Tiny roads, delightful inns, sea-side walks, history, and more. One can have fun discovering the charming place
London was reeling under a squall, which was not surprising since it was the time of the year for squalls. But as my train sped westwards, things started getting brighter. As if a giant invisible hand had wiped the sky clean, the countryside started sparkling as I crossed across into Devon and the train sped towards Plymouth, my jumping point to Cornwall.
I'd taken First Great Western Railways' service from Paddington to Plymouth that took three hours and 16 minutes past some very scenic vistas.
I picked up my hire car and drove towards St. Ives, my first stop in Cornwall. Sitting pretty by the Celtic Sea on the northern edge of the Cornish peninsula, St. Ives is a typical harbour town that sees a fair share of tourists who come to take in the sea breeze, sample the Cornish Pasties and browse through stylish art galleries tucked into cobblestoned streets.
In fact, at spots where the vistas were breathtakingly scenic, budding artists were sketching away on their canvases. It is believed that the natural light here is brighter than in other parts of Britain.
The Cornish peninsula is compact enough to be a base and take up day driving trips. And, you can do this over a week because Cornwall has so much to offer — from prehistoric Cairns and lovely seaside walks to stunning roads for drives and food. Ah, food — it's a work of art!
But, I was driving, spending every night in a charming new village or town. The next day's drive was from St. Ives to a village called Perranuthnoe near Penzance. It took me on the B3306 with stunning green and ochre autumn views offset by the bright blue sea. En route was the village of Zennor, where legend has it that a mermaid lured a sailor into the sea. Zennor was also the home of novelist D.H. Lawrence.
An old sailor at Tinner's Arms, Zennor's watering hole, told me I should visit the Merry Maidens on the way to Penzance.
The Merry Maidens
The Merry Maidens is a group of stones arranged in a circle. This Bronze Age stone circle of 19 stones is believed to be maidens turned into stone for making merry on the Sabbath. I stand there and wonder what Pagan science and ceremonies took place here!
The same evening, I arrived at Ednovean Farm, my bed and breakfast in Perranuthnoe, and walked through the fields to the Victoria Inn for dinner. I dare call this place Cornwall's temple to tastebuds — the profusion of flavours that danced across my tongue was something holy!
The next morning I drove to the Lizard, a peninsula within Cornwall and Britain's southernmost point. Here, a scenic path overlooks Helston Beach. And, then it's time for Cornish pasties or tea and scones with clotted cream.
A short drive from Helston is Poldhu Cove, at the end of B3296. It is from here that Guglielmo Marconi sent the first ever wireless radio message in the world — three dots in Morse code that stands for the letter S were transmitted from here to Signal Hill in St John's, Newfoundland, across the Atlantic on December 12, 1901. And, Marconi proved wrong sceptics who had said a radio wave needed a line of sight and would not follow the curvature of the earth. Wireless telecommunication was born at Poldhu Cove...
I continued my drive around Cornwall staying at inns such as the Highcliffe Guesthouse in Falmouth and driving through The Roseland to Padstow and staying at the Woodlands Country House. The Roseland is one of Cornwall's most beautiful areas with typically Cornish narrow roads flanked by lush hedgerows and secluded fishing villages.
If history gives you a high, then Tintagel Castle is calling out to you. Built half on the mainland and half on jagged headland projecting into the Cornish Sea, Tintagel Castle is spectacular just by virtue of its location.
Its association with King Arthur adds to the awe. It dates back to the 5th Century and legend has it that King Arthur was conceived here.
Whatever the truth be, it is eerily fascinating to walk on the windswept headland along ruins and ancient tunnels having the guide tell you tales of yore.
My last night at Cornwall was at the Orchard Lodge at Boscastle, where I'm asked to try the Napoleon Inn for dinner — it was splendid.
The evening was spent discussing Cornwall and cricket with a couple of locals.
The Cornish Peninsula is a joy to discover by road. It is small, but the roads are so well marked that you have to be astonishingly daft to get lost, and the little inns are so much fun to discover.
It is a part of England that remains well-hidden and abundantly rewards travellers who arrive to discover its hidden charms.
(For details, visit Go to www.visitcornwall.com)