Land’s End to John O’Groats 2016

Dear all my readers on WordPress. We have had an amazing few years travelling, and seen so much, and now we would like to try and give something back. In 2013 my Mum passed away after a brave battle with Cancer, so to mark her birthday this year, on the 18th October 2016 we shall drive from Land’s End in Cornwall, to John O’Groats in the Scottish Highlands. This 837 mile trip is a symbolic route across Britain, and perhaps the ultimate British roadtrip.

We are looking for people to sponsor us, or donate via the JustGiving page I shall set up sometime in June. All proceeds from the drive will go to Cancer Research UK, to make the day Cancer becomes a thing of the past, that much closer!

Charity Drive

If you would like to Donate when the page goes live later in the year, please leave your email address in the comments, or send me a message at: no3_dan88_@hotmail.co.uk

I shall email you back with the link when it’s ready. We are grateful for any support given, and hope this will help change people’s lives in the future!

Also keep an eye out for more information about the drive to be posted over the next few months, including the donation link itself!

Daniel & Gemma

 

Cornwall & The South: Pt 26 – Axminster

Heading towards Hampshire, we took the A30 through Devon. En route, we diverted slightly into the town of Axminster, for a look round the historic centre…

Axminster:

Status: East Devon, Devon, Town, England

Date: 08/08/2015

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Axminster Minster, War Memorial, Axminster Museum, Guildhall, Jubilee Fountain, Axminster Conservative Club, Thomas Whitty House, Old Court House, Trinity Square, Archway Bookshop, Axminster Carpets etc

What better place to begin than outside the Church that gave the town its name, the Minster Church of St Mary the Virgin. Combined with the River Axe which runs just West of the town, you get the town of Axminster.

The Church is by far the oldest building in the town, with the Chancel and the Tower dating back to the 13th century, however it is believed the Saxons built an earlier Church sometime prior to 786 AD.

Like any historic building, there have been numerous additions over the centuries, including the North Aisle of 1525, and the South Aisle of 1800.

Out in the Churchyard sits the towns War Memorial, erected after WWI to commemorate the fallen soldiers from the town.

If you look closely at the picture on the left, which shows the Memorial with the Church directly behind it, you can make out a statue of St George on the side of the monument, slaying a Dragon.

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The Church itself is the focal point for the town, with the Churchyard at its heart forming a large square adjoined by roads on all sides.

The Eastern edge of the square is home to the Axminster Conservative Club, shown above as the third building along to the right.

It inhabits part of the “Thomas Whitty House”, which was originally opened in 1755 as the Axminster Carpet Factory. The owner was the aforementioned Thomas Whitty (1713 – 1792) who was inspired by a large Turkish Carpet he saw on a visit to London. He used this as a basis for his own design, which became renowned the world over, with the company even creating a large carpet for the 30th Sultan of Turkey, Mahmud II (1789 – 1839) in 1800.

Sadly a fire swept through the Warehouse in 1826, and effectively bankrupted the company, which closed down. The building saw later used as a Hospital, before the Conservative Club moved into the Northern end. There are plans to turn the rest of the building into a Heritage Centre for tourists.

Axminster Carpets were given a reprieve in 1929 when Harry Dutfield from Kidderminster opened a new factory here which is still open today on the other side of town.

Ax 4

The Southern edge of the square is home to the Old Courthouse, completed in 1864 on what was once the site of the Axminster Union Workhouse.

It contained it’s own Police Cells, which were in use until 1964, and the building as a whole had the distinction of being one of the first police stations to be built in the entire county. Today it has been turned into the Tourist Information Centre, and the Axminster Museum.

If you look past the Courthouse, to the third car along (a Fiat) you can just see the Archway Bookshop, which has a Blue Sign protruding from the wall above the main entrance.

The main door into the Shop is formed out of a large arch, which was originally in use in Newenham Abbey as a window arch until 1861.

Ax 6

To the North of the Church, just outside the Churchyard you will find the Jubilee Fountain, completed in 1887 in honour of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria (1819- 1901).

The area around the Fountain is known as Trinity Square, where the Axminster Market is held on Thursdays. The name comes from a devastating fire which occurred here in 1834 on Trinity Sunday, which caused widespread damage to the town.

Ax 5

Our final stop was the Axminster Guildhall, on West Street heading South away from the central square.

Opened in 1931, it functioned as the Guildhall for the town for the next 15 years, until it was sold in 1946, and converted into a cinema. This would itself close in 1964, when it was then bought BACK by the Town Council, and promptly reopened as the Guildhall.

Axminster is a beautiful little town, with good transport links, as the A35 between Exeter and Bournemouth runs nearby, whilst the local railway station provides regular services to London Waterloo, Basingstoke, Salisbury and Exeter St Davids.

We pressed on, and entered Hampshire which would be our base for the next week. Our next stop would however be in Sussex, to the stunning Cathedral City of Chichester…

Cornwall & The South: Pt 25 – Minions

Our final stop in Cornwall was a little unusual, and when we saw it on the map we thought as a joke we could go and get a picture with the sign. When we arrived, we were totally unprepared for what we saw…

Minions:

Status: Cornwall Unitary Authority & County, Village, England

Date: 08/08/2016

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Minions Sign etc

Minions

Gemma is a big fan of Despicable Me, and as we travelled over Bodmin Moor towards Devon, heading for Hampshire, we spotted in the AA Road Map that it said Minions, a small village in the middle of nowhere. We thought it would be amusing to go and get a picture with the village sign, but it turns out Universal Pictures beat us to it!

Sadly the sign was only temporary, and it has been removed since, however whilst it was there it generated a lot of interest, with people from far and wide coming to see it. We genuinely had no idea it was there, so it was quite a surprise as we came around the corner!

Anyway, we said goodbye to Cornwall, and headed for Hampshire to start the next leg of our journey, which took us around Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, East & West Sussex and Kent…

Cornwall & The South: Pt 24 – Helston

Leaving Lizard Point behind us, we arrived in the small town of Helston…

Helston:

Status: Cornwall Unitary Authority & County, Town, England

Date: 07/08/2015

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Helston Guildhall, H.M.S. Anson Guns, Site of Helston Castle, Grylls Monument, St Michael’s Church, The Godolphin Club, Helston Methodist Church, Helston Museum, Helston Drill Hall, Museum, The Blue Anchor etc

We found a small car park just outside the main town centre, and found our way to “Coinage Hall Street”, the main thoroughfare through the centre of town where you will find the vast majority of Helstons major landmarks.

We started at the magnificent Guildhall, completed in 1839 to designs by George Wightwick (1802 – 1872, Welsh Architect from Plymouth). The building is still in use for Civic Duties, and includes a Council Chamber for the Town Council, and a Mayor’s Parlour. The ground floor was also originally the Corn Exchange.

Round the side of the building stand two well preserved K6 Red Telephone Boxes, designed for King George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (1880 – 1960, London Architect). They are a typically British landmark, and behind them you can see down Church Street behind the Guildhall towards the Tower of St Michael’s.

Following Church Street to the rear of the Guildhall, you will find the Market Square, which contains Helston Museum (shown on the right). It inhabits what was once the towns joint Market Hall, and Drill Hall (where Soldiers could perform their military drills).

The second picture is a view looking down the side of the Museum. The Market Hall section is in the foreground on the left, and dates back to 1838. The architect for the project was W Penberthy from Bristol.

The building in the background, which has a small tower with a bell in the centre, is the Drill Hall, completed a year later in 1839.

Helston 4

Outside the Museum in the centre of the square, directly to the rear of the Guildhall is the iconic Cannon salvaged from the H.M.S Anson. The Anson was a Royal Naval ship launched in 1781 from the dockyards at Plymouth, with a full complement of 64 guns.

The ship sailed the high seas until 1807, when a storm forced her onto the rocks at Loe Bar, as she attempted to navigate back into the port of Falmouth. A monument to the ship stands at Loe Bar, in memory of the vast majority of the crew who went down with their ship.

Many ships throughout history have been named Anson, with the most recent being H.M.S Anson (S123), a nuclear submarine currently under construction by BAE Systems.

Helston 6

Overlooking the town, as we spotted earlier, is the Church of St Michael’s, whose Tower rises high above many of the other local buildings.

Designed by Thomas Edwards, the Church was consecrated in 1761, replacing its earlier incarnation which fell victim to a large fire in 1729.

I mentioned earlier that George Wightwick designed the Guildhall in the 1830’s, and indeed he also undertook a full restoration of the Church at the same time.

Returning to Coinage Hall Street, we kept going North away from the Guildhall, to find the “Godolphin Club”, a fine Granite Ashlar edifice. Originally built by George Wightwick in 1834 as a Public School, by the end of the 1880’s it had become the towns Public Rooms.

It included such areas as a Billiards Room, a Meeting Hall and a Members Club. A similar set up remains today, with various events, entertainment, clubs and games available inside.

Looking back along Coinage Hall Street, you can see that most of the town itself is very historic looking, with small Ashlar Houses, old looking shop fronts and a medieval street layout.

Helston 9

The road opens out as you reach the Southern end of Coinage Hall Street, back past the Guildhall and down the hill which the town centre sits on. All of the buildings here are listed, however a few in particular stood out…

1) Helston Methodist Church: The Methodist Church was completed in 1888, and sits alongside a small Chapel which was the original place of worship on the site. The Chapel was converted into a Sunday School when the new Church was finished.

2) The Blue Anchor: This charming local Inn was built in the 18th century, and features a genuine thatched roof, which makes it unique amongst the other buildings on the road.

Helston 12

Finally, to complete our journey around the town, we reached the end of Coinage Hall Street, where you will find the “Grylls Monument”.

Yet another fine addition by Mr Wightwick, this elegant gateway commemorates Humphry Millet Grylls (1789 – 1834) who is most well known for using his significant influence in the area to stop the closure of the Wheal Vor Copper & Tin Mines, a major employer for the town, in 1830.

Behind the Gateway lies the Helston Bowling Green, which is supposedly the site of Helston Castle, which has long since gone.

Helston is an interesting, historic town which packs in more history on one street that many other whole towns. The architecture is also well co-ordinated, thanks to the efforts of Mr Wightwick.

We had just one more stop in Cornwall before we moved to Hampshire for the final week of our holiday, the village of Minions…

Cornwall & The South: Pt 23 – Lizard Point

One of our final stops in Cornwall before we moved to Hampshire for the second week of our trip, was to the most Southerly place you can get to in Britain, Lizard Point…

Lizard:

Status: Cornwall Unitary Authority & County, Village, England

Date: 07/05/2016

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Lizard Point, Lizard Point Lighthouse, English Channel, Helston Bus Service etc

Lizard 1

We had arrived in the village of Lizard, whose main landmark is the Lizard Point Lighthouse a short walk from the village centre.

Part of the site is now a Heritage Centre, with a Museum and Shop included. The Lighthouse sits on the coast overlooking the English Channel, around 884 miles away from it’s counterpart Lighthouse at Dunnet Head in Scotland, the most Northerly Point in Britain.

If you look closely at the picture above, you can see that there are actually TWO Lighthouse towers, rising to 62 ft, one at either end of the building.

The present building was completed in 1751, and includes a row of cottages which connects the two towers. At the time a light shone from either end, however in 1903 the Western Tower (to the right) was deactivated, and the lamp itself was removed. By 1924 the complex had been converted to allow electricity to run the light, the first in the world.

The Eastern Tower still shines today, with a range of 26 Nautical Miles. The Light was later automated in 1998, and the Cottages converted into Self-Catering Holiday Homes which are available to rent.

Lizard 4

Inside the Heritage Centre, we came across one particular exhibit which put us in mind of our trip to the Isles of Scilly the day before.

These are the former “Entrance Doors” to Bishop Rock Lighthouse. They each weigh 200 KG, as they were cast out of Solid Bronze. It was in 1994 that a maintenance crew discovered the damage wreaked during a storm, with one of the doors blown further inside the building causing interior damage. The doors were replaced, whilst the originals were brought back to the mainland.

Lizard 5

The Lighthouse here at Lizard would also have warned travellers away from the rocky reefs out in the Channel just offshore, a major hazard for shipping.

Lizard 6

Back in the village itself, we spotted a plaque on the side of a building which states that:

“The Lizard to Helston Station bus service inaugurated in August 1903 was the first railway-operated motor bus service in the UK”.

The line was built by the GWR (Great Western Railway) as an alternative to an actual railway line from Helston in to Lizard. The buses would meet people arriving at Helston Railway Station, and transport them on to Lizard. It was almost the first overall motor bus service in the UK, however that distinction goes to one launched a few months earlier in Eastbourne. A bus still runs between Lizard and Helston to this day, although its connection to the railways is long gone, as the line at Helston was shut during the 1960’s.

Our third and final stop for the day after Falmouth and Lizard was to Helston, a charming little town 11 miles to the North…

Cornwall & The South: Pt 22 – Falmouth

After an exciting day trip out to the Isles of Scilly, we started a new day of exploration, in the coastal town of Falmouth, in South Cornwall…

Falmouth:

Status: Cornwall Unitary Authority & County, Town, England

Date: 07/08/2016

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Falmouth Harbour, Falmouth Docks, Quayside Inn, King’s Pipe, Old Post Office, Art Gallery & Library, Central Methodist Church, Old Customs House, King Charles Church, St George’s Arcade, Packet Monument, River Fal, Penryn River, Carrick Roads etc

Fal 1

We started down by the Harbour, a familiar, fishing boat laden Cornish Quayside full of history. Aside from the towns skyline which lay in front of us, including the Tower of Falmouth Parish Church, a number of buildings stood out, starting with the “Marine Hotel” located directly beneath the Church Tower.

Together with the neighbouring “Chain Locker” its form a set of Inns, originally built in the 18th Century alongside a Warehouse which was eventually converted into the “Shipwrights” Inn.

Moving round to the left is the “Quayside Inn”, a charming 19th Century Inn, along with the “Customs House” of 1814 which would have controlled the import and export of goods into the town.

Fal 2

Heading up towards the High Street, we passed the “King’s Pipe”, a tall brick chimney built around 1814, the same time as the Customs House. It was used to incinerate any contraband tobacco smuggled into the town.

The main entrance to the Customs House is located on the High Street which runs in front of it, marked by a magnificent set of the British Coat of Arms, with the English Lion to the left, and the Scottish Unicorn to the right.

Much of the High Street is characterised by fine 19th Century buildings, many of which were originally built as Town, or Terraced Houses and later incorporated into new shops. The streets of the town centre are all closely knit, designed and laid out long before the invention of the car, a paradise of back streets, Inns and local shops.

Following the High Street round, we arrived outside the Church of King Charles, a stunning 17th Century Ashlar edifice.

The original building was completed in 1665, although it has seen various updates and improvements since. In 1684 the tower was added, and later heightened to include a clock in 1800. The rest of the building was then extended in 1861 with a new vestry, before the whole Church was restored by Edmund Harold Sedding (1863 – 1921, Devonian Architect) in 1896.

A typical British Red Telephone Box greets you as you climb the stairs to the Churchyard which offers a great view of the whole Church, as well as…

Fal 7

… a lovely panoramic view of the “Carrick Roads”, the name given to the estuary of the River Fal which gave the town its name. The Fal joins the Penryn River in the towns harbour, before heading out into the English Channel to the South.

There are many interesting and varied buildings up and down the High Street which are both historic and aesthetically significant. Two in particular stood out:

  1. St George’s Arcade: The stunning facade was originally home to the first cinema to be built in Falmouth, in 1912. Today it has been converted into a shopping arcade, whilst still retaining its historic qualities.
  2. Numbers 54 & 55 Church Street: These 19th century shops are unique in the town, thanks to their bowed glass shop windows, and sit almost opposite the Arcade.

The centre of town is located around a large square called “The Moor”, just off the High Street, which contains some of the towns most important buildings:

1) The Old Post Office Building: This large building, whose entrance is fronted by a number of Red Phone Boxes was completed in 1930, and sits on the previous home of Falmouth Market. It has just been refurbished, and it is thought Falmouth Town Council will move in shortly. They previously resided next door in the Art Gallery (shown right)…

2) Falmouth Art Gallery: The Art Gallery was completed in 1896, to designs by W. H. Tresidder, and incorporated a Council Chamber, Art School and Library. With the Town Council moving next door only the Library and Art School (now Gallery) remain, although a new Museum may also be moved in.

Elsewhere on the Moor you will find:

1) The Packet Monument: A tall, granite obelisk completed in 1898 as a monument to “The Memory of the Gallant Officers and Men of H M Post Office and Packet Service sailing from Falmouth 1688-1852).

Falmouth was an important Packet Station for the Postal Service, with ships bringing post into and out of the busy port. It was a hazardous job however, as between the 17th – 19th centuries various wars involved Great Britain, making the ships a target for enemy attacks.

2) Falmouth Methodist Church: The Methodist Church, perhaps more than most buildings in Falmouth has a tumultuous history. Originally built in 1791 as a Chapel, it was redesigned and rebuilt to its present look in 1876. Sadly it was bombed out during WWII and had to be rebuilt, although it wasn’t completed until 1956.

Our last stop was up on “Pendennis Rise”, a hill which overlooks the towns impressive Dockyard. Served by it’s own railway station, the Docks are a hive of activity, with multiple cranes across the skyline. The Docks contain a number of enormous dry docks where ship repairs and refits can be carried out, and you can see from the picture their sheer size.

Just behind the various cranes, and pleasure vessel masts in the Harbour lies the rest of the town, with the Church Tower easily visible over to the left.

Falmouth is a picturesque, historic town with many interesting landmarks to visit. Good transport links make it the ideal place to spend the day, with the A394 Main Road running between Devon and Penzance not far away. Local rail links provide stations at Falmouth Town, Falmouth Docks and nearby Penryn, with regular trains back to the Cornish City of Truro.

It was time to move on, and our next destination was the most extreme Southern tip on the island of Great Britain, Lizard Point…

Cornwall & The South: Pt 21 – Return To The Mainland

Leaving Hugh Town on the Isles of Scilly, we made the few hour trip back to the mainland, which treated us to a few extra sights…

Bishop 1

Bishop Rock Lighthouse, Bishop Rock, Isles of Scilly

The first view we were treated to was the famous Lighthouse sat on Bishop Rock, the farthest West of all the Isles of Scilly, out in the Atlantic.

Bishop Rock presents a major shipping hazard, so in 1847, Trinity House, the Lighthouse Authority which covers England & Wales, commissioned James Walker (1781 – 1862, Scottish Engineer) to build the Tower. A new 120 foot tall Lighthouse was built, sat on Iron Legs to protect it from the waves. No sooner was it completed however, the rock was reclaimed by the sea and the Tower washed away, due to a flimsy design.

It was decided to build another Lighthouse, but this time Mr Walker crafted it out of Stone, which began to shine its light in 1858. There are 10 floors within the building, and Bishop Rock was also given a Guinness World Record for being the “Smallest Island In The World With A Building On It”.

Like most Lighthouses, it is today unmanned, having been automated in 1992, but it is still a British landmark, in the UK’s loneliest spot.

Bishop 2

Dolphins

Leaving the Isles of Scilly behind us, we were escorted back towards Great Britain by a small school of Dolphins, who bobbed up and down in the water alongside us.

They are a common sight out here near Scilly, and they were the icing on the cake for a near perfect day. After getting a well deserved long sleep when we got back that evening, we set out the next morning for the coastal town of Falmouth…

Cornwall & The South: Pt 20 – Old Town

Away from the larger town of Hugh Town on the Isle of St Mary’s, lies the oldest settlement on the island, the village of Old Town…

Old Town:

Status: Isles of Scilly Unitary Authority, Cornwall, Village, England

Date: 16/08/2015

Travel: Walk

Eating & Sleeping: Old Town Cafe

Attractions: Isles of Scilly Airport, Old Town Harbour, St Mary’s Old Church etc

Old Town 1

Old Town is approximately a 14 minute walk away from the centre of Hugh Town, down suburban country lanes. As you walk, you get a commanding view of St Mary’s Airport, sat high on a hill overlooking the village.

The first ever flights to the island began in 1937, direct from Land’s End Airport in mainland Cornwall. The was however no airstrip for them to land on, so they made use of the local Golf Course. To facilitate the flights, a new Airport was built in 1939, on the site of an old farm. Later additions include a small Terminal and Control Tower in 1949, and a new service to Penzance by Helicopter in 1964 to replace the Land’s End route.

A brand new runway was added in 1991, and today the only flights available are once more to Land’s End Airport by plane.

Old Town 2

Old Town itself was once the most important settlement on the island of St Mary’s, until the rise of Hugh Town in recent centuries. A garrison called “Ennor Castle” once overlooked the village, whilst a small port handles local fishing boats.

Old Town has a stunning beach located in a natural harbour, and the village itself also contains a small Church, which sadly we didn’t have time to visit.

Old Town 3

The village is a lovely peaceful area, a hidden gem for tourists who may otherwise stick to Hugh Town. We had no idea what we would find here, but noted on a map of the Island that it said “Old Town” which of course sounded like it was worth a look.

Old Town 4

The Church is located back on the road to Hugh Town, and the Churchyard is home to the grave of the late British Prime Minister Harold Wilson (1916 – 1995, Labour PM who served two terms). The village centre has a few shops, a pub and a number of cafe’s, everything you really need.

After enjoying the quiet surroundings, and the old stone houses, we had to head off back to Hugh Town to catch our ferry back to the mainland, but the village is a great place to unwind during a trip to the Isles of Scilly…