The Tour 2022 (P): St. Ives, Cornwall

Cornwall Coast

The best way to approach St. Ives is via the coastal path. Unless you dislike grey stones, green plants or blue sea. Wonderful weather might be even more of a cliché (never seen one of those “Rosamunde Pilcher TV movies” on German TV, but might look just like this), still, with Andy joining, we decide to endure it all.

On our Way

Outlooks are fantastic and we enjoy every step and the bright colours around.

Coastal Path
blue – grey – green and shades in between

In fact, I could show about a dozen pictures just from the coastal path, each of it looking splendid.

…adding flowers to the picture postcard

However, sooner or later we should look at St. Ives. Beaches, narrow roads, shops and museums – just the quantity of restaurants does not meet the requirements, anything else is just fine.

Getting there: St. Ives

Surfing would be one of the classical activities, if only they had some waves. First days of June, the sea is quiet and flat. Even without the black-white flag (indicates the surfing area), nobody would be run over by a full-speed-surfer.

…und wenn die Erde nun doch eine Scheibe ist?

With my surf board parked in a half-hour walking distance from the beach, I can easily smile at the untroubled surface of the sea.

One thing hardly ever mentioned is the typical Cornish village style: Wherever houses meat the coastline, all is built with the utmost effectiveness and no regard to proportions or beauty.

Better to ignore houses and villages on touristic pictures

When walking through St. Ives, I cannot confirm that the town is attractive. Still, with a good angle, pictures tend to show the best parts of it.

Idyllic low tide image
Headland and picturesque chapel
Idyllic high tide image (same same, but different)

The beach close to the train station is the calmest one, luring us into a cup of coffee with the feet in the sand. However, the ultimate, perfect image comes when passing by crystal-clear water decorated with a bulk of seagulls.

sic!

Just behind, we detect a small church with the most inviting garden café. We manage to defend our cup of tea and gluten-free cheesecake against the gulls before we continue our way through the village.

Outdoor Café

Next on our list is: art. Sculptures of Barbara Hepworth, shown in her former house and in the charming garden.

Barbara Hepworth Sculptures

Between Hepworth and Tate Gallery, we enjoy the re-usage of historic farm buildings on Hellesveor Campsite. It is a clear recommendation for St. Ives due to wonderful owners and the nice overall setting.

Hellesveor Holiday Park, St. Ives

Another day brings us down to the Tate St. Ives, located in a former gasometer. The building competes with neatly curated exhibitions, and the café on the 3rd floor is also worth a visit.

Tate St. Ives

Inner views are colourful, especially with the current exhibition of Ad Minoliti.

Ad Minoliti Art

Still, in the end I spend endless time looking out of the building onto the main beach. It is framed artfully by the rotunda of the building.

Tate St. Ives, Inside-Out

Compared to my French West coast experience, St. Ives main beach is on an OK-level only. Yet, with today’s light and weather, it turns out like the most wonderful image of a Cornwall beach.

Pastel shaded Beach Today

Especially, when (again) taking the picture inside-out from the Tate.

Finally, we have seen it all and it is time to move on. Having had one rainy day out of three makes us re-design our next steps: South will be the direction of choice. Let’s see if we can soak in some sun when going as South as UK can be.

…btw: Guess who’s taking pictures…

The Picture Lady

The Tour 2022 (O): London with Friends

One of the ultimate highlights of The Tour 2022: Seeing friends and family in London!

So excited!

Hector remains in St. Ives while I pay impressing prices for the Great Western Railway. All worth it when arriving in London, hopping on the brand-new Elisabeth line, contrasted by the old Northern line and arriving in Finchley.

Leaving Cornwall (and Hector) behind…

Hampstead Heath is the first destination, having a little walk and wide views all around.

London

Ute leads us in the most colourful parts of the London subway, all following Anthony’s “Classic London” tour of the day.

Brilliant & Colourful

Just around the corner of King’s Cross, we detect upcoming quarters of the city. Lucky me that I am totally resistant when it comes to shopping in fantastic boutiques or when lured into design furniture shops. At least until I hold just the right piece for my living room in my hands, hearing myself ask if I can pay in cash…

Looking back at unexpected shopping excess

Andy is busy taking pictures: architecture, urban development, modern make-overs of historical buildings, new usage in old ruins and all that. Frozen in thousands of pictures, making her smartphone steam and sweat.

Our fantastic guide leads us through the most beautiful train stations, through tiny alleys and down the music street, sneaking into China town and crossing Soho.

Artful Guidance

Still, the most wonderful event is seeing quite some faces: Only 25 years ago, some had longer hair, some have not been born and some had just started to figure out what life is about. And look at us now!

Great being together

Vivid conversations over three generations make us forget about tired feet or stressful jobs. We add drinks at one of their favourite pubs, stroll around the town some more and enjoy the weekend together. Then it is time to get back to brave little Hector and a splendid time in Cornwall.

On our Way…
Thank You for this Wonderful Weekend!!

The Tour 2022 (N): Newquay

Warm Welcome in UK

Weeks ago, I reserved a pitch on the most expensive campsite ever: roughly 83,- EUR. Per night. For 1 Hector and 1 Lady. This being set, the overwhelming decoration with thousands of flags is the minimum I could expect. Only in the improbable case that the queen comes by for her platinum jubilee, she might claim it all for her. With her Majesty staying in London, I only have to share honour and glory with my van, which is fair enough for our first UK campground.

Porth Beach, Newquay

I have chosen Newquay for beaches and surfing, but come to think that it is moreover famous for being busy and crowded.

Fistral Beach (busy)

The beach right in front is for families and stand-up-paddlers only, thanks to its natural bay.

Such a Surf-Van

Time to bring my surf-van on the next level: With a sophisticated surfboard-mount, I am good to go towards Watergate Bay for appropriate waves.

…then at Watergate Bay…

I check out the options and make it my preferred spot for the next days.

Supervising Hector on the Cliff

Hector surveys my ongoing attempts from the cliff-parking position. Good to know that even in early morning, I am not entirely alone in the bay.

Thick Wetsuit, Slim Surfboard

Meanwhile, I practice wave by wave, improving my skills. Take-off, whitewash and greenwater, topped with some washing-machines every now and then. I ride some waves and some waves ride me. Afterwards, I have my board washed by the kind and handsome men of wavehunters.co.uk, chatting a bit about life, surfing and all the rest.

Relaxed little waves at Watergate Bay

The coastal path is worth some hours of walking, showing lovely facets of the cliffs and bays. Wildflowers, rocks, sand and different perspectives depending upon the tides come together in the most enchanting way.

Danger for tourists is always part of the game: vain selfie-spotters might fall off the cliffs, tides and current are underestimated easily and the sunburn-risk is continuously high. Still, wandering the coastline is all worth it.

Coastal Path Perspectives

Newquay downtown is full of tourist, shops and cars. Better again: focus on the landscape around.

…more of the Coastal Path…

Of course, the beaches need to be checked out thoroughly. First: Fistral beach, famous for surfing and attracting the majority of people.

Fistral Beach again

Thanks to the shortage of service staff in most places, I drop in the Headland Hotel for some afternoon Cornish Cream Tea with the most wonderful gluten-free scones I never dared to dream of.

Wonderful Tea-Time at The Headland

The next beach is a more relaxed one. Might be due to the umpteen stairs you need to climb down…

Third in a row is the one close to my exclusive campsite. During low tide, there even is a bit of a shore with miniature waves.

Following the coast further North shows another bay that is fully eaten up by the ocean during high tide. Other times offer endless sands and stones.

Rough and Lovely

After sneaking in The Mermaid Inn, I stroll around in the evening sun, now with high tide and the water filling in most of the bay.

Sunset and Broken Cliffs

A couple of days if enough for this place. New places to see and friends to meet make us move on to further destinations.

The Tour 2022 (M): The Eden Project

My inner clock is still set on continental time; hence I am up and gone early enough. After the first half hour on the road, I start to relax and develop steady routine on left-driving. Just then, I face a car accident ahead with a blocked road. Without hesitation, I follow the recommendation of the courteous officer: follow that car!, meaning another motorhome, heading West. My inner racing queen sort of enjoys chasing after the other, on tiniest field roads until ending up at another blocked junction. Helpless charm of a certain blonde-violet lady takes over and seconds later, the other RV guy and me make our way.

Detour of the Day

Along the way, I notice signs towards the Eden Project and I vaguely remember to have it on my list. Spontaneously, I exit the main road and make my way to the world’s biggest greenhouses. Rather: green-bubbles, to be more precise…

Welcome to the Eden Project

The general idea is something about saving the planet by ecologic education and I certainly take over my part when paying the 38,50 £ entrance fee. Hard to decide whether this is like a green-washed Disneyland for kids, pedagogical paradise for school classes or a nice garden area – probably, all of it.

Artificial Nature

I stroll through the rain forest biome with palm trees, waterfalls and rope bridges. It is easy to wander on the prepared paths and welcome all the nature-impressions and the general spirit of this place.

On Top of the Jungle

My personal highlight is the platform held by steel ropes, gently sliding and with a 50m view down.

Looking Down

Around noon, more and more families and masses of kids take over the place. Some lunch, a last picture of the greenhouse-bubble-structure, and then I hop on Hector for the next destination.

The Tour 2022 (L): Roscoff – Plymouth

Last night I have dreamed of driving on the left side of the road, meaning that my mindset is ready for today’s adventure. With all the “Left!” signs pinned to my cockpit, it is hard to focus on right-side-driving when approaching the port of Roscoff.

Hector Onboating

Hector’s head lamps got some stickers that shall prevent dazzling of other cars. It looks strange and almost certainly, I got it all wrong – but in case of anyone controlling it, I can proof that I tried my very best. It is a pity that nobody bothers, all they check at the ferry is whether I hide illegal persons under my couch. As usual, it would have worked out with the bathroom as hiding place, but that should be kept a secret.

“Es faustdick hinter den Ohren haben” = Hiding imaginary friends in tiny bathrooms

Once on the boat…

…no, really: once on the boat, I get lost between restaurant hours and continental versus UK time. In the end, Hector’s tyres touch British ground around 8:30 p.m. and we hurry up to find an appropriate parking place for the night.

Brit Stops = Home for the Night at the Seven Stars Inn

All along the 10 km towards the “Seven Stars Inn”, I tell myself to keep left, no matter what the tomtom says.

When Left is the Right Way

At 9:00 p.m. sharp, we reach the parking of Plymouth’s oldest pub. Other places might be more charming, but everyone inside welcomes me with a warm hello (owners and guests) and a fart (the dog) and I am relieved to have reached my first milestone in the UK.

Plymouth’s Oldest Pub

Tomorrow morning, I will try to lead Hector further towards Cornwall. Fortunately, I do not know anything about blocked roads, accidental junctions and other difficulties, I just fall asleep and hope for the best.

The Tour 2022 (K): More of my Preferred Surfing Bay

Experienced Camper Girls in France

Bretagne is beautiful and worth travelling. So far, I have only seen fragments of it. Yet, lucky me, I have a wonderful guest and she is all about sun, sea and a sandy beach. Of course, the decision has nothing to do with my brand-new surfboard.

What a Beauty!

Anyway, we find ourselves at my favourite bay and enjoy lazy holiday-time together. With “lazy” including surfing, adventurous bike excursions, wine and all the rest.

Chasing Waves

The surf becomes challenging thanks to my short and slim board – it makes me work thoroughly on my technique, still offering so much fun (and suiting me so well).

On my Way

The first relaxed day ends with a bit of sunset down at the bay.

Next on our list is a bike tour to Morgat. Facts point out 18 minutes and a brand-new bike road. If you are lucky and detect the right way, that is. Tough camper girls rather head for gravel roads that change into jungle paths. Strange enough that our shortcut through all the green extends the distance to 45 minutes.

Welcome to the Jungle

Wild animals are part of our adventure, looking bewildered upon our showing-up in their home area.

Wild Animals all around

Finally, we make it to Morgat and soak in the sea promenade, ice cream and an almost giant beach. Impossible to tell where the beach ends and the sea ground begins – just an hour later and Linda would be walking over the water surface.

Low Tide Crossover

All the action does not leave us untouched.

My knee is in slight disagreement with walking, surfing or any other movement. Many thanks go to Steffi from Lübeck with her wisdom and ability to fix it with bright yellow tape! Repaired like that, I can go out in the sun again and play with the waves.

The taped knee even entitles me to walk the coastline on another fragment of the GR34 path. It proves once more that the Bretagne is beautiful in all directions.

Then Linda leaves, but not before celebrating it with a toast to common days. After lazy days with sun, girls talk, food and wine, we are at least a bit closer to world-peace and happiness.

Upon her departure, I try to find another surf spot for calm days. Due to the worn-out campsite at Le Conquet, it turns out that my ambitions get overruled by Hector and his longing for favourite spots. It comes as no surprise when we re-appear on the wonderful beach bay the third time in a row.

Hector rulez

Public holidays bring in masses of campers and suddenly, the place is packed. As a matter of fact, I am not the only one being torn back here: Caro and Benny get washed up by the current and we share the precious space of a pitch for some days.

All about Sharing

When starting my voyage, I had not planned it to be a surfing holiday. And yet, I find myself surrounded by surfers, becoming friends and enjoying wonderful evenings with Daniela, Caro and Benny.

Surfing, barbecue and gorgeous sunsets make me forget about sightseeing and travel-books.

Just Lean Back

Time flies when you are having fun. All of a sudden, end of May tells me that it is time to pack up for the ferry and new adventures.

Packed

I am curious (and slightly nervous) what England will be like. Will it be raining all day? Will I get stuck on tiny roads? Lost in translation?? Time will tell…

The Tour 2022 (J): Côte de Granit Rose

Time to follow some more of Comissaire Dupin traces: Approaching Tregastel as close as possible, my internet research reveals a campsite at the Côte de Granit Rose. While Southern and Western parts of the Bretagne have been blessed with low season, the Northern parts are far from developing anything like a season.

surreal surrounding

The rocks are less pink than expected and the sea options are: high tide = no beach at all, tricky rocks waiting for knee scratches under water; or: low tide, endless sands/rock-mixtures with the smell of dead sea weed.

low tide

Contrasting the rural landscape, the Camping Municipal of Landrellec is comfortable and brand-new. Hector has a nice view on the sea (a clear plus), but the range of activities comes with restricted dimensions.

Suchbild mit Hector

Option a: Follow the coastal path “GR34” to the right.

…either…

Option b: Follow the path to the left.

…or.

The fun stops when trying to find an open restaurant for the next evening. The few within reach (two, thoroughly counted) are closed with exceptions to weekend-lunchtimes. Trégastel is a bit too far or requires car usage. Conclusion is that this region throws tourists right back on themselves, and all of a sudden I understand all the satellite antennas on the RVs around.

Hector’s (tele)vision: Flies on the Windscreen (for a start)

The next morning, I rather go for St. Brieuc with it’s Ville Historique, a shopping street and: a hairdresser with free timeslots.

St. Brieuc

Not only the Granit rock at the coast is supposed to be rosé/pink, the same shall be the preferred style on my head. Unfortunately, the hair stylist has no pink available, so we agree to try violet instead. The outcome is a bit less exciting than expected, but with sun + sea it will brighten up soon just the same.

less pink than expected

However, the main reason for being here is the Train Station and the big hello upon Linda’s arrival!

We start relaxed in our common holiday week with sea view, sun and yoga.

Later, trying some more of the Northern coast, we reach Plouézec / peninsula of Paimpol. Again, this is supposed to be a nice region with a nice campsite – still, we are not the right peer-group.

Somewhere out of Plouézec

In the long run, stunning views from Hector’s couch are not sufficient. Without getting too deep into details, let’s pretend this were tinder and the campsite/region a possible date – it is a clear non-match, after all.

We leave behind the picturesque views and seek a more suitable place. Assuming I had an idea for future stays, including a beach bay and surf occasions… add the coincidence of a new surfboard that fell out of Decathlon into my van… I wonder where we might end up!

Leaving empty spaces behind

The Tour 2022 (I): Surfing Days

It is amazing what the internet reveals. Days later, the mix of pictures, distance to the beach and proximity to the next village will draw a distorted image of the real scenery. Before learning that, the very same approach leads me here:

The most beautiful bay, offering waves with high tide and 3,5 km walking distance with low tide. All this in 100m distance from a comfy campsite.

endless

Some surfers with quite individual camper vans spread over the site, the atmosphere is vivid and relaxed. My original plan (laundry & lazy in nice surrounding) will be updated just a bit, now including information-gathering about where to rent surf equipment.

Beauty at all Tides

Later that evening, Daniela from the camper next-door helps me reducing wine quantities and shares her knowledge about surfing in general and rental shops in particular. Another evening offers leftover-sausages from Stevie & Persi (next-door to the other side), proving that I have chosen wisely the right pitch in splendid company.

best company
…looking at these waves makes me long for…

Not before long, I forget about ideas like jogging or hiking, now with my focus on the prio-1-topics: laundry and surfing.

no longing for laundry, but easily coming along in surf-pauses

With a 7.6 feet softboard and steady waves on most days, I manage to develop from the whitewash to first greenwater-waves. Of course, this works out on photo-free circumstances only. As soon as a camera is pointed at me, the water gets choppy and the surfing rough.

Here we go!

Fearless, I grab the board and head for the waves. Guess when the head is frequently under water, I am about to leave my comfort zone…

Queen of the Whitewash

In the end, I pass some fantastic surfing days. Daniela stays here for some longer and shows nice movements on her longboard, and I look forward to coming back in two or three years. For now, I have to move on: places to see and friends to meet.

Green-Water Queen: Daniela

The Tour 2022 (H): Île de Sein

The fifth crime being solved by Commissaire Dupin leads him to the Île de Sein. At average only 1,5m above sea level, the entire island is quite exposed to wind, storms and sea-level rise. Christianisation came late, but then they took it seriously – hence, the highest point (11m) of the île is occupied by the church.

Approaching Île de Sein

Starting in Audierne (pretty nice and probably worth a visit itself), the boat passes by the Pointe du Raz. I am secretly a bit proud of my rock-climbing skills, when following the way over the languet with my eyes.

Passing by La Pointe du Raz – where I walked straight to the end of the rocks

The boat spits out a maximum of 145 tourists, leaving them alone from 10:30h until 16:00h. During daytime the island’s population is roughly doubled, then. Before noon, everything is quiet, especially with low tide.

Quai du Nord with idling fisher boats

The Northern quay, the few bars and restaurants and the boats – all deserted.

Wherever I look, all I see is “something-plus-sea”, all calm, almost void.

One of the elder Lighthouses

At noon, I settle down on my (reserved) table at “The Tatoon”, recommended by Dupin-detective stories. At 12:20h, all tables are taken. I have not seen so many people in one place since we left the boat this morning. After a glass of wine and a “Lieu Jaune” I must confess that the reputation (and pricing) of the restaurant has left the taste and quality slightly behind. However, I am full of new energy and stroll some more over the island’s surface.

Facets of Île de Sein

All around, there is beauty to be found. In flowers, in colours and even in stones.

Wild Stones
Calm Stones

Besides the restaurant, the only fix topic on today’s list is the beacon. The big one at the far end to the East. What a pity that it opens up for hundreds of steps and a small platform on top in high-season only.

… oder nichtsein…

As little as Île de Sein is in length or width, it offers enough tiny paths to cross it back and forth and diagonal and close to the sea and in between. Stumbling over a little chapel here, a nice bay there and without need for a map or a plan.

…next to the (closed) main lighthouse: chapel from the 1970ies

Meanwhile, the sun is powerful, the tide is high and I’m moving on. The island is absolutely charming and 5-6 hours are enough to enjoy most of its facets.

… the island really has some lighthouses…

When the boat brings us back to Audierne in the afternoon, I am relaxed, tired and full of island impressions. Lucky me that I have chosen a nice camping municipal behind a surfing bay in Camaret-sur-Mer.

Hector almost soaks in all those narrow roads that bring us to our destination, but when getting to a halt before the reception, they just close down for today. Good that I have a plan B = the big aire de camping cars for 100 (sic!) motorhomes.

The only thing of interest are the menhir stones on the field next to the aire.

What a pity that, compared to all other camper parkings I have seen, this one is a soulless stopgap. No service, no toilets and, lucky us, currently no barrier. Taking into consideration that I have not seen a charming part in Camaret so far, that the official campsite looked boring, that none of it is close to a surf beach – it is a quick decision: I will look for a better, a really nice campsite first thing in the morning.

The Tour 2022 (G): Pointe du Raz

Sunset Spot par Excéllence

So far, so Hector: the first 10 days have rewarded my van with wonderful places. At the beach (Île-Tudy, Camping Municipal), surrounded by nature (Camping du Littoral) and now on a rocky high pleateau, surrounded by deep-blue sea. From his perspective, this is so worth the overnight-fee of 15,- EUR at Pointe du Raz = the furthest Western part of continental France.

Camper Parking

The crew is fine as well. Strong wind blows from all directions on those who dare to proceed the 1,2 km from the parking to the official touristic outlook and the statue of Notre Dame de Naufrage. Good that I just had lunch, keeping me well-grounded despite the squalls.

Windige Gestalten

The surrounding totally gets me: As soon as the sun breaks through, green meadows and yellow flowers meet bright skies and blue water. The cliffs in between bring in some spice and I think: This is what I have expected from South England. Good to know that pieces of it are to be found in Europe as well.

Bretagne Coast Cliché

Being through with a first inspection of the scenery, I use Hector’s couch in the sun for some Ukulele practice. Good thing with camper parkings is that you must not expect to meet anyone again. Knowing this, I play as loud and proud as I can.

I must have found the right chords, arranging perfect weather conditions for a splendid sunset.

La Pointe du Raz

During the afternoon, I already noticed the professional work of the local office de tourisme: Not enough that they arrange my boat trip to Île de Sein for the next day, they even lure tourists into micro-dosed adventures.

Thanks for the Playground 🙂

Without the slightest doubt, I start to follow the well-visible traces of a path, leading to the top of the rocky languet. The first half is easy, with feet on regular ground on top of the stony cliff.

…then all the alpine hiking + climbing experience pays off!

Looking down makes it somewhat more interesting:

…along the way…

Little by little, the path is left behind and the second half of the distance is sort of free climbing over the rocks. Mostly horizontal, sometimes with hand and feet, sometimes more vertical. I simply love those moments when realizing what all the alpine hiking and wall climbing has been good for!

all the way to the furthest point of Pointe du Raz

Finally, I get as close to the farthest point as possible.

I soak in the view, including spectacular lighthouses and even the low and tiny Île de Sein, with sea and waves and rocks in between. Beyond that, endless miles of the Atlantic enfold, all the way up to American coasts.

However, who thinks of America when Brittany and Great-Britain are much closer? Especially when stuck again by the fantastic landscape during my way back over the rocks.

Once back on the tourist-part of the official Pointe du Raz area, I watch the sun approach the ocean, intensifying the panorama around this wonderful spot.

Good Night