Climate change activists were out in force in Trafalgar Square, blocking the streets, but otherwise demonstrating peacefully.
We topped off our stay with a visit to Kew Gardens. The UNESCO World Heritage Site covers 326 acres and features the largest and most diverse collection of plants in the world. We were smart to wear our hiking boots – from Kew Palace (top left) to the spectacular greenhouses, there’s a lot to see…regardless of the season.
Wandering beyond the city walls of Bath we discovered the beautiful Prior Park Landscape Garden. Originally designed in the 1700s, the garden spills down a hillside below the Prior Park Mansion (now a private school). Meandering paths lead through woodlands and around lakes.
On a clear day one can take in stunning views of Bath far below. Weather was not so kind to us.
Our soggy, arrival at Land’s End will forever be imprinted on our memories, a goal we worked extremely hard for some days. However, our last day of walking was filled with visions of the historic remains of the region’s tin mining industry. Fortunately, the rain caused me to pack my good camera deep inside my pack, or I’d probably still be out on the bluffs snapping photos.
Much like the Doc Martin series put the little village of Port Issac on the map, the BBC series Poldark brings the world to the Pendeen Coast, where the Geevor Tin Mine (closed in 1990) remains open as a tourist attraction.
As we walked out of Pendeen, we were surprised by the number of crumbling remains of a once thriving mining industry. While it all seems very romantic now, history tells a different story of the dangers that lurked underground.
As pleasant as the above scene looks, Sunday morning brought horrendously strong winds to the area, foiling the plans of any walker in his or her right mind. Our host was kind enough to keep our packs for us until we could catch the afternoon bus to Pendeen, our stop for the night.
The photos really don’t do the wind justice, but trust me, it was howling. Fortunately, St. Ives is home to the Tate, where we wandered through 10 galleries of modern art, pretending to understand what we saw.
The mine closed in 1990, but a museum and underground tour (complete with hard hats), are both available to the public. We skipped past the big ticket items and wandered down to check out the ruins of the original North Levant mine.
Tomorrow we will arrive at Land’s End, our stopping point and the end of our South West Coast Path adventure. We really hope to walk the last section…rain or shine. We’ll see what the morning brings.
We enjoyed a spectacular afternoon today with our friend Ian, who just happened to be on holiday, visiting with longtime friend Julie and her family in the big white house pictured above. The photo on the right is the view from the front room. A gorgeous setting that is situated right along the South West Coast Path.
We took a short walk to Polzeath Beach, a popular surfing beach. Then, Julie treated us to a delicious home cooked mid-day meal, a wonderful treat after 2 weeks on the trail. We felt terribly spoiled as Ian later drove us (through the pouring rain) to our B&B in Padstow. A great big thank you to Ian, Julie and her family for sharing the afternoon with us!
Another beautiful day greeted us as we set off to our next stop – Crackington Haven. With a short 10 mile walk, we hoped for an early arrival, allowing us to do some much needed laundry. We zipped along at a pretty fair clip for most of the morning until the rolling green fields gave way to the all too familiar ups and downs.
What we did know about today’s trail was that, at the end of the day, it would lead us to a reunion with our dear friend Ian, whom we met several years ago while walking the Camino de Santiago. He’d booked a room in our Crackington Haven hotel, driven from his Oxford home and met us on the trail, lifting our spirits and escorting us down to where a cold drink and a hot shower awaited.
We hit the trail at 7:30 this morning in anticipation of what our guidebook described as “one of the hardest days of the path.” We left Hartland Quay just as the sun was rising, and set our sights on Bude, 15 miles away.
We continued on, racking up a total of 10 major descents, crossing creeks that flowed into the ocean. For every drop in elevation, the path climbed right back up the other side of the ravine, leaving us huffing and puffing most of the day.
At the end of the day, according to our guidebook, we had conquered 4,500 feet of ascent… and as everyone knows, what goes up, must come down! The math makes my feet hurt. We have never, on any of our treks, experienced such elevation gain and loss in any one day. But we did it today, and now that this day is nearly behind us, we will sleep well, hoping that this was the hardest day for us.
No, we’re not heading home just yet. Westward Ho!, our stop for the night, was named for Charles Kingsley, the 19th century author of the novel Westward Ho!. The exclamation point is always included, punctuating the seaside resort town with an expectation of excitement.
We’ve passed many harbors and rivers at low tide, so we were excited to finally see the effects of the high tide. As the tide came in, the River Torridge water levels rose, floating all the boats and creating an idyllic scene…at least until the tide raced out again, leaving boats grounded, waiting for the cycle to begin again.
Today was the last of our easy, flat days for near future. Tomorrow we will again follow the contours of the coastal cliffs. The guidebook warns of steep ups and down. Can’t wait!