6.10am: Morning all! 😎. It’s day 10 of our 15-day break here in the south-west of England. We’re in Ashton (population, c572) staying at an AirBnB called The Piggery on the Lizard Peninsular. It’s rather splendid and is very well equipped.
On our list of places to visit today: National Trust’s St Michael’s Mount; a look around the town of Penzance; and then the Minak Outdoor Theatre to see one of Gilbert & Sullivan’s famous operettas, no, not, The Pirates of Penzance – HMS Pinafore.
Luckily, everything is close-by and we can do the round trip in less than 50 miles.
7.47am: No ‘Full English‘ nor ‘Eggs Benedict‘ malarkey for us this morning – it’s back to good ol’ fashioned self-catering! 😁😋.
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Day 1 – Arrival in Exford
Day 2 – Lynton and Lynmouth
Day 3 – Arlington Court and Barnstaple
Day 4 – Bideford and Clovelly
Day 5 – Tintagel and Port Isaac
Day 6 – Trerice House, Royal Cornish Museum
Day 7 – Lost Gardens of Heligan
Day 8 – Falmouth, Pendennis Castle and St Mawes
Day 9 – Helford River, Lizard Point, Mullion Cove and Helston
8.45am: We’re off! We fully charged when we arrived yesterday, so we have a range of 285 miles – more than enough. We took the six-mile drive along the A394 towards Marazion.
St Michael’s Mount
In 1954, Francis St Aubyn, 3rd Lord St Levan, gave a large part of the island and a significant endowment fund for its upkeep to the National Trust. The St Aubyn family retain a 999 year lease to live in the castle as well as running the visitor business under licence.
9.01am: We’re here! Well, we’re at the official car-park (£4 for 3 hours). We just had to walk to the departure point (about 10 minutes away). Pre-booking a visit to St Michael’s Mount is mandatory (£17 each) at the time of writing, and we deliberately chose to arrive as early as we could to avoid the heat, but mostly, to avoid the crowds.
At this time of year, the tide is on its way out – but not fully – so we had to take a short boat trip to get us there. It’s a pretty regular service, and it only costs £2.50 per person each way. Just five minutes to get there.
If you fancy an extra walk, arrive a little later than us, and the tide will be fully out, and you can take the Causeway, by foot (add another 10 minutes) to get to your destination
Upon arrival, after a few steps upwards from the boat, we were greeted with a beautiful harbour view (yes, I know, another one!) 😁
St Michael’s Mount was very well signposted and there were plenty of very cheery staff on hand to ensure we were all heading in the right direction (predominantly ‘up’!) 🙄
Just like your Mother told you: “wear sensible shoes!”. This is not for the flip-flop brigade (and leave Fido behind too, as they’re not allowed here).
Ironically, you’ll probably need to be “as fit as a Butcher’s Dog” to get to the top. We found it very steep, and the rocky surface was very uneven (the latter, the more dangerous). Your first challenge that awaits you is The Pilgrims’ Steps (30+ of them, but felt more like 300!) but at least we weren’t required to ascend them on our hands and knees! 🙏
Past the Giant’s Well, the only way is up…
Passing the Giant’s Heart on your right, the route got a bit twisty – and still as rocky underfoot…
Fifteen/twenty minutes in, and we were almost at the top…
And of course, when we finally got to the summit, it was all very worthwhile, just for the photo opportunities.
Time for a look round inside…
Inside was immaculate and well cared for. There was a Guide in most rooms happy to share their expert knowledge.
It had been a great experience (well, apart from the climbing up part!) – and now we had to do it all in reverse (no diving off the battlements allowed!). There was no one-way system here and the way up was also the way down. Word to the wise: the descent was perhaps an even greater challenge, simply because gravity was now pushing us.
After a swift ice-cream reward, we headed for the Causeway…
…and took some more photos on our walk back to the car-park. The day was now warming up nicely – warmer than the forecast, it was now 21℃! 😎😎. Next stop, Penzance.
11.05am: Apart from its singing Pirates, Penzance (population c21200) is also known for being home to the Mother and Aunt of the Brontë sisters, the Jubilee Bathing Pool (one of the oldest surviving Art Deco swimming baths in the country) and of course, the Egyptian House.
There was plenty of parking here, and we left Robert in the Harbour Car Park (£1 for an hour). After crossing the road, we accessed the town by the Wharfside Shopping Centre entrance, and we were soon into the main shopping area.
The town seemed to have a wide range of shops and there were plenty of people out in support.
We were now on the lookout for the famous Lido and the Egyptian House. After chatting to a local, we learned that the latter was located in nearby Chapel Street.
Chapel Street appeared to be the ‘posher end’ of the shops here in Penzance -and there, right before our eyes (once the DPD lorry got out of the way!) was the Egyptian House,
A lovely town! More exploring needed next time!
We had a bit more time to kill before the theatre later, so we took the short drive along the coast road to Mousehole (pronounced Mowz-all), a small fishing village (population c697).
12.07pm: We’ve learned in these parts that it’s sometimes best NOT to park in the first car park that’s signposted when getting close the coves and harbours – and today we proved it! We ended up in the last space literally alongside the harbour itself for the perfect view. It was the perfect spot for our packed-lunch too! 😋😋. If the name Mousehole seems familiar, it was in the news back in December 1980 where 8 crew from this village were lost in the Penlee Lifeboat disaster.
The Minak Theatre
1.06pm: We arrived at the Theatre with a whole two hours to spare. This was mostly deliberate as we’d heard that parking might be challenging as the event was going to be very well supported! If you like an ocean view AND theatre AND plenty of fresh air – why not combine all three!!! 😮
With a bit of time to spare, just time for a short siesta to recharge my batteries! 😴😴
This world-famous theatre is perched on the rugged cliffs of South-west Cornwall. Over a quarter of a million people each year to enjoy the stunning ocean views and experience the magic of a live performance.
Minack’s creator, Rowena Cade was brought-up in a genteel Edwardian family and was inspired to transform a Cornish cliff-face into an open-air arena (as you do!) much of it literally built with her own hands. Each year, the theatre stages over 200 live performances, including plays, musicals, opera, music and children’s events.
3.02pm: Well, it was certainly well supported! 99% full I’d say! Even if Gilbert & Sullivan/HMS Pinafore/Operetta isn’t your thing, you are sure to be impressed with the setting – nothing else compares. Today’s top tip: Take a cushion – the ‘seats’ nade of stone! Numb bum alerts! ⚠
It felt absolutely magical to be on the edge of a cliff looking out to sea whilst enjoying the tale of mistaken identity and right-wing ideals on the high seas! 😍
5.07pm: As the curtain came down and after plenty of enthusiastic applause, we headed for the car park to avoid the ‘mass exit’ of almost 800 people leaving in their car at the same time.
5.58pm: We had a good journey back to The Piggery. Lots of unforgettable memories today!! 😍😍 – and the Theatre was just amazing!!!
We ate in again tonight, courtesy of Mr Sainsbury and his Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake.
Tomorrow: It’s another (almost) car-free day. We’re taking the short drive to St Erth, and the train to St Ives. See you then! 😊
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