Big Trip, Day Ten: To Marconi-Land

The boots are showing a little wear now, though I'm sure they enjoyed the day off of hiking as much as we did.

Today's leg involved a novelty: a lift! Paul's car service picked us up, and with dizzying and disconcerting speed, we were transported twenty miles down the coast. All we could think of was: "It would take us how long to walk this far?"

Where are we headed? Did someone say Lizard?

(After weeks of training ourselves to speak Cornish -- where "Mouse Hole" is pronounced "Mowzl" -- come to find out our next destination is not the exotic Li-ZAARD Peninsula, but good ol' plain Lizard. Like the green fella there.) Lizard? Meet The Lizard:

We came to love this way of travel, not least because you can really start to notice the subtle differences between one part of a peninsula and another. Whereas Cape Cornwall, at the start of our trip, was craggy and stormy and forbidding, here on the Lizard, things were more flat and mild -- and the balmy weather was decidedly Mediterranean. Our excellent guide book also pointed out that the geography was changing: The Lizard is a flat tabletop of serpentine, thrust up from the earth's crust all of a piece. Makes for interesting hiking, given that the serpentine gets slippery when wet; we appreciated the sunny weather and the (relatively) flat terrain.

But I'm getting ahead of my story.
First on the trajectory was the Loe Pool: an enclosed body of salt water sometimes mistakenly claimed to be the site of the Lady of the Lake lobbing flatware at Arthur. Fat chance: it only lost its direct connection to the sea in the 1500s. Made for a pretty beach walk, though!

We had decided not to add on the additional loop around the pool -- 5 extra miles, but tempting, given the description of the local beer at the town at the top of the pool. Not for us the foamy diversions, however! Onward!

To Mullion Cove: breathtakingly turquoise.

... but oddly quiet, as if the fishing had up and gone and authentic village life had slid elsewhere.

Further on, we encountered the second of the Amazingly Placed and Incredibly Wicked Cornish Golf Courses...

...surreally planted next to this amazing little beachside church:

(That's the church, off to the right of the photo. Interestingly not nave-and-transept cross shaped like most British churches - it consisted of two parallel long rooms, each with its own roof.)

Bank-holiday revelers with their plastic shovels and SPF, frolicking a hundred yards away from these sobering gravestones:

Far too many 24-year-old women buried there, along with their babies and children. That, and the occasional 68-year-old man. Hmm.

But right when you're feeling all historic, modern life (at least the roots of it) comes up again and smacks you in the face. Hello again, Signore Marconi!

That's the Tall Thing that marks the spot near where he had his laboratory -- sadly, torn down now, just outside Mullion Cove. We paused and gave reverent thanks for the first signals sent across the Atlantic that heralded the Era of Instant Communication About Just About Anything, and then high-tailed it along the Lizard and around the point where the Lizard Lighthouse stands:

And, at last, we find our safe haven for the night: the Housel Bay Hotel.

One part Masterpiece Theatre, one part Top Chef, and two parts Fawlty Towers. We loved this place: the building sits right on its own cove, the Lizard Lighthouse faithfully smacks you with rotating light every 3 seconds from its spot just down the coast, and the landlord is delightfully welcoming, in a strange Italy-via-Cornwall sort of way. The building is cheerily creaky, the plumbing rattles in a reassuringly historic way, and yet every bit of every wall is decorated with the oddest collection of emphemera and memorabilia from all over. Churchill's letters framed and hanging next to ... Marilyn Monroe?

We loved it. Great folks. And their chef?!? That gal can COOK. I can still taste the crab-and-smoked-salmon with wasabi aïoli appetizer to this very day. Umph.