If the recent Poldark drama on BBC hasn’t wetted your appetite enough to get you rushing to the glorious county of Cornwall perhaps this article about my home town might tip the balance. Penzance, tucked away in the far south west, remains busy year round, attracting visitors from all over the world. From the excellent art galleries to the many quirky independent shops, offering everything from handmade chocolates to beautiful locally crafted pottery, there is so much to see and do.
St. Michael’s Mount
When you get that first glimpse of the iconic St Michael’s Mount, whether by road or rail, on your approach into the town it’s difficult not to be impressed. While access to the Mount is easy at low tide when the causeway is open for pedestrian crossings, there are ferry boat services running at high tide during the summer, costing around £2.00. It’s great fun to spend a couple of hours delving into the incredible history of an island, a priory, a harbour and a home. The Castle is open winter and summer.
St Michael’s Mount is a National Trust property.
Penzance boasts the only promenade in Cornwall. A wide esplanade, perfect for a stroll, walking the dog, or just sitting watching the world go by. At the end of the prom is the Jubilee Pool, an elegant 1930’s lido, which took a bit of a battering in the winter storms of 2014. After closing for almost two years for a complete refurbishment I’m pleased to say that the pool is now open the public and looking truly splendid.
Where To Stay
The Queen’s Hotel is a traditional Victorian hotel, situated on the promenade, providing old fashioned comfort and lovely traditional food. It’s a five minute walk to the town centre and a perfect base for visiting all the great places that the far south west has to offer. My daughter worked in the hotel restaurant for a couple of summers and said that the Queen’s was a firm favourite with the older generation, some returning year after year; which has to be the best recommendation.
Penlee House Gallery and Museum
Penlee Gallery and Museum in the heart of Penzance is a place I go back to time and again. It’s the only Cornish venue specialising in the Newlyn School and early St Ives artists (c1880 – 1940). As the largest gallery in the area it hosts a wide variety of exhibitions year round. One of my favourite paintings is Eyes And No Eyes by Frank Bramley. In the early seventies I was working as a chambermaid at the Lamorna Cove Hotel, a few miles outside Penzance, and a print of the painting hung in one of the bedrooms. I loved the story it told, which prompted me to take my first look at the Penlee Gallery and Museum and I’ve been a fan ever since. The Orangery Cafe in Penlee House offer a tempting lunch menu and a wide variety of delicious home-made cakes and coffees. The cream tea is highly recommended.
One of my favourite walks is from Penzance to nearby Marazion; recommended to all my visitors. It’s flat all the way. Find the pathway behind the bus station in Penzance, where you can also access the beach. The pathway runs alongside Long Rock beach and continues on to Marazion, both beaches are dog friendly year round and welcome both wind and kite surfers. On a windy day this can be highly entertaining. You barely feel the two miles slipping away.
Where To Eat
There are many great places to eat around Penzance but my favourite of late is The Old Life Boat Restaurant & Bistro, perfectly located down on Penzance Harbour. Sunday Lunch is absolutely the best and very reasonably priced at around £13.00 for a main course. The building is the old lifeboat station and the interior is exactly what you might imagine, full of interesting pictures and memorabilia. Booking is advisable.
Bus Ride – Enjoy the Poldark Scenery. During the summer months a bus pass can take you on some fantastic trips around the glorious Penwith coastline. The open top bus tour from Penzance Bus Station to St Ives, via Lands End is not to be missed and takes in some of the stunning Poldark scenery. (If no bus pass, £12.00 for a day ticket). Take a packed lunch and your terrific day out will cost you not much more than your time and perhaps a cup of tea. Penzance is not your typical summer destination but its a great place to visit year round and will not disappoint.
I live in Penzance and never get tired of repeating the same walks, the scenery is ever-changing and it’s always a joy when a new visitor arrives and I get to look at everything again through new eyes.