- Mandie Roberts
UK + Ireland Travel Series Vol. 1 | Cornwall
Since 2017, I have been to the UK and Ireland seven times. Since 1989, I have been in love with the United Kingdom and Ireland. Growing up in New England was like growing up in the smaller version of England itself. My ancestor's traditions, our cobblestones, our street names, our architecture, it was an all ever-present reminiscence of the people who fled England from religious persecution for a better life. Or, from Ireland due to a horrific potato famine.
Until I was twenty seven or so, I thought I would finally make it to England when I was older, possibly in my fifties. I had no passport and figured it would cost 8,000 dollars to ever go across the pond. My fancies of Masterpiece classics, Outlander and Poldark (of course) somehow made it seem more accessible- more and more people were going and seemingly not broke from their excursions. I decided not to waste anymore time and hopped on a plane to Scotland with a friend. And so began my mission to explore it all.
However, my first blog post is not about that adventure in Scotland, I decided to start with the place that my heart feels happiest and that calls my spirit every single day- Cornwall. Situated at the southern tip of England, Cornish life is simple. Little coastal villages sit back safely from the dramatic drop off of cliffs, with seagulls constantly screaming above you. The Cornish people are some of the friendliest and most humble people I have encountered and must be thanked for inventing the Cornish pasty. You'll find chip shops and pasty companies scattered everywhere (my favorite being the Sweet Potato and Leek combination). Pasties are hearty, having been invented to keep hungry tin miners going during their long shifts.
Cornwall has a deep history of tin mining and you can see the large mining towers dotted all over the country in ruins. My first trip in 2018 to Cornwall started in Bodmin and ended back up in Tintagel, where I explored the ruins of legendary King Arthur's birthplace. The stone structures of houses, churches and food stores are still there, facing the ocean, battered by the Cornish weather. I always picture the lives of those people who would climb up the cliff to Tintagel and how hard it must have been. Now Tintagel is a holiday resort town for the summer months. Hotels are everywhere, as well as little pubs and shops, all bearing King Arthur swag.
My second trip to Cornwall was the one that truly made me fall in love with it. My husband and I always say we must have lived a past life together 300 years ago in Cornwall. Tragically in my past life we say I died from fever and he was stuck with our 8 sons so let's hope this present life ends a tad bit better.
Having lived in Cornwall and also having spent his childhood there, James surprised me with a trip all the way down to Lands End. Being led around a country by someone who is familiar with it (and super cute) does help, I must say. On the way to Land's End we stopped at Botallack mine, where they filmed the mining scenes of Poldark. Not only was it scenic, it was sad. There was a real mining disaster there that essentially closed down the mines forever. The mining shafts and tunnels are still present and the views are absolutely spectacular. They call it Lands End for a reason, you feel as though you are at the ends of the earth.
After a few hours in the turning weather at the mines, James brought me to Mevagissey. I will never shut up about Mevagissey. It is perfection and I am still waiting to find a town on this Earth that will ever compare. We maneuvered the car through winding streets to come to a town that surrounded a small port. Gorgeous vintage boats were buoyed up and homes and shops went up cobbled streets to almost form a "U" shape. We went in for a burger at a restaurant I can't remember and ate looking out at the pier as the sunset. I wanted to stay forever. I stood outside and sobbed. I couldn't help it. It was like I had been there before. It was the life I want so badly, but I could only have for a day. Everyone who lives in that village, needs to know how lucky they are to be Cornish through and through, and to live that Mevagissey life. Obscure villages like these, are free of tourists, so you get to feel the way of life in your bones. I will never, ever forget it.
The next day we were off to Charlestown. We didn't know we were on a quest for a wedding band either but we found one in an antique shop that fit my engagement band perfectly. The best souvenir I have ever taken back home. We explored the docks have been used in hundreds of films and some seaside shops. One of which was my first taste of Cornish Ice Cream which I am pretty sure consists of clotted cream. I don't even like ice cream and now here I sit wishing I had one more cup of it. Walking down to the rocky beach, we followed the path to a cave that was in the cliff as well. Cornwall is an actual fairytale.
One last stop I can't skip was St. Michael's Mount. The one in France is pretty famous, but not many know there is also one in Cornwall. The website explains it best:
"At low tide, the causeway appears from the sea and you can reach St Michael’s Mount by foot, following in the footsteps of giants and pilgrims. Setting out from the beachfront at the Godolphin Arms, it takes just minutes to walk across the ancient cobble causeway which stretches from the mainland to the island. Please use our handy causeway search to look up when the causeway will be open on the day of your visit.
When the tide floods in, our boatmen will ferry you across the water to the island. At high tide during spring, summer and autumn, frequent motorboats leave from landing points along the shore at Marazion for the Mount’s ancient harbour."
Seeing a Castle essentially in the middle of the sea was astounding. We couldn't walk to it because we weren't prepared, but I did walk as far as I could before the tide came in. One day we will go back and bring the kiddos to explore in the summer, September was a bit late in the season for the adventure.
Cornwall is not only underrated, it's not well known to Americans.. Americans tend to focus on the main part of England, which makes Cornwall a slight mystery. Cornwall is magic. It is the best of the coast and simply unique. To me, it beats any place I have wandered upon outside my own country. Hence me starting this project with Cornwall.
When I complete this blog series, I want my readers (few and far between I know) to get a sense of the differences between the various countries and coasts that make up the UK and Ireland. I also want to make people really, really excited an on board for a workshop I have dreamed of having in the UK for years. For me, hosting a workshop in a country I adore, is the pinnacle of my entire career. And because of that, it makes me super, super nervous. If you fall into love with any of these places or go visit because of one of my blogs, also a goal.
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