I recently crossed a longstanding item off my to-do list by visiting Cornwall, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! From a base in West Sussex, the drive West was scenic and unhampered by traffic, offering a passing glimpse of the ancient structure of Stone Henge. As I passed the stones, evening fell, and there was some sort of event taking place, which caused Stone Henge to illuminate with flashing neon lights. While not exactly an authentic historical representation of English history, it was certainly eye-catching and an exciting way to get the holiday started!
On the first day I visited Tintagel, a picturesque village that is the stepping stone to a breath-taking walk encompassing stunning clifftop panoramas with links to the legend of King Arthur! You can visit the ruins of Tintagel castle, a medieval fortification, which offers a great insight into the past. If you’re feeling energetic, you can hike across to Tintagel island, whose vantage point offers an unparalleled view of the sea and surrounding verdant country. I chose to take the narrow, steep steps down to Tintagel beach—which offers a small cave, a waterfall, a gentle tide and, fortunately for me, a rare visitor in the shape of a sunbathing seal! Everywhere I went there was fresh air, smiling faces, dogs charging about and beautiful glimpses of the natural world. It was a hugely relaxing and a truly Hoogly way to spend a day!
In the next couple of days, I experienced a number of small, Cornish villages, which offered a glorious sense of community, character and charm. I paid a visit to Padstow, a stunning fishing port near the Camel River. With sandy beaches, water-sports, ferries to nearby attractions and a stunning boat-filled port, there was no shortage of things to see and do. I sampled some local fudge, spotted chef Rick Stein’s local restaurant, delighted in the local craft and gift shops and had a traditional Cornish pasty that knocked my socks off!
From Padstow, I travelled to Boscastle, a hugely attractive medieval harbour and village tucked away in a steep valley. Some of the cottages that line the small stream that runs through the village date back to the 15th century. Boscastle marked the beginning of a mini paranormal tour of Cornwall at the local witchcraft museum, which was full of fascinating stories, artefacts and models that explained the history of witches, the persecution they’d received, and how witchcraft and nature are intertwined.
Things really started to go bump in the night at the famous Jamaica Inn, a pub and hotel located in the romantic wilderness of Bodmin Moor, made famous by Daphne Du Maurier’s novel, and now one of Britain’s most haunted places! A three-course meal was followed by a paranormal investigation as guests were invited to visit haunted rooms—in the dark—and test out ghost hunting equipment such as EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) recorders, temperature gauges and electromagnetic sensors that detected movement. Needless to say, there were a lot of creepy moments, unexplained noises and loud bangs that made me scream! The tour was completed at the atmospheric Bodmin Jail, another famously haunted site, where I was given a talk on the history and workings of the prison—the site of numerous executions—and told about various ghost and spirit sightings. At one point the tour group heard what sounded like a child’s rattle coming from one of the empty cells. This was more than enough for me: I chickened out of the overnight investigation and decided I’d done enough hard time for one evening!
On the journey back, I visited the Somerset town of Cheddar, and Cheddar Gorge. The little town was full of lovely craft shops and tea rooms, leading up a hill to the Gorge itself, a set of caves discovered in the in the early 20th century. Inside there are vast caverns and openings filled with limestone in all sorts of beautiful contortions, having been eroded and shaped over hundreds of thousands of years. It was in these caves that ‘The Cheddar Man’ was discovered—Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton, dated to the Mesolithic period some 9000 years ago! His remains are now in the Natural History Museum, but a replica is still there, and it gives you a sense of awe at the vast age of these caves, and the excitement the first explorers must have felt as they came across wonder after wonder: crystal clear rock pools, undulating ‘waterfalls’ of limestone, stalactites and stalagmites, and crevices in the rock’s ceiling that shoot up for hundreds of feet. The caves are now used to ripen the famous Cheddar cheese, giving it its distinct and delicious flavour. Once back in daylight, I went to a local shop and bought enough cheese to see me through an apocalypse, and made my way home a very happy bunny!
So, Hoogly lovers, if you want a lovely ‘stay-cation’ that couldn’t be more Hoogly, head South and West and keep on going! And when you get there, be sure to start and end each day with a relaxing Hoogly Tea, crafted to create cosiness, tranquillity and mindfulness in everything that you do! And at Hoogly, we’re all about treating yourself to the best things in life. So, if you fancy a Cornish Pasty and ice cream to accompany your tea, I can assure you they are the best in the country!
Written by Chris Bedford!