Gotta get off the Rock.


Just in case you haven’t worked it out yet, I love living on the beautiful island of Jersey. Ah, but there’s the rub. It is an island, and a small one at that, with a maximum land of only nine miles wide by five miles long. A small rock on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes, you just need to go out into the big bad world, to escape island life and see the bigger picture. Sometimes, you just gotta get off the Rock.

20140612-225921.jpg And that’s exactly what we did a few weeks ago. Hubby and I jumped in our car and caught the Condor Ferries sailing to Weymouth and headed to Cornwall for a week long car trip. We headed to Bude, in North Cornwall first, then made out way south following the coast as much as possible. First stop, the English Heritage site of Tintagel Castle. Although we couldn’t get to the castle (hubby’s almost-fixed-but-not-quite ankle) we could look across to the island from Vicarage Hill, with fantastic views of the folded Devonian geology.

20140615-233747.jpg On Vicarage Hill stands the the parish church of Saint Materiana, but more interesting is a story told in its graveyard. On 20th December 1893 an Italian barque, the Iota, was shipwrecked against Lye Rock and all on board were saved except a 14 year old cabin boy, Domenico Catanese. The boy was buried in the graveyard and a simple wooden cross made from the ships timbers is his grave marker, along with one of the original lifebouys. His grave is is still maintained today by a local family.

20140616-074412.jpgWe spent a night in the pretty port of Padstow, staying at the Hotel Metropole overlooking the port and estuary. If you ever get to Padstow, try the skate at The Basement – it was devine!

20140616-074814.jpgAs we drove around the Cornish countryside the majority of the field boundaries were made of slate, in this lovely herringbone pattern.

20140616-075141.jpgWe visited Lusty Cove at Newquay, home of the famous Sundowner concerts.

20140616-075448.jpgWe spent a lovely afternoon in the beautiful St Ives, wandering the tiny streets and pottering around all the different studios – textiles, painters, photographers, glass art and sculptures.

20140616-075838.jpgAnd spent the evening here too – staying in the 13th century Sloop Inn overlooking the beach – wandering the tiny streets and pottering around all the different bars – local ales and ciders, with some great and some dodgy music.

20140616-081227.jpgWe visited the prehistoric site of Men-an-Tol where, of course, I crawled through the holed stone.

20140616-081901.jpgNext stop was the nearby Lanyon Quoit, beautifully set in the moorland, but not quite a true reconstruction of it’s original form.

20140616-082148.jpgWe lunched in the gorgeous port of Mousehole, carved from the hill with little cottages perched around the rim.

20140616-083022.jpgWe spent an afternoon at the famous Minack Theatre, Cornwall’s ‘Theatre Under The Stars’, the seats and stage are carved into the granite cliff overlooking the spectacular panorama of Porthcurno bay. I clambered up and down the paths, watched a rehearsal of ‘Annie’ and read all the different productions carved into the seat backs, whist hubby happily watched from above, scoffing cake!

20140616-083908.jpg We made a very quick obligatory visit to Lands End as we were so close and I’d never been. It’s so commercialised though I wouldn’t need to go again.

20140616-084252.jpgTracking back towards St Ives once more we stopped at the prehistoric stone circle of Boscawen-un. This was actually the highlight of my holiday.

20140616-090027.jpg The stone circle was beautifully set in fields of English bluebells and wildflowers. The 19 uprights that make up the stone circle are believed to be in their original positions, and the centre stone (which actually pre-dates the stone circle) has two axe heads carved on the underneath.

20140616-085438.jpgI always associate bluebells with woodland settings, so it was a delight to see swathes of them across the fields and moorland.

20140616-090330.jpg The hedgerows and roadsides too were a riot of colourful wildflowers. No branchage here yet!

20140616-090453.jpgWe spent a lively evening at the ‘Shh, Don’t wake the fish!’ festival at the Gurnards Head – a mix between a real ale festival and a folk festival. I enjoyed everything with elderflower in, and loved dancing to the music of The Odd Folk.

20140616-092112.jpg We traipsed around the ancient settlement site of Chysauster Village, a site managed by English Herirage. It was a really interesting site, where you could see the courtyards with the surrounding settlements, original hearths and holed rocks where the roof uprights were slotted. I think we would have enjoyed it more if not drenched-to-the-skin with the spring weather.

20140616-094907.jpg I was pleased to see that the clock tower at Portleven was still standing, after the battering storms earlier this year.

20140616-105356.jpgWe stayed with my sister-in-law and her husband for a few days and enjoyed their company, exploring the surrounding countryside, beaches, ports and villages. I especially loved the small and very pretty (but very busy) sea side port of Mevagissy.

20140616-110351.jpgTaking a few days to head back home we spent some time roaming the beautiful Dartmoor national park. This is part of the complex prehistoric site of Merrivale which consists of round houses, two double stone rows and one single row; a small stone circle, with two standing stones nearby; and a number of cairns (earthen mounds).

20140616-111529.jpg An afternoon of fossil hunting at Charmouth and an evening of eating, drinking and walking around The Cobb at Lyme Regis.

20140616-111913.jpg At Seatown even the sheep were fossil hunting on the cliffs!

20140616-112258.jpgWe took the slow road back towards Weymouth, with stunning views across Chesil Beach towards Portland.

20140616-112524.jpg We waved goodbye to Weymouth and headed home for a well-earned rest!

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