Laddingford, England to Newquay, England
After a couple of days off from flying in the UK, it was time to get on the move again. The next flights would be much more gentle and relaxed than the Atlantic crossing, however! My new copilot, Elsa, joined me from the USA and together we set off on a 6 day flight around the UK, exploring some areas that I had never flown to before.
We took off from Laddingford mid-morning, seen off by my Aunt who was in the area (not the one who’d flown from Sydney a couple of weeks earlier!) We took a short flight first to Goodwood, renowned as one of the nicest airports in the southeast for general aviation. They had a number of interesting historic aircraft parked up, which we admired as we sat in the newly opened airport restaurant enjoying a light lunch. From here we headed west to Dunkeswell, a small airport near Exeter that offered yet more snacks, and reasonably priced (for the UK) fuel!
The final leg took us down the length of Devon and Cornwall, before coasting out over Lands End and making the short crossing to the Isles of Scilly. This archipelago of 55 small islands is the southernmost point of England, and is known for a more temperate climate than the rest of the UK; we even saw palm trees in places! The airport is perched on top of a hill, with extreme slopes on all the runways; we followed the “Skybus” air taxi service in to land, and were directed to park over on a slightly bumpy and very sloping grass field. A 25 minute walk took us to our hotel in Hugh Town, the Atlantic Inn. The islands were busy at this time of year, but we managed to get a reservation in a great fish restaurant overlooking the harbour, and plotted what to do the next day.
The following morning we set out to explore the area around Hugh Town. Our first destination was the Garrison Walls, primarily constructed in the late 1500s by Sir Francis Godolphin as defence in the wake of the Spanish Armada. Sections of the walls are still present, as well as a number of cannons on display. We dropped in to the tourist information office, and they suggested a walk up the hill to the Buzza tower, and down into Old Town. Along the way we visited Old Town church. The tombstones here told a story of life in the Scilly Isles through the ages, including a number of shipwreck victims, paying witness to the maritime history of the area.
A light lunch at the Old Town cafe was followed by a discovery that they didn’t accept cards, so we agreed with them that I’d walk back past on my way to the airport having acquired some cash; Elsa took on the lighter duty of riding the shuttle back to the airport with the luggage! Apart from getting mildly lost, my walk went well. We had taken care of the fees the previous day, so were able to head directly to the opposite side of the airport, and call for permission to start.
There was some Skybus traffic coming and going, but we were ready for departure during a lull, and were able to taxi straight on to our runway and backtrack for departure. A footpath went directly past the runway end, just feet away, and a number of tourists stopped to take photos and videos as we took off. We took off and turned out to the right, getting great views of the other islands as we climbed out and set course back towards the mainland.
The flight was very short, along the north coast of Cornwall to Newquay. As we approached the airport, still 5 minutes out, there was apparently one small airliner just taking off, and a single 2 seat Cessna on its way to land. This, apparently, was just too much for ATC to handle so they had us fly in a circle to delay, before allowing us to enter their airspace and land. Getting out of the aircraft was quick and easy, and before long we were at the rental location. Our car, a tiny Fiat 500, was perfect for Cornwall’s tiny lanes! That evening, after settling into our little B&B in the countryside, we headed into St Ives for, of all things, a curry. One just can’t get a good British-style curry outside of the UK!
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