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Towns and other points of interest 

Cornwall to Ireland - Sept 12 to Sept 14

Date

Town

Comments

Sept 12

Thursday

Jamaica Inn

Cornwall

9:30 – 10:15

This inn on the Bodwin Moor was the setting for Daphne du Maurier’s novel The Inn on the Moor.  This was a loo stop, there was a snack bar, but the gift shop was closed.  It gave us chance to chat with more of our fellow travelers in an effort to get to know each other better, and also got to see a “perfectly flat, smooth, not a ripple” moorland (our guide, Caroline Neilon’s words).  To the rest of us it was a gently rolling land with low hills.  What would she have said about the Prairies, I wonder?  There were sheep in the fields.

Sept 12

Thursday

Tintagel

Cornwall

11:00 – 12:00

Accepted by many as the birthplace of King Arthur around 500 AD.  There is the ruin of a castle there, but it was built in the 12th century, long after Arthur’s time.  Pottery shards from 500 AD belong to European traders, not indigenous people.  So there is controversy.  A very beautiful place with the castle ruins on a small peninsula connected to the mainland by a short isthmus.  The headlands on either side are high and rugged – sea cliffs hundreds of feet high.  A wonderful place for hiking!

Then went to downtown Tinagel, a one-street village.  There was a open-air market in the parking lot, and across the road the famous old Post Office, built in the 13th century.  Several other old buildings were situated along the main road.

Sept 12

Thursday

Boscastle

Cornwall

12:15 – 1:30

From the higher plateau area of Cornwall we descended about 700 ft to the small sea-side village of Boscastle, a picturesque tourist town.  There is a very well-protected harbour in a short fiord from the Atlantic and a small river flowing through the village.  A large , high headland protects the harbour and town from the Atlantic, and there are footpaths along both sides of the harbour to the tops of these headlands.  The sea cliffs seen from there are quite spectacular, and there are some sea stacks visible also.  It is about ½ mile from the parking area to the headlands, and several of the group took the walk.  Shops, grocery store, pubs, a hotel, church and private houses are found in the village.

Sept 12

Thursday

Clovelly

Devon

2:25 – 4:30

The village clings to a steep hill and is the only village that charges admission to enter it - £3.50 – paid by Trafalgar.  A Visitors’ Centre at the top of the hill housing snack bar, restaurant, gift shop and loos provides access to the path leading to the village.  There is a Rover service for those who prefer to ride, and this is the only vehicular road.  Supplies are normally taken to the villagers using donkeys hauling sledges down the steep cobbled single street.  We walked down and back, 1½ mile return trip, and by going slow, had no problem.  It is a very steep hill, so looking down into the back yards of private homes was normal.  Many cafes, shops, B & B’s on the way down, and the Red Lion Hotel right at the harbour.  A large breakwater built in the 14th century in the harbour provides protection for the fishing and tour boats.  Apparently this is the most photographed village in Devon.

Sept 12

Thursday

Barnstaple

Devon

Stayed at the Royal & Fortesque Hotel, a beautiful refurbished older hotel.  Supper included, and it was good.  Had bannoffee pie and clotted cream for desert.  (banana & toffee).  Had a short walk after supper, very warm.

Sept 13

Friday

Glastonbury

Somerset

10:37 – 11:30

Several legends and myths associated with Glastonbury, involving Joseph of Arimathaea, Jesus Christ and King Arthur and Queen Guinevere.  Joseph was the great-uncle of Jesus and worked for the Romans as overseer of their mines in Britain.  It is thought that on one trip to visit the mines he brought the teenaged Jesus with him.  After the crucifixion he is purported to have brought the chalice from the Last Supper with him, thus setting the stage for the search for the Holy Grail.  An earlier church on the Abbey site was destroyed and in cleaning up the debris, the monks came across what they decided were the graves of King Arthur and Guinevere, with the nearby tor (hill) being the Isles of Avalon.  Pilgrimages to this site became very popular, and the proceeds went towards a new Abbey which was built in the 13th century.

The Abbey is in ruins with only parts of some walls still standing.  It was razed by Henry VIII’s men and the building stone used by the locals for their own buildings.  An Abbot’s Kitchen has survived quite well, having been used by the Quakers for their meeting house. 

Although there are only bits of the Abbey left, it immensity is very evident and almost as powerful as intact churches.  The grounds are beautiful, surrounded by a wall so traffic noises are shut out; it is a place of serenity and beauty.  There is an excellent Visitors’ Centre showing a model of the original Abbey.  The Abbey was 580 ft long (E to W) – Westminster Abbey is 554 ft – and had the highest spire ever built in England – 500 ft.  The tallest standing today is Salisbury Cathedral at 404ft.

Sept 13

Friday

Bath

Somerset

12:55 – 4:00

Popular during Roman times because of its healing “waters”. Roman structure still standing.  Run down during the Middle Ages, the “baths” enjoyed a renaissance during the 17th century, and after Queen Anne’s visit of 1702, regained their popularity. 

On a city tour we had a view of the Royal Crescent, which is now a luxury hotel.  Room rates £165 to £550 per night.  Built between 1767-1774.  Beautiful lawns and gardens here.

There was a Saxon church on the site of the Bath Abbey and Edgar, the first king of united England was crowned here in 973.  The present Abbey was built between 1499 and 1616.  It has a “Jacob’s Ladder” on the front façade with angels climbing up and down, and a rebus depicting the founder’s name: it is an olive tree and a crown.  The founder was Bishop Oliver King. 

The “Bath Act” of 1825 made it law that all new houses in the city had to be faced with Bath Stone – a yellowish sandstone. 

On our walking tour we visited several shops, had lunch in the park between the Abbey and Roman Baths, entertained by a couple of buskers singing.  Later walked to the Pulteney Bridge and the terraced Pulteney Weir on the River Avon.  The bridge is unique because when you cross it, it looks like any city street, with shops on both sides.  However, looking out the window of a shop assures you that you are on a bridge.  It is copied from a similar design in Florence.

Sept 14

Saturday

Cardiff Castle

Wales

8:30 – 10:30

There was a Roman structure, probably a barracks, on the castle grounds and part of the castle walls stand on the original Roman walls.  During Medieval times the Normans built the Castle’s Keep on a motte (a steep knoll), surrounded by a moat, both of which are still there.  The castle itself was restored in the 1800’s by the Third Earl of Bute, and shows the extravagance to which he went.  Every room is a masterpiece generally depicting a theme:  astrological symbols, the pleasures of the seasons, biblical characters, children’s stories.  The tops of the library shelves are adorned with carved animals, including platypuses, squirrels, beavers.  The Banqueting Room dates from the 15th Century and is in the oldest part of the castle. The outside castle walls are adorned with sculpted bears, wolves and lions.

The Norman keep is reached by a set of steep stairs that have been added in more modern times.  One passes a guard house and well before ascending.  From the bottom castle floor winding steps takes one past the kitchen, living quarters, bedrooms to the top of the keep where there is an excellent view of the main gates and clock tower. 

The clock tower was built in the 1800’s.  At the main gate there is a museum dedicated to a Welsh military unit.  Unfortunately, time did not permit a close look at the museum and accompanying gift shop.

Sept 14

Saturday

Tenby

Wales

12:30 – 1:30

A small town on the Bristol Channel.  The North Coast of Devon was visible across the water.  The town is built on a high cliff with the beach accessible via a paved switch-back walkway.  The walk from the bus parking area to the beach, lunch, and the walk back with a loo stop somewhere in between, meant that we were hurrying most of the time.  So there was little chance to explore the town and shops.  I did note that the water in the channel was quite warm compared to the sea temperature around the Martimes.

Sept 14

Saturday

Pembroke

Wales

It is here that we got the ferry for Ireland.  There is a castle in Pembroke, and Henry II was born here.  We arrived at the ferry terminal at 2:07, aboard by 2:45 and left shore at 3:00, arriving in Ireland at 6:50.  We sailed on the Isle of Inishmore, an 11 deck ferry.  Huge vessel, looks like a cruise ship.

 

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