Book lover's tour of Cornwall

Feb 13th, 2007, 07:12 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
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Book lover's tour of Cornwall

I would like to take my sister on a tour of Cornwall for her 40th birthday. She is a huge fan of Victoria Holt's gothic romance novels. I am looking for recommendations--itineraries, must-see spots, beautiful places to stay, etc. I recognize that the books are fiction (and arguably cheesy at that), but I would love to be able to show her anything that looks like it hasn't changed much since the Victorian era. That may be a tall order--I know nothing of Cornwall other than what I can point to on a map!

Thanks in advance.
valeria73 is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 07:27 AM
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If your journey to Cornwall takes you through London, stop in at Foyles Bookstore on Charing Cross Road, where you will see a photo of Victoria Holt, aka Jean Plaidy (real name Eleanor Hibbert) displayed on the wall with the former owner. Your sister can probably tell you she also wrote under the names Jean Plaidy and Phillipa Carr. She was a rather reclusive author and never had her photo or bio on her book jackets.

As for Cornwall, I haven't been myself, however if you watch the show Passport to Europe on the travel channel, they have an episode on Cornwall that gets repeated regularly. It looks like a very interesting place to visit. I'd be interested to hear how this trip works out for you and your sister, as I am a big fan of Holt/Carr/Plaidy myself.
Daisy54 is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 07:32 AM
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Its all Smugglers and tin miners down there with boddice rippers aplenty me darlings. "Watch the wall my darling as the gentlemen ride by"

Also the Bolitho books sail from there
bilboburgler is online now  
Feb 13th, 2007, 08:36 AM
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I'm sure you and your sister will love Cornwall.

There are plenty of places that will bring to life the windswept moors, charming fishing villages and rugged coastal scenery I guess you are looking for.

Although not familiar with Victoria Holt's writing I can recommend some well trodden literary routes

Jamaica Inn - Daphne Du Maurier's classic novel - now a living museum and slightly hokey restaurant on a windswept moor just off the main road at Bolventor near Bodmin

Shell Seekers and Coming Home - Rosamunde Pilcher's Cornish based page turners although fictional are based on St Ives - which I always recommend as a wonderful place for newcomers to Cornwall to stay

Poldark Mine - romance aplenty in this throwback to the industrial age and namesake of Winston Graham's literary masterpiece. The BBC series Poldark is certainly worth trying to get your hands on.

Other places in Cornwall that certainly have an air of romantic or gothic drama that I would state as must sees

1. Watching a play in the outdoor Minack Theatre on the cliffs near Lands End (Summer only)
2. Lamorna Cove - heaven is found in this south facing and peaceful fishing cove
3. Polperro - a tourist's delight - a real fishing village with chocolate box beauty still clinging on to its heritage in the mighty tide of second homeownership
4. Take a walk along the Bedruthan Steps on the North Coast near Newquay or visit Hell's Mouth on the road between Hayle and Perranporth - the blast of Atlantic air will give you the taste for later calorific eating
5. Lost Gardens of Heligan - horticultural nirvana in this hidden oasis of tropical beauty

I'm sure some of you more avid readers would be able to chip in - oh and if possible avoid high season July and August when the crowds take over the county and try and hit spring and summer when everything is at its finest

Hope you make it to my special haunt
londonengland is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 11:22 AM
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Thank you both! I will try to catch that episode. And I appreciate your suggestions on must-see locations.
valeria73 is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 11:38 AM
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Besides Jamaica Inn, Daphne du Maurier also wrote the famous Rebecca and Frenchman's Creek. All of these are good reads.

I loved St. Ives. Be sure to have a Cornish pasty (pronounced past-ee), or two, or maybe three.
carolyn is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 12:21 PM
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Hi valeria,

I have not read Victoria Holt's novels, but Cornwall has to be one of my favourite places to visit, not just in the UK, but anywhere!

I second londonenglands suggestion of seeing a play at the Minack Theatre in Porthcurno. In fact, it is worth going to see the open-air theatre even if you do not take in a play - its setting and the views are stunning. The theatre is open to visitors in the daytime, apart from Wednesday afternoon when there is a matinee. Porthcurno has a lovely (but very popular) beach. The views from the coast path around here are gorgeous. The cable museum in the village is also very interesting. I'd recommend the Porthcurno Hotel if you do decide to take in a play - they will pack you a pre-theatre picnic and it's within walking distance of the theatre.

Also agree on Bedruthan Steps as a must-see - it's very dramatic. I prefer it at low tide because then you get down to the beach. A bit further down the coast from Bedruthan towards Newquay is Watergate Bay. This has to be my favourite beach in Cornwall, although it has become a bit too commercialised with the recent arrival of Jamie Oliver's new restaurant. Despite that, its still a very beautiful spot.

How long will you spend in Cornwall?

As londonengland says, do avoid the six week summer holidays in the UK (late July and August) as Cornwall can be unbearably busy then.
optimystic is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 01:04 PM
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Hi Valeria - when be you a comin, my lover? an how long you got? [yes, we really do talk like that, especially for the benefit of them emmets, though I have been addressed as "my lover" from time to time, by men to whom I was not related!]
If you have more than few days to spare, i would suggest basing yourselves in two areas; one towards the east/north of the county from which you can reach heligan, Eden, the south coast, and another in the west/south so you can see Penzance, [loads of Victorian mansions] St. Michael's Mount, the Minack, etc. etc.
If i had to pick a central spot for seeing everything, then Truro would be best, but it's quite a long drive right down to Lands end - at least 1 1/2 hours depending on traffic.

May/june or September would be best for weather - usually. February can be lovely - this year it's foul.

Please let me know if i can give you any more help.

Regards, Ann
annhig is online now  
Feb 15th, 2007, 07:21 AM
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My parents and I did a driving tour of Cornwall this past October. First advice, rent a small,compact car, even if you're offer you a larger vehicle for the same price. We didn't realize how narrow the Cornwall roads were and our monster of a minivan/SUV was totally inappropriate.

I'm not familiar with Victoria Holt, but my father is a big fan of JAMAICA INN. We stayed at the Inn for one night. The Inn itself is a tourist trap and the rooms nothing special and very expensive (65-100 GBP; don't splurge for "four poster bed"). But it was worth staying there because of the surroundings. It really is in the middle of a moor, and the area fairly desolate. The wind howls at night, which makes the Inn quite atmospheric. Be sure to ask the staff for walking directions to Brown Willy, the tallest peak in Cornwall. I bought the book at the Inn and read it on the flight home. Both my father and I agreed that having seen Bodmin Moor, and having a familiarity with the Cornwall towns and topography, made the book more enjoyable. It brought it to life.

For a delightful village experience, visit Polperro, not far from Plymouth. It's a hidden gem that has it's own pirate's cave that fills with water during high tide. During low tide you can walk far into it, if you're brave enough! There are also nice hiking trails along the rocky coast. We stayed at the Cottage Inn Restaurant, a 4-diamond B&B that's the best in town (per the security watchman!). It was absolutely lovely and its french restaurant superb. Polperro is a small village, about 9 miles south of Looe, a more touristed Cornwall village that my family didn't care for. The day-trippers seemed to head to Looe and head home, leaving Polperro for the rest of us.

Cornwall was lovely. Our only regret was that we didn't stop in Truro, which is not mentioned in any of the guidebooks I have, but it looked lovely from the highway and is supposed to have some great Georgian architecture. That'll be a must-see the next time I'm in the area.
Roundtrip is offline  
Feb 15th, 2007, 02:19 PM
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Hi, Roundtrip - you did in fact miss quite a vibrant town when you missed Truro. At the heart of the city is the lovely Georgian "Lemon Street" and there are many other georgian gems as well.

Adding to this a growing number of niche shops and good restaurants, it makes an excellent touring base.

For more Georgian period buildings, Helston [home of the "Furry dance"] is very picturesque, and beloved of germans who adore Rosamund Pilcher which is sometimes filmed there - my husband came across them one day, when they had more or less taken the town over.

Sorry you didn't like staying at Jamica Inn. There are in fact some guest houses /hotels on or near Bodmin moor that might be better choices. But your Polperro recommendation is definitely one I'll remember if I fancy a night away.

Regards, Ann
annhig is online now  
Feb 17th, 2007, 07:47 AM
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I wish you were my sister!

Cornwall is heaven. There's a town called Port Isaac that's very nice to explore, and not so much known to American travelers.

There's another town, and it may be in Dorset, but it's stunning - we passed through it heading from Cornwall to London. It's called Lyme Regis, and all I can say is that it's a special place. Anyone who loves Cornwall would enjoy this place.
Margot is offline  
Feb 28th, 2007, 11:44 AM
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Thank you all so much! This is fantastic information.

We will be coming in 2010 (I know I'm planning freakishly far in advance, but I have to save my $$ if I'm going to treat. . Her birthday is in March, and we can probably spend a week. Is it best to rent a car vs. public transport? And would (any of) you recommend something other than flying into London and driving over?
valeria73 is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 10:00 AM
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Hi, again Valeria -

as we were returning through Bristol airport on tuesday, i noticed that they were advertising daily flights to the US. Didn't spot the airline though, sorry!

Bristol is about 3 hours' drive from our home in west Cornwall. If conwall is your main destination, that might be better than flying to London.

regards, Ann
annhig is online now  
Mar 1st, 2007, 10:39 AM
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In May 2000 we were in the town of Fowey during the Daphne du Maurier festival. It was thrilling for me. There are entire bookstores full of her books (many out of print here).

We went down a little country lane and walked for some distance to try to see Menabilly where she was allowed to live for around 20 years. Manderley in Rebecca was based on the house. We did end up on a nice walk of the coastal path.

Across the harbor from Fowey is Ferryside where she spent her childhood. Her son Christopher lives in the old home there and it has been photographed for magazines.

The author of 'Nine Coaches Waiting" Stewart, also had many novels set in England -- can't remember for sure about Cornwall.

And of course many of us as children read the Enid Blyton stories of Jack, LucyAnn, Philip and Dinah and the parrot Kiki wandering through the old tin mines under the sea.

Agatha Christie spent time at Torquay (not Cornwall, I know) but wrote stories along that coastal area.
hopingtotravel is offline  
Mar 1st, 2007, 06:21 PM
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Also, I think some P D James books are set in Cornwall.
hopingtotravel is offline  

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