Wednesday, June 4

Today we transferred from Penzance to the Headlands Hotel at Newquay. On the way we had two stopovers. First we stopped briefly at the historic harbor village at Charlestown. This was developed in Georgian times as a port for the export of tin and import of coal, but was also used for export of china clay. For such a small port it has quite elaborate facilities including a lock and dry-dock. There was a sailing training ship in port when we were there.

After a short talk by Andrew we just walked around the town and down on the beach. Then we headed on to Wheal Martyn, a working china clay pit with an associated museum. China clay, or kaolin, is a constituent part of granite. It is widely used, not only for making porcelain, but as an ingredient in many industrial processes. The residue from extracting the kaolin is substantial and the mounds of waste are seen throughout the countryside in this part of Cornwall.

We had time for a quick visit to a very good museum and then had lunch in the restaurant. A plate of Cornwall cheeses, bread, and salad, it was very good. Then a retired worker from the plant took us on an extended tour of the site, showing how, in the past, the kaoplin was separated by use of high pressure water nozzles and then purified and collected. The whole operation was done with water power.

Then we walked up to the edge of the working pit. It was immense as can be seen by the apparent size of the earth moving equipment now in use. Quite impressive.

After that we went on to Newquay. Actually, although we drove through that town often in the next five days we never visited there. Instead the Headlands Hotel is on a headland just outside town and nexts to Fistral Beach which was de=scribed as Cornwall's best surfing beach. Not very impressive by Hawaiian standards but it had surfers there late into the day. (A group of Royal Marine Commandos, there for a local coutry fair in the area, was staying at the hotel. Very fit.)

The hotel is very elegant, although we were not able to have rooms with an outside view. Still the rooms were very comfortable. Dinner each night was an elaborate affair with a three course menu to choose from and excellent food. A piano player accompanied dinner which usually lasted from 7 to 9 PM. We were able to stay there because the season had not yet really started and the hotel was only sparsely occupied.

 


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