My Cornwall - Penzance, Land's End & Sennen
PUBLISHED: 17:52 26 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:45 20 February 2013
Lesley Double explores Cornwall's tip and talks to local Daphne Pounder about its main attractions...
If you are looking to stay in the far south west of Cornwall then Penzance is the place many people choose, being the largest town. Its the end of the railway line from London, most coaches and buses stop here and there are hotels and guest houses everywhere. You can also fly by helicopter or take the ferry to the Isles of Scilly from here. The town itself celebrates both the old and the new, with a modern shopping centre and art gallery at one extreme, and cottages and inns several hundred years old at the other. The temperate climate ensures that gardens contain plants more at home in Mediterranean regions.
Travel a few miles further west and you will discover a different land. The busy A30 runs alongside Penzance then, changing from a main highway to a smaller, narrower and more winding road, it runs through a few villages and hamlets Buryas Bridge, Drift, Catchall, Crows-an-Wra and Sennen until it finally reaches Lands End. To the east of Penzance there are towns and business centres, but to the west there are fields, farms, standing stones and ancient history; there is a sense of travelling back in time.
Eventually the road dips down out of Sennen and LandsEnd appears. It is a sight to gladden the hearts of the hundreds of End to Enders that travel that road every year. Recently refurbished, the complex contains museums, shops, the famous signpost and First and Last House, and a handsome hotel and restaurant with amazing views out to the Longships Lighthouse and the Isles of Scilly beyond.
Daphne Pounder became landlady of the First and Last Inn in Sennen 15 years ago, staying until 1999, when she left to run another inn a few miles away. Returning four years ago, she now runs the inn with her partner, Richard, and children Faye and Jamie: Its a real family affair! says Daphne. The inn has been in existence since at least the 1600s.
What would be your perfect weekend?
Theres not a lot of spare time in my line of work, but I do like driving along the road between St Just and St Ives. There are lovely little villages, cafs and galleries where you can stop. The views out to sea and over the West Penwith moors are quite amazing.
Where would you eat?
My favourite places are all in Penzance. Theres the Bakehouse, which is in its own little courtyard just off Chapel Street, the Taj Mahal Indian restaurant in Daniel Place, and the Sea Palace Chinese restaurant in Quay Street.
What do you think is the best pub in the area?
Well, its got to be the First and Last, hasnt it? This is a proper village pub. People can drop in just for a coffee if they want, theres always someone to chat to. Its a good community pub we do lots of fundraising and the foods pretty good too!
And the best caf?
I like little cafs, like the one at Porthgwarra, which is very popular in the summer. Theres a new caf, just down the road at Trevescan, which is between Sennen and Lands End. Its quite close so I can stroll down there when I have an hour to spare. Its called The Apple Tree Community Caf and Art Studios, and has lots of lovely local artwork on the walls and shelves.
Whats your favourite beach?
I like Sennen beach we are so lucky to have such a lovely beach here on our doorstep but my absolute favourite is just the other side of Penzance, at Perranuthnoe.
Where would you go on a special occasion?
To the Bakehouse in Penzance. They specialise in Cornish Angus beef with different sauces, rubs and butters, but they also serve an imaginative selection of vegetarian dishes.
What event sums up the area?
Every town and village in the area has its own Feast week, when there are ftes, church services, games and competitions, music and performance, and the whole community seems to get involved. Its a time of partying! Sennen Feast is at Advent. We host the Clay Pigeon Shoot and the Feast Quiz Night, which is always great fun.
Where would you take your friends out for the day?
If theyd come from up country, Id take them to Lands End first. Everyone should visit Lands End at least once in their life! Then we could go to Sennen Cove and walk along the beach. If they were locals, Id take them to Penberth, which is a tiny and very pretty fishing village, or Porthgwarra to show them the tunnel dug through the rocks to the beach.
Where would you buy local produce?
At Sennen Farmers Market. Theres always something good there. The inn usually holds a beer festival at the end of August, but this year we are celebrating both Cornish beer and food. Were serious about buying local produce!
What would you say is the most interesting piece of history of the area?
The First and Last Inn has its own ghost, Annie George, who was landlady here 400 years ago when smuggling was rife. She was killed by some villagers for turning against them, and is said to haunt the inn to this day. Several landlords have left because they say the inn is haunted, but shes never bothered me, although when we go away my daughter says that lights go on and off and taps get turned on at funny times. Perhaps she likes me! The story of Annie and her husband, Joseph, the smuggling and the tunnels that are supposed to lead from the inn down to the cove, is fascinating.