We settle back on the bus after identifying our luggage, it’s a pretty day in the Cotswolds. Out of Mickleton and onto a main highway for the two hour or so drive to Wells where we will stop to see the smallest city with one of the finest cathedrals in England.
The scenery changes from the tilled fields of the middle of the country to the more open land near the south west coast but the stone walls remain.
The gate in the wall reminds us that in early days this was a walled Bishop’s Palace inside and one of the oldest inhabited houses in England (quoting here from our handout on Wells) with the outer walls dating back to the 1200’s. The palace had a moat and drawbridge during civic unrest in the 14th century.
We had two hours to see the city and have lunch so Russell led us through this gate where beggars were allowed to hang out. Later in the visit, a musician had set up in this space with his hat out for tips.
This is the west front of Wells Cathedral. This amazing facade is said to have the largest expanse of medieval sculpture in the world. There are saints, angels, kings, bishops, apostles and a statue of Christ at the top. Construction of the Cathedral began in 1180 and was not completed until over a century later.
This is the Vicar’s Close. Bachelor dwellings for the men of the Cathedral choir. It is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited street in Europe!
Across from the Vicars’ Close on the north side of the cathedral is a clock with mechanical figures which appear and strike chimes at the quarter hour.
Inside the cathedral is a fantastic architectural scene with pillars and columns and various types of ceiling vaulting.
The mighty organ had just been playing as we entered. We could see the organist behind the curtain.
Another architectural feature of this fantastic building is the scissor arches which the literature reports to be a medieval solution to sinking tower foundations circa 1338-48.
The thing that also drew my eye was the embroidery on the alter cover. It looks 3D. Stunning!An ancient Chapter House for the clergy was in an added on octagonal building that was reached by worn stairs from thousands of feet over centuries. Evidently it is still used occasionally to transact Cathedral business.
This Wells clock was installed around 1390 and still functions. It is one of the oldest clock faces in the world. On the quarter hour, knights joust, going round in tournament. We were able to see this magical happening. In the below picture, a figure kicks his heels and rings a bell.
English Cathedrals get no regular funding from the government or the Church of England towards maintenance, restoration and development work, says the brochure I picked up. The literature went on to say that 4,500 pounds sterling was needed for daily upkeep and running costs.
Dave and I had a nice lunch at a nearby Inn then it was time to join the group at the bus for the rest of the journey to Lanteglos Country House Hotel.
Thanks to Bob MacFarlane for this excellent view of Lanteglos House Hotel.
Our Hotel was located in the country near Camelford in the southwest of England. The lane servicing the hotel is narrow and the entrance to the hotel is narrower. We and our luggage are unloaded in the lane. We find our assigned rooms/cottages or cabins and get organized for dinner.
Dave and I are assigned a cabin uphill from the main hotel. Seriously uphill. It seemed like a 30% grade to me.
The Coastal Path from Pentireglaze to Polzeath
The bus left the hotel most days around 9am after a great breakfast. The waitstaff would ask, “Hot porridge? With cream?” There was always granola and yogurt, fresh fruit and juices, jams and breads, eggs and sausages or bacon and usually hash browns, tea and coffee. They sent us off with plenty of fuel for our hikes.
A dampish day but the scenery along the Atlantic coast of Cornwall was spectacular.
The trek started at Pentire Farms. We walked down to the coast past and west to Pentire point.
Dry stone walls of a different sort than those in the Cotswolds lined the path in places.
We took a break at the “Rumps”. Down below is a tour boat showing a cave along the shore.
The path curved along the coast and down to the town of Polzeath which happens to be a Mecca for surfers.
If you look closely you can see surfers taking a lesson with rescue vessels parked nearby.
We took our lunch in the cafe above this surf shop.
This Rook was ever vigilant for scraps.
While waiting for the group to gather for the next leg to St Enodoc, we watched people and surfers.
Our path turned inland And upward toward the town of St Miniver.
Everywhere were beautiful flowers. Our objective was a church called St Enodoc. It was built in the dunes and was unprotected from blowing sand and became covered with sand. Legend has it that a priest had to say mass in the church in order to keep it eligible to receive tax money so the priest was lowered through the roof. The church was finally exhumed and protected from the wind. It is now a prime spot for weddings.
In order to reach the church our path crosses a golf course. We were told to be watchful for golfers and there were quite a few out on this Tuesday afternoon in June. White stone markers guided walkers along the path.
A beautiful church especially with the flowers draped over the door and along the alter rail.
Sir John Betjeman is buried in the church cemetery. He was a famous poet and Poet Laureate. We heard some of his works read to us by a theater club in the evening. After another hike across the dunes and up to the Trebetherick road, our bus picks us up and takes us to the Tintagel Brewery near Delabole in a stunning location above the ocean. We see a film about brewing beer and get to sample some. Back to Lanteglos Country House Hotel and dinner.
A day in St.Ives and a hike to visit a tin miner
We had a choice to spend the day visiting this harbor town near the part of Cornwall called Lands End or hike around the harbor and climb up above the town for another view of the Atlantic Ocean. Dave and I followed Jen and a few others around the harbor and then struck out on our own.
It was a beautiful sunny day so lots of folks were out walking along the harbor and shopping.
Around the Point was a lovely beach with blue Caribbean-like waters. Evidently the Gulf Stream crosses the Atlantic and deposits warm waters on these beaches and moderates the climate in this part of England.
As we dodged back into the town, we window shopped. Looking around I spotted this baby seagull on top of a roof. He is still downy so hasn’t fledged. Waiting for food.
St. Ives history includes farming and fishing and mining. The railway line from St Erth was and continues to be essential in connecting the town to the rest of England. Tin, copper and uranium were mined nearby. Many artists live and work in St Ives. There is a Tate St Ives gallery here exhibiting international, modern and contemporary art including art of the St Ives School of modernists. Dave and I stopped to view art by a local guild and came away with a watercolor of the Cornish coast.
Dave and I took the train to it’s junction with the mainline and returned enjoying a spectacular view of the coast.
We ate a bite of lunch in a coffee shop and rejoined the group for the coach trip to a tin mine near St Agnes. The coach could not negotiate the excessively steep grade down to the mine so we hiked. The proprietor, Mark Wills, told us about the process of turning rock into tin which he proceeded to show us.
This water driven stamping mill was used to break up the rock which was further refined until the sand-like product could be separated.
This machine shakes and separates the sandy material. Heads are good. Kids need to be reprocessed and Tails are discarded. This time consuming process is continued until he is sure all the usable ore is extracted. Then that product is melted into ingots. This is how he makes his living…in addition to conducting tours and selling jewelry and other items he has made.
Another interesting day in Cornwall concludes with the group (ok, maybe just me) toiling up the hill to the coach. Some of the hikers fairly sprinted up that hill.
We came upon these contraptions in various restrooms. It’s a three-in-one deal. Press a button for water, another for soap and the third for blow dry and “Bob’s your uncle” your hands are clean!
Padstow and Port Isaac
This day we were given the choice of a seven mile hike with lots of ups and downs or hanging out in Padstow. I chose to stay in Padstow and Dave stuck with me. Our guides had prepared materials and maps that we could follow to explore this small but important port on the southwest coast. It has had a long history dating back to Roman times but a Welsh monastic named Petroc settled here building a monastic community and doing miracles. Padstow had a good natural harbor and developed into an important trading center for importing and exporting goods.
Dave and I walked around the town and sat along the inner harbor people watching.
A quaint place. Loved the flowers.
Fresh fish here, made us hungry. We even waited for a table to be ready in this popular fishmonger/restaurant.
The name of the place was Prawn on the Lawn. The waiter suggested we share small plates including the namesake prawn on the lawn. All were excellent.
Evidently this is a competitive rowing boat called the Fitzroy. The tide was out but it would have been fun to see a rowing race.Time to leave for the ferry to Rock. You can see the outer harbor with boats moored waiting for the tide to float them. The inner harbor is kept full with a barrier that can be closed. The Black Tor Ferry has been running here since 1337 to and fro every 20 minutes in high season.
Jen, our fearless and fit leader, is in training to run the New York Marathon. She was up before the birds every morning on a run. She also has a home catering business.
Our coach was waiting for us for the short trip to another scenic small port, St Issac. If you have ever watched the PBS series, Doc Martin, you might recognize some of these scenes or buildings.
It was a gorgeous day. Many people were out but because of the extremely narrow streets, there wasn’t much car traffic. Most folks parked at the top of the hill and walked down, as we did.
I watched one Doc Martin episode and saw this building.
Dave and I had an ice cream and a coffee here. Our guide, Russell, saw one of the characters from the series but there was no filming on this day.
Back up to the top and the bus and a short ride to the hotel. Before dinner, Dave and I would get something to drink and visit until time for the meal. Meals were great with choices for meat lovers and vegetarians.
The Cornish Riviera on Cornwall’s south coast
To get an idea of the breadth of the peninsula, it took only 40 minutes to get from one side to the other coast. The garden lovers of the group had a choice to see the Lost Gardens Of Heligan while the rest could take the exhilarating 6.5 mile walk on the Coast Path. The gardens were splendid.
Heligan Estate was owned by the same family for 400 years and during that time it was a thriving and self sufficient community. World War I drafted all the farm workers who were able and none came back. After the war the gardens reverted to brambles due to lack of care. Heligan House was rented out and later sold off separating the gardens and estate. In 1990 the gardens were rediscovered and England’s largest garden restoration project began.
A guide met us as we got off the coach. She escorted us around the grounds telling us the restoration story and pointing out famous plantings of azaleas and camellias, the summer houses and hidden nooks and walks.
She pointed out the tribute to the gardeners who were lost in the war.
The door in this wall could have been an inspiration from the book “The Secret Garden” that I love and have read many times.
Can’t you imagine it all overgrown? A door to a secret place.
There were vegetables and flowers and fruit trees and strawberry plants and pineapple houses.
All the gardens were meticulously recreated by an archeologist, Tim Smit, who was engaged by a relative of the original estate owner.
This wagtail is bringing lunch to babies in a nest in the brick wall. She persisted even though we were close and taking her picture.
The guide turned us loose to explore the rest on our own.
We walked all around the extensive grounds and braved the rope bridge.
This was a field of flowers planted for butterflies.
There were sculptures,too.
We had a wonderful al fresco lunch with such tasty fresh strawberries, just picked.
This is a giant rhubarb plant.
A little shopping in a great plant/gift shop and we were ready to meet the coach for a ride to the fishing village of Mevagissey where the walkers would descend.
The harbor was at low tide so the fishermen were tending to their boats. We walked out onto the breakwater while waiting for the hikers. When the rest of the group arrived we posed for a group photo in this picturesque place.
Our leaders Jen and Russell are on the left. It was a congenial group.
Boscastle and Tintagel
Boscastle is a National Trust Village with a picturesque harbor on the north coast of the peninsula. The hikers took. 6.5 mile walk along the Coast Path. Boscastle had neat shops and historic buildings to poke around in.
We took it easy and met the hikers at the beach in Tintagel.
King Arthur’s Arms our lunch spot. Lunch was fish and chips in a pub in Tintagel.
Tintagel is purported to be where the legendary King Arthur was born in a castle along this rugged coast. In 2018 the British Heritage closed the site. They are building a sky bridge across to the castle rock from the main coast. It looked to be almost completed when we were there.
It was another blue sky day for our last day in Cornwall.
Bath and back to London
A final breakfast with a heartfelt goodbye to the waitstaff and the chef who had served us so well. All packed and on the bus for our final excursion.
Bath is a World Heritage City. We were dropped off near the historic city center with a little time to visit the famous Roman Baths, the 15th century abbey, the Georgian terraces. The city was bustling and colorful with hanging baskets of flowers.
We came upon the marker designating the end of the Cotswolds Way near the ancient abbey.
Our hotel was near Heathrow. We had just enough time to find our rooms and refresh ourselves before a final communal meal and goodbyes. An Indian wedding party was in the hotel that evening providing us with another interesting thing to watch.
We had exchanged email addresses and summer plans. Now we wonder if we will see any of these folks again. The next morning we all flew away home. The end.