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I have wanted to visit Cornwall for such a long time and the only thing that has kept me away is the idea of sitting in tail-back traffic for seven hours to get there.
Recently a friend came back from a trip with tales of hidden coves with white sand and turquoise waters, delicious cream teas in fishing harbours and cliff-top walks to take your breath away. So, last week I set aside five days to see it for myself.
It was to be a 1600 mile ’round-ish’ trip: Norwich – Windsor – Cornwall – Yorkshire – Norwich. As I’d decided to practically cover the entire length of England, one way or another, I’ll start with one of the greatest highlights of the adventure.
It was a VERY long journey, full of the usual road trip challenges – endless queues, lashing rain, running out of fruit pastilles and my boyfriend attempting to make the journey ‘fun’ with games of ‘Dashboard Spot the Difference’. It’s as appalling as it sounds – I examine the dashboard carefully and then close my eyes. He then makes a change such as moving the heating dial from 1 to 2 on the gauge, I then have to guess what’s changed. Enforced jollity at its worst.
On the bright side, nothing could have been a sweeter sight than when we saw the signs for Land’s End – the most south-westerly point of the English mainland.
It’s £5 to park but you can stay as long as you like and entry to the site and to see the famous signpost is free. You can also re-visit and park for free for the next seven days as long as you retain the parking receipt from your initial visit.
As a sunny August evening we were expecting the area to be swarming with holiday makers and families but were pleasantly surprised. It was great to find that the sign is actually fenced off. Ordinarily this would be disappointing at a tourist site but it means that you don’t have to wait for an hour to take a picture without someone’s grinning child photo-bombing your shot.
The light was beautiful just before dusk and I’d really recommend booking a table for dinner at the Land’s End restaurant to watch the sunset from one of the most stunning vantage points. You’ll need to book in advance in holiday season (obviously) as we found out. Lacking all hopes of foresight at all, we regularly go out to eat at 8pm on a Saturday night only to find that the rest of the world has booked a table, sending us packing to a dingy take-away and wondering why we never learn.
There are plenty of tables for you to enjoy a drink or bring a picnic and there’s live entertainment and fireworks on Tuesday and Thursday evenings throughout summer with fireworks around 9.30pm. We sat and watched a few songs from The Cornish Wurzells before taking a walk along the cliff-top to ‘The First and Last’ shop.
The complex has other attractions that you can pay extra for, including a 4D cinema, a theatre experience and Greeb Farm small animal centre but we just wanted to enjoy the landscape and sit and stare out at the Atlantic Ocean for a while. It’s hard to believe that drawing a direct line out from the tip of Land’s End would lead you to America, 2500 miles away.
The restaurant is open from noon and the attractions and shops start from 10am but the coastal path and landmark are open at all times. You can get some great photos at dawn and dusk when the light shows the natural beauty of the land at its best.
Visiting Land’s End was an incredible way to start a Cornish adventure. I’m a big hater of the word ‘awesome’ but standing on top of the cliffs looking out over the Atlantic Ocean with the sky turning pink and the last rays of sun glistening over the water, there was no other word to do it justice.
I wanted to stare at the scene for as long as I could to make sure the image would be safe in my memory. It’s a view that I hope to be able to see any time I need to be transported away to a place of unspoilt magnificence.
More info: Visit the Land’s End Website
Posts to follow on uncovering the other Cornish gems including the best beaches, the hidden highlights and eating my body weight in cream teas. Heaven.