Sunday, 26 September 2010

Of waterfalls and nightmare hotels - Chronicles of a Cornwall holiday - Day 3

We stirred early the next morning to the sound of a light rain against the french doors of our hotel room. Sound can be somewhat deceptive though, as we found out when we opened the curtains. The sky was black in places, grey in others, and the rain was pouring down on the patio outside the room. In other times this may have put a bit of a downer on the day, but not today. Not now. We are on holiday, and we are going to enjoy it, no matter how much the gods conspire against us. To quote Billy Connolly, "there's no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes!"

After a good breakfast at the hotel, we checked out and headed off in search of St. Nectarns Glen waterfall which we had passed on the way into Tintagel the evening before. We knew the car park for the waterfall was no more than 5 minutes up the road, but were unsure of where the waterfall was from there. We arrived at the car park just a few minutes later, and put on as many clothes as the temperature would allow to keep out the rain. We then headed off in the direction that the signs told us.

The rain didn't hold off for long, but it wasn't long before we were under a canvas of trees, walking though a woodland and following a beautiful little stream. With the rain hitting the leaves overhead, the gentle trickle of the stream, the smell of the forest in my nose, and the fresh air in my lungs, I felt a beautiful calm wash over me. I was thoroughly enjoying the walk, despite how wet I was getting.
After a while, we started rising away from the stream and into the upper forest. We arrived at a small house who's garden was packed with garden chairs. This is the house who's occupants own the land on which the waterfall resides. They have also opened their garden as a coffee shop and postcard retailer. There was nobody around, and the gate down to the waterfall was locked, so we had no choice but to wait for somebody to turn up. We sat down on the only dry table we could find and waited. And waited. and when we were bored of waiting, we couldn't decide what to do, so we waited some more. Eventually the owners turned up, and opened the gate for us.

Now, I know we live in a world where people will always try and make a profit from anything, but I do have something of a problem with asking people to pay money to see something that is natural. Waterfalls are carved out of rock over the course of thousands, if not millions of years. I don't believe you can put a price on that, and people should not have to pay to see the natural beauty of the world. By all means set up a coffee shop, a pub, whatever next to it and let people choose to go into them, but forcing somebody to pay for something for which you can take absolutely no credit and could never really "own" should not be allowed.

Nevertheless, we paid our money and headed down the steep steps to the waterfall. And my, what a waterfall it is. The water cascades beautifully down the hillside, and then through an archway before falling to Earth. So beautiful, and somehow so delicate that I simply can't put it into words.
After about half an hour, we left the waterfall and began the long walk back to the car. Although still quite dark, the rain had started to ease a little, and temperature had improved. On the way back to the car as we were crossing the road, I heard a small scream behind me. I turned to see what was going on, and couldn't see anything the matter at first. Louise explained to me that as she crossed the road, she was about to put her foot on a leaf when the leaf, taking the form of a small frog, started jumping away from her towards the kerb. I walked back a few paces, and found the frog resting in the grass on the roadside probably analysing the details of it's whole life that had just flashed before it's eyes!
Feeling the first bite of lunchtime hunger, we got into the car and pointed the front wheels in the direction of Tintagel
We carried on heading south-west along the coastal roads, heading towards Port Isaac. Port Isaac is a tiny little village on the coast and is most famous for being the village in which the TV Doc. Martin is set. Personally, I have never watched Doc. Martin. As much as I like Martin Clunes, it is not a programme that I have ever made a point of watching, and being on at a time when I am usually on the way back from work, I have always missed it. Still, it was as good a destination as any, so a little while later we rolled into the village. And straight back out again. The village really is that small! Unperturbed, we headed back up the road to find a car park, and then took a walk down the hill towards the port and the actual village. When I say hill, I mean mountain! Well, not quite mountain, but very steep and long hill anyway! You have to worry when you see a car parked on the hill with small boulders being used as chocks to keep the car in place!

Despite being a tiny, and very hilly village, Port Isaac is a beautiful place to go, and I would like to go back there. The village is set back from the surrounding cliffs where the sea comes much further inland creating what must have been an ideal location for the pirates and smugglers of old.
After only a short while in Port Isaac, most of which was spent watching a man playing with his two dogs on the beach, we headed back up the road to the car. Our next stop was to be Newquay where we would be staying the night. Back on the road in the afternoon traffic, it wasn't long before we were in Newquay and looking for the place that we had booked to stay the night. When booking it, I was a little hesitant as the name "Lusty Glaze lodge" conjured up all sorts of images of drunken ramblings, but upon checking the map, I discovered that Lusty Glaze was actually a real place name, and not the embodiment of a certain emotion! We drove all the way through Newquay looking for the hotel, but couldn't see it. It was only after we turned round that we saw it from the other direction.

Have you ever seen the episode of Scrubs where every time JD does something wrong, an opera singer comes up behind him and sings in a powerful soprano voice "Mistaaaaaaaaaaaaake!"? Well, that's kinda how I felt driving into the grounds of the Lusty Glaze lodge! From a distance, it looked OK. Just a standard hotel. But as we got closer, the cracks started appearing, and by the time we got into the car park (which looked like an abandoned building site) we were really starting to worry. Potholes in the car park, empty beer bottles lying on the grass by the entrance, tables piled with dirty stuff in the lobby, they really did have everything. We checked in and went up to the room which was filthy. We would have had a lovely view of Lusty Glaze beach and the sea beyond had it not been for the dirt on the window.
After what seemed like an age sitting in the room and wondering what to do, we needed to get out. We went downstairs, and after a short discussion decided that we were going to check out. I think it is a testament to the quality of the hotel that the reception staff didn't seem at all surprised that we were wanting to check out, and were more than happy to give us a full refund.

We jumped back in the car, and started searching around for a bed and breakfast. One of the great things about this part of Cornwall at this time of year is that there is more than enough accommodation going round for everyone. It wasn't long before we found a very good looking B&B that had a vacancies sign in the window. We pulled into the car park (admiring the lack of potholes!) and went up to the door. There was a sign giving the phone number of the owner and telling the potential customer to call. I called, and was told that the ladies husband would be there in just a few minutes with the keys. After waiting, we checked in, instantly falling in love with the place. Everything was clean, the room was comfortable, the staff were really kind. It was everything we wanted.

We left the room and headed out on the short walk into the town centre. For the first time so far on the holiday, we were actually in an area that could be classified as a town. We headed through the town and down towards the beach on the other side. The tide was out, and although we didn't go down onto the beach, we whiled away the time watching a few dogs play on the sand. Beside us was a nice house situated on a high rock at the side of the beach, only accessible by a rope bridge to the mainland. I can't remember how much for, but I am told the place is for sale. Still waiting for the lottery win, though!!
Later, we headed away from the beach, and back into town for some food. After a recommendation from the owners of the B&B, we had settled on a very nice Indian restaurant overlooking the beach. An outstanding feature of the restaurant was that every single table had a sea view. This wasn't achieved by a clever laying out of the tables, or by having every seat next to a window. Instead, in a blinding moment of genius, the management had erected beach-facing cameras on the outside of the building, and displayed the video feed on TV screens carefully situated throughout the restaurant. If that doesn't deserve an award, I don't know what does!

Fed and watered, we took a long evening stroll back to the B&B for a well earned sleep.


  1. The picture of the waterfall is beautiful. I would love to see it. I agree that the people shouldn't charge to see it. My favorite part was the story and photo of the frog.
    What a nightmare the hotel was! Just awful. Glad you left.

  2. Babe as you know being a veggie I would have been mortified to have killed the frog. I wonder how long it took for the shock to wear off. He shouldn't have jumped out of the drain when he did. Wish we had of taken a photo of Lus....... I can't even bring myself to say the name. When can we have the next instalment????


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