Friday 4th July
Left home around 3.30 in blazing sunshine and 24C. By the time we got to Chideock, the temperature had dropped by 10 degrees and visibility was down to about 100 feet! Nice start to a holiday. As we arrived at our night stop near Honiton, the weather improved a bit. We were staying at the Sundial Garden Centre and it turned out we had the place to ourselves. It was straight off the A35 and reached down a very grassy and narrow track. It was sufficiently far off the road to be nice and quiet. As we wanted a quick getaway in the morning, we decided not to fully set up and used a 5 litre bottle of water and a bucket rather than the Aquaroll and Wastemaster. We might almost be the unit in the picture below.
I had pre-booked a dog-friendly pub nearby and once we had got settled, we set off again in search of it. The pub was in Weston and was by the river (the Otter). It was called the Otter Inn and was quite a bustling and clearly quite popular pub. The food was average pub grub – acceptable but nothing special. Soon it was home for coffee and an early night. I dropped off to sleep to the hooting of an owl. Lovely.
Saturday 5th July
We left at 9.30 sharp and paid for our overnight pitch – the princely sum of £12. Very good value and we’d certainly use it again. After a quick coffee stop, we crossed the Tamar and arrived on site in Bodinnick just before midday. We liked what we saw and with a fully serviced pitch for the week, life looked good. Penmarlam is a multi-award winning site with 63 pitches in two distinct areas. In the upper field, where we chose to pitch, the pitches are separated by hedges and it is very nicely laid out. Chickens wander freely throughout the site, which is charming – for them and for us. The site also has two lovely dogs – Border Terriers! Perfect.
We set up and unpacked and then drove to St Austell via the ferry to Fowey, which is at the foot of the (very steep) hill leading from the campsite. It’s brilliant. £4 each way, though, so soon gets expensive. We stopped for our first pasty of the week. The shop was called Niles (7) and seems to be a small chain. This was the only pasty all week to have flaky pastry. A pasty survey is at the foot of this post. After buying a few provisions, we came back to the van for a kip.
After a luscious dinner ( Salmon and Prawn salad with new potatoes) we decided to pop out for a drink. It was a lovely evening and we drove to Polruan. In common with many Cornish towns and villages, you park at the top and walk down the steep and narrow streets. We sat on the harbour wall with drinks from The Lugger. Paul’s bitter was a Causeway (5) and he was not keen as it was VERY bitter. A beer survey is at the foot of this post. Back to the van and bed.
Sunday 6th July
We decided to go Eastwards up the coast. First port of call was Polperro. Here they have a tram service to take you up and down to/from the port. This was very welcome as it was a fair step from the car park. Polperro is beautiful (you can pretty much take that as read for everywhere we visited!). We wandered through the streets and stopped for a drink in the The Three Sardines. (Dartmoor – 7). There were boat trips – up the coast. Had to be done and it was fab. Very bouncy. Arch wasn’t so keen – you don’t get too much bounce on a canal! He coped well though and we were very glad we had done it. We grabbed a pasty on the way back to the car. This time it was a Wrights (8). We rounded off the day with a visit to Looe and an ice cream. Back home for a kip and a light supper.
As it was another nice evening we decided to go upriver to Lerryn. This pretty village is on the River Lerryn, which is a tributary of the River Fowey and which is only navigable to at the highest of high tides. I had a gorgeous Pimms with all the trimmings at The Ship Inn, which slipped down a treat. Paul had an Otter beer (7) and then it was home to bed.
Monday 7th July
Today, we decided to head Westwards. It was a bit rainy, sadly and at out first port (literally!) of call, which was Charlestown, there was a complete cloudburst. Storms drains were overflowing and the force of water even lifted the lid of one drain, which turned out to be a sewer (judging by its contents). Eeeew! You can see the effects in the pictures below:
As you can imagine, it was not the best day for sightseeing but we went as far West as Porthluney and Caerhayes Castle and will always remember one incredibly narrow road as “The One That Nearly Broke Paul”. Our next stop after Charlestown was Carlyon Bay, which is a beautiful beach – but in the sunshine it would be better! We then popped into a cafe (The Cove) in Pentewan Sands for a coffee and a pasty (home made 8.5) it being lunch time. Next stop was Mevagissey and then Gorran and finally to Porthluney -the beach nearest the beautiful Caerhayes Castle (designed by John Nash). It was still raining but we got out and had a paddle and threw a ball for Archie, who had a lovely time. We were all soaked but very happy. Sadly, we did not really do justice to any of these places on account of the weather but we still had a great day.
Tuesday 8th July
Off to Falmouth today via the ferry at St Mawes. Much nicer day today although there was a possibility of showers. We were lucky to get a parking space right on the quay at St Mawes and only had a short wait for the next ferry. It’s a pleasant trip and much nicer to arrive in Falmouth by boat than by car, I think? On the way we passed both St Mawes Castle and its opposite number, Pendennis Castle – both built by Henry VIII in the 16th century to guard the mouth of the Fal from potential attack by France or Spain.
We had a wander round the bustling streets of Falmouth and stopped to buy a pasty in Rowes (8.5) which had been recommended to us. More wandering and then we stopped for a drink at The Grapes which has views over the harbour. We then wandered back to the ferry and had a little time to kill, so we bought more drinks. It was looking a bit dark and threatening and we wondered whether we might get a wetting on the crossing back and indeed we did. We could see it coming from up river. It was short and sharp, but enough to give us a good spritzing! Back in St Mawes we had our first cream tea. Lush.
As we had bashed down the main roads to get there, we went back along the coast, calling in at Portscatho and Porthcurnick. We decided to eat in Fowey before going back to the van and had a very nice meal at The Bistro. Then it was back home on the ferry.
Wednesday 9th July
Excitement! Today was the day we had booked a boat for the day to potter about on the River Fowey. The man had agreed to deliver the boat to the pontoon at Penmarlam, right next door to the campsite, which made life easy. We arrived in good time (down the very step hill) and grabbed a coffee from the very good cafe on the quay. The boat soon arrived and our first task was to drop the man back to Albert Quay in Fowey. This we achieved in style, despite the brisk wind, and the man complimented Paul on his boat-handling skills. He completed the safety briefing and explained where we could and could not go and the tides and we were off. We puttered around the harbour, calling in at Polruan to post a card and then up to the harbour mouth ( we weren’t allowed outside). We saw Dawn French’s little “hideaway”. It was a beautiful day and bliss being on a boat although I found it quite hard to drink my coffee without spilling it – as can be seen from the picture below.
We pootled back to Albert Quay to do some victualling. Well – Paul bought some Pasty Pronto pasties (8) for lunch. And more coffee. Albert Quay is so named because Victoria and Albert visited Fowey in 1846. There is a plaque commemorating it on the Harbour Master’s Office.
By now, the tide was high enough to enable us to plough on up river but the breeze had really stiffened by now. We made our way up to Golant and it was really rough – Archie did not care for it at all and it acrtually wasn’t very comfortable, so we abandoned attempts to get further up river and came back to Penmarlam for a cuppa. While we were there, we had the excitement of seeing one of the big ships that comes up the Fowey to collect a load of china clay being towed in by a tug. It was quite a sight.
We pottered around some more and then handed the boat back. We had an amazing day and would highly recommend it. Archie found it all a bit tiring though……………….
Thursday 10th July
Bodmin Moor Day! To be honest we found the Moor to be a little disappointing. We were expecting Dartmoor/Exmoor type landscapes and it is generally more gentle, like the New Forest. It was great seeing all the engine houses of the abandoned tin mines though and I was transported back to Poldark – probably my favourite TV series of yesteryear. The one we stopped at was near Minions and was called South Phoenix. We toured around and stopped in Camelford for the, by now, mandatory pasty from Cornish Maid (9).
On the way back we stopped at a river and gave Archie a swim. He loved it. Kept wanting to do it again and again. And then he had a really good rolling session. And we drove home with the smell of damp dog. Nice!
We were chatting as we drove home and came to a decision. We were scheduled to make the trip home in one hit but decided that we would leave Penmarlam a day earlier (Saturday rather than Sunday) and stop somewhere “on the way” on Saturday night. So we did some research and found 4 possibilities. First job for the next day was to ring round and check availability. We decided to go to Looe and grab some fish and chips this evening. And wow! We researched and found good reviews for a place called “The Coddy Shack” in St Martins, just above Looe. It was a good choice. Unbelievably good chips and succulent fish. Amazing. We took them down by the river in Looe and ate them there. It was a lovely evening and we drove up to look over the harbour for the last time (this visit).
Friday 11th July
We phoned around and managed to get ourselves booked in on a site near Martock, of which more later. SO – today we had decide to head East towards Rame Head, hugging the coast as far as possible and dropping in on as many villages as we could. Our ultimate goal was Cawsands, where we planned to catch the ferry to Plymouth.
We made our first stop in Seaton, where we grabbed a coffee from the beach cafe. We then drove through Downderry, Whitsands Bay and on to Rame Head, where we visited the NCI Surveillance point and had a chat with the guys on duty. They do an amazing job and have an amazing view out over Plymouth harbour one way, out to the Eddystone Lighthouse and westwards up the coast towards Seaton and beyond.
Next we drove down to Kingsand, where you may recall scenes of storms in February of this year and damage, which is currently being repaired. We planned to walk to its twin, Cawsand and catch the ferry to Plymouth. Sadly, there is a lull of of 2.5 hours after the 12.30 boat. You can guess what time we arrived? A lesson in checking timetables. Gutted. So we had lunch instead. Flying in the face of tradition we did not have pasties. We went to the Rock Salt Cafe/Brasserie which was a delight. They make their own bread and it was fantastic and highly recommended. After lunch we walked to Cawsand and had a look at the beach. Very cute.
We then drove to Cremyll, home to the beautiful Mount Edgecombe stately home. We sat on the dock of the bay and watched all the boats coming in and out but couldn’t stay long as parking was an issue. We did see a naval vessel performing an interesting manoeuvre. which was a bonus. Afterwards, we had a quick flip round Saltash and a visit to Waitrose (yay!) and then home to start packing up.
Saturday 12th July
Having done most of the packing last night, we had an unhurried start to our day – we didn’t feel too guilty as we had paid to stay until tomorrow. That said – we were still away before 12, with sandwiches and other sundries for the journey to Martock. We were staying at the Southfork (no – not that one) Caravan Park. We arrived about 2-ish and once again went for the 5 gallon drum and bucket set up rather than fully set up. It is a lovely little site and once again very peaceful.
It’s located right by the historic Parret Works on the River Parret. The works has been a variety of things – I quote “An Iron Works was founded here in 1855, on the site of a former snuff mill. It included a foundry, with a prominent chimney, a ropewalk, workshops and several smaller workshops and cottages. The sluice, which powered the waterwheel, and sluice keeper’s cottage still exist.” Very elegant set of buildings, made of ham stone.
We had a lazy afternoon and then got showered and dressed for our last night’s meal out at the very tricky to find Mason’s Arms, Odcombe. Paul pronounced their Roly Poly bitter (they have a micro brewery) to be the best of the holiday (8) but the search for the perfect 10 continues. We had discovered after we had booked Southfork that this pub had a campsite but it looked pretty full that night. Some other time? We had a lovely meal and then it was home to bed and then off the next morning. What a great week.
We gave each pasty a score based on the pastry and filling quality
- Niles (St Austell) – 7/10 – flaky pastry, pleasnat filling. Not too peppery
- Wrights (Polperro) – 8/10 – shortcrust- light and well filled. Tasty
- Home Made (Cove Cafe, Pentewan) 8.5/10 – well seasoned. Nice pastry
- Rowes (Falmouth) – 8.5/10 – quite peppery, good chunky filling
- Pasty Pronto (Fowey) 8/10 – tasty, well filled
- Cornwall Maid (Camelford) 9/10 – Excellent. Nice pastry and good savoury filling.
So – well done Cornish Maid. You were our favourite.
- Causeway 5 /10- very bitter
- Dartmoor 7/10 – pleasant
- Otter – 7
- Wottershot 7.5/10
- Proper Job 7.5/10 – quite hoppy
- Roly Poly 8/10
So – none of the Cornwall beers impressed as much as a Somerset beer. Go Masons Arms!