On The Road In Southern England
A fine weather road trip to Cornwall
„You want to go to Britain at the end of February? Surely it’s only going to rain!“
That’s probably the general perception of British weather, isn’t it? Same as the cliché that us Germans only run around in ‚Lederhosn‘ carrying a mug of beer wherever we go. Well, I am sorry to disappoint you but we don’t and neither does it always rain cats and dogs in England. As a matter of fact we didn’t see or feel a single drop of rain. Maybe we were just very lucky or it’s about time to drop those stereotypes: the weather in England is bloody good!
Our roadtrip started at London-Stansted airport where we picked up our rental car. From there we headed West towards Cornwall. The plan was to follow the coastal drive all the way to the most westerly point of England and then visit the Jurassic Coast in the South.
Cornwall itself looks like someone had stopped the time and people seem to go about their lives more slowly. Narrow roads, seamed by hedges lead us from one quaint fishing village to the next and the connection to the sea is deeply rooted everywhere.
Port Isaac is one of those little fishermen’s villages and is probably as Cornish as it gets. The white houses bare marks of their proximity to the ocean, cobbled streets invite you to lazily stroll around and if you take a deep breath you will find yourself yearning for a freshly caught fish. In Summer towns like Port Isaac will probably be jam-packed with tourists – at the end of Winter however it was still pleasantly quiet.
As all three of us are avid photographers it was crucial to us to capture every single sunrise and sunset. A feat which we successfully mastered (even if some of us had to be motivated a bit more in the early morning hours…)
But as soon as we were outside the last remnants of drowsiness were literally blown away. Wherever we went, a strong icy breeze kept us company, trying to pierce every inch of exposed skin it could find. That’s quickly forgotten though when you look at the coastal scenery stretching out for miles and miles on either side of you.
The Bedruthan Steps in the North of Cornwall are a great example when it comes to breathtaking coastlines. Here the power of the ocean is relentlessly forming the cliffs. Where the rock got too thin and broke away there’s now single rocks protruding from the water. Like sentinels they stand off the coast looking out at the waves and for a while we joined their silent guard, watching the surf and listening to the rush of the sea, waiting for the sun to rise.
Slowly the light brought all the colours back to life and if I look at my photos from that morning now, they have a feeling of Summer and warmth. What they are not telling you are the stories about icy feet and hands, hands so numb they could barely release the shutter. But those are petty problems that you just put up with for precious moments like these.
The sunsets didn’t disappoint either, indeed they were a delight and that evening when we said ‚good night‘ to the sun at Trevose Head (also northern Cornwall) sure was one of the most beautiful. Looking out West across the never-ending ocean, the sun was already low on the horizon. We had a few more minutes to soak up the last rays of sunshine before the sea swallowed the blazing ball of golden flame and the lighthouse behind us started sending its signal.
I have always had a soft spot for lighthouses (which you might have noticed in 10 Must-Visit-Places in New Zealand), so a roadtrip along the coast of Southern England is perfect to spot loads of them. Like Godrevy Lighthouse near St. Ives in western Cornwall! It sits offshore on a little, rocky island and when grey clouds rush past overhead and the waves are billowing around the rocks, it has a certain resemblance to the one Scorcese pictures in ‚Shutter Island‘.
As I don’t want to scare you off I should mention the fur-seals you might be able to spot on the way to the lighthouse (you will smell them before you see them). There’s quite a few of them as well, chilling on the sand and enjoying the sun, big ones and small ones. Just make sure you stay quiet and don’t disturb them.
Our road trip lead us further towards Land’s End, Britain’s westernmost point on the main island. Here, where the cliffs are steep and rugged and the sea wild and deep you certainly feel like stepping towards the edge of the world. As the sun was hiding behind clouds that evening, the wind whipping our faces was colder than ever and the only thing that kept us rooted to the spot was the magnificence of the place. Had it been a bog-standard beach we probably would have run back to our car straight away.
The Jurassic Coast is well known for it’s impressive, white cliffs dominating the coastal landscape in Devon and Dorset. One of the most photographed places in that neck of the woods must be Durdle Door in Lulworth, Dorset. And rightly so! Before exploring the area myself I thought that it’s probably not everything it’s cracked up to be because sometimes photos can be delusive, making a place appear more terrific than it actually is. Not with Durdle Door! The sunrise we witnessed there was so magical that I could now plaster my entire room with the photos I took.
On our last evening in Britain we headed out to Beachy Head, a chalk headland in Eastbourne. The cliffs here rise up to 531ft (162 meters) above sea level so it’s vitally important to watch where your feet are carrying you.
We hiked along the sheer cliff faces until we saw Beachy Head Lighthouse far below us, a classic red-and-white lighthouse that is dwarfed by the shadows of the coast. It was built over 100 years ago and (because we all like to learn something new everyday, am I right?) both builders and tools were brought down there not via boat as one might expect, but a little cable car which they had installed at the top of the cliffs solely for the construction.
There is so much more to see and do but as I don’t want to completely overwhelm you with words I’m just going to show you some more photos from our trip to Southern England which after six days came to an end. Far too quickly. If you’re feeling like a fresh breeze of salty air now, Cornwall might be a great spot for your next seaside holiday.
There’s one more thing you need to know though: whoever was in charge of planning the infrastructure in this otherwise peaceful and rustic part of England didn’t do it with the tourists best interest at heart. Why else would you build three roundabouts right next to each other? Confusion guaranteed.
All my photos were taken with the Sigma 24-70 F2,8 DG OS HSM Art lense.