The Wild and Wonderful West

In our previous trips to the UK we hadn’t made it to the Southwest of England and Wales, this trip we rectified this serious omission!

Cornwall Farm Sunrise

Let me start by saying Cornwall is a stunning place to visit. The rugged coastline, picture postcard villages and miles of wonderful walks make it a travellers paradise. The sunsets and sunrises (yes I got up to see one) were as beautiful as any I have seen elsewhere in the world and the weather was lovely for our stay.

We were based on a farm (Penpethick Barn) just outside the town of Boscastle and traveled to the various parts of Cornwall from there. The biggest day was a drive down to St Michael’s Mount and Lands End in the southern part of Cornwall. St Michael’s Mount was like a smaller version of Mont St Michel in France but equally as beautiful. Walking the cliffs around Lands End was impressive as well and as a photographer I will return to take some sunset shots.

St Michael's Mount Causeway, Cornwall

The other places we visited on this day were all quaint little English villages with lots of food (cornish pasties and salted caramel fudge), and tourist shopping to keep anyone satisfied. St Ives and Padstow were the highlights with their beautiful old style buildings and narrow streets.

The second day in Cornwall we kept it closer to home with a visit to Tintagel Castle which has a lot of the legend of King Arthur intertwined into its history. None of it true but you can’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. The views from the island the castle is on were spectacular.

Resting on the Cornwall Cliffs

Next stop was Port Isaac, this is where the UK series “Doc Martin” is filmed. I’m afraid I don’t watch it but it seemed to be a good selling point for a lot of the visitors. It was a rabbit warren of narrow alleys and streets with some amazing old buildings. Some of the ports in this area are less than ideal with large tides and wave protection needed to keep things safe. It wasn’t unusual to see fishing boats high and dry at low tide.

Boscastle Harbour

The last stop of the day was Daymer beach for a little time in the sun. I thought about swimming but the water around these parts is not the warmest and I may not be as adventurous (or foolish) as I once was. The beaches in Cornwall are nice white sand beaches with lots of shallow water for kids to play in. I can see why this is a popular spot for the British Family beach holiday. Our stay was finished off with a great meal at the Port William pub in Trebarwith Strand. We enjoyed our stay in Cornwall and it now tops our list of UK destinations to visit again.

It was time to head to Wales but we didn’t want to get too far from the sea so we took the coast road north. I highly recommend the drive.

Rugged Cronwall

The valleys of Wales hold a special place in the hearts of the Welsh and I can see why. It is a place that just makes you smile and relax. While coal no longer provides the life blood of the area I can definitely see tourism filling some of the void. We stayed in a B&B (Ty Gronfa) inside the Brecon Beacons National Park and it was an ideal spot to base ourselves. If you feel like doing a bit of cycling there are miles of quiet roads (some good climbs) and a mountain biking centre (Bike Park Wales) all within 15 minutes. As with most British outdoorsy areas the walks could keep you occupied for a lifetime.

Sunset at Pontsticill Reservoir

The highlight of our Wales adventure was a trip down the Big Pit Coal mine. To see the history and to get an idea of what it has been like to be a coal miner over the last few hundred years was fascinating. It looked like a very hard way to make a living but it was vital to this area for a long time. If you get a chance go down a mine and you will appreciate how easy “us” office workers have it.

Big sky at the Big Pit Mine

As with anywhere it’s the people that make it special. Allen our B&B host and the local publican (The Red Cow in Pontsticill) made us feel right at home. The local publican was a rugby man so coming from New Zealand we had a great chat and Allen had lots of great stories about growing up and living in Wales. It’s always nice to meet new people and have a laugh.

Sunset at the Pontsticill Reservoir

We will go back to both of these areas in the future because there is so much more to see and do