Wish we had more time for Cornwall

Life seldom gives you a chance to make your childhood fantasy come true. For my daughter and me, both being ardent fans of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers based on a boarding school on the sun-drenched cliffs of the Cornish coast, a trip to Cornwall was certainly chasing that reverie!

Filming locations in Cornwall and Devon of the BBC series Malory Towers based on the book.

Of all the far flung places I’ve visited so far, St. Ives has been the most intriguing and sadly its not on every traveller to Britain’s list of places to visit..so lets cut to the chase and discover all the reasons you simple have to go there next summer !

You could take a flight to Newquay from London, but I’m a stickler for train journeys and this one certainly is to be savoured with many stops in Devon and Cornwall if time permits. (read more about it in this interesting book “The Great Way West”)Headed west, the railway line hugs the coast at many places for panoramic vistas of the aquamarine waters, boats and harbours along the way.

The last bit of the journey is the most sensational for the views coming up outside your window as the scenic railway journey St Ives Bay line runs from St Erth to St Ives, past Carbis Bay.

This extremely picturesque town of whitewashed fisherman’s cottages, numerous art galleries, cosy shops, tea cafes, bars and restaurants is a pure delight to discover. Wandering through the narrow cobbled streets, you can enjoy the atmosphere that is uniquely St Ives. The artistic connections date back to Victorian times when numerous artists came to St Ives to paint, attracted by its special quality of light. 

You wouldn’t know where to begin with the infinite possibilities of St Ives’ galleries. Unique to this town are the sculptor galleries, displaying magnificent works ranging from hand-made pottery to masterpieces of modern ceramics .

The colours in the paintings reflect the surrounding hues of browns, blues and whites that you see all around you in the St Ives’ narrow streets, rugged cliffs and beaches. The entire town is positively stacked with fabulous independent galleries and a feast for every art lover.

The most noteworthy is the museum of Barbara Hepworth’s work, one of the UK’s greatest sculptors, who had made this area her home. She moved her in the difficult times of the World War II and she achieved what very few female artists may have in her lifetime. Her presence also helped turn this remote town on the western tip of Cornwall into the remarkable thriving artists’ colony it is today.

Tate Modern of St Ives is a huge draw for art-lovers. Exhibiting work by modern British artists with links to the St Ives area, this museum has some fabulous collections.

Whilst in the town, don’t forget to rest your weary feet in a tea shop for Cornish Cream Tea: handmade scones, freshly baked with clotted cream, jam and a pot of tea. Many delectable fudge stores to chose from too. Made from traditional recipes, using locally sourced Cornish sugar, milk and butter, there are so many flavours to chose from in all the fudge stores !

Painter’s cottage is the warmest B & B I have ever stayed in! Madge and Duncan host you in the most perfect, cosy and quintessential cottage. The rooms are beautifully decorated with a lot of art work and ceramics and great hospitality extends beyond expectations. A happy haven for travellers. I wished I could have stayed a week, like the other guests who were here for self-guided walking tours in Cornwall.

If you have car to drive yourself around its well worth making that trip to the Land’s End Landmark Attraction (another tick off the bucket list: the westernmost point of England!) and beguiling views get better and better as you drive around the peninsula.

At Marazion, be sure to visit St Michael’s Mount, a medieval castle on a small island. One can walk across or take a boat ride to discover this historical monument and its gardens later in the summer. The waters were still choppy in the last week of June when we visited and so we had to be content with selfies from the shore and a nice breezy walk along the coast.

An exhilarating fusion of paintings and sculpture, topped with rugged cliffs and breathtaking views of the sea and the cherry on the cake is the clotted cream scones and fudge! This cobblestone town makes you feel awakened in every sense of the word, every step of the way.

Scenic rail journeys and postcard-perfect towns in UK : Mallaig to Glasgow

Leaving Portree the next morning with a heavy heart, we boarded the bus to the coastal town of Armadale, near the southern end of the Isle of Skye. We were just in time to board the ferry to Mallaig on the mainland, on a cloudy, windy afternoon.

The harbour town of Mallaig is so small, I had finished walking across it a few times by evening. The waterfront promenade was adorned with flower baskets of colourful petunias, fuscias and geraniums blooming, especially at the Tea Garden cafe, an idyllic place to sip that evening Cuppa.

The Moorings Guest house offering a spectacular view of the marina, as well as a homely comfortable ambience, was our cosy haven for the night.

The bright morning sun definitely brought out the rich colours of the pristine azure sea. It was time for us to bid adieu to this majestic view to set forth on the next part of our exciting journey which was “the Harry Potter Train” ride which also showcases some glorious landscapes.

Die hard Harry Potter fans don’t miss the souvenir store Haggard Alley and of course the reason we are all here is to get on the Jacobite steam train to Hogwarts !!

The Mallaig to Glasgow rail journey can be completed in about 6 hours by Scots Rail via Fort William (cheaper, less noisy and used more by the locals). The West Highland Railway steam train used in the Harry Potter films for the Hogwarts Express is slower but would be a must-do for Pottermaniacs (more expensive, noisy and packed with tourists). Whichever you chose, be sure to grab a window seat because the diversity of natural beauty unfolds outside the window is indeed a feast for the eyes.

As the train leaves Mallaig station, look out for the tranquil silvery beaches of Morar and he crystal blue waters at a distance, yet another cinematic location, the movie Local Hero.

Sit back to soak in some simply stunning views that include a mix of undulating coastline and rugged landscape dotted with lakes and mountains as the train weaves its way past Lochs Eilt

The approaching Viaduct of Glenfinnan certainly got our heart racing, as we exultantly scampered to get the best position for our photographs (and immediately share on Insta! #harrypotterbridge)

Running along the shores of Loch Eilt, the train chugs on to Fort William and you can capture more of this breathtaking beauty with your camera.

Past UK’s highest altitude train station, Corrour and then the landscape changes to the heather moors of Rannoch, a vast expanse of peat. The dramatically changing scenery is forever mesmerising and you will be enamoured by it

Passing through the Glencoe, you appreciate the suddenness of the transition between the high mountain pass and the lightly wooded strath.

The next hour or so you traverse along the shore of the Loch Lomond. The train ride does give you some vantage views of an incredible array of sites of the Trossachs National Park. Zipping through some dense forests, a journey that embraces adventure, until you approach the city of Glasgow

This rail journey in definitely for those who want to crave a deeper relationship with nature. If you had more time on hand, there are many places where you could certainly get off and delve deeper into the greenery.

A simply splendid day on the Isle of Skye

June 2019 :We arrived in Inverness by the evening flight, just in time to enjoy a leisurely stroll as twilight descended over the town, casting a magical purple hue over the River Ness.

A good night’s rest in our cozy Waverley Guesthouse Bed and Breakfast was much needed before we set of on a busy tour the next morning.

We had booked a day tour with Timberbush tours and as we set forth, Ryan, our driver and guide regaled us with mysterious stories of the elusive Nessie (Loch Ness monster) as we drove along the vast expanse of the beautiful Loch Ness. Summertime flowers abloom along the shore made it a pretty sight.

The next stop on the tour was Invermoriston, a sleepy yet picturesque hamlet with the old bridge that crosses the spectacular River Moriston falls. We had some time to meander down to the water and walk around to admire the pretty country cottages.

Soon we were at the much awaited Eilean Donan castle. Scotland is all about its glens, and lochs and castles and this one on a small island where three lochs meet is definitely the most alluring of all. The courteous staff dressed in traditional Kilts guided us through the majestic interiors of the castle and each room has a tale to tell of its own.

The sky turned grey and gloomy as we set forth on the rest of the tour. Alas! I couldn’t get any more good pictures and it would be sacrilege to write a blog without them. But here is Ryan to my rescue, loaning me some of his breathtaking photographs of the region captured on his previous tours.If you travel with him I’m sure you will agree he’s a great storyteller in both words and pictures.

The Quiraing is considered to be undoubtedly one of the most spectacular landscapes in Scotland.Nature’s exquisite composition of towering cliffs, impressive plateaus and pinnacles of rock.We couldn’t stop gazing in rapture at the reddish brown landscape surrounding us.

The road creeps higher into the hills and onwards to Sligachan, Old Man of Storr and Kilt Rock for photostops. Our guide Ryan had a sea of stories and it made the journey so enjoyable and a great laugh. It is in nature that the sublime truly lives!

At Lealt falls we got off the bus to take a  short and easy walk to the viewpoint where you can look down to see the Lealt waterfall plummeting down the deep gorge. The skies were turning blue again and we  could admire the views of the stunning coast and the sea.

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks. “— John Muir

Back to Portree for that perfect evening cup of tea and views of the loch beyond that were just too good to be true.

We had stopped by earlier in Portree for lunch and chose to end our tour here by evening to discover a bit more about this quaint town.Truly a place that inspires every imagination is Portree, the main town of isle of Skye. Nestled in the hills, it has a natural harbour, busy with fishing boats, craft stores and sightseeing cruises. Plenty of eating options at the harbour serving delicious local food, particularly fresh sea food.

Adventure isn’t complete until you have reached the soaring heights of an eagle! A boat cruise out of Portree Harbour will get you up and close to the largest and rarest bird of prey in the UK, the White-tailed eagle. You may be lucky to sight other aquatic and birdlife too if you cruise further into Portree Bay and the Raasay sound.

Do connect with Ryan if you choose to go on any tour from Inverness

Ryan Raymond Photography Email: photos@ryanraymond.co.uk Web: www.ryanraymond.co.uk YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIexSrvKaACMozytColuzQA

All images are available for purchase on his website plus more and worldwide postage available also.

Tel: +44 (0) 1463 630 110 Mobile: +44 (0) 7799 723 409

P.S. I was in raptures when I saw all these sights filmed in the movie starring my favourite Patrick Dempsey (McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy)”Made of Honor”