Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Thick clotted cream, green and grey, narrow roads, rugged coastline, ruins from tin mills, old stone churches, rain with sudden dramatic light streaming through; all this describes Cornwall.   As we planned the trip, I told Chris I wanted some time in rural areas, quiet, out of the way places and he picked a farm b&b (see the blog on food and lodgings) which fit the bill completely.  It was like settings for English drama.  In fact, several British TV series have been set in Cornwall including Poldark and Dr. Martin.

I often felt I was in the midst of a British novel.  Narrow roads between hedgerows, stone buildings right to the road edge, rain and gloomy skies.  We were there just a week or so before Storm Brian hit.  It was rainy but not stormy.   From our B&B we caught the tiny passenger shuttle boat across to Falmouth and enjoyed exploring.  We also drove along the coast, including the area known as the "tin coast" where ruins of old tin mines and mills remain.  Our favorite spot was probably Priest Cove, a tiny little fishing spot.  As luck would have it, the sun occasionally broke thru the slate skies and created the kind of lighting photographers love.

First, Falmouth:

From Falmouth looking across the harbor.  Our B&B would be at top of hill
on the right, just out of  view
Taken the evening before from the farm where we were staying.  Views from here reminded me a bit of
Sausalito and Tiburon, Marin County, CA....steep hillsides with houses and
businesses right down to the harbor and lots of sail boats.  There were also some working boats.

I took a hike from our farm house  through the estate to the waterfront.  This
gate leads to the estate house.  

Although Cornwall is southern England,  the British Isles are far enough north for
dramatic tidal fluctuations.  Both photos are taken from pier where our small passenger
ferry docked.  The top was when we arrived in the morning and the bottom when we left in the

Side "street" in Falmouth

I usually don't photograph restrooms but made an exception for this one
on the dock in Falmouth

Please take a look at the earlier log posting labelled "food and lodgings" to see the old farmhouse where we stayed.  It was a peaceful and delightful spot.

Second, along the north coast of Cornwall:

Surfers and a hiker along the Cornwall coast

Roads are narrow but drivers were unfailingly polite.  The person closest to a wide spot, or to an actual lay-by which is the term for a small pull out, would pull over.  Having said they were unfailingly polite, I would add that that was in rural areas and small towns.  Heard lots of horns in London but we only used public transit there.  

You can see that in the following photos we had a bit of rain and fog.   These are along the west coast of Cornwall.  We headed to St. Ives which seemed too big, and too touristy.  I'm sure that it had its great spots, but we decided to continue driving towards the point towards Lands End, through little communities like Morvah, St. Just, and Zennor.  

We ate lunch at the pub across the street

Old chapel, now a tea house and  B&B in Zennor.  Thick, yellow, clotted cream. This place
caters to the hikers.  The UK has wonderful hiking trails and places like this provide overnight accomodations.

We had a morning tea break in Zennor and lunch at a pub in  Morvah when the rain, maybe I should say it was a heavy drizzle was at its most.  This is an area which once was a major tin mining and processing area.  The next two photos are of old mine ruins. 

One of my favorite spots in our travels was tiny Priest Cove, not far from St. Just and Cape Cornwell.  It had both the remnants of the old mining industry and is still a small fishing cove.  Here are the shots.  I am sure the fact the sun kept breaking thru the dark clouds, casting incredible golden light probably had a lot to do with it being a favorite spot.

Old church at Priest Cove which served the mining community.  This fence post, runis of the church,
a gravestone and a wall are all that are left.  But what a view, especially as the clouds disappeared
looking north from the point.

Looking the other way is a solitary house.  If you click on the photo and enlarge it, you can
see remnants of the old tin mill to the left, almost at the midpoint.  Another closer shot is shown below.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Oswestry and Ironbridge


In one day we went from the Iron Age to the Industrial Age.   Old Oswestry Hillfort was constructed between 800 BC and Ad 43.  On a hill, it had earthen ramparts to enclose a settlement.  The deep ditches, built to thwart intruders, are clearly evident. 

Looking down the path toward the car park.  The top of the fort is still a bit behind me.  This gives
a feel for the surrounding country as well.

Steep  up and down  hillocks  gave added protection.

Bracken growing in the bottom of one of the ditches.  We walked along it a ways.  This site links in with a longer walking trail.

Surrounding farm land

Roads are narrow!  You can barely see the front of our car in the bottom left.  We are mostly on the sidewalk and across from us the road widened, just enough for the tractor to get by.


From Oswestry we headed to Ironbridge and Ironbridge Gorge and a look at the beginnings of the Industrial Age.

Iron Bridge was the first cast iron bridge in the world. Built between 1779 and 1780 and opened on New Year's Day of 1781, it spanned the Severn River. The author, Samuel Butler described it thus: "The bridge itself makes a light and elegant appearance tho' apparently no ways deficient in Strength.  In viewing it either up or down water it resembles an elegant Arch in some ancient Cathedral."

Be more scenic without the scaffolding, but it is what it is.

Town of Ironbridge

Ironbridge, looking downstream

But Iron Bridge refers to more than just the bridge and the town where it is located.  The entire gorge was a center of early industrial expansion and exploitation of the natural resources of the area.  By 1635 100,000 tons of coal a year was being mined here.  The gorge produced steel, cast and wrought  iron, ceramic tile, china, and tobacco pipes.  All the warehouses, ferries, and rail lines to support the industry and deliver it to the rest of the world created what is often referred to as the Birthplace of the industrial revolution.   Today the bridge, now closed to vehicles, some of the warehouses, rail lines, kilns, village and other remains of that time form a World Heritage Site.  We didn't have nearly enough time, but I got an inkling of the importance of this place and a sense of life in those communities.  The  Blists Hill Victorian Village has a living history program.  Among displays were lodgings fitting the various eras, including within my lifetime, of families who worked here.   I suspect that my Welsh great grandfather may have come from a community not unlike this.

  Chris had been before and said I should not miss this site.  He was right and there is never enough time on a vacation, but it would have been great to spend a night nearby and have two days to explore.