27 Dec 2015
A trip is defined by many things – preparation, companions, time and destination. If I am to give a rating out of 10, I will give a rating of 5 for preparations, 8 for companions, 3 for time and 6 for destination.
There was no serious planning for the Cornwall trip. We thought of going out of London and we went. Rooms and cab booked two days before the holiday start, a plan was chalked out in one hour and shared to everyone. Keeping in view potential deal hunting over Boxing Day, we left to pick the cab at 6 in the morning. It was a nine seater, with three formal drivers.
The approximate trip was this – Stonehenge > Bath > Cheddar Gorge > Saltash > Polperro > Eden Project > St Austell(Hotel) > Lizard Peninsula > Marzion > Land’s End > Bedruthan Steps > Trevrose Head. We initially included Dartmoor, but well, plans are plans…
We started in two cabs to Heathrow to collect the cab. It was a nine seater Ford Escort and driving all along in the dark, we reached Stonehenge by daybreak. The real problem at Stonehenge was, there is no spot to park the van anywhere and we had nothing but a fleeting glance from the road. Done is done, it’s time for Bath now. And our travails with roads begin. From Stonehenge, we entered into bylanes, sometimes, A roads and sometimes, B as well, driving towards Bath. Suddenly, we hit a Ghat section with excellent views of Bath, with clouds below the hill top level but again, there is no way to stop and enjoy.
After a circus all over Bath to identify a place to park, we found a place near the Circus itself. Bath, on redevelopment, a century or two ago, had two curios – a building built in the shape of sun(called Circus) and another, in the shape of a moon(called Royal Crescent). While Circus is a closed expanse with four or five huge trees in the centre, Royal Crescent is opens up into a park. Whenever I see that building, I get a doubt how much will the house owner get as rent. It is too hard to take a photograph of the Royal Crescent and the way we identified was to make a person stand and take a panorama involving him.
Next halt was at the Cathedral by the Roman Baths, and from there, to Pulteney Bridge.
After light lunch, it’s time for Chew Valley Lake.
Driving from Bath, we took a wrong turn when nearing Chew Valley Lake. It is in the plan just because it is enroute. We identified that we were on the wrong road when we neared the lake and retraced the path. The road is built through the lake, with one side much larger than the other. This lake is the main water supply channel for Bristol. A short stop, we went towards Cheddar Gorge. The GPS selected a road that narrow that it was a literal scare for us whether the 9 seater Ford Transit will scrape through or not. But, it was a great drive. We hit Cheddar Gorge just before nightfall.
Passing through the bottom of the gorge, with towering hills on both sides, we stopped in the middle of the gorge for a photoshoot, with me climbing the hill to some extent. Well, we got a person who is interested not in scenery, but with only the display boards and he was a real fun all over.
After a confusion over what exit to take and a very bad A30 with repair works for almost 30-40 km, we reached the hotel in St Austell by 7 PM. Because it was dark by then,we had to scrap off Dartmoor, Tamar Valley, Poplerro and Eden Project. When we found an Indian hotel deep inside Chew Valley, there is no reason for one not to exist in St Austell or in a similar place. Being on a two day trip, we were seriously thinking of scrapping either Land’s End or Lizard Point. Someone at the hotel told that both are very near and can be covered in a short duration.
For next day, playfully, I told people to start by 6 to make better use of the time. And it turned out that I was the last one who got ready. We started when it is dark and went towards Land’s End. It was much easier to follow visual markers to the next big place on the road as against the GPS. Except for a distant view of Marzion and it’s island, and views of sea on and off, the view is usual till Penzance where you see the feel of winds for the first time. The sea is very violent and the Hill Road section starts from then. With a tantalizing hint of the sea afar, we reached Land’s End and walked towards the cliff head.
Being in the midst of a storm forecast, the wind was blowing at almost 56-60 kmph and none got the guts to venture to the end of the cliff. But the views were very dramatic, with cliffs and rocky islands with waves completely covering rocks almost thirty feet above sea level. Besides, the area was full of rabbit burrows and it was a very nice excercise on our part to take a photograph of a rabbit, which I believe, none was able to do successfully. Though cold, the wind was refreshing and after passing an hour or so, we turned back towards Lizard Point, via Marzion. Since I gave both the post codes – for Marzion and Lizard Point, for some reason, the GPS didn’t pick up the first post code. We had to be content with the initial views of the island while going towards Land’s End.
The route to Lizard Point was through villages, before hitting a naval base. We stopped in the village first thinking that it is the end of the road and started walking, only to realize that there is a road till the end.
The setting is perfect – a walk through the hedges towards the end of a cliff, with a lighthouse perched at the top and a Coast Gaurd station at the bottom. It’s no doubt scenic and a famous graveyard for the ships but the question arises whether it is worth the time and effort spent. Because one of my colleagues is interested in Eden Project and was talking about it from much before, we scrapped off the North Coast of Cornwall and went towards Eden Project.
Nothing exceptional, but imposing in conceptualization and implementation – it is the world’s largest greenhouse. It has got three huge domes, the highlight being the Amazon Rainforest.
A complete clay mine is converted into the greenhouse, with both open air and greenhouse displays, a skating rink and even a zip wire. The array of plants inside the greenhouses is huge(we were able to cover only the Amazon Rainforest and the Mediterranean one), ranging from exotic plants to full grown palm trees. Time was not at all sufficient and we had to move out, to rush back to London.
While leaving back, we accidentally took a wrong turn which landed us in a village by name Ebenezer and ironically, cut our journey time by 30 min. From there, it’s the way back to Exeter, where the GPS took us through A303 as against M5/M4 – a good road, but not a motorway, meaning less speed. We had a feeling that we were going through a hilly terrain but, there is no way to prove that. We reached London by around 9:30 PM and the room in half-an-hour from then on.