U.S. public television currently runs two series, Doc Martin and Poldark on Masterpiece, set in Cornwall, the part of the United Kingdom that extends out on a peninsula to the southwest. Cornwall is still a relatively wild land for one so ancient. The interior has open rolling moors while little villages cling to the rugged coast. It is beautiful place to visit and has a relatively mild climate for the U.K.
At the furthest western point, there is a hotel and restaurant known as Land’s End. Although Cornwall is an English name derived from the Celtic and Welsh tribes the Anglo-Saxons fought, the earliest written text mentioning the area called the people “Belerion” which means Land’s End.
Tourists that we are, we had to visit this place where a sign proclaims it is 4166 miles to Tampa and presumably not much farther to our home.
On our way, we stopped in Polperro (see 19 July 2015) and Falmouth (see Pendennis, 2 August 2015), and Penzance. We continued along the northern coast to Sennen Cove, and Newquay before moving north towards Wales.
We had a “pasty” on our 1976 visit to England and another in northern Michigan or Canada or both; their crust was tough and the filling almost inedible. Pasty is pronounced with a short a like papa (a long-a pasty is very white skin or an exotic dancer’s nipple cover).
We bought a true Cornish pasty for lunch in Polperro. It was delicious and we ordered several more before we left Cornwall.
The pasty is a half-moon shaped pastry filled with meat and vegetables such a “Swede,” a turnip. Miners carried them into the mines for lunch. The pastry kept the interior warm, and the pasty could be held by the outer crimped edge more or less saving the miner from eating arsenic laden dust from his hands. They then threw away the edge for the “knockers,” the spirits that lived in the mines. Today the crust is lighter, and one might find just about any tasty thing inside.
A 1981 New York production of Glibert and Sullivan’s 1879 Pirates of Penzance was a hit. Before that, Alie sang songs from it she learned in grade school. So of course we visited the town. It had some interesting places like the Admiral Benbow Inn (not from Treasure
Island) and The Union Hotel which was set on fire in the 1595 Spanish attack on the town. Across the bay in the distance is St. Michael’s Mount, a small tidal island with a castle whose earliest parts date to the 12th century. The Cornish name meant “the grey rock in the wood’ but it appears the wood was washed away by storms in 1700 B.C. But Penzance wasn’t as picturesque as we might have hoped.
After a walk around the town, I had my first fried halloumi. Halloumi, which I
enjoyed in Cornwall and again in Wales, is neither Cornish or Welsh. It is a Cypriot semi-hard cheese made from goat’s and sheep’s milk. It has a high melting point, so it can be fried or grilled. I have never seen it in the U.S., but it seems common in the U.K. and is worth trying.
A trail led from Land’s End to the long beach at Sennen Cove, recommended to us by the innkeeper at Penzance. However, we paused just long enough to walk along the water before heading north to visit a tin mine, Chysauster – one of the few Roman era ruins (see English Heritage, 12 Jul 15), and the town of Newquay.
At dinner in Newquay, I tried another unfamiliar name on the menu, “lamb cawl.” Lamb cawl turned out to be just a nice Welsh lamb stew. They appear to like it in Cornwall too.
Click on photos to enlarge.