11 July 2012

England: Porthleven

Things are starting to wrap up on this sojourn to England. I slept a bit late this morning, getting up about 10. After a quick cuppa and a shower, we headed off to Porthleven, a beautiful little fishing village right on the coast.

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I haven't put a lot of maps in the blogs, but this one is interesting, because if you enlarge it, you can see the seawalls that Porthleven has built up over the years to protect the inner harbour. Here's my pics of the harbour.
Looking towards the head of the harbour.
Looking towards the mouth of the harbour. The hole in the
wall almost in the center of the picture can be
closed off with the beams below in bad weather. Note the church
tower to the far right center of the picture.
These beams are something like 10 inches thick and 24 inches high!

The outer walls of the harbour, complete with cannons to
protect the harbour from pirates or privateers.

The church sits at the mouth of the harbour.
There is a picture, which I have not been able to find
(so I can "borrow" it) that shows waves crashing over the
top of the tower!
Lunch was a White Crab sandwich, made with crab that was locally caught and processed. We were at The Ship's Inn, which is shown on the map when you zoom into it a bit. It, too, is right at the mouth of the harbour, just opposite the church.

One thing I haven't talked much about, nor shown at all on the blog apart from a picture of the Godrevy Lighthouse just up the coast a bit, is where I am actually staying in Cornwall. 

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Now if you click to view the larger map, and drag it down and to the left so you actually go UP the coast, you will see where the inset is I have inserted here:
The tiny red dot is just about exactly where the house is,
the white square is the car park (£5.60 for the day).

 The white stretch is the beach, at least at half-tide. It is covered completely when the tide is high, and the water comes right to the cliffs that form a natural boundary between the land and sea. They are every bit of 50 to 60 feet high, and range from very rocky and rough to clay (which of course erodes much more quickly). Unlike most of our coastal areas, the houses here are built back away from the edge, and well away from the top of the cliffs, thus being far better protected than many of the McMansions we see along the Outer Banks of North Carolina and other coastal regions. Of course, it helps that England is on the wrong coast to get hurricanes or typhoons, though they do get some nasty nor'westers being so close to the North Atlantic!
This is a panorama of Gwithian beach. It covers about a mile from left to right, St. Ives
is on the hillside across the bay, and Godrevy Lighthouse can just be seen in the left
edge of the picture. I left it showing the merges because I wanted to contrast the size of the people
at the bottom center of the picture, who are close to the base of the cliffs to those who are about
halfway out the beach to the water. It's half-tide, as it ebbs, and the beach is up to 200 yards wide!
It's quite picturesque, and living here is a wonderful thing, though in August and September the tourists get quite thick and clog up the barely two lane wide road into the enclave of residents' homes. There is a steady stream of surf "academies" that park in the car park, set up their streamers and take a load of kids off to the beach to learn to surf. You see kite surfers, too, since there is plenty of wind. Somethimes you get a prat in some sort of caravan that tries to make it down the narrow lane. These idiots are soundly and roundly complained about as they block up a road that can barely pass 2 cars except in the occasional wide spot.  Gwithian Towans is a nature preserve, and much of the land itself is owned by the council (the local government) or the National Trust, a privately run charity much like our National Park Service, Forest Service, and local historical societies combined. A towan is a sand dune, in this case, rather large dunes that line the top of the cliffs in this area, and are covered with grasses that hold them in place. Ponies are let loose in the winter to help keep the non-native grasses in check, as the ponies only eat the oddball stuff!

Hayle (Heyl in the original Cornish language) is the town that is down the road a piece, perhaps a mile. It's a typical British town, with a Tesco's, an M&D, an Asda, an Aldi's, a Co-operative, and a Lidl's - all groceries. There are fish and chip restaurants on every corner, mostly catering to the tourists. Pubs are ubiquitous, some owned by the breweries or other large chains, the others are "free houses" - owned by the proprietor/publican. Many are quite old, or at least in old buildings. The atmosphere is always jovial, dogs and kids are welcome in most, and they all serve "pub food", which means crusties, sandwiches, baguettes, toasties, and full meals. Some add starters to the menu, and others desserts, some both. For the most part, the dozen or so pubs I've visited have had pretty good food. Hayle has a very nice public park with a modern playground, and a well used BMX/skateboard park.

Anyway, just back from the Angarrack Inn, had a couple of pints, and chili con carne is dinner tonight. Tomorrow, Derek has to go to a funeral, then Friday morning he has Coastal Watch duty, so I will be on my own, probably sleeping a bit, and getting sorted and packed for the return trip. I'm working on a final post for tomorrow, so stay tuned!

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