Wednesday, July 2, 2014

At 4 Years, You Give Blisters

So, as evidenced by my hinting at the subject for ages, as well as the title of this post, our fourth anniversary trip was a walking holiday in Cornwall. We divested ourselves of the boys by leaving them in the loving care of their grandparents in Berkshire for four days while we traveled as far west as we could go and still be in England.

The first day, we arrived in Penzance and strolled west to Marazion in order to go and see St. Michael's Mount. Alas, we were too late in the day to walk the causeway (the tide had come in) but we had a nice boat ride there and back and got to enjoy walking up to the top of the island and touring the castle (a National Trust property).

In the end, we covered about 11 miles going around the island, through Penzance, and along the South West Coast Path - our chosen highway for most of the walking holiday. My initial plan had been to walk 7 miles the first day out to St. Michael's Mount and back, followed by 17 miles to Land's End, then 22.8 miles to St. Ives, then back down 12 miles across the peninsula along St. Michael's Way - the old pilgrim trail - to end up back in Penzance.

Surely, we thought, this would be a piece of cake. Sure, we'd be tired, but we'd manage it easily. That, I can confidently say, was my hubris talking.

This is just a sample of the sort of terrain we covered during our nearly-17-mile hike over to Land's End.

Over rocks and under rocks; up hills and down cliff faces; along beaches and through hedges, we hiked, slogged, and limped our way to our destination. You see, neither of us bothered to check the elevation along our chosen route, and so didn't factor in just how tiring it would be to add in all of the ascents and descents.

But, in the end, we made it to Land's End and gratefully soaked in hot baths, lounged on the bed watching crap telly, and called the in-laws to see how our boys were treating them.

The next day, we had breakfast in the gorgeous restaurant: about 200° views of the Atlantic ocean through all the conservatory-style glass walls. We were stiff and sore and blistered, but decided to attempt to press on...if in truncated fashion. So we set off past Sennen Cove and along the Coast Path. Eventually, we turned inland and made our way towards St. Just. The village itself was adorable; the walk, however was vicious. Scorching sun, biting gadflies, overgrown footpaths, and boggy fields. In the end, we decided the better option would have been to stay on the Coast Path for longer, even if it added to the distance we traveled.

But, we made it there in one piece and sat to have lunch and enjoy the scenery before taking the open-top tourist bus to our backpackers' hostel in Zennor.

St. Just Church...much nicer inside than we'd initially thought!
The hostel - The Old Chapel Cafe & Guesthouse - was brilliant. The rooms were spacious, clean, well-appointed, and took full advantage of the gorgeous windows you get in an old church building. The cafe downstairs was cute and there was an adorable gift shop full of snazzy little handmade & small production gifts...many from local artists & companies. Plus, and this is an entirely irrelevant detail - the whole place smelled like my old summer camp, Arlington Echo. Seriously: the smell of the cafe was the smell of the old dining hall from all my years of band camp. Nostalgia is a lovely thing.

St. Senara Church in Zennor...very big on the mermaid theme.

The next morning it was on to St. Ives and the journey back. By this point we'd done 11 miles on Thursday, 16.5 on Friday, and 6.5 on Saturday. 34 miles in three days was still wearing on us, so rather than try to hike the 5 miles to St. Ives over what we'd been told was very difficult terrain, we opted to take the tourist bus instead and have a relaxing last day in Cornwall wandering St. Ives and doing a bit of shopping.

St. Ives was gorgeous and loads of fun. There were cute shops, fun restaurants, awesome art galleries, all sorts of opportunities to bring back nice little gifts for everyone (including ourselves!), and a great prominade facing the bay where we sat and ate lunch from a scrummy little pasty shop.

We arrived back in Penzance just in time to catch a bit of the Golowan festival. We were tired and not quite in the mood for working through a claustrophobic press of people, but there was still a fun vibe, lots of tasty-smelling food & drink, and some relaxing outdoor music as we made our way back to the car.

We'll definitely be going back to Cornwall at some point in the near future: it was just too much fun not to! Even if we did break ourselves trying to hike the Coast Path. Ah well: happy anniversary to us!

1 comment:

  1. You both are awesome and that view - swoon! Glad you had fun and happy anniversary, darling. xoxo