A chance remark from fellow tourists who we encountered at the Vale of Avalon induced us to visit a tourist attraction that we have to pay for. We duly set of for the Hidden Valley, near Launceston. Despite many trips to Cornwall, this was a new one on us. It is a glorified, mostly outdoor, escape room and there were plenty of earnest adults taking it extremely seriously. I am not sure we are the target demographic but it was great fun, even though the puzzles were a bit beyond us. We started indoors in the Forbidden Mansion where the puzzle involved quick reactions and flashing lights. The tricky part was working out exactly what you were supposed to do. We didn’t realise that we were only going to get one attempt at this. In fact, we were entitled to a card each but had gone for sharing. I think I accomplished three of the tasks. There were also twenty things to spot as you went round. These were well hidden and it took us two circuits to get nineteen of them.
Outside next and the beech maze was a fail; we ended up coming out the way we went in. We decided we’d set the bar low and followed the rope trail to find ten labels, each with a number to add and a letter to create an anagram to unscramble; an activity that was aimed at the pre-school children. Even this took two attempts and I failed to identify some of the more modern cartoon characters. We kept encountering the same families looking equally confused. The twenty-something childfree couples rushed round, heads-down doing hugely complicated things, aided by phone apps, which I think were ‘cheats’, on the ‘Big Blimp’ challenge. We did have a go at ‘Little Blimp’, where the puzzles were at least intelligible and achieved 13/15 of these.
This was all set in very attractive and well maintained grounds and we were surprised to find that the attraction had been open since the 1990s, as it didn’t look in the least bit tired. There was the opportunity to ride on a mini-train but this was very popular so we allowed smaller persons to take up the few available seats. There was also a model train running round part of the gardens. The site is still being developed and an impressive looking adventure playground-type feature was being constructed, with plans for this to be open by the summer. Despite the feeling of total inadequacy that the visit engendered, we had an enjoyable day.
We drove to Padstow, now commercialised by the Rick Stein effect. It is still a working harbour, so boats for the fisherman of my acquaintance to look at. We walked up the hill towards the lower beach. Deciding not to pay inflated Padstow refreshment prices, we repaired to a garden centre that we’d spotted on the way, intending to have a drink. They were still serving carvery lunches and although they were quite willing for us just to have a drink, we could hardly pass up the opportunity. So a lovely, expansive carvery lunch for only twice what it would have cost to have a coffee and cake in Padstow. Sizeable desserts were on offer too. Consuming massive portions of Eton Mess, on top of a carvery where you could have as much veg as you liked is always one of those seems like a good idea at the time things and it was lovely but it did mean that we didn’t want to do much afterwards.
So the end of the holiday and we managed to only get wet once – result! Slightly fuzzy photo as the light was poor.