We awoke to squally weather and a bitter wind this morning and once again I was pleased I’d decided to bring my ski jacket with me on holiday. Whilst it has taken up a lot of space it has been absolutely necessary at a couple of points on the journey.
The day began with an insanely satisfying breakfast – with a starter option (yes breakfast starters) of cereals and fresh fruit and yoghurt or traditional porridge with caramelised brown sugar and cornish cream. Naturally we both opted for the local speciality and were not disappointed. Wow! Next we had multitudinous options including scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, sweet or savoury french toast, and fried kippers, as well as tea, coffee, fruit juice and home made preserves and toast. We almost needed a siesta before beginning the day’s sight-seeing!
At last we decided to stop waiting for all the squally showers to pass and wandered out towards the castle ruins, sheltering from one more shower before getting to the pathway. We were incredibly fortunate that this was in fact the final shower of the day – from that moment on we had gorgeous clear skies. I’ll not mention the breeze which at certain vantage points on the island bordered on gale-force, but I’m not mentioning that.
The signing on the tracks wasn’t the most helpful and we were pleased we decided to head left halfway down and take what was labelled as the church and coast walk path – this in fact took us up to the mainland courtyard of the castle ruins and presented the best way to start exploring the ruins.
Despite how exposed the site is, parts of it are amazingly sheltered and I enjoyed several long moments just lying on top of some of the structures watching seagulls gliding over head on the wind currents and listening to the waves crashing against the cliffs far below, all while imagining the people who had lived here so many years ago. [Simon has added the photo below, I seem to be headless. I distinctly remember having a head while I was there though. Rest assured, I have one now].
(I’ll note at this point that we are currently sitting in a laundrette waiting for our washing and there is a small child with a very high-pitched scream in the room, so if I develop a case of random cursing, you’ll know why).
After exploring the mainland component of the ruins, we headed down a disturbingly steep set of stairs and then up a slightly less steep, but equally disturbing set of stairs up to the island parts of the ruins. And it must be stated that these really are ruined ruins. There’s barely more than a couple of feet in height remaining of the walls in most places, and many of the informational signs were far from it – stating things like ‘it is unknown when this was built or for what purpose, but it could have been a medieval cold store’. Hmm. Perhaps they should erect a chalk board and let everyone suggest what they thought it could have been – could be entertaining!
Regardless of these details, the place was absolutely amazing and I am so pleased we decided to go, despite having read so many reviews that suggested it wasn’t worth paying the entry fee. For me, it was money well spent. The sheer cliffs, the sheltered little structures, or at least remains thereof, the indescribably majestic views and the power of the wind and the ocean, coupled with the vast array of pretty wildflowers all over the headland and the seagulls and crows coasting overhead made for one of my favourite days of exploring on this trip. (And I managed to have absolutely zero witnesses when I fell over and face-planted beside the old well – even Simon was elsewhere!)
[Simon’s turn to be headless! On the headland and all too!]
We weren’t sure that we’d get our timing right with the tides to be able to visit Merlin’s Cave at the base of the island, however by the time we’d finished taking it all in, the beach was exposed enough for us to get to the cave. For the sake of my ankles I only went in until I could see the other side, but Simon explored further and took a bundle of photos. Meanwhile I sat on a rock on the beach and watched a seal pop his head up and look at those of us on the beach while we watched him in the rather wild ocean.
(And if you’ve been wondering why I write so few of the blog posts, by now you’ll understand – it’s because I’m far too verbose!)
We opted to take the landrover shuttle back up the ridiculously steep path to the village and then visited our closest pasty shop for lunch. We both chose the traditional steak pasty of steak, onion, potato and swede (same as the recipe I blogged yonks ago) and were gratified that mine weren’t terribly different from theirs. In fact forgive me for saying so, but I think most of my attempts had more flavour, but this won’t be our last sampling of this local dish while we’re here, I am quite sure!)
And now we are sitting in the laundrette, watching our washing count down, with 3 minutes remaining. The mundane joys of travelling.