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Penzance to St Ives by Train: Window Seat Beside a Cornish Beauty

Sightseeing begins not once you step off the train, but once you step on it. The Penzance to St Ives train is a picturesque gem worth far more than the £4 asking price; far more than the typical drudgery of travelling from A to B. Where possible, seat yourself comfortably on the right-hand side of the train (or the left during the return leg from St Ives) for maximum viewing pleasure.

 

 

As the train pulls out of Penzance, the sidings slipping away on your left and the undulating walkway of the South West Coastal Path a trimming along the right-side cliffs, the view opens out over Mount’s Bay where St Michael’s Mount rises majestically out of the water to tickle the skyline. Graceful waves fill the crescent of Long Rock Beach, its swathes of cobblestones carved by the masonry of the ocean. Beyond this fortress of the tides, the coast curves around on its final voyage to Lizard Point, mainland Britain’s most southerly reach.

With Marazion approaching, the track veers away to the left and darts between hedgerow trees, hillocks peaking over the brush as the luscious greens of Cornwall’s interior appear desperate to prove their worth against the stellar blues that clothe its edges. In under five minutes, the onrush of fields slows to make way for St Erth, the required changeover as you detour away from the mainline. After getting off here and finding the single platform tucked around the corner – perhaps popping into the station café for a quick refreshment – the St Ives Bay Line will soon be ready to entertain you.

After picking up steam once more, the patchwork of greenery subsides to reveal the shimmering expanse of the Hayle Estuary with its uninhibited rivulets scribbling over a parchment of sand on its way to the ocean, the flow of its writing upon the land punctuated sparsely by islets of scrub. The village of Lelant glances over the scene below, the little church of St Uny and St Anta nestled in its grassy perch

Having made a pass of the village platforms, the Bay Line steers westwards to leave the estuary running in the background. Then, beyond the bobbles of fledgling dunes, the journey strikes its gold: a trinity of beaches and their sun-soaked sands. Porthkidney Beach comes first, a sprawling plain that stretches off into the distance – interrupted only by the dark tongue of Carrack Gladden lapping upon the ocean foam, a headland tufted with a rare mountain sedge and the purple tips of ivy broomrape. Under this cover will Carbis Bay thus emerge with its perfect concave sheltered from the worst of winds, a fitting sanctuary for the G7 Summit of 2021.

Weaving around one final clifftop, you are greeted at the end of the line by Porthminster Beach: a strip of buttery yellows melting into caramel tones where the surf recedes from the shore. You have arrived in St Ives, home to a decorated history of artists and writers; stepping off the train, it’s no wonder they felt so inspired.

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Images courtesy of the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership. For more epic Devon & Cornwall journeys beyond the Penzance to St Ives train, check out their website over at Great Scenic Railways.

G7 Accommodation: Penzance on the Big Stage

Newly renovated for 2021, the Victorian promenade leads the way for much to come in Penzance’s future – G7 accommodation and beyond. 

The traditional calm of a Cornish summer, home to azure waves and sunny TV dramas, is set to make way for a drama of a very different kind. From the 11th to the 13th June, the G7 Summit will see leading presidents and prime ministers settling in to Carbis Bay; less than ten miles away, Penzance will be on the forefront of ripples that will reverberate far across the political world.

Cornwall’s credentials for rest and relaxation deceive the very real change that is occurring beneath the surface, with Penzance keenly setting out to be a trailblazer in that respect; alongside its plastic-free initiative, the geothermal warmth of its Jubilee Pool combine the expected holiday vibes with the beginnings of much to come in the region – recent studies in geothermal activity beneath Cornwall’s granite suggest that the area is primed to produce a new source of renewable electricity for UK homes. With climate high on the agenda for discussions at the G7 Summit, Penzance is a beacon for an ambitious future.

Whether you will be heading to the big event in an official capacity or are simply looking to be adjacent to all that buzz, the accommodation in Penzance is ready to meet all your needs. With Carbis Bay and St Ives just a twenty-minute drive away (with frequent buses and trains also available), the town is perfectly placed to be of service to those on their way to the big event – whilst still being distant enough to avoid much of the presidential hubbub if you are just looking to holiday in Penzance. Whether you want a larger hotel or a small, family-owned B&B, you can be assured that each has strived to meet all coronavirus and social distancing regulations as we enter the final throes of the pandemic and turn our collective attention towards a brighter future.

If you are looking for a family stay in Penzance, there is much to see and do for those who take little interest in government workings (or even whether famous ice cream enthusiast Joe Biden enjoys Roskilly’s); a walking trail is available that takes you past all of the town’s famous landmarks, whilst the iconic St Michael’s Mount is unmissable with its disappearing ocean path that is governed only by the tide itself.

For all Bed & Breakfasts and hotels in Penzance, whether G7 accommodation or a holiday stay, be sure to head over to Book Penzance for detailed information on a wide variety of accommodation alongside a booking service and plenty more activities to enjoy during your stay. As the world’s eyes gaze upon this photogenic land, many will look to experience Cornwall’s bountiful pleasures in the years to come; a visit this summer will see those first bubbles of excitement as they rise up through the granite below, lasting long into the future.

G7 Summit Cornwall: Not Just Poldark and Pasties

Poldark and pasties? Think again. Open your eyes to a new Cornwall as it hosts the G7 summit, urges Mark Duddridge.

‘The Cornish are remarkable for their sanguine temperament, their indomitable perseverance, their ardent hope in adventure, and their desire for discovery and novelty.’

Not my words sadly but those of George Henwood, writing in the Mining Journal, 162 years ago.

He was remarking on how many Cornishmen had become ‘brilliant ornaments’ of science in their day. Watt, Trevithick, Holman and Davy, a generation of inventors, engineers and scientists who put Cornwall at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, exporting it, and Cornish culture and values, around the world.

Today Cornwall is on the cusp of another industrial revolution whose task, perhaps ironically, is to undo the legacy of the first. That legacy is climate change. And the revolution is low carbon.

When world leaders sit down in Carbis Bay for the start of the G7 summit in June, and gaze across the turquoise waters towards the very lighthouse that inspired Virginia Woolf, there will be two things at the top of their agenda: Covid, and climate change.

There’s a cartoon on Twitter showing a tidal wave labelled ‘Covid’ about to engulf a coastal town. Behind it is a larger wave, called ‘recession’. Behind that, and by far the biggest wave of all, is the one marked ‘climate change’.

It’s a triple tsunami, and it’s real.

That’s why Prime Minister Boris Johnson is urging world leaders to embrace a green economic recovery at the G7 to ‘build back better’ and ‘create a better future’ in the wake of the pandemic. It’s also why he’s chosen Cornwall, because we want to be the exemplar of a better tomorrow.

The PM said: “Two hundred years ago Cornwall’s tin and copper mines were at the heart of the UK’s industrial revolution and this summer Cornwall will again be the nucleus of great global change and advancement.”

It’s no idle boast. The mineral-rich granite beneath Cornwall contains globally-significant reserves of lithium, a key ingredient in batteries to power electric vehicles (EV) with global demand expected to double by 2024.

There are several companies exploring Cornwall’s lithium resources who have raised millions of pounds from investors to investigate how Cornwall could literally power the UK’s EV revolution in a sustainable way.

That’s why we’re spending £2.9m of the Government’s Getting Building Fund on building Europe’s first geothermal lithium recovery plant in Cornwall, to demonstrate that lithium can be produced with a zero carbon footprint. And we’ve put a fleet of EVs onto the Isles of Scilly to prove how they can mesh with a local energy network.

Cornwall’s granite is also hot. If you drill five kilometres down into Cornwall you’ll hit temperatures of 200 degrees. The people at Geothermal Engineering did just that near Redruth last year, drilling the deepest hole in Britain to create what will be the UK’s first commercial geothermal power plant. By circulating water to that depth the energy can heat homes and businesses and generate electricity carbon-free.

Thanks to its granite, Cornwall has the best geothermal resource in the UK, with at least another 20 sites that could be suitable for clean energy. The world-famous Eden Project is about to drill its own £17m geothermal well and aims to produce more energy than it uses by 2023.

Cornwall is also one of the windiest places in Europe (and has the best solar climate in the UK, by the way), which is why the UK’s first commercial windfarm was built here 30 years ago.

But it’s even windier out to sea, so Cornwall is bidding for more than £30m of Government funding towards a £64m plan to build floating windfarms far offshore, starting in 2023. They could power 170,000 homes by 2030 and create a new export industry for the UK, with thousands of jobs. The first turbines would attach to Wave Hub, an existing offshore socket connected to land a stone’s throw from the G7 hotel.

Earth observation is also critical to measuring and tackling climate change. Cornwall is partnering with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit company and the UK Space Agency to launch satellites into space from Newquay Cornwall Airport as early as next year. Virgin Orbit just celebrated its first satellite launch from the Mohave Desert in California on behalf of NASA, a tremendous achievement.

So we do things differently in Cornwall. We’re on the edge, poking out into the Atlantic, a stubborn hazard to shipping. But we’ve always been connected.

Early settlers traded tools and jewellery with Brittany and Ireland 4,000 years ago. Falmouth’s Packet Ships launched the first international mail service in 1689. The first telegraph cable from India to Britain landed at Porthcurno in 1870. Young Italian Guglielmo Marconi sent the first transatlantic radio message from Cornwall in 1901.

And Goonhilly Earth Station beamed live pictures of the moon landing around the word in 1969. It’s now poised to offer deep space communications from Cornwall for future missions to the Moon and Mars following our investment of £8.4m.

In fact, Cornwall has one of the fastest growing tech sectors in the country, buoyed by one of the best broadband networks in Europe, a higher quality of life, and fuelled by the Creative Industries. And we still trade globally today, with £661m of exports and £688m of imports. A high proportion of those exports go to G7 nations: £73m to the USA, £55m to France, £47m to Germany and £25m to Italy.

So it’s a peculiarly modern view that Cornwall is on the edge and peripheral; the legacy of post-industrial decline in the mid twentieth century that doesn’t reflect our new vision and momentum.

But now we’ve got the G7 Summit in Cornwall to help set the record straight.

So I make a plea. By all means embrace and celebrate Cornwall for its culture, its heritage, its outstanding beauty – all those things that make this place so very special. But let’s change perceptions and raise ambitions. We have a much bigger vision. We’re so much more than the Poldark and pasty stereotype.

Not just because Cornwall could offer a model of a sustainable, low-carbon economy for the world to emulate. But because perpetuating a myth masks the deep-seated inequality in our society that all G7 nations still need to address.

So as we welcome the G7 summit in June, let’s seize a once in a generation opportunity to influence some of the world’s most powerful people to put climate change, the environment and social justice at the heart of the global recovery. And to show them how proud Cornwall is to play our part in that.

Not dreckly, but now.

 

For more on the G7 Summit Cornwall, check out our article on G7 Summit Cornwall accommodation

G7 Carbis Bay: Penzance Connections

“Wherever there’s a hole in the ground, you’ll find a Cornishman.”

Less than 10 miles from Carbis Bay, Penzance has many connections to the member states arriving at the UK G7 Summit in June 2021. The rich mining heritage of the wider West Cornwall area led to the hardy workmanship of these parts becoming in demand around the world, with many Cornishmen taking up foreign offers and creating their own Cornish communities in distant lands. With its world famous pasties and cream teas, there’s plenty of reason for these Cornish descendants to make their way back to their ancestral home, too; Penzance has a higher percentage of non-UK visitors than any other town in the UK.

In celebration of the many expatriates of Penzance and West Cornwall, here is an article connecting the dots of our shared history.

Connecting the Carbis Bay G7 to… the USA

G7 Carbis Bay

↑ Nearly 400 years ago, a ship carrying around 100 colonists left the shores of England for the new world. The voyage of the pilgrims aboard the Mayflower is legendary as part of the founding of the United States. It is believed that Newlyn, West Cornwall, was the last home port visited by the Mayflower.

Thomas Lawson, a seven-mast American sailboat, met its unfortunate end off the coast of the Isles of Scilly.

Penzance & St Just are twinned with Nevada City, California.

Rick Rescorla, born in the small Cornish town of Hayle, became a hero of the Twin Towers disaster when he safely led over a thousand employees out of the burning building – keeping everybody calm by singing Cornish folk songs. He was last seen heading back up the South Tower to attempt further rescues.

Brought up in Penzance, Thandie Newton has made a name for herself across the Atlantic with major US productions such as Westworld and Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Cousin Jack is the Cornish American Heritage Society, ‘linked to Cornwall by blood and by the tug of our hearts’.

Pirates of Penzance has previously found success on Broadway.

Bonus: Woodstock Guest House, of course, took its name from the world famous festival that took place in the United States.

 

… Australia

Born in Penzance, George Marsden Waterhouse was a businessman and prime minister of both South Australia (1861–63) and New Zealand (1872–73) – the only man ever to be the premier of two British colonies.

In South Australia, the area of Moonta, Kadina and Wallaroo is known as ‘Little Cornwall’ as it was settled by Cornish miners. The flag of Saint Piran abounds and Cornish pasties are served in many bakeries. Their Kernewek Lowender festival is the biggest Cornish festival outside of Cornwall.

With Penzance grandparents, Sir Robert Gordon Menzies was twice the prime minister of Australia, in office from 1939 to 1941 and again from 1949 to 1966. He played a central role in the creation of the Liberal Party of Australia, defining its policies and broad outreach.

 

… France

The connections between the two regions of Brittany and Cornwall go back thousands of years, particularly in the Middle Ages when Cornish migrants settled there; before roads, the sea was the highway, and you could get to Brittany in a day under favourable winds. The language of Breton is from the Brittonic family of languages, a sister tongue to Cornish and Welsh. 

Fishing has been especially resilient at maintaining the Breton links. Cornish fishermen have become stuck in Breton ports in the past when weather was bad, and likewise for Breton fishermen in Cornish ports. This is more irregular in modern times, but has been known to still occur.

Penzance is twinned with Concarneau in Brittany, and there are often school exchanges between Breton schools and Penzance.

Countless town and village festivals (e.g., Golowan in Penzance and the Lowender Peran festival in Newquay) have been known to have a Breton presence, while plenty of Breton festivals (such as the Lorient Inter-Celtic festival in Brittany) have a contingent of Cornish lurking. There’s also the AberFest celebrating Breton-Cornish connections, held annually and alternating between Falmouth (known in Cornish as ‘Aberfal’) and Brandivy in Brittany.

Despite England and France being embroiled in war, Sir Humphry Davy undertook a risky voyage to France in order to collect a medal from the Institut de France – awarded to Davy by Napoleon Bonaparte for his electro-chemical breakthroughs.

↑ The seemingly unique St Michaels Mount, a castle-topped tidal island near Penzance, has a French counterpart – also a castle-topped tidal island and also named St Michael’s Mount (Mont-Saint-Michel). Following his victory in 1066, William the Conqueror offered land to the French monks living in Mont-Saint-Michel; having spotted this rocky Cornish mound within their property, the monks knew exactly what to build.

 

… Germany

Twinned with Cuxhaven, Germany, there is a strong German community living within Penzance. 20% of overnight guests in Penzance are from Germany.

The shipwreck of the SS Schiller, a German liner, can be found off the coast of the Isles of Scilly. This rescue operation for one of the worst incidents in British maritime history was extensive, including ferries and steamers from Newlyn, Cornwall.

The novels of Rosamunde Pilcher found exceptional popularity with a German audience and over a hundred of her stories have received German TV adaptations, many filmed in the Penzance area.  Rosamunde Pilcher was born in Lelant in West Cornwall, later attending school in Penzance; her life-held affection for Cornwall can be found in many of her books, including her first breakthrough The Shell Seekers which topped the New York Times bestseller list for 48 weeks. Her works continue to draw in large volumes of fans visiting the Cornish locations.

 

Connecting the Carbis Bay G7 to… Canada

There is a rural municipality called Penzance within the province of Saskatchewan. With a population of 41, it is decidedly more quaint.

The common surname of Chynoweth originated in Cornwall; it gained recognition in its home country from the Chynoweth family in the Poldark novels and TV series.  It means ‘new house’ in Cornish – ‘chy nowydh’ – and there is a village east of Penzance with the same name.  Famous Canadians with this surname are Ed Chynoweth, president and architect of the modern Canadian Hockey League, along with his sons Dean Chynoweth and Jeff Chynoweth – a National Hockey League player and a manager of the Calgary Hitmen respectively.

Yeo is another surname which originates from the South West of England. this time meaning ‘river’. James Yeo Senior (1789-1868) was a Cornish shipbuilder from the village of Kilkhampton, Cornwall; he emigrated to Canada where he became a politician. His sons James and John were politicians, representing Prince County.

The famous scientist Claude Ernest Dolman (1906-1994) was born in the quaint fishing village of Porthleven, Cornwall and emigrated to Canada in the 1930s. He held posts at the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia, and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1947.

Another surname associated with Cornwall is Pascoe; James Pascoe (1863-1931) was a farmer and politician in Saskatchewan, born in Cornwall before emigrating to Canada with his parents in the 1870s. His son, James Ernest Pascoe, was a Member of Parliament for Moose Jaw.

 

… South Korea

The Seoul Olympics in 1988 was received for broadcast by the Goonhilly Earth Station near Helston, using their Ghy-3 satellite dish. Jon Matthews, now the owner of Woodstock Guest House, watched everything live from the Operations Control Centre and remembers the event fondly.

The British romantic comedy About Time was partly set in Cornwall; it was commercially very successful in South Korea, earning $23 million (about 25% of the film’s total earnings). South Korean visitors to Woodstock Guest House have sought out About Time‘s filming locations, such as Gorran Haven.

 

… Japan

The highly successful Leach Pottery has special links to Japan; Bernard Leach, considered the father of British Studio Pottery, established this St Ives workshop with the help of Hamada Shōji. The duo set up the first noborigama, a type of wood-fired kiln, in the UK before Shōji returned to Japan to set up his own long-standing bastion of the ceramics industry. 

Returning to Goonhilly Earth Station, the multinational NEC Corporation of Japan refurbished Ghy-3 in 1992 & built Ghy-23 in 1997.

 

… Italy

G7 Carbis Bay

Porthcurno’s PK Museum pays tribute to the pioneering work of Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian who investigated a means by which to transmit signals across the Atlantic in competition with British transatlantic telegraph cables. Marconi established a wireless transmitting station at the Marconi House in Ireland, acting as a link between Poldhu in Cornwall and Clifden in County Galway.

The Eastern Telegraph Company once held the largest international telegraph operation; its Porthcurno station was the hub of both Britain and its empire across the world, less than ten miles from Marconi’s site in Poldhu. Concerned by the Italian’s wireless efforts, a 170-foot mast was erected on a Porthcurno clifftop to spy on his work. The eventual merger between the Eastern Telegraph Company and Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company was a considerably more affable solution.

The flight from the Isles of Scilly to Cornwall uses an Italian Leonardo helicopter; this route has the longest distance in the world for a passenger helicopter service.

 

And finally, connecting the Carbis Bay G7 to… India

In 1870, a ground-breaking international link stretching all the way from the UK to India became one of the longest telegraph routes in the world; it was an incredible feat, but technical difficulties meant a last-minute decision had to be taken to bring the cabling ashore a few miles short of its original destination of Falmouth, Cornwall. The location chosen, of course, was the quiet cove of Porthcurno – setting the scene for Marconi’s struggles to come.

 

For more on the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, check out our articles on G7 accommodation in Penzance and the green future of Cornwall.