Looking at the calendar, I cannot believe that it’s already one month since I did this amazing road trip to Cornwall and Devon with my mum; following in the tracks of Rosamunde Pilcher. Rosamunde is a British author of romance novels and mainstream women’s fiction. Her books are particularly popular in Germany because the national TV station ZDF has produced more than 75 of her stories for TV, and through this, created a special Sunday highlight for my mum.
So we did this trip to discover the real live villages, stunning mansions, coastal roads and cliffs of Pilcher’s imagination for ourselves.
Looking at the map again, it’s quite impressive what we saw in only five days while driving about 800 miles along England’s wild west coast. This far-flung corner of England with its tiny roads has really left a long lasting impression, and Lonely Planet does not exaggerate when saying that the south-west’s a tonic for the heart.
So what we saw that is worth mentioning:
Croyde was the very first stop of our trip. This cute little beach town is known as North Devon’s ‘surf central’. There we put our toes in the sand for the first time on the trip, while watching people in wetsuits chilling out in the sun… 😉
Bude is the first town across the Cornish border that we passed on our way along the Atlantic Hwy. We went straight to its beautiful beach Summerleaze to enjoy a delicious milkshake at ‘Life’s a Beach’ (which I chose to be my new motto). We liked the place so much, that we even stayed by the small harbour and massive lock gates at the mouth of the Bude canal for dinner.
Not without reason is this coastal town known as the ‘Shining light of Cornwall’. It definitely was my very favourite place of the entire trip – which you can see from the many photos! It offered everything I wish from a holiday destination: beautiful beaches, blue water, a B&B with ocean view, (Tregony Guest House – A recommendation!!)
long coastal footpaths for walking,
exciting boat trips to the local seals,
and the largest number of home made ice cream shops in a stretch of 500 metres along the horseshoe harbour side, that I have ever seen on the island :D.
It was also St. Ives where we had the best dinner of our trip – at The Beach Restaurant.
An impressive cliffside theatre only 3.5 miles away from Lands End, which appeared to be much more worthy of stopping at, than the most south-westerly point of mainland Britain. We only walked along the cliffs around the theatre to enjoy the view, but I definitely want to come back to see a musical there.
After two nights in St. Ives, our next B&B was booked in Torquay
– 150 miles east along the coastline. This town turned out to be quite a disappointment after beautiful St. Ives. I fell for the taglines “English Riviera” and “home of Agatha Christy”, but the reality showed a bizarre tourist town with empty gambling places, restaurants and many night clubs. Not even a morning jog along the coast could really change my impression. So, in the end, we spent as little time as possible there and used the days to visit the surrounding towns, old mansions and stunning gardens of the area.
Perhaps we should have done the HiFlyer Helium Balloon ride to be more impressed.
The following places we only stopped at briefly, during our stay in Torquay, and are definitely high up on my list for my next trip to the West Country:
Plymouth turned out to be much better than in the tourist guidebooks tell you. The books always described as not pretty and with buildings, the architect’s mother might question. We only saw the harbour area, the famous Mayflower footsteps, and visited the National Marine Museum, but were really positively impressed.
Dartmouth: On our way there we drove a coastal road coming back from Plymouth that was right from the Rosamunde Pilcher plot.
Another highlight: the cute Dartmouth High Ferry which we took between Dartmouth and Kingswear and where we enjoyed a great view over Agatha Christie’s summer home.
In Brixham – apparently one of Britain’s busiest working fishing ports. Here we stopped for dinner on our last evening, and felt like in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, with a full-sized replica of seafarer Sir Francis Drake’ ship berthed in the harbour, and everyone dressed as seafarers or the like, for a big pirate festival taking place that same weekend.
So after this first rather short discovery of England’s Wild Wild West Coast, I am already checking my calendar for the next free slot to go back to this stunning coastal wonderland.