Studland Beach – Dorset

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View of Old Harrys Rocks from Middle Beach, Studland

Its been a busy week with family visiting…a lot to write about and STILL behind on prior travel I’ve wanted to write about!

So here’s a quick one as I wanted to share a new place we visited this weekend.

Taking advantage of the lovely weather we’ve had in England this week, we’ve done a number of beach days.  One was spent at Studland Beach on the South Dorset coast.

Studland is a National Trust Property and they maintain the coastline nicely.  As it is a NT site, having a membership is helpful as the car park is then free (usually £6).  There is no additional charge for the beach.

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We visited Middle beach.  There is also a South Beach (with a great coastal walk to Old Harry’s Rocks) and a Knoll Beach….one section of the beach is also for naturists (further on the north side).

Middle Beach offers a nice sandy beach, toilets, cafe and ice creams!

Of course, with the weather being perfect, it was very busy.  Space on the beach was at a premium but we managed to find a spot and settle in.  In fact, we stayed all afternoon and opted not to make the walk to Old Harrys rocks this time.

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As you can see, dogs are allowed on the beach.  They need to stay on leash but we swam our guy far out and took him off leash so he could swim.   The water is shallow for a log way out so its perfect for kids and dogs alike!

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Family Frisbee

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Family swim

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Great game of frisbee with the dog

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Corfu – Afionas

Another follow up post about our Corfu holiday.

As mention before we were staying in Agios Georgios in the North West of the island.  We were keen to explore neighboring towns and one that became a fast favorite was Afionas.   A short drive from our villa and judging by the guest book, some folks would walk over for dinner.

The village/ town is small but so pretty.  The main road in leads to what seems to be a dead end.  We tried to navigate a car one day but found it too tricky!  However, this road will lead to a path/ beach.

There ate alley ways and paths through the buildings laden with brightly colored flowers that led to some lovely restaurants.

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Afionas

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Afionas

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Afionas

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At the restaurant Anemoes

Our favorite was Anemoes Taverna.   Set on the side of a hill with  spectacular Sunset views.  The restaurant offers 2 outdoor terraces and we easily got a table.  I do think in peak season, booking would be recommended.

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Sunset

Food was great too.   Probably the best meal we had during our stay in Corfu.

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Pizza at Anemoes

Another restaurant we tried in Afionas was 3 Brothers.  We had read good things about this restaurant but were disappointed with it.  It lacked the charm of Anemoes and food was just standard for tourists.

Another bonus to Afionas was the beautiful beach.  Be warned, this is a serious hike to get to.  Sturdy footwear is better than flip flops (!) and take water.  Pick your timing wisely as in the heat of the day walking down to the beach s tough enough but back up to the town can be a killer!

The rewards are the views and quiet beaches.

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On the trail

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View of Agios Georgios from the trail in Afionas

Part way along the path is access to a restaurant Dionysis.  We stopped here one day for drinks.  Again, terrace seating and lovely views.

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View from Dionysis Terrace

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Afionas beaches

 

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Afionas Beach

As mentioned in my previous post, beaches aren’t great in Corfu and the quality of the beaches in Afionas could be better.  However, the setting is gorgeous and we enjoyed the quiet snorkeling opportunities.

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Snorkeling at Afionas beach

Cornwall – Carnewas

This is a follow up post to the Watergate post yesterday.   We rounded out our day after the stroll along Watergate Bay at another National Trust spot further North along the coast (just a few miles).   This was Carnewas.   This is home to the famed Bedruthan Steps.  Sadly we didn’t go this far as the crew was tired but for a short distance, the rewards were plentiful.  I’ll let the photos speak for themselves!

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Idyllic setting

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Views from the coastal path

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View south down the coastline

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Playing with camera filters allows for  moodier shot

Cornwall – Watergate Bay

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Watergate Bay

Day 2 of our adventure and we had an exciting day planned.  Firstly, another note about Parkdean and the site.  Not sure if its the time of year or this would be year round, but the place was full of crows…yes crows!  The noise from the them is deafening and starts around 5am…needless to say, we were up early!  The good news is, the sun was blazing and the weather gods were looking down on us 🙂

The weather was particularity exciting for the girls – the camp was home to 3 swimming pools and  200ft water slide…so yes, we hit the pool for an hour before we set off for the day.  The camp actually plans well for the British summer.  They keep the pools heated at 30° so even if the weather was cooler, they were plenty warm enough.

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This day we knew we wanted to head North from Newquay.  We were headed to Watergate Bay.

I have family that often stays at the Watergate Bay resort.  Sadly, not for us this trip but it looks gorgeous and does offer all sorts of sports etc.   We arrived at Watergate Bay Beach area and easily found parking.  In high season, I am sure its a bear to park but we did just fine and were happy to pay £6 for all day parking…..a good deal for all day.

Our first stop was Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant!  We were so excited to experience a Jamie O restaurant and food and this was a really special treat.  What we have saved on accommodations, we can put towards experience.  In addition, the cause is a good one.  The Fifteen Model began in London in 2002, providing chef apprenticeship opportunities to disadvantaged youths in the local area.  There are now a number of the restaurants and the Cornwall location is also a local charity.

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Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen at Watergate Bay

I believe on all kinds of experience, big and small, basic and organic to grand and bold.  A dining experience at an upscale establishment is not only special but helps build skills in the kids for when the embark on their own adventures later in life.  While Jamies Fifteen is not over the top fancy (especially for lunch), they still had a properly set table, a sophisticated menu of which the kids asked the waiter many questions on to make their choices and a level of expectation on behaviors.

The restaurant is beautifully located on the beach of Watergate Bay overlooking the ocean.  Every table affords a great view.  The kitchen is ‘open’ so you can see the chefs at work.  The kids were happy to face the chefs to watch and we had the ocean view seats.

We opted for cocktails and mocktails all round and the food was delicious..

 

After a long leisurely lunch we explored the beach.  The sun was still shining so stripped off our shoes and wet for a paddle.

Surfers and Kite surfers were out but as the beach is HUGE, its felt like it was all ours 🙂

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Paddling at Watergate Bay

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Kite surfing at Watergate Bay

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Watergate Bay

Cornwall – Newquay

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Gunnel at Cranstock Beach

This last weekend, we went to Cornwall for the weekend.   It was a cheap getaway that we booked just a couple of weeks ago.  I had seen an offer in the Daily Mail to collect the tokens and get away for just £20pp.  I dont often do offers like this but as a family of five and copious amounts of travel draining the purse, I thought this would be a great deal for us…and it was.

We booked into a camping resort – Parkdean, Newquay.  Again, never staying in a ‘holiday camp’ type of resort before this was a new experience but pleasantly surprised.   The unit we booked accommodated up to 6 people.  It was sparkling clean and had everything we could possibly need for the short stay…2 bathrooms, fully equipped kitchen, living room, diner, tv etc.  We are at the beginning of the season so I wonder how well the units would hold up through the summer but for us, it was perfect.   We opted to bring our own sheets, although, they do offer these as an extra charge.   With the newspaper deal, we paid under £50 for a 3 night stay!  WOW!  This is a brilliant deal and highly recommend anyone looking out for the deals when they are done again.  We paid an additional £40 for entertainment passes.  Not critical for us but we did use them and they did check the passes so with such a good deal, happy to spend the little extra.

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Lounging around at the Camp site

Our first full day there was Saturday.  Having been weather watching all week, we knew that the weather wasn’t going to be great so we opted to do some driving/ touring around the area.

First stop was Newquay.  Don’t get me wrong, Newquay has some of the most beautiful beaches and best surfing spots in the UK but on a grey day we were less than enamored.  The town center/ promenade area was also disappointing.  Maybe we just didn’t hit the right spots?  Not sure…but with one way road systems, rain and no ease of parking we moved out of Newquay and headed South along the coast.

Our first pull over site was a National Trust location Crantock Beach.  We have an annual membership for NT so as it turned out, we were going to be fortunate to use it a number of times this weekend away.

We headed up and over the dunes onto a pretty sandy beach.  As I said, one of many in this lovely area.

We took a stroll along the beach watching the tide come in.   We opted to take a different path back to the car park.  There are many paths off the car park so by chance we opted to take an opposite path up and over into another cove.  This was beautiful!  Its clear where the water flows here and leads out to the ‘Gunnel’.

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Dogs playing on Crantock Beach

If you go, take a walk over to the wooden bridge and cross over to a series of steps up.  166 in all.   Perched at the top, there is a delightful cafe with fantastic views.  Naturally, we took some tea and cake – what we do best 🙂

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View of the Gunnel at the top of the steps/ cafe

After refreshments we set out North again to find another adventure.   Next stop was Holywell Beach (National Trust).

We asked the car park attendant for his must do at the beach and he told us to head to the far end and explore the cave…so that’s what we did!

For the walk back to the car park, we ventured through the dunes….all very picturesque!

Two beaches down, we opted for a little change in scenery – we headed into Truro for a look around.  I wont spend much time here on it as we only hit the shopping/ center.  From what we saw, it would be worth a return visit one day to explore more.  Shopping was pretty standard but the kids enjoyed a change in activity.   We grabbed a bite of dinner at Sams Bistro.  I would recommend the restaurant – the food was good and reasonably priced.

Final stop was back at Parkdean in Newquay – our camping resort.  In true holiday camp fashion, the resort offered plenty of evening entertainment.   So Bingo and quiz night it was before we headed off to bed!

 

Puzzle Wood

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Bridge walkway through the woods

We’ve had a US visitor over the last couple of weeks so we’ve been out and about a lot!  I have a lot to share so running  a little behind!

We headed over to Gloucester this last weekend.  I have family that lives there and we like to visit often to spend time with them before we likely leave in September 😦

During this last weekend, we opted to go back to Puzzle Wood.  We tried to visit in July but got turned away as they were filming the The Huntsman at that time.   This time, no film crews and they honoured a free entry as we had been refused entry the last time!

Nestled in the Forest of Dean, Puzzle Wood, an ancient woodland site, is famed for its unique beauty.  It’s not a large attraction, just 14 acres, but you can easily spend a few hours here.   We walked all the trails through the woods and they have done a good job in providing more things to do, especially for younger kids.   Some farm animals, an indoor maze and playground.  There is also a small cafe/ shop and plenty of picnic spots.

The woods are used frequently for movies and TV filming.  Having been through, its understandable why.  They are fairytale in look and feel and magical.  The woods date back decades/ centuries and some 40 years ago, they were open to visitors but it was little known and donations would be taken through an honour box system.   This was after being left ‘abandoned’ for many years.   Now, it is a family owned and run affair.  Turned into a business but thankfully left unspoilt and they have done a great job of keeping the woods true to their original state.

Due to the unspoilt nature of the woods, heed the advice of sensible walking shoes.  Paths are uneven and very slippery.  Also, to warn you, no strollers or dogs allowed!   If you are ever in the area, well worth the visit for a stroll and if you love fantasy TV and movies, its great fun to be on set!

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Stone pathways through the woods

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Hidden doorway in the woods

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Hidden seats through the woods

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Nature in the woods

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Wales – Anglesey Day 3

A delay to the final day of our Anglesey trip but its been a busy few weeks.  I have a lot more experiences to post/ catch up on!

Day 3 of our trip to Anglesey was to explore another part of the island.  We had tackled the rocky coastal walk the day before so now, we headed to more of a beach walk for the day.  The sun was shining if not a little breezy!

On our way to the walk, we drove over to South Stack lighthouse to take a look.  The actual car park for South Stacks was full so we went back down to an overflow car park. This means a short walk back up to the visitor center to pay for entry. The walk is coastal and afforded some beautiful views of the lighthouse.  Having taken it all in and almost being blown of the path, we opted not to go all the way down and enter the lighthouse.

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South Stack light house

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South Stack lighthouse

We then headed back over to Rhosneiger to start our walk.  Not too far to drive and we took a quick spin around the village which was pretty to see.  Due to parking challenges, we did end up parking at the Oyster Catcher.  This was a pub previously owned by the Timpson family.  Recently taken over I believe…together with the White Eagle mentioned in Day 2 of our Anglesey trip.

The pub is located at the end of a large beautiful sandy beach.  Its a nice place to stop for food and drinks.  The downstairs ‘pub’ allows dogs as does the upper deck outdoor seating…which comprises of very cute beach huts to sit in.   As the weather was so beautiful, we opted to get straight on the walk and treat ourselves to a nice meal and drinks when we got back.  Little did we know, by the time we got back a couple of hours later, they had shut the kitchens down as the were ‘overwhelmed’..?  Interestingly, the staff complained to us over new management, and we heard similar grumblings the day prior at the White Eagle.  Clearly a takeover that wasn’t going too well!

Back to the walk…we approached the beach through some gorgeous sand dunes.  Fun for the kids to play on as we made our way through.

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Sand Dunes

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climbing and tumbling down

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a high climb!

We headed left and along the large sandy beach.  If this is the main Rhosneiger beach, then its tipped as one of the best sandy beaches in the UK. It certainly looked like it could be.

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Rhosneiger Beach

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Resting on the beach

A walk to the end took around 20-30 minutes…a gentle stroll and the dog playing in the waves.   At the end, we headed up onto a coastal path.

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Coastal path at end of the beach

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Looking back down the path to Rhosneiger beach

Another nice walk that led us around to an ancient burial mound.  It looked like some work was taking place but at some point, it has been ‘open’ to visitors.  We used this as a turnaround spot to head back to the Oyster Catcher.   On top of the mound, looking beyond Rhosneiger beach, there is another smaler cove/ beach.  This too looked like it woudl be worth exploring as today the cove was filled with surfers taking advantge of the breezy weather/ waves.

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Resting on top of the mound

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View of the surfers cove beyond Rhosneiger beach

With the disappointment of the closed kitchen at the Oyster Catcher, we ended up eating at the pub close the rental house The Seacroft.  A very nice meal and would recommend to others!   A great final day in Anglesey and looking forward to revisiting again one day.

Wales – Angelsey Day 1

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Watching the sun go down Treardurr bay

This Easter break we certainly kept busy and got around.   Our big trip away was heading up north and spending time with family in Manchester and Anglesey.

Manchester was filled with family time and Easter Sunday dinner.  Good quality time with everyone.

We headed over to Anglesey on Easter Monday for a few days.   Some folks have said ‘why Anglesey?’…mostly with a sound of mocking at such a choice.  In return, I would state, why on earth not??!   It was beautiful and since the trip, my youngest (albeit by one minute :-)) has declared Anglesey her best vacation so far on this adventure…  Citing the location, house, family and activities as her top picks so far.

We had booked a most wonderful house (Hafn) through Travelocity,  right on Treardurr Bay.  It sleeps 10 and there were 9 of us in total.  Despite us being almost at capacity, the house was so large it never felt like we were crowded.   The house and location were spectacular and took our breath away as soon as we arrived.  They accept dogs, so Chester had the excitement of joining us and straight away, he made himself right at home…either taking his place over looking the ocean or quietly curled up on the front doorstep watching the world go by.

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Hafn house and garden

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What a great spot!

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Happy Dog!

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Amazing bay window in the house

 

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View from house terrace

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Taking in the view on arrival

The House had everything we needed.  Well stocked for all your needs.  A lovely large sitting room with coal fireplace which with the cool evenings we were able to use. A family room with TV, DVDs and a cupboard chock full of games.  An amazing conservatory with ocean views and almost every bedroom had ocean views.   Given the bonus of great weather, this was a great find and great deal.

Upon arriving we took a walk down to the bay and beach.  The weather was sunny, dry but a little breezy but we didn’t care.  This place was gorgeous!

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coastal path down to the Bay

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rock climbing!

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Cove along the walk to the beach

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View across the bay. The Grey house is also for rent and is used in many films as a haunted house

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On the way to the bay

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Walking to the beach

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swimming!

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Watching the sun go down

After the obligatory holiday 99 ice creams, we headed to the pub.  Walking distance from the house, The Seacroft was welcoming and accommodated large parties easily.  One later date, we ate dinner here and all enjoyed our meal.  Be warned though, Kids menu closes at 8pm and they prefer not to have kids in there after 9pm.  No problem for us as our kids are older but something to keep in mind.   Dogs also not allowed inside but again, no problem as being a stones throw form the house, we just dropped him home for a post walk nap!

Being our first night and planning ahead, we opted to use the BBQ at the house and do burgers etc for dinner.  A good call, as we were to find, the next couple of days walking, we would become too exhausted to BBQ after expeditions out.   Being right on the ocean, it was a little exposed but we managed to get it lit and dinner cooked.  The kitchen at Hafn is also newly fitted so all appliances were new, clean and working!

First day was a success and looking forward to exploring the island more….

 

 

Monopoly Tour – London

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Monopoly!

We’ve had a really busy Easter/ end of term break and not stopped moving and experiencing new things/ places!

We just got back from a couple of days in the Southeast and I opted to take the kids into London for the day.  Now, there are lots of things to do in London and plowing through the list we just couldn’t decide so after hearing about a Monopoly tour of London I suggested it to the kids.  After a quick bit of research online, I could see it was to be a full day and a lot of walking….they were warned but this is what they really wanted to do!

So 36,000 steps, 15.5 miles and 9 hours later, we completed the tour.   Yes, we were exhausted but so pleased with ourselves.

I found a route online and mapped onto a good old fashioned paper map.  I thought this would be a little more inclusive of the kids and be less dependent on Siri where to turn at every step.  I also didn’t trust the battery life on my phone 😛

Map in hand and off we went.  Starting at Old Kent Road and making our way round…finishing at Bow Street/ Covent Garden area.

We hit all but one stop – electric company.  I believe there is one on Pentonville Road but to cut out some walking I opted not to trudge around looking for it.

We made a couple of quick detours along the way – Platform 9/4 at Kings Cross.  Sherlock Holmes museum on Baker Street and the fabulous Monopoly toilets at Marylebone station.

We stopped at all streets and stations and threw in the tokens too.  Amazingly, we found a top hat and were brave enough to have a Policeman send us to jail.

It was a great day but exhausting.  Not for the very young as its just too far.  Despite our mileage, we did also take a couple of buses and a tube ride.

A truly unique experience for us all and I hope one they remember look back on fondly.  Not many people can say they have toured the Monopoly board for real 🙂

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Being sent to Jail!

 

Ringstead Bay, Dorset

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Ringstead Bay

Spring is finally here in earnest.  We headed to the coast for the day this weekend so get a teaser of warmth and summertime to come along the Jurassic Coast.

We have been to Ringstead Bay once before,  late last summer.  A first time for me and I liked it so much, we thought it would be good to go back and also take some visiting family.  Knowing the weather wouldn’t support sunbathing and swimming, we knew that the walks and views were in themselves enough to take us back.

We parked up at the National Trust Car Park which is easy to find and at this time of year, not busy at all.  To our disappointment when we arrived, the fog was heavy…not expecting that at all but it did clear after an hour to allow us some splendid views.

During our visit, we got to watch some para gliders practice take offs.  Back last summer, I recall seeing the same at this spot so I would assume its fairly frequent.  Fun for the kids to watch and adds to the beauty of the location.  We took the paths down towards the ocean.  One path leads to the an amazing, tiny chapel overlooking the ocean.  Back in the summer, this chapel also served tea and home made cakes.  There was no-one there this time but something to bear in mind if you head up that way.  My guess is, in season, they serve afternoon tea most weekends, so be sure to have a few pounds in your pocket…its worth it!

We headed down to the beach and just let the kids be kids and dog be dog…paddling and swimming (dog only).

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fog lifting over the beach

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post paddle stroll

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foggy view from the top

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a dog and the ocean….happy dog

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splendid views from every angle

The hike back up to the car park is steep in places but we strolled back up at the end of the afternoon, sun kissed and rosy cheeked from our day out by the sea.