Sunday, 4 August 2019

Coming Down, Ilfracombe and the Lost Gardens of Heligan

It was time to come down once again to our beloved Cornwall for the annual summer family holiday. This year it was just for one week and looking at the weather forecast before coming down it didn't look that promising with showers and winds most of the week but crucially no really stormy weather that might be good for sea-watching. As is so often the case, the forecast turned out to be wrong and the weather was actually much better than anticipated, at least for the first half of the week. What's more, Friday and Saturday turned out to have a proper storm so there was sea-watching to be had after all.

Coming Down
These days we tend to come down on the Sunday to avoid the Saturday change-over gridlock on the M5 but this time we'd agreed to visit my VLW's sister in Ilfracombe on the way down which meant travelling on the dreaded Saturday after all. It was as stop-start as predicted but eventually we were off the M5 and wending our way along the painfully slow roads to Ilfracombe. After some tea and a catch-up with our host we went for a walk down first along the cliffs by the shore and then to the harbour which was a hive of activity because of the annual Birdman event that was on. This involves people throwing themselves off the pier in order to see who can "fly" the furthest though whilst we watched there was little actual flight and more just falling into the water.

Rock Sea-spurrey
The first contestant getting ready to launch
The next day after a leisurely start we said goodbye to our host and headed on down into Cornwall itself. As we couldn't get into our cottage until late afternoon since we had some guests staying there, we decided to stop off en route somewhere "up county" and elected on the Lost Gardens of Heligan which some of our party had not previously visited. I'd last been there for the Green Heron that took up residence there a few years ago but sadly there was no such rarity there presently. Still it's a lovely garden to explore and we all had fun crossing the swinging rope bridge in the Jungle and we enjoyed a nice tea there (always an important part of any visit). I always feel that given the great habitat there it ought to have some good birds but I guess it's just not fundamentally situated in a very good location.

A Swallow in the potting shed at Heligan
After our visit, it was back into the car and on down to Pendeen itself to open up the cottage and to get settled in for the evening.

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