Roland Turner

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Cornwall, United Kingdom

Today was to be our final day in Cornwall. Our first stop was Pendennis Castle, built by Henry VIII in the 16th century to defend England from the French and Spanish who became rather irritated after he divorced his Catholic wife, Catherine of Aragon. It remained a military installation until after World War II. After the garrison was finally stood down, the YHA operated a hostel in another building inside the fortifications until late 2000 when the lease expired and English Heritage took over the entire site. (They are yet to do anything with the building that YHA was using.)

Outside the fortifications is 'Little Dennis', a gun deck built at a time when cannon range was so short that the extra couple of hundred metres made an important difference. This was built so far out onto the head that, at one point, the walls of the deck slightly overhang the water!

Our next stop was Truro where we (a) ended up at the parish church instead of the cathedral, (b) were not too impressed with the cathedral when we did find it and (c) had enormous difficulty driving around, in part because Truronians (?) use 'No Entry (except access)' signs to mean 'no parking is available in this direction'; it makes some sense when explained, but was rather frustrating at the time.

Our last stop for the day - and indeed, our last in Cornwall - was the Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum. Once again, the site of an old mine, this time for china clay. Even more than the Geevor tin mine, the processes here revolved around water. In addition to being able to see old river-driven water pumps and settling ponds, we were able to see a working china clay pit next door from a viewing platform installed for the purpose. In the current approach, a remotely controlled hose is used to cut up the ground, and normal earth-moving equipment carries it away. Presumably there is a processing plant nearby.

One more item from today that deserves comment is the fabulous dinner that we had in the Sidmouth Arms at Upottery (20-30Km NE of Exeter). If you're ever in the area, it's worth finding Upottery and its pub.