Castles of South West Cornwall

During the summer months South West Cornwall is something of a mecca for those in search of sun, sand and surf. However, after one has spent just a small portion of time in the region, it’s unique history and a more diverse picture of the area begins to unfurl. The Cornish past is arguably best explored by visiting the large number of forts, ruins and stately homes which are open to the public. This article introduces some of the more unique and special castles in the region.

Pendennis Castle
Built by Henry VIII to protect Carrick Roads from the Spanish, Pendennis Castle at Falmouth was completed in 1545. The castle saw action during the Civil War of the 1600s and was armed once more during World War II but has since become a tourist attraction and is now under the ownership of English Heritage. The fort can be visited all year round and hosts a number of events throughout the summer. There are also fantastic walks on and around Pendennis Point, with Little Dennis right on the rocks.

Carn Brea Castle
The curious folly-like castle at Carn Brea, near Redruth, is one of a number of intriguing sights in this relatively small area including Bassett Monument and Cup and Saucer Rock. Carn Brea Castle was originally built as a chapel in 1379 but was later rebuilt by the Bassetts as a family retreat. Its unique design incorporates large uncut boulders at its base and seems to give the impression that the building has formed naturally from the land. Somewhat in-keeping with its unique design, the castle is privately-owned today, and operates as an acclaimed Middle Eastern restaurant.

Pengersick Castle
Pengersick has been of local significance for around 5000 years, and in the 12th Century a family settled here and took their name from the area. The Tudor building at the site today dates from the 1500s and is notable for its dual tower and newel stairs. After the death of the last owner, the castle was given to English Heritage and a local conservation officer to ensure its ongoing preservation. The building is widely considered to be one of the most haunted in England and is a top location for ghost enthusiasts.

St Michael’s Mount
St Michael’s Mount is located just off the south coast around seven miles from Hayle. The castle is home to the St Auben family while the community of villagers who live around it work to sustain the mount as a self-contained parish. Today the castle is owned by the National Trust, but in the past it has acted as a fortress, stately home and even a priory – and offers an excellent insight into the history of the region. The castle is open to the public at specific times relating to the seasons, so it is sometimes necessary to book.

Discover Cornwall and the South West Coast

Cornwall has an array of wonderful sights and hands-on experiences for children attending primary school. Travel to the south coast of England and let your pupils explore one of the world’s largest conservatories and indulge themselves in this diverse Mediterranean landscape. The quaint towns that dot the coastline are typical examples of traditional fishing villages nestled comfortably in the stunning scenery.

A primary school travel group will have endless opportunity to discover the many interesting aspects of this county. The Innovative Eden Project stands out as a major attraction and the Tate Art Gallery in St Ives houses a marvellous display of fine contemporary art. There are also the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Gardens that are well worth a visit and free for students. St Ives is a beautiful town to spend a day exploring the cobbled streets and winding alleys that are typical of the Cornish towns.

The Eden Project

The Eden Project welcomes primary school travel groups and offers some very exciting opportunities for pupils to learn, engage in workshops and experience the innovative ideas that brought this project to life. There are thousands of different plant species grown here and these are intermingled with unusual and modern art and architectural sculptures. The purpose-built education centre stands out as a living classroom and makes The Eden Project an even more attractive destination. A specialised education team on site means you can bring your group to attend organised workshops that are packed full of new learning experiences for pupils of all ages.

Once an old china clay quarry, this site, which is as big as 30 football pitches, has been transformed into tropical, futuristic greenhouses housing a museum of nature that aims to teach visitors about the delicate relationship man has with his natural world.

There is more to Cornwall

Cornwall is not only famous for its flora, but is also home to Newquay Zoo, an award-winning zoo housing over one hundred species of animals. Go wild and visit the big cats at lunchtime, have fun and join an activity trail, or take notes and listen to one of the animated zookeeper talks. From creepy crawlies to penguins, wildebeest to red pandas, the animals here come from all over the world. In the tropical rainforest exhibit, pupils can learn about the world’s largest and most fragile ecosystem and interact with its different environments, and a visit to Toad Hall teaches about the threat to many of the world’s amphibians today.

A different and interesting excursion is to The National Lobster Hatchery, one of the very few research laboratories focusing on marine biology that opens its doors to visitors. Education at every level is catered for and primary school travel groups can gain a wealth of information from the group sessions given here. Pupils can begin to understand the need for conservation and sustainable fishing if the fisheries are going to survive their current situation. Stock enhancement programmes are developed here and sustainability issues are comprehensively researched.

Being a coastal county Cornwall has a rich maritime history. The National Maritime museum dedicated to the celebration of the sea is a fascinating place to spend an afternoon. The museum is now engaging in more research and exploring under the sea too.

A beautiful place to stay with easy access to some educational and enjoyable attractions, Cornwall is a great option for primary school travel.

AFC West Update and Carson Palmer

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in the AFC West. I may be overly optimistic, but I still think the Chiefs have a chance to make a run for the division title. I want to touch on all four teams for a moment.

But first, how about the Raiders going out and trading for Carson Palmer? A very interesting move. Palmer is a decent quarterback who probably has a couple years left in him. And news reports are suggesting that Palmer is likely to start against the Chiefs this weekend. Wow.

My take? Quarterbacks, even veteran quarterbacks, seldom excel in their first season with a new team. And that’s when they have an entire off-season and preseason to prepare. In 1993, Joe Montana took the Chiefs to the AFC Championship Game, but did so mostly on the back of an outstanding defense. And in 2009, Brett Favre took the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game and posted a quarterback rating of 107.2. A very impressive season late in his career. But do you want to know what’s more common? Last year the Washington Redskins traded for Donovan McNabb who struggled and finished with a quarterback rating of 77.1. The only season he had with a worse rating? His rookie year in 1999 where he posted a rating of 60.1. Carson Palmer isn’t Brett Favre. Heck, he isn’t even Donovan McNabb. He’s a mediocre quarterback who enjoyed his best seasons in 2005 and 2006. The Raiders made a bold move, but probably not a smart move. If they end up winning the division and making a run in the playoffs, then it was a great move. If not, they’ve given up two very high draft picks and have hurt the long-term development of their team.

Now let’s look around the standings in the AFC West.

San Diego Chargers (4-1): The Chargers have beaten Minnesota (1-5), Kansas City (2-3), Miami (0-5) and Denver (1-4). They’ve lost to New England (5-1).

Reasons for optimism: The Chargers have managed to start fast, but that’s been more the result of the teams they’ve played, than how they’ve played. They still have a lot of talent. Ryan Matthews appears to be a legitimate starting running back.

Reasons for pessimism: Antonio Gates has played little this season. Their schedule is going to get much tougher. And Norv Turner is still their coach.

Prediction: Their schedule is going to get much tougher. And they’re going to need to play much better. I have a difficult time finding more than 5 wins on their remaining schedule. I think they end up 9-7, which is right around the record most of Norv Turner’s teams end up.

Oakland Raiders (4-2): The Raiders have beaten Denver (1-4), New York Jets (3-3), Houston (3-3) and Cleveland (2-3). They’ve lost to Buffalo (4-2) and New England (5-1).

Reasons for optimism: Darren McFadden is a stud, and the Raiders are second in the league in rushing. They’ve been the most impressive team in the division so far, and are a legitimate playoff contender.

Reasons for pessimism: The Raiders are ranked #28 in the league in total defense, and are particularly vulnerable against the pass where they’re ranked #30 in the league. Quarterback Jason Campbell was having a decent season before breaking his collarbone last week. It will be a big question as to how Carson Palmer will respond to his new surroundings. I don’t see any reason to think that the team will be better with Palmer than they were with Campbell. And it’s likely that they’ll be worse.

Prediction: The Raiders have a clear shot to win this division, but difficult to see six wins on their remaining schedule. I’m guessing they end up 9-7 as well.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-3): The Chiefs have beaten Minnesota (1-5) and Indianapolis (0-6). And they’ve lost to Buffalo (4-2), Detroit (5-1) and San Diego (4-1).

Reasons for optimism: After two historically bad losses, the Chiefs appear to have righted the ship. And if they can pull off a win in Oakland this weekend, they’re sitting at 3-3, which is exactly where I had them (though I had them beating Buffalo and losing to Oakland to reach 3-3). If Jackie Battle can provide the Chiefs with a consistent ground attack, they’re going to be OK.

Reasons for pessimism: They’re still missing Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki for the season. And they’ve got a tough schedule ahead.

Prediction: Believe it or not, a win this weekend would put the Chiefs in a good position to win the AFC West. They would have their two toughest divisional games behind them with a 1-1 record. That leaves them two games against Denver, and home games against San Diego and Oakland. I think they’ve got 5 or 6 more wins in them this season, which puts them at 7-9 or 8-8. My original prediction of 9-7 looks very difficult.

Denver Broncos (1-4): Denver has beaten Cincinnati (4-2). They’ve lost to Oakland (4-2), Tennessee (3-2), Green Bay (6-0) and San Diego (4-1).

Reasons for optimism: John Fox is in his first year with the team, and he’s a good coach. He just didn’t have a lot to work with. Their schedule does get a bit easier.

Reasons for pessimism: Lots of them, including that they just traded away their best wide receiver. I’m not a Tim Tebow hater, and I have no clue if he’s going to be a good quarterback or not. History has shown us that quarterbacks with bad mechanics seldom have sustained success in the league. But Tebow is an interesting young man and an incredible athlete. He will make it interesting to say the least.

Prediction: Hard to see more than a couple wins left on their schedule. I’m guessing 4-12.