A lot of folks tend to discount a wee jaunt to Cornwall on the basis it is “too hilly” and not suitable for those with limited mobility. Well I’m pleased to say that really isn’t true of Penzance which has so much to offer not least 23 ....yes 23 Pubs!
Firstly Penzance has a bona fide promenade extending from the towns famous outside swimming lido ...The Jubilee Pool, to the fishing port of Newlyn which is approximately 1.5 miles, past glorious gardens, children’s play area, Skate Park, boating lake and the Tolcarne Inn (great fish dishes). The beach is mainly pebble but the sea is crystal clear in fact seals and dolphins can often be playing here. A further 1.5 miles (pavement and flattish coast path, no steps) will take you to the picturesque harbour village of Mousehole (regular 20 minute busride back if you need it).
From Penzance harbour the coast path (flat and even, occasional gravel, no steps) continues 3 miles the other way around the bay to the sandy beach of Marazion and St Michaels Mount (again regular 20 minute busride back if needed).
Anyway back to Penzance town itself which has a lovely gently inclining high street with independent and chain shops and many tea, cake and pasty shops.....yum yum. Going right up the “causewayhead” (an olde Cornish name) brings you to more shops and the Cinema, now converted into 3 accessible screens. Going left takes you to Chapel Street, full of curiosities like the Egyptian House, ancient pubs The Turks Head and the Admiral Benbow (as in Treasure Island... O R Jim lad), and retro knick knack shops. Follow the signs for 5 minutes to the town’s tropical gardens at Morrab or Penlee Park with Art gallery and cafe.
The Trengwainton NT garden is 2 miles north of Penzance. Lovely flowers (especially springtime Camellias and Rhododendrons), walled garden and exotic plants with a level circular path ...followed by delicious tea and cakes at the cafe there.
Penzance has a vibrant live music scene for example Monday “session” nights at the Crown, Friday “heavy” nights at the London Inn, Blues and Jazz nights at the Union and Soulful Sunday strumming at the Luggar Inn....to name a few but keep your eyes open for other stuff advertised.
If you fancy a trip to the Scilly Isles, the ferry leaves most days at 9am returning at 7pm giving you 4 hours to explore St Marys. Contact the booking office to ensure accessibility assistance is provided.
About 12 miles west of Penzance, Minack openair cliffside theatre is unique with a full schedule of performances from Spring to Autumn. There are entry ramps from the car park and accessible seating areas bookable in advance but do wrap up as it can blow a gale off the sea with little protection. Minack cafe is open during the day too (£5 entry cover) and one of its attractions is the possibility of spying a basking shark down below in PorthcornoBay – who knows you may be lucky – we were!
The local train from Penzance to St Ives takes about 20 minutes, with a downwards sloping path to its main beaches, shops and harbour. St Ives is truly beautiful, an artist’s dream with so much natural light and reflection from the sea even on a dull day. Hence it is hideously busy in the height of summer with people and cars stacked up round ever corner. But don’t let that put you off it is a definite must see! Beware those seagulls though they are skilled in getting folks to part company with anything from a pasty to an ice cream. Check train connections coming back to Penzance through St Erth, sometimes changing platforms is necessary via a high step bridge but GWR will pay for a return taxi due to this lack of accessibility (must be booked in advance with them).
And so returning to the relative peace of Penzance is a delight. Except for the Golowan and midwinter festivals (google it) .....and on 27th August this year when the town is hoping to get back the Guinness Book Of Records for the highest count of Pirates.
Shiver me timbers ....cant wait to go back !