Saturday 2nd July. When I woke up, my knees reminded me that they had made quite an effort the previous day, perhaps the Frenchman’s Creek walk, or maybe the Minack Theatre steps, most likely a combination of both. So, a late breakfast, some photos,
and a very early lunch in the restaurant of the place I was staying, the Old Quay House. Good old fish and chips. Very early because I had decided to rest my legs today, and after lunch to take a circular bus ride on the hop-on hop-off Land’s End Coaster, an hourly service.
Here’s a tourist map of the far tip of Cornwall that I was given during my 2021 holiday in Penzance.
The Hayle estuary and St Erth, where I got on the bus, are half way down, over on the right. I chose to take the anticlockwise route, which went northwards to St Ives, along the north coast westward towards Geevor, southward to St Just, then continued south, diverting to Sennen Cove, back to the main road, and out to Land’s End and back, then down, and on another detour, to Porthcurno (the home of the Minack Theatre, though the bus necessarily turned back before that), inland to St Buryan, across to Newlyn, then to Penzance, Marazion (St Michael’s Mount), and northeast back to my starting point. The bus ride would take four hours. It takes 15 minutes to get to Penzance from Hayle, where I was staying, by car.
I sat upstairs in the open-air part of the bus. It was very blowy – and for most of the time, especially along the north coast, and as the previous evening, I wished I had more clothing with me. People got on and off at regular intervals. I think I was the only person not using the bus as a means of getting from A to B. And I was able to use my senior’s bus pass.
I took no more photos from then in, Penzance, through Marazion and back to St Erth/Hayle.
Back at my lovely patio for the evening, the tide was well out.
One full day in Cornwall left. And no, I didn’t see my friendly gull this day.
Back on Terra Firma, I wandered around, casually making for the St Ives Museum.
This was the only photo I took, the entrance, as photography inside was not allowed. This made me rather grumpy, but I couldn’t help enjoying the really old-fashioned, crammed displays, of all lost life and livings in St Ives and indeed Cornwall. But sorry, no photos.
On my reluctant way back to the seafront, where the hordes were gathered, and this wasn’t even the height of the holiday season,
I hadn’t really registered too much the ‘Garden’ bit beforehand, but on remarking this to an attendant, I was told that the planting was exactly as Hepworth had planned, as was – mostly – the positioning of the sculptures. Nor had I been too sure that I would like the latter, but I really, really did.
I enjoyed looking at them from different angles: such as this,
There remained Tate St Ives, but not my stamina. Two exhibitions were enough for one day. But I did want to see the front of the building, so walked round to Porthmeor Beach, which I had seen from the sea in the morning. I also had the idea that it could be a relatively quiet place to have a cup of tea.
From the fourth floor café, which was not as quiet as I had hoped as the floors were polished stone and the staff were clattering dishes, I could admire the view. I realised later that there were quieter areas with seaward views. Never mind, the lemon grass and ginger tea was excellent, from fresh ingredients, not from a tea bag.
The curvy architectural theme is maintained.
Down at street level, I could see that the beach, and even more the sea, was well occupied. There seemed to be a surfing lesson going on.
Time to trudge (uphill mainly) to the railway station for my shuttle back. This time the carriages were crowded. It wasn’t that everyone was staying in St Erth or Hayle, it was that St Erth station car park is officially a park and ride facility for all those coming from near and far for those visiting not only St Ives, but also Penzance.
My scenic ride back picked up not only Porth Kidney Sands at the mouth of the Hayle estuary, but also, as I zoomed the camera, The Old Quay House, and particularly my room, with its private patio.
Time for a little more bird-watching, or rather -gazing. Most of these were some way away.
Thursday 30th June. Lovely at 6.30 a.m., and warm enough for me to leave the doors open as I get back into bed.
Uh-oh! He’s back.
Enough is enough! Shoo!
Time anyway for me to get up. But I’ll just go out on to the patio, lean on the rail for a bit, and see what’s going on.
He’s back again. But seems settled. (I should have noticed which way he was looking though.)
I return to the Oystercatcher.
And notice that the Herring gull is no longer on the rail, so turn round, just in case.
Hey!!! Off you go!!!
To my left, the train I’m planning to catch a bit later. I was intending to spend the day in St Ives, and going by car would not be a sensible thing to do, because of parking problems. All I needed to do was walk the 15 minutes to St Erth station to catch that train, which shuttled between the two stations every half hour. And I’m promised a great scenic ride…
I buy my day return for £2.60 (inc. senior railcard) and settle into a nearly empty train, enjoying the views along the coast for the 10 minutes it takes to get to St Ives, with just one stop, at Carbis Bay.
I had allowed plenty of time before my only actual ‘appointment’ of the day, 10.30. The evening before, fancying a boat trip, I had booked a trip to ‘Seal Island’, but was concerned about the weather forecast. I needed, not even having one at home, a light rainproof jacket. It took me a while to find one, but having done so I made my way to the rendezvous point, by the lifeboat station. A great fan of the TV programme, ‘Saving Lives at Sea’, I had to take a photo of the impressive craft.
Seeing a man with a clipboard, I asked him was he Derek. He replied in the affirmative and asked if I was Venetia. Were there so few bookings that he could be so sure, I asked him. “Only four, but don’t worry. [I wasn’t; in fact I thought it would be rather good to share the boat with so few.] I’ll have many more by the time the boat sails.” And went on to say that business had been very bad the previous two days, since they’d not been able to go out because of the bad weather. Which made me feel rather guilty at my selfish thought.
He pointed me to the other side of the harbour,
and asked me to be at the jetty by 11.05. Which I was, along with many other people waiting for several other boats. We had to wait for quite a while. There was quite a swell beyond the harbour apparently, and the sea was not playing ball to let people get from the jetty onto the tenders that were to take us to the boats, in my case ‘The Little Mermaid.’ And yes, Derek had indeed rustled up eight more people to make up the full complement of 12 passengers allowed on board.
There was nervousness for some about moving from tender to boat, but no accident.
Once out of the harbour, The Little Mermaid was indeed bounced around quite a bit, but I – even though inclined to sea sickness – was OK, and thoroughly enjoyed the ride.
I was glad of my new rain jacket, which served as a good windcheater. Fortunately, none of the threatened showers actually happened.
After about 20 minutes we arrived at one of the correctly named ‘Carracks‘, (from the Cornish for ‘rocks’) nicknamed ‘Seal Island’, where we stayed and observed these Atlantic grey seals, some of whom seemed interested in us,
but most of whom just lazed around in the sun.
It was time to return along the choppy sea.
The next passengers await. But first the tender must take us back to the jetty.
It was only shortly past midday by now, and I had several more hours to spend in the resort.
Wednesday, 29th June. It promised to be a reasonably fine morning. As the sun came up, it caught the feathers of the birds as beautifully as the setting evening sun did.
But I couldn’t hang around, I had to be at Penzance Heliport by 9.30.
I had booked to go to St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly by helicopter in 2021, but that had been cancelled because of fog. A helicopter trip would have completed my trio of aerial ambitions. I had been in a glider in 2009 on an incredibly hot day,
and in a balloon exactly four years ago today (blog post here). So a helicopter trip would complete the trio, and Penzance to the Scillies would do nicely. This time, I had booked, with Penzance Helicopters, not to St Mary’s but to Tresco, because of the lovely Gardens there.
Our helicopter arrived and, having disgorged its incoming passengers, refuelled.
Still inside the building, we had a safety briefing. In due course we were directed to seats inside the aircraft. I was fortunate and had a window seat. (Given that there were 12 passengers in three rows, that was a 50/50 chance.)
We were off! But I had no camera. It was in my small backpack, which I had had to surrender to the hold. (It really was sardines inside the copter, and of course I was the only one wearing a mask – an FFP3 one.) But I had grabbed my phone, which took this outward series of pictures.
Penzance to Tresco is just 15 minutes, so the first of the 145 (five inhabited) Isles of Scilly soon came into sight.
I spent almost all of my time on the island in the Tresco Abbey Gardens, which will be the subject of my next post. (The weather much improved and I had a lovely time!)
I had to be back at the Heliport at 3.45 pm, one hour before take off. (It did seem to be an awful imbalance of time – a whole hour passed waiting for a 15-minute flight!) But half an hour before that I was (stuck) on the other side of the heliport, and saw the flight before arrive and take off. I did take a video of the latter, but had not reckoned on the enormous buffeting I would receive from the beast, which rendered the video useless.
After that hour, and another briefing, we were guided to the helicopter, and again I had a window seat.
I was able to recognise points of the island now as we flew away, the round lake I had not been able to get near, a larger one I should perhaps have headed for rather, and the bay I had visited, and of course the sheltered dark green mass of the Abbey Gardens.
We flew at 1000 feet/300 metres.
The captain helpfully pointed out that we were to pass the Minack Theatre – something I had not expected to see, and certainly not from this angle, for another two days.
Neither had I thought to see my car from above – the small one, fourth along,in the near row of eight vehicles.
And I was pleased see, as I happened to look up, St Michaels Mount. (Actually some miles away, but I zoomed in on it.)
Back at the ranch (The Old Quay House, Hayle), I caught up with the wildlife – that’s The Causeway behind.
I took a cup of tea out on the the patio, and was joined by a Herring gull. To cut a long story short, over fifteen minutes or so he came and went three times, and I suspected his motives.
A firm but not shouted ‘No’, such as I use on the cats when necessary, was sufficient to stop him breaking and entering. I think he must have found booty inside on previous occasions.
But the cheekiest was, he attempted to lift my mug up!
My verdict on the helicopter part of my trip to Tresco? Well, I’ve completed the trio of experiences, but this was all rather prosaic. Outstanding by far was the balloon, and the glider flight was wonderful. (If only it hadn’t been 30 degrees C. That, along with the fact that the pilot had to do a lot of circling to catch the thermals, meant that my tendency to travel sickness had kicked in.)
I’m fantasising about having a holiday in the Isles of Scilly. Should it come off, I shall go by boat, not least for environmental reasons.
It was about an hour from The Lost Gardens of Heligan to the out-of-town shopping centre near where I was to stay, and I called in at the Marks and Spencer food hall there for a few provisions. Five minutes later I was settling into my room in The Old Quay House. In 2021, I had chosen a very low budget B and B place in Penzance, which was fine if I just wanted to sleep there and have breakfast. But in less good weather (and sadly Cornwall does have quite a bit of that), or when I just didn’t want to go out, it had been far from satisfactory, having no comfortable chair to sit in, very little space, a small window looking on to back yards, and no garden to sit in. So this time, I had looked for a places equally, if not more, convenient for getting around, and with amenities that had been lacking in the Penzance accommodation.
It meant paying, a lot more, but my goodness it was worth it. I had looked in the Hayle area for convenience. There did not seem to be an enormous number of hotels there, but I could not have found a better setting. Not just a vista, but an RSPB reserve, at the head of an estuary, with the tide coming and going twice a day. A private patio. A decent size room. Windows on three sides. Continental breakfast provided in the room the day before, and a fridge to keep a few provisions. A mainline railway station, St Erth, 15 minutes’ walk away, and as I discovered, some handy bus stops and routes very nearby.
I remembered to take some photos before I started spreading my belongings around.
Of course the first thing I did was to open the patio doors. The tide had just turned, and was beginning to rush out over the flat estuary.
The first bird I noticed was a solitary juvenile Herring gull.
Returning indoors, I was immediately pulled outside again by the haunting sound of …. a Curlew!
Further out, there was a Mute swan. Sadly, it became clear through the week that there was only the one.
In the distance, with a little-used branch line station, Lelant Saltings, in the background, the ‘gang’ as I came to call them, of Canada geese emerged from one of the creeks.
Through the evening I kept going out on to the patio. (It was quite chilly.)
The Curlew again.
It took me a while to identify these, but they are young Shelduck.
The tide has a lot further to to go out yet. Apart from a couple of wide feeder creeks, the water will disappear entirely.
I was pleased to see a Little egret by one of the creeks, lit by the setting sun. I learned that this was a favourite spot.
For some days, the next day (Tuesday’s) weather forecast had been appalling, especially in the afternoon, so I had my plan B ready…