By train to Truro where we then headed to the Fal River Offices to book on a trip down the river to Falmouth. As usual, the tide was out so we had to take the boat from just outside the Heron Inn at Malpas. No problem this (although it would be nice one day to sail from Truro itself) as it involves a pretty trip by bus along the beautiful riverside park at Boscawen and then along the creek to Malpas. The Heron Inn is great but we had no time for a quick pint there as our boat soon arrived.
Although the day was far from sunny, it detracted only a little from our enjoyment, as the scenery is spectacular, very reminiscent for us of the Dart where we used to live…….
ancient woodlands of sessile oak, herons and other wildlife, creekside villages, oystercatchers at work (men as well as birds!) and the Duchy oyster beds themselves.
As we neared Falmouth we came across three very large freight ships (not uncommon up the creeks in Cornwall) which we were told carried bananas but were laid up for some months…
and then nearing journeys end we could see all the activity in Falmouth docks, an always busy yard, with its super yachts and naval vessels.
A late lunch in Pizza Express with its sweeping views of the estuary meant that we were too late to visit the National Maritime Museum It therefore awaits our next visit, which won’t be too long away as, of all the towns in Cornwall, Falmouth is probably our favourite……
Having taken Malcolm and Ann on our local scenic railway line yesterday – the Liskeard to Looe branch line – beautiful despite the rain, today we set off further afield heading for Trelissick Gardens one of our favourite NT properties. The gardens are semi-tropical and splendid with great views down the estuary towards Falmouth….
and inside the house is very interesting indeed telling its story through its various owners including rags to riches Cornish mining millionaires. Ever thoughtful NT provide comfy seats with binoculars to carry on viewing outside from comfort!
The conservatory is unusual..
and the beautiful courtyard is where the excellent cafe/restaurant is as well as the best gallery we have seen, and for Malcolm a great second-hand bookshop.
all in all a terrific NT property and nowhere near as ‘cold’ as many are. Well done, NT!
All that walking and viewing meant that the Pandora Inn which is fairly near was an excellent next stop with its thatch, waterside location, real fires, real ale, good food and atmospheric interior hard to beat. The Georgian galleon on display is most unusual.
Next stop was Mylor and Mylor Bridge to soak up the maritime atmosphere, admire the yachts and visit the church which in its hillside setting overlooking the estuary is virtually comparable to that at St Just-in-Roseland. surely the quintessential creekside church. the church is Norman, fifteenth century and Victorian of course.
Today we took Malcolm and Ann to another of our favourite eating places – Rick Stein’s Fish and Chips in Padstow. When we arrived in Padstow fairly early we thought we would enjoy a nice cup of tea at The Metropole Hotel which we had not visited before. Perched right above the town you get an amazing view. Our cup of tea and home-made biscuits was lovely and set us up for our lunch which as usual everyone enjoyed.
After a quick tour of Padstow itself, we went in search of John Betjeman on the opposite side of the estuary. We were actually looking for St Enodoc’s church where he is buried, and it is not easy to find, hunkered low down amidst the bunkers of the golf course. Unfortunately we couldn’t get near enough to allow Malcolm access. Nevertheless we enjoyed our drive through Betjeman country, and having told Malcolm of his connection with this area and its golf course it was very good afterwards to find a lovely piece about him on the golf club’s website. Do read Betjeman’s poem about the 13th hole and Robin Butler’s highly amusing take.
Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman had a lifelong love of Cornwall and wrote many poems about the area and with his usual eye for detail those people who like himself came to North Cornwall for their holidays. He had a house close to the 12th hole and he was buried in the St Enodoc churchyard in 1984, he himself would have had a good chuckle as his coffin was carried the length of the 10th hole in driving rain followed by a cortège of the London literary press corps inapproriately dressed for the “Poldark” conditions.
Never one of the World’s great golfers he was an enthusiastic St Enodoc Member and eventually had the distinction of being made an Honorary Member in 1977 and is renowned for his poem “Seaside Golf” which relates to the 13th hole at St.Enodoc and is printed below by permission of John Murray (Publishers) along side the later parody by fellow Member Sir Robin Butler (now Lord Butler) at the time of the Club’s Centenary celebrations in 1990.
|How straight it flew, how long it flew,
It clear’d the rutty track
And soaring, disappeared from view
Beyond the bunker’s back –
A glorious, sailing, bounding drive
That made me glad I was alive.And down the fairway, far along
It glowed a lonely white;
I played an iron sure and strong
And clipp’d it out of sight,
And spite of grassy banks between
I knew I’d find it on the green.
And so I did. It lay content
Two paces from the pin;
A steady putt and then it went
Oh, most securely in.
The very turf rejoiced to see
That quite unprecedented three.
Ah! Seaweed smells from sandy caves
And thyme and mist in whiffs,
In-coming tide, Atlantic waves
Slapping the sunny cliffs,
Lark song and sea sounds in the air
And splendour, splendour everywhere.
|How low it flew, how left it flew,
It hit the dry-stone wall
And plunging, disappeared from view
A shining brand new ball –
I’d hit the damned thing on the head
It made me wish that I were dead.And up the fairway, steep and long,
I mourned my gloomy plight;
I played an iron sure and strong,
A fraction to the right
I knew that when I reached my ball
I’d find it underneath the wall.
And so I did. I chipped it low
And thinned it past the pin
And to and fro, and to and fro
I tried to get it in;
Until, intoning oaths obscene
I holed it out in seventeen.
Ah! Seaweed smells from sandy caves
They really get me down;
In-coming tides, Atlantic waves
I wish that I could drown
And Sloane Street voices in the air
And black retrievers everywhere.
Sir Robin Butler
On the way home we just had time to drive (with difficulty) round Port Isaac, of which more later…
Today we split up – with Malcolm and Ann going to Eden whilst we went off to the china clay museum at Wheal Martyn. Eden of course is built on or inside an old china clay pit, as the dramatic photo below shows….what a transformation! And the biomes are out-of-this-world, or rather of other worlds we perhaps can’t visit but can experience here. We must definitely visit ourselves again soon.
Anyway off to Wheal Martyn we went in the heavy rain, as it says ‘the UK’s only china clay mining experience’. And an excellent experience it is too, taking you through the whole china clay process with working artefacts scattered around the site and plenty to look at indoors too.
We sheltered in one of the drying sheds for quite a long time, and in the ground floor below this level there were fascinating displays relating to processes and workforce, including their out-of-work activities (splendid bands for instance some of which survive).
And the setting is fabulous….on a nice day it would be great to wander through the extensive grounds. But we were grateful for every little shelter today, including tunnels!
At the end of the trail, which we bravely followed, there is a viewing platform to gaze down in awe at the spectacular view overlooking the ‘Wheal Martyn’ china clay pit. This huge working pit is still alive with activity today and is operated by Imerys Minerals Ltd. Breathtaking.
We will return, particularly as this museum like many others, offers an annual pass with the admission ticket, and I would love to go on one of the guided tours with one of the ex-miners, sure to bring the whole thing alive. I am really glad we visited, as china clay is still an important industry and employer in Cornwall, and I wanted to know more about it.
Off we went to a local pub to try to get a little dry before picking up Malcolm and Ann. Having enthused about our various experiences we then set off for St Austell and a drive north through china clay country. A fitting end to the day.