Trip to Land's End and Minack Theatre, Porthcurno

Lands End Travel Blog

 › entry 9 of 14 › view all entries
Journey to Land's End goes through Newlyn

So another day and another set of Kodak Moments. If Tintagel was on every travel book's "must see sceneries", then Land's End was on every book's "must see natural British beauty", to a point where it almost seemed imperative that every traveller that visits Cornwall has to get his picture taken at Land's End, much like posing with the Beefeaters at the Tower of London, or in front of the Statue of Liberty in NYC. I must admit though, when I saw pictures of it at my Frommer's guide, I did think "how Highway 1" initially, but then, I was going all the way to Penzance, how can I NOT visit Land's End?? Then an added bonus, people insisted that I visit Porthcurno as well, home of the legendary Minack Theatre.

the empty bus
The previous night at the hostel however, Stuart kept insisting that if I want to see real Cornwall beauty, then I HAVE to head to Cape Cornwall at any cost. So essentially, I had to visit 3 towns in one day. Well, you know my mantra - max out when you're on holiday, especially when it's your last day in Cornwall. And when you're tired and you need a bit of rest --> CREAM TEA!!!

I woke up at 7am, had a hearty breakfast (British milk is awesome. So darn pure, so fresh) and I treated myself to half a biopot of Onken (God bless that CEO, I'll give up my retirement fund to help the company if it ever needs a hand), and headed out to catch the 815am bus to Land's End. Everyone I met said it's not the destination that counts, but the journey to Land's End that's beautiful.

Journey to Land's End
And boy were they right! It's a double decker bus (First Western is really classy, got this lavender and pink coloured buses, very stylish!), the top was empty (see photo) and the drive through little narrow roads with fat cows grazing... I love one thing about Britain (or Europe maybe) - fences or compounds that separate property and the public roads aren't just picket fences or barbed wire but beautifully laid uneven stone slabs. They just add a real rustic charming quaint feel.

So the journey took a while...not that I was counting. Infact, I must somewhat say that the final destination was a bit of an anticlimax. You're greeted by this big building welcoming you to Land's End... a kind of small courtyard mall if you will. A huge huge carpark, lots of tourist buses, and when you walk into the building, you have really flamboyant stores, all kinds of posters, it was an eyesore and takes away from enjoying the rugged beauty of the place.

Stunning scenery en route...
They have a movie showing some life saving incident (of a fisherman or a helicopter crash victim, forgot) that occured a few years ago. Instead of having subtle promo pictures and make it look realistic, they've jazzed up the poster so much one would think it's a Hollywood "Speed" kind of film. I was quite disappointed by this mall/complex.

Anyways I walked out to the Land's End - I saw the now-famous Land's End sign where lots of people get their picture taken. I thought I would too...but guess what? They charge 9 GBP for it! It's ridiculous. But that man did say that I could stand at a distance and get my picture taken without having to pay. Geez...thanks! When I was taking photos here, I met this Chinese couple Frank and Shia who are doing their MBA in Plymouth (for the last 5 years).

Keep them well-fed. I need my Onken!
They'd just finished their exams and were headed to this part on a 2-3 day break. Very friendly couple...we took some pictures together, and we all went for a long walk along the coast.

A bit of history - Land's End is the most western point on the British mainland, and is at the very tip of the granite peninsula of Penwith, which was one of the ancient Kingdoms of Cornwall. It was known to the ancient Cornish mariners as "Pen an Wlas" ("The end of the earth") and hence retains the name.

Land's End isn't as spectacular as Tintagel I thought (apples to oranges comparison I know, but Tintagel was now my frame of reference). it was quite windy, and even for someone like me who loves taking pix,  I didn't find too many Kodak Moment points in this place.

The garrish welcome at Land's End
What I did love though was this little farmhouse by the cliffs. It's really cool, the scenery around it , etc. Funny how, at the end of the day, the best Kodak Moments are the ones that you never planned for. We walked around for a bit, and then spent some time buying souvenirs, and they were very kind and offered if I wanted to go to Minack Theatre with them. Well, why not? i mean it was either travel in the luxury of an AC car, or wait 1 hr for public bus or worse, walk 5 miles to get to Porthcurno!

MINACK THEATRE, PORTHCURNO - TACKINESS AHOY!

Now begins the big anticlimax - Minack Theatre. The travel books hail this as a great feat of architecture, cut into a stone by the cliffs, an open air amphiteatre and created by Rowena Cade after World War I.

Kodak Moment. *click*
She had started this construction by carting off granite from the chosen hillside and building this beauty. That's the HISTORY version of this place. The reality however is quite a shock...

The first thing that greets you in Minack Theatre is a tacky garden by the entrance. It's got cactus, and all kinds of tropical and desert plants, it looks very 21st Century and does no favours in preserving the history of the place. So, you continue your way in. The next sight that greets you is the store/cafe/Visitors Centre. It's atop the theatre and not in a separate remote place ( like in other attractions in the UK where the historical piece is kept separate with the commercial piece). Basically this cafe's presence "eats" into the presence of the theatre.

The Atlantic Ocean
I was really hungry so I grabbed a cornish pasty at the cafe, got a good view of the ocean before making my way down to the theatre.

I don't know, for some reason I'm just not feeling this place very much. The flowers and gardens are a huge turn off. But even the architecture, the seats, etc... I do understand that one needs to keep ancient attractions still visit-able by remodelling every now and then, but somehow this place just didn't feel authentic enough for me. It's been way too modernised. It looks like afancy imitation of old world Roman, much like what you'll see with global imitations in Las Vegas casinos. The Minack Theatre is still in service with plays every night. This means that as you walk through this "cultural site", you see speakerphones and wires and cables criss cross people's paths.

Kodak Moment no.2. *click*
It makes the whole experience even worse.

Overall, this place looked more like a fancy spa in Goa or Kerala and seemed far far away from representing old culture. The most bizarre moment for me was when I was looking @ the flowers and thinking I've seen them somewhere before, then I realised I saw them being planted in my neighbourhood by the Irving Municipal Council. LOL! This Minack Theatre is really that cheap. I did take a lot of pictures, but the biggest attraction was more the blue water than anything else. Once again, the scenery and vastness outdo the human feats of architecture. There was really nothing breathtaking about the architecture, as I said, I don't even know how much is Rowena's work and how much has been redone in the last few years. I even commented to the Chinese couple that the seats were shining in the sunlight, like they were made and polished just the previous day.

In hindsight, I'm glad I wasn't arsed walking from Land's End to Porthcurno (4 miles) just to see this. I'd strongly advise others who are planning on visiting Cornwall to give this one a miss. There are a lot  prettier places in Cornwall for one to see, and other places are so much more "real".

Still, for what it's worth, I had a great time. It was already 1230 pm. I asked the Chinese couple if I could grab on to them for a ride back to Penzance town centre, they agreed. And so by 1pm, I was back in good ol' Penzance plotting on my next destination - St.Just!

And if the owners of Minack Theatre are reading this blog -get RID of the cactus. This is England, not f***ing Arizona!

 

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Journey to Lands End goes through…
Journey to Land's End goes throug…
the empty bus
the empty bus
Journey to Lands End
Journey to Land's End
Stunning scenery en route...
Stunning scenery en route...
Keep them well-fed. I need my Onke…
Keep them well-fed. I need my Onk…
The garrish welcome at Lands End
The garrish welcome at Land's End
Kodak Moment. *click*
Kodak Moment. *click*
The Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean
Kodak Moment no.2. *click*
Kodak Moment no.2. *click*
Dont get me started on that pose.…
Don't get me started on that pose…
Lovely house near Lands End
Lovely house near Land's End
Farm house and fields in Lands End
Farm house and fields in Land's End
the charming little farm
the charming little farm
Minack Theatre entrance - Tacky!
Minack Theatre entrance - Tacky!
One hot spicy vegetable Cornish pa…
One hot spicy vegetable Cornish p…
View of the theatre from the top
View of the theatre from the top
Again, more 2005 Hawaii than post …
Again, more 2005 Hawaii than post…
Stage where the actors perform eve…
Stage where the actors perform ev…
Minack Theatre
Minack Theatre
With Frank and Shia
With Frank and Shia
The audience seats
The audience seats
Minack Theatre
Minack Theatre
steps leading out of the theatre
steps leading out of the theatre
Lands End
photo by: Vikram