by James Piers St Aubyn (1815 -1895, English Architect) who also worked on the Parish Church in Tintagel, our previous destination, in 1866. Today it still serves the community, and if you are following the road North from Padstow/Tintagel to the village it is one of the first buildings you will see, at the top of the cliffs far above Boscastle itself.

Boscastle is a beautiful little village in a picturesque area. You can follow it’s paths around the local hills to take in the unique views, where years of history are hidden all around you. It was time for us to move on, to the nearby village of Port Isaac, nestled in between the cliffs along the coast…

Cornwall & The South: Pt 6 – Tintagel

Moving on from Padstow, we arrived in the historic village of Tintagel, the birthplace of one of the most famous figures in English history…


Status: Cornwall Unitary Authority & County, Village, England

Date: 03/08/2015

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: King Arthur’s Bistro

Attractions: Tintagel Castle, Tintagel Old Post Office, St Materiana’s Church, Ye Olde Malthouse Inn, King Arthur’s Arms Inn etc

Tint 1

One of Tintagel’s most famous landmarks is the “Old Post Office Building”, shown above. The building is over 600 years old, and thought to date to around 1380, when it was built as a manor house, which looked markedly different to the existing structure today. It only had one floor, the ground floor, which was split into three different rooms, whilst the section to the far right of the picture, shorter and more squat, was used to house livestock, presumably such as pigs or sheep.

Many years later, culminating in work done during the 17th century, the building was given a full revamp, with much of the original timber replaced with stone, and the iconic chimneys were also added. As there was no chimney before this time, the space between the ground floor to the roof was left empty, making it single storey so the smoke didn’t endanger its occupants, but filled the roof space. Now, with it being vented out through the roof instead, a new floor was added, as you can see today via the upper storey windows on the exterior.

It is most famously known as the “Old Post Office”, which it became during the 1840’s due to the large amount of mail being sent from the village, with a new collection box installed by 1857, which you can see on the left just next to the tree. It had closed down by the end of the Victorian Era, when it narrowly survived demolition due to the deteriorating condition it was left in. Many other buildings around it suffered this fate, and much of the village centre was rebuilt. Taken into the care of the National Trust at the turn of the 20th century, it was lovingly restored back to it’s days as a Post Office, however despite this being it’s most famous use, out of 600 years of history it was only a Post Office for around 40.

Today it’s open to the public at certain times throughout the year, and you can find out more about visiting this historic building on its official page on the National Trust’s website here.

Tint 2

Like any good town/village, there are of course a few local pubs, including the King Arthur’s Arms Hotel, which fits into the myths/legends surrounding the village. A pleasant local Inn, it has both a bar, open to the public throughout the day, and a hotel making it a perfect base to explore the rest of the area. Located almost directly opposite the Old Post Office, it also offers a unique view should you get a front facing window. You can find out more on their official website here.

If you’re unfamiliar with Tintagel then you will have to read on to find out why exactly it references King Arthur!

Tint 3

Just up the road from the King Arthurs Arms is “Ye Olde Malthouse Inn”, a stunning 14th century Inn that has graced the high street for many, many years. It has preserved its old world charm beautifully, and perhaps the owners of the Old Post Office were to be found at the bar in days gone by.

The Inn is also a proud host of a number of Ales created by the Tintagel Brewery, including such well known favourites as “Gull Rock”, “Castle Gold” and “Arthur’s Ale” (originally created as the 2012 Celebration Ale to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee).

Tint 4

We left the village centre behind us, and began to wander down towards the coast, home to the rest of Tintagel’s major landmarks, starting with the Church of St Materiana, high on a hill overlooking the rest of the village.

The main portion of the building is thought to date back to Norman times, around the end of the 11th century. The Tower was built a few hundred years later, possibly by the 15th century, which appears to fit a trend I have noticed with many ancient Churches, which generally is:

  1. Main building dating from 11th century
  2. Later built tower, from 13th – 15th centuries
  3. Major rebuild around the 19th century.

Point three fits St Materiana’s too, as in 1870 James Piers St Aubyn (1815 – 1895, Architect from Worcestershire) led a full restoration of the building, during which the entire roof was replaced.

The name of the Church refers to St Materiana (Born around 440 AD), a Welsh Saint who is associated with three different Churches across Cornwall and Wales. Her father was supposedly a noted King of North Wales, a role she later inherited. Aside from Tintagel, she is the patron saint of Trawsfynydd Church in Gwynedd, North Wales, as well as the Minster Church in Boscastle, also in Cornwall.

Tint 5

Moving away from the Church, we followed a long, steep track down through the cliffs towards the Atlantic, to catch a glimpse of Tintagel’s most iconic building, the ruins of Tintagel Castle. Its sits high on a cliff, guarding the seaward approach to the village.

The Castle dates back to 1233, when construction of a brand new fortified structure was completed by the 1st Earl of Cornwall, Richard (1209 – 1272, son of the English King John). The Great Hall of the building slowly began to deteriorate, presumably due to high coastal winds and spray from the Atlantic eroding the main structure. It would later be partially restored by the 1st Duke of Cornwall, Edward of Woodstock (1330 – 1376, then Prince of Wales).

The Castle itself saw little if any action, and due to its precarious position the rest of the building began to erode like the Great Hall (which was eventually stripped of it’s roof). The rocky outcrop it actually sits on its separated from the rest of the cliff, accessible only via the wooden footbridge which exists today. In days gone by it is reported that a makeshift bridge of just tree trunks tied together was being used. Aside from a short period of extra fortification with the threat of Spanish Invasion looming around 1580, the building remained abandoned, and today is just a ruin.

That, however, isn’t the end of the story, as in 1138 various folklore tales began to create a myth around a man called Arthur, who would eventually become one of England’s most legendary figures. It was of course King Arthur, with whom Tintagel was closely associated, with the legends eventually claiming that he was born here at Tintagel Castle, hence the many references to him around the village. Many famous tales are still told of Arthur, his Knights of the Round Table, Sir Lancelot, Merlin, his sword Excalibur, and the Lady of the Lake, all of which are well known the world over.

Back in the village, you can visit “King Arthur’s Hall”, housed in a large building from 1933 designed by Frederick Thomas Glasscock. It is the HQ of the “Order of the Fellowship of the Knights of the Round Table” and acts as a Museum for the Arthurian legends, which is open to the public.

Tint 6

You do have to pay to visit the Castle, but access to Tintagel Beach is free, as shown above. Near the beach is the visitor centre for the Castle, along with a Museum about it’s history. The scene really does feel very medieval, and it does make for a good story!

Tintagel is a lovely little village, in a beautiful setting on Cornwall’s Northern coast. The mystery surrounding the Arthurian Legends is a big draw for tourists, so if you are in the area it’s worth popping in to see where the stories began. There is no railway line into Tintagel, however buses will run from the larger nearby towns such as Camelford (Bus 595), and it isn’t far from the A39, one of the three major A roads through Cornwall.

Moving on, we moved on to Boscastle, another Village not far away where another of St Materiana’s Churches is located, although alas we didn’t have time to find it…

Cornwall & The South: Pt 5 – Padstow

Our next stop was the town of Padstow, whose name originally meant Petroc-Stowe, after St Petroc who landed nearby at Trebetheric when he visited Cornwall…


Status: Cornwall Unitary Authority & County, Town, England

Date: 03/08/2015

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: Old Ship Hotel

Attractions: Inner Quay, Harbour Piers, The Old Custom House, The Shipwrights, River Camel, Almshouses, St Petroc’s Parish Church, Metropole Hotel, The Old Ship Hotel, Padstow Museum etc

We started down by the harbour, of which there are two parts. This is the original section, the Inner Quay, completed in 1538, which is now used for private liners and fishing boats, and connected to the River Camel via a large flood gate, installed in 1988 to stop the regular flooding of the town by the River. It also allowed the Quay to be effectively sealed at low tide, keeping the boats inside afloat, rather than beached.

There are a number of historical buildings lining the Inner Quay, including “The Old Custom House”, built sometime around the 18th century, and as the name suggests, formerly used as a Custom House for imports/exports from the harbour.

You can see it in the first picture at the back of the Quay, the corner building over to the left of the row of buildings, and of course in all it’s glory in the second. It was later extended to take in the surrounding buildings to form one large Hotel/Inn.

Many years ago it actually stood by the side of the river itself when only the original Inner Quay existed, although later expansions pushed it further inland. Contrasting beautifully with the old grey stone of the Inn is the bright red K6 Telephone Box outside, designed in 1935 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (1880 – 1960, also responsible for Liverpool Cathedral), and still the most commonly found across the UK, many being Listed Buildings.

Padstow 2

In the above picture the new Pier of 1910 is visible over to the right, with a small channel separating it from the former quayside by the Custom House Inn. It was part of a whole new harbour built almost opposite the Inn to cater for the large amounts of fishing vessels now using the town after 1899 when the “North Cornwall Railway” was built, running into the Harbour itself further South from the Old Custom House. It allowed fish to be taken direct from Padstow to Billingsgate Fish Market at Canary Wharf in London, arriving fresh on the day and ready to sell.

Over to the left, is the final extension to Padstow Harbour, a new pier built in 1932 to provide extra shelter for the original Inner Quay. Behind it lies the Camel, which runs for 30 miles from the top of Bodmin Moor, in the centre of Cornwall near its border with Devon, towards the Atlantic here at Padstow.

Padstow 4

Overlooking the combined Harbours is the impressive form of the “Metropole Hotel”, perhaps one of the most exclusive Hotels in the town. One of the original purposes to build new railways in Cornwall, aside from industrial activity, was to try and help it grow as a tourist destination. As tourists began to arrive, somewhere for them to stay was also envisaged, and the building of the Metropole began a year later in 1900, being completed in 1904.

Offering magnificent views across the newly thriving port town, the River Camel and the local Cornish countryside, it was built by a local fleet owner, John Cory of John Cory & Sons, founded in 1854. Many of their vessels were sadly sunk during World War I, but the company continued, relocating to South Wales to take advantage of the coal industry which was booming at the time.

Padstow 15

On the far side of the Quay where I took the previous picture, near the 1932 pier is another Inn called “The Shipwrights”, originally built as part of a series of warehouses around the 18th century. Later converted into a Pub, it has a lovely historical feel to it, where many of the old fishermen and ship builders would have congregated. The name itself “Shipwright” refers to a builder of ships, another clue to it’s prior history.

The whole Quayside is lined with similar historic buildings, a close knit community built around the water over the last few hundred years. It would have been full of large warehouses, as well as ship building yards which The Shipwrights originally formed part of. These have long since gone, although evidence of the towns old history are all around us.

Overlooking much of the town in a similar way to the Metropole is the Parish Church of St Petroc, whose tall, square tower rises high above its surroundings thanks to it’s position up an incline behind the town centre, as you can see above. Leaving the area around the Quay/Harbour, we made our way through the towns tight knit streets, and up Church Street to the Church itself.

As the name suggests, the Church is related to St Petroc, whom I mentioned at the very start of this post. He founded the original Church here during the 6th century, as a small monastery which later fell victim to a viking invasion. It would be replaced by a brand new Saxon Church around 1100, although it has been suggested that the materials used, such as sandstone began to crumble within the next few centuries. Whatever the reason for it’s demise, the present Church was completed in 1450, standing tall ever since.

The Clock was built in 1861 by a firm called Reynolds from Padstow itself, and sits in one of the few sections to cross over between different incarnations of the Church, as the base of the Tower is Saxon, later being topped out in the 15th century when the Church was rebuilt.

Much of Padstow is characterised by tight, narrow streets, befitting a small town built long before anyone had dreamed up the car, with most roads being a large one way system to accommodate traffic. These winding streets are also full of many historic buildings, as according to a random sample of entries I tried on Church Street (leading up to the Church) from the British Listed Buildings website, a large proportion of the local houses appear to be from the late 18th, early 19th centuries.

Padstow 10

Heading back into the town centre, we came across another of the fine pubs which serve the many residents of Padstow, and this time it was “The Golden Lion”. The Inn has the distinction of being the oldest in Padstow, as it opened for business during the 14th century, whereas the other pubs we have looked at are from the 18th.

It is also the scene of Padstow’s most famous tradition, which occurs at midnight on the 1st of May every year, to mark the beginning of Summer. Many hours of merriment follow, with the town decked out accordingly, before the two “Obby Osses” (Hobby Horses) are released from their stables, with one being Blue Ribbon, and the other the Old Obby Oss. They consist of two men dressed in outfits resembling a horse, with a billowing cape that they try to lure fair maidens of the town underneath. Both are rivals of each other, with accompanying followers throughout the day. At the end of the day they meet with the rest of the town at the Maypole, before retiring for the evening when they return to their stables.

On of our final stops in Padstow before finding somewhere to get a drink was the stunning Almshouses, built in 1875 over on Middle Street. An Almshouse was traditionally built to house various people, from the elderly to the poor who couldn’t afford their own lodgings, maybe because they were in an unfit state to work etc, as a Charitable contribution by the town itself.

A large stone plaque on the side of the buildings lists the benefactors of one of the lodgings within the complex:

“One of these houses was erected by: Subscriptions of friends in memory of John Tredwen of this town, who died June 9th 1870”.

It’s a lovely way to honour their late friend, and would have improved someone’s life dramatically. Another more modern plaque goes on to say:

“Padstow charities. Updated dwellings, re-named Tredwen Court. Re-opened by P I.N. Prideaux-Brune Esq on the 18th January 1989”.

This suggests they are still run per their original purpose, to help the community, and in memory of John Tredwen. P I.N. Prideaux-Brune Esq refers to a Mr Peter Prideaux Brune (Born 1944), the current heir to the Prideaux Estate. He and his family have lived at Prideaux Place just outside the town for hundreds of years, a fine gothic mansion with almost 100 rooms.

Padstow 13

We soon stopped for a drink at the bar of the Old Ship Hotel, shown in the above picture at the back to the right. Another 18th century Inn which also includes a Hotel, it sits in an area known as “Mill Square”, and just over the road is a large anchor, which is thought to date to around 1820. The sign accompanying it says it was discovered during excavations made as they prepared to start building the tidal defense scheme for the town.

Padstow 14

On the way back to the car, we passed the “Padstow Museum”, housed in a beautiful Red Brick Victorian building from 1882. It was originally built as the Padstow Institute, however it has slowly been replaced with both a Library and a Museum. The Museum itself was only founded in 1971, by Bill Lindsey and his fellow Padstow enthusiasts. It has since grown into a large collection, showing off artefacts from the town, along with a history of how a small fishing village became a famous tourist destination. You can find out more by visiting their official website here.

Padstow is a lovely little town, in a great location just off the Cornish Coast. There are plenty of fine restaurants/bars, as well as historic buildings and unique scenery down by the Quayside. Although sadly trains no longer serve the town, Padstow is located not far from the A39 near Wadebridge, which runs directly towards Devon and the rest of England. Newquay Cornwall Airport is also just 20 minutes (14 miles) to the South West, providing flights to various locations across the UK, as well as seasonal holiday destinations across Europe.

We soon moved on, towards our next destination, the village of Tintagel…

Cornwall & The South: Pt 4 – Perranporth

Moving on from Newquay, that afternoon we arrived in the smaller town of Perranporth, just over 8 miles to the West…


Status: Cornwall Unitary Authority & County, Town, England

Date: 02/08/2015

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions:  Perranporth Beach, Boating Lake, Clock Tower, Perranporth Gardens, Tin Mine Chimney etc

Like Newquay, and practically every other place on the Cornish Coast, Perranporth has a fantastic beach, with golden sand, gently lapping waves, and a range of caves/arches/headlands off in the distance to complete the perfect picture.

Consistently given an “Excellent” rating by the Marine Conservation Society, it is without doubt the largest tourist attraction in the town, although that’s not to say that the town centre isn’t without some surprises too…

Perran 3

Perranporth is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Newquay town centre, with small quaint village shops, houses atop the cliffs with fantastic views etc. Whilst Newquay grew up primarily as a fishing village for many centuries, Perranporth became a Tin Mining village in the 19th, and remnants of this can still be seen today, but more on that later.

The main feature of the town centre is split into two parts, one of which is shown above. It consists of a small beautiful garden, with a short, squat Clock Tower next to a small stream, flowing carefree through the town until it finally meets the Atlantic down by the beach.

It’s a lovely area to sit and relax in, with various species of flowers lining it’s edge, including different types of poppy.

Just across the road from the smaller gardens with the Clock Tower is an even larger garden, with a large boating lake at it’s centre. The stream itself also originates here, flowing through a small channel underneath the road and into the other gardens.

On the island in the middle of the Lake, the Cornish Flag can be seen, a white cross on a black background. It is also known as the flag of St Piran, the county’s patron saint, who also lends his name to the town. Perranporth originates from the phrase “Cove of St Piran”, translated into Cornish as Porth Perran. It was on the beach near here that St Piran founded an Oratory (small chapel/place of worship) many centuries ago at the turn of the 7th century, and it’s remains still survive to this day.

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After relaxing in the calm surroundings of Perranporth for a while, we decided to head off, and on the way out of town we spotted this, the chimney of an old Tin Mine. I am unsure whether the Mine itself was located here and only the chimney was left standing, or whether it was moved here from somewhere else, but you will find them dotted all over the Cornish countryside, which was very much industrial until 1998 when Cornwall’s final Tin Mine, that at South Crofty, closed for good.

Perranporth is only small, but it’s a great little place to relax, maybe catch some sun on the beach, and dive into the water. For us, it was time to move on, and the next morning we left for Padstow…

Cornwall & The South: Pt 3 – Newquay

The nearest town to where we were staying at Crantock was Newquay, so our first full day in Cornwall for Summer 2015 began there…


Status: Cornwall Unitary Authority & County, Town, England

Date: 02/08/2015

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: Jon Bouys

Attractions: Newquay Harbour, Newquay Beach, Fistral Beach, Towan Beach, RNLI Lifeboat Station, War Memorial, Huer’s Hut, The Headland, Headland Hotel, Atlantic Hotel, St Michael’s Church, Towan Island, Towan House etc

Newquay 1

Not long after we parked up, we soon found perhaps the best vantage point in the entire town, atop a wall looking down towards the Harbour (back left), and the vast expanse of Towan Beach in front of us.

Newquay is a popular destination for surfers, and there are a number of beaches in the area, each with different types of water conditions available, so for example Towan is ideal for smaller surfing waves, and swimming, whilst others such as Fistral Beach and Tolcarne have stronger waves.

Newquay 2

Following a steep staircase down the side of the cliff from our previous position, we wandered down towards the Harbour. The tide was out, and the various small fishing vessels that serve the town were sat high and dry. They have been the backbone of the town for centuries, as Newquay grew up predominantly as a fishing village in the 19th century, after the harbour was built during the 1830’s.

This all changed when the Atlantic Coast Line opened in 1874, running a spur from the Cornish Main Line towards the coast at Newquay. The new rail links connected the town with the rest of the country, and like many other seaside towns such as Blackpool, it became popular as a tourist destination, with a number of large hotels being built to accommodate the new regular visitors.

Newquay 3

The beaches around the town are always busy with locals, swimmers and surfers alike, particularly during summer. Luckily, the Newquay Lifeboat team has been on standby to help anyone who gets into trouble off the coast since 1860, when the original lifeboat, called the “Joshua” arrived in the town at the first of three incarnations of the Lifeboat Station, over on Fore Street.

The present day version, pictured above, is located within the harbour walls, always ready to respond to an emergency.

Newquay 5

Towan Beach really is enormous, and our vantage point on the Harbour Wall offers a stunning view across the beach, with the town centre high above it in the background. Perhaps the most standout landmark on the towns skyline is the Tower of St Michael’s Church, which we would get much closer to later.

It’s incredible to think that almost the whole beach is covered at high tide, which creates some rather unusual living conditions for one resident of Newquay…

Newquay 4

When the tide is fully in, it cuts off a large cliff of rock off to the side of the beach called “Towan Island”, shown on the left. At the top of the rock, a full 80 ft high,  is a large, private house completed in 1901, which until 2015 was owned as a private residence, although now it is perhaps Cornwall’s most exclusive rental destination for a week at a time.

Connected to the rest of Newquay only by a private suspension bridge which reaches to the other cliffs on the mainland, there have been a number of famous inhabitants at the house, including:

Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge (1851 – 1940): Sir Oliver was a noted Physicist from Staffordshire, famous for his many inventions, which include additions to the Radio, and the Spark Plug, which was also worked on by his son, Alexander Lodge, the actual owner of the house whom he visited regularly.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 – 1930): The famous creator of Sherlock Holmes & Dr Watson in his series of Crime Novels, Sir Arthur was very fond of Newquay, and also a close friend of Sir Oliver. Presumably Sir Arthur suggested this island retreat, and he visited a few times.

Newquay 6

We were now stood atop the cliffs at the far side of Towan Beach, directly opposite Towan Island where I took the previous picture. This area, around “Narrowcliff Road” effectively acts as the towns promenade, and offers not only some great views across the beach, but also a large open public space in which to relax.

The town green was full of colourful deck chairs, and we also got a more up close look at St Michael’s Church, just behind them. Officially dedicated to St Michael the Archangel , it was designed by Sir Ninian Comper (1864 – 1960, Scottish Architect from Aberdeen) and is the second Church to serve the town. It’s hard to imagine the building without its landmark Tower, however this was only added in 1967. Sadly the whole Church was later gutted by fire in the 1990’s, although it was rebuilt from the ashes and continues to serve the community.

The original Church was completed in 1858, as a Chapel of Ease where parishioners could pray away from the main Parish Church, which at that time was at nearby St Columb Minor. Newquay wouldn’t become it’s own individual Parish until 1882, when the Chapel of Ease became a full Parish Church. It was replaced in 1909 by Sir Ninian’s new Church, after the original was razed to the ground to build a new Woolworths Store, part of the chain created by Frank Winfield Woolworth (1852 – 1919) in New York in 1878. The Company was designed as a discount store, and opened various department stores across the US. They eventually went bust in 1997, but their sister company Foot Locker continues to trade.

Of course various Woolworths Stores would also be opened across the UK (and various other countries), eventually forming an independent company from the 1980’s onwards. The UK arm of the chain collapsed in 2008, and all of it’s stores closed within a few months.

Newquay 7

Moving into the town centre itself, Newquay is very much geared around it’s position on the coast, with various shops selling seaside souvenirs, fresh fish restaurants etc, and there are still all of the usual shops you would expect to find in most town centres, creating a nice mixed environment.

The original hotels that were built here with the advent of the railways still exist, and can be found scattered around the town. The architecture of Newquay is also quite interesting, as a lot of the major developments were only built from the 1930’s onwards, making a small fishing village into the large town that is gradually swallowing smaller outlying villages into it’s suburbs. Newquay feels very modern, almost a new town with the amount of relatively recent rapid expansion, and yet there are the older sections, the old Hotels, the Harbour etc, which give it a rather unique layout and feel.

Newquay 8

A number of Newquay’s landmarks lie away from the town centre, towards the Headland area around Fistral Beach which lies to the West of the centre. En route, there is a good example of a hidden architectural treasure from Newquay’s past, located on Fore Street. If you look to the far left of the picture above, you can see “The Fort Inn”, which was actually completed in 1830 when it was built as a large house which you could let for Summer if you wanted to stay in the area.

Newquay 9

Reaching the Headland itself, a small road leads in a circle around the Easternmost section, called King Edward Crescent, just next to the Atlantic Hotel, one of the early Hotels I was talking about earlier, completed in 1892.

A far older building just across the road however, gazing out towards the town centre is a small, squat white building called “The Huer’s Hut”, which is perhaps the oldest building in the town, as it has been dated to the 14th century. A plaque on the side of the building explains its function:

“Used as a look-out by a Huer at the time of year when shoals of Pilchards were expected in the bay. A call on his horn raised the Hue and cry alerting the townsfolk to the arrival of the fish”.

The Huer would then use special hand signals to guide the local fisherman into the correct positions to catch as many fish as possible. The plaque goes on to say it is thought that before this it had been used as a beacon tower to warn ships off the rocks here.

Newquay 10

The other major landmark on the headland is the Newquay War Memorial, completed in 1921 to honour the dead of World War I, although it has since been updated to cover World War II, the Falklands War, and the War in Afghanistan. The unveiling ceremony was headed by the then Prince of Wales, later to become Edward VIII (1894 – 1972), albeit briefly.

In the background you can see the rest of the town, with the Memorial occupying a commanding position across Newquay. It is stood where an Old Coast Guard Look House used to be located, installed during the Napoleonic Wars with France during the 19th century in case of attack by sea.

Newquay 11

The Memorial, aside from being opposite the Atlantic Hotel, is also close to “The Headland Hotel”, built in 1900 to designs by Silvanus Trevail (1851 – 1903, Cornish Architect). Whilst Edward VIII visited Newquay to unveil the War Memorial in 1921, this was at least his second visit, as he stayed at the Headland in 1911 along with his brother, the future King George VI (1895 – 1952) after they suffered a bout of the Mumps during their training at Dartmouth Naval College, which we visited last year.

Newquay 12

Plans to develop the rest of the headland around the Hotel were scuppered due to a number of riots which broke out when severe development of Newquay began with the arrival of the new Hotels, leaving the headland itself as a pleasant, natural rocky outcrop.

You get some fantastic views across the Atlantic the further out you get, as well as one looking back towards the town…

Newquay 13

The full majesty of the grand Atlantic Hotel, along with the slender, silhouetted form of the War Memorial provided a fantastic final look at the town, as we soon headed off into the rest of Cornwall for the afternoon.

Newquay is a pleasant town, in a great location in one of England’s most scenic counties. There is plenty to see and do, with multiple beaches for the surfing enthusiasts, lots of history in the town for the knowledge buffs, and of course a large beach to relax on for everyone else! Transport links to the town are very good, with Newquay Railway Station providing direct services to the village of Par where you can change for the Cornish Main Line, which runs West past Truro to Penzance, and East up towards Bristol, London and the North. Special services are in place at Newquay over summer due to the high number of tourists, with all local services suspended, and special trains run by CrossCountry coming all the way from Edinburgh via the North of England (Newcastle, Manchester etc), along with direct services all the way to London by First Great Western.

By road the nearest motorway is in the neighbouring county of Devon around 82 miles away, with the M5 beginning at Exeter and heading North towards Birmingham, although various local main roads can easily get you across Cornwall.

After an interesting morning exploring Newquay, we pressed on, towards the small town of Perranporth…

Cornwall & The South: Pt 2 – Crantock Village

Arriving in Cornwall, we made straight for the caravan site that would become our home for the next seven days. Located directly next to the village of Crantock, the site (Crantock Beach) has some stunning views out across the Celtic Sea, between us and Ireland. A few quiet evenings gave us chance to explore the area…


Status: Cornwall Unitary Authority & County, Village, England

Date: 01/08/2015

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: Crantock Beach Pub

Attractions: Crantock Beach, Celtic Sea, Crantock Village Church, Trevose Head Lighthouse, River Gannel, Gannel Estuary etc

So this was the view from our static caravan, literally looking out of the front window. The Celtic Sea laps at the rocks in the distance, and the whole scene looked just as incredible, if not more so, as the sun rose the next morning! Not a bad view to wake up to.

Cran 3

Exploring the campsite, a short walk brought us out on a piece of moorland, looking towards Crantock Parish Church, dedicated to St Carantoc (Welsh Saint who supposedly fought King Arthur in Somerset). Presumably the name Carantoc has changed slightly over the centuries to become Crantock, the modern version.

The Church itself is one of the oldest buildings in the area, and dates back to the 14th century, when the earlier Norman Church was rebuilt. It lies just off the historic centre of the village, which includes such buildings as the fittingly named Pub, the Cornishman!

Wandering down towards the Beach one evening, we came out on the Gannel Estuary, where the River Gannel reaches the Celtic Sea. It’s journey begins around 8 miles away in the village of Indian Queens, in the very heart of Cornwall, before it flows towards Newquay, forming a large channel between us at Crantock, and the town.

It’s a pleasant area, popular with surfers, as are many beaches around Cornwall. Although we didn’t have time to look for it during our stay, you can also visit the famous Crantock Beach Carving, to be found at the Western edge of the beach in a small cave. When the tide is low enough, the carving of a woman is visible, supposedly carved to represent a woman who drowned in the sea at the turn of the 20th century when she was riding her horse along the beach.

Cran 6

Looking out from our Caravan, far past the many buildings of Newquay visible in the near distance, we spotted the Trevose Head Lighthouse, 20 miles away near the Cornish town of Padstow. The Lighthouse was built in 1847, and originally consisted of two separate lights, with the main “High Light” at the top of the Lighthouse Tower, and the lesser “Low Light” outside in front of it’s base further towards the cliff edge. The Tower stands around 90 ft tall, at the top of the enormous 150 ft cliffs which lead down to the water below.

In 1882 the High Light, which had previously been a static light, was replaced by a light utilising a mode known as Occulting. This meant that instead of an unlit light flashing on and off regularly, the light was permanently on, and flashed off and back on again. The same year, the Lower Light was removed completely. Today the whole system is run by Trinity House, and was manned by Lighthouse Keepers until 1995, who lived in small cottages around the base of the tower. These have now been converted into holiday cottages, and the Lighthouse is run remotely from the Trinity House planning centre in Harwich, Essex.

Trinity House itself was granted a Royal Charter in 1514 by King Henry VIII to help safeguard the lives of seamen in and around Britain and its territories. Their official remit, as stated on their website is:

“We are the General Lighthouse Authority (GLA) for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar.”

When we visited Gibraltar in 2014, we found a Trinity House Lighthouse at Europa Point, looking out across the Mediterranean Sea towards Morocco, Africa. Trinity House’s counterpart to the North, the “Northern Lighthouse Board” covers Scotland and the Isle of Man, whilst the “Commissioners of Irish Lights” are in charge of both Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland.

Over the next seven days we set out to explore Cornwall, which would take us around all it’s major towns, and to the edge of land itself, and even further…

Cornwall & The South: Pt 1 – Road to Cornwall

For our major trip throughout Summer 2015, we set off for two weeks in the South of England, with one week each in Cornwall, and Hampshire. Of course these made great bases to explore the surrounding counties as well, and on our way down we passed a few places of interest…

Trip 1

Archibald Kenrick & Sons Factory, West Bromwich, West Midlands

We have flown down the M5 many a time on our way to the South, and each and every time we have gone past this fascinating looking red brick building, with a fine Clock Tower looking out across the Motorway. This time, I finally managed to snap a picture of it as we went past.

It is of course Victorian, and the British Listed Buildings website gives the building’s construction date as sometime in the 1880’s, however the GracesGuide website, all about various industrial companies in Britain, states that Archibald Kenrick & Sons built new premises in 1878, so this could be the date I was looking for.

The company itself is far older, founded by Archibald Kenrick (1760 – 1835) in West Bromwich in 1791 as a foundry for the production of Iron. At this time the company was simply titled “Archibald Kenrick & Co”, later changing to “& Sons” in 1827 when his son Archibald Jr joined the business. Kenrick passed away in 1835, and Archibald Jr (1798 – 1878), along with his brother Timothy (1807 – 1885) took over the business, with Archibald Jr’s sons William (1831 – 1919) and John (1829 – 1926) also later joining. John was in charge by 1883, followed by his son, also called John, in 1911. The company worked for the UK Government to produce munitions for the war effort in WWII from 1939 onwards, a major boost for a company that had been faltering at that point.

The company still exists, although many generations down the line, and whilst they no longer use the Foundry, they do manufacture various metal products including Castors, and different items for furniture.

Trip 2

Turners Hill Radio Transmitters, Dudley, West Midlands

Less than a minute further along the M5 from Kenrick & Sons, we spotted the enormous form of Turner’s Hill, the largest hill in the entire West Midlands county, at nearly 900 ft. Atop it sit the twin transmitters of Turners Hill 1 (left), and Turners Hill 2 (right), which broadcast various radio stations across the cities of Wolverhampton and Birmingham.

Trip 3

St Helen’s Church, Alveston, Gloucestershire

Moving away from the West Midlands, we got caught up in a LONG queue on the M5 as we travelled through Gloucestershire, so we tried a detour to skip out the very busy section that runs round the City of Bristol. Our new route was quite rural, and took us through the small village of Alveston, a landmark feature of which is St Helen’s Church, shown above.

This is in fact the second St Helen’s Church to serve the village, as the original was built in the 12th century, and still survives, albeit as a ruin. It lies almost 2 miles away from Alveston itself, in Rudgeway, as at that time both were covered by Olveston Parish. Alveston wouldn’t be split off into it’s own Parish until 1846. Due to the distance needed to travel to the current Church, a new one was built to serve the new Parish, although the name was kept. The building you can see today was completed in 1885, to designs by Henry Lloyd.

Trip 4

Severn Bridge, Severn Estuary, South Wales/Bristol

Alveston and the other villages which surround it lie up an incline, which provides commanding views out onto the Severn Estuary, which separates Gloucestershire, Bristol and Somerset from South Wales on the far side. One of the most famous landmarks in the Estuary can be seen above, the “Severn Bridge”, which opened in 1966, with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in attendance.

The grand 445 ft tall towers mark the entrance into either England or Wales, depending on which direction you are travelling, and whilst originally the M4 crossed the Bridge, it was rerouted when the new crossing was completed, and the old section of Motorway renamed M48.

Trip 5

Second Severn Crossing, Severn Estuary, South Wales/Bristol

Continuing on, we eventually rejoined the M5, and finally got the right vantage point to see the “Second Severn Crossing”.

It sits alongside its counterpart, the original Severn Bridge, which lies slightly further North, and was reaching its projected traffic capacity by 1984. Plans were put forwards to supplement it with a brand new bridge, designed by Ronald Weeks, who also designed the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Bristol in the 1970’s. He worked for a firm called the “Percy Thomas Partnership”, founded by Percy Thomas (1883 – 1969) a few decades earlier. Unfortunately they went into administration in 2004, but the Bridge, one of their most famous works, is still a prominent feature of the estuary.

Both bridges are currently Toll Bridges, although payment is only collected on the Westbound carriageways as you enter Wales from England. It currently carries the M4 Motorway, which was rerouted onto the new Bridge from the original.

We left the Bridges behind, and headed for our next stop, in Cornwall…