Picture this: a young man falls in love as he finishes his apprenticeship to a band of jovial pirates in his 21st year. However, he discovers his birthday is actually on the 29th of February and so he only has a birthday every leap year. Duty-bound, he must remain with the pirates until his 21st birthday at the grand old age of 84. His love, faithfully and tragically, agrees to wait for him.
Sound familiar? This is the classic Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera, The Pirates of Penzance that debuted in 1879 to grand success. And it is set, as the name suggests in Penzance, a lovely seaside town on the South West coast of England. Penzance is set on Mount's Bay, a body of water dominated by the splendour the medieval tidal island abbey of St Michael's Mount.
In a sheltered position close to the sea and just 10 miles from Land's End, Penzance enjoys the most temperate climate of the UK - expect to see some sunshine! Home of pirates, smugglers, beautiful churches, Victorian markets and UNESCO Heritage Listed Roman baths, our Discover Southwest England itinerary based out of Exeter is the perfect way to see this quaint part of the world.
Travellers begin with the Tarka line to Barnstaple, Britain's most scenic train journey through lush green fields and imposing pine forests with sandy beached coastal views. In Barnstaple, visitors will experience the trade of a time immemorial in the Victorian Market Hall with its high vaulted glass and timber ceiling supported by iron columns. A stroll around the this once trade town allows you to recreate in your mind's eye the bustle of a trade town, while the port still shows signs of its 17th century origin.
This new package also incorporates one of the original great lines of the UK, the Great Western Railway founded in 1833, taking travellers to Penzance. This has a turbulent history of both public and private ownership but since 2015 has been restored to its former glory, taking in deliciously scenic views along the route.
Last but not least is the gorgeous limestone Bath. Bath is set in the rolling countryside of southwest England, known for its hot springs and stunning architecture. It is home to rows upon rows of Georgian style buildings and the Roman Bath Museum is a must-see, containing the original mineral springs that have proved so healing throughout the ages. If you feel so inclined, you can even have a dip! Next stop at Bath Abbey, a truly magnificent building with its fan-vaulting, tower and large stained-glass windows.