Penzance, at the westernmost end of the Great Western
network, nine miles short of Land's End.
Splendid views, coastal walks, local seafood, and bracing
What to see
Penzance was hit hard by the recent recession, and,
although it is beginning to make a recovery, anyone looking for a
high-end shopping experience will be disappointed. It makes a
perfect base for exploring the coast and countryside, however. The
best thing to do is to hire a car, but there are bus services that,
although a little pricey, will get you from A to B.
Trengwainton Garden, managed by the National Trust, is only a
few miles from the railway station, and there are delightful
harbour villages dotted along the peninsula. Boat trips, for
fishing or pleasure, may be taken in some of them.
The Cornish coastline, like that of Pembrokeshire, is cared for
by the National Trust as well. It is speckled with the haunting
ruins of the old tin-mining industry, whose fragmented towers and
chimneys make an evocative foreground to the sweeping sea views
with their crashing waves, spectacular rock formations, and sandy
The remains of the mines are a World Heritage Site. At the
Levant Mine, you can see and smell, thanks to a team of volunteers,
the only beam engine in the world still in use in its original
Long paths along the coast are maintained by rangers, who write
blogs to keep the public up to date with what is going on on the
The jewel in the crown of this part of the Cornish coast is St
Michael's Mount. Just a few miles east of Penzance, and clearly
visible from the town, it is half-fortress, half-church, and has
been the home of the Lords St Leven and their forebears since the
17th century. Now also in the hands of the National Trust, it
provides a regular programme of special events.
Its solid bulk reminds the county that it has a powerful
intercessor in St Michael, who is invoked in the diocese of Truro
under his title "Protector of Cornwall", and honoured as such on 8
What to eat
If you rent a cottage that has self-catering facilities,
then support the fishing industry by buying local seafood from an
independent fishmonger; or find some locally reared organic meat,
for which Cornwall is becoming increasingly well known.
Should you be looking for somewhere to eat out in Penzance
itself, then eschew the mass-produced Cornish pasties on Market Jew
Street - tasty as they may be - and head to the Mackerel Sky Café
Bar on New Street. The monkfish in batter, with chips and mushy
peas, is to die for.
If you choose to eat further afield, there are plenty of
options. The area is dotted with hostelries from beach cafés to
cosy pubs, and the local ale is well worth tasting: why not treat
yourself to a pint of Penwith Prickler?