Cornwall is a great destination for a staycation. From hidden beaches to inspiring gardens and bracing walks, here’s just ten of my favourite things to do in Cornwall.
Cornwall has 150 miles of coastline, full of hidden coves and sandy beaches, with rock pools to explore and gnarly waves to chase. Here’s three of my favourite beaches:
Crackington Haven is a hidden gem. We often have the beach to ourselves or with just a few dog walkers for company. Grab some lunch at the Coombe Barton Inn and then head to the beach for some rock pooling. See Visit Cornwall’s website for more details. Here’s a link to Crackington Haven on Google Maps.
Summerleaze beach in Bude is popular with surfers and has a tidal swimming pool, which is great for older kids, plus huge stretches of sand for building your fortress. There’s a great café called ‘Life’s a Beach’ that does an excellent crab sandwich, when it is in season. See website for more details. Here’s a link to Summerleaze Beach on Google Maps.
We went to Kynance Cove on a perfect sunny day and it was wonderful, turquoise sea and golden sands, framed by rocky outcrops. It is steep walk from the car park but a real Cornish treasure, a place where memories are made. The car park is run by the National Trust, see website for details. Here’s a link to Kynance Cove on Google Maps.
Here’s a top tip for all sandy beaches in Cornwall from our friends Phil and Simone Windley at St. Tinney Farm Holidays (disclaimer : they are good friends of ours and we stay there a lot). Always wear beach shoes on sandy beaches. Weaver fish lie hidden beneath the sand near the tide line and if you stand on a spine it may inject your foot with a nasty venom which can cause pain for upto 24 hours. If you do get stung apply hot water ASAP as this breaks down the venom. Here’s more information on the Cornwall Council website.
Not every day is a beach day and sometimes you just want to stride along a cliff top despite the bracing breeze. We once saw dolphins off St. Agnes head, so you just never know….
Here’s two lovely walks…
The Lizard Peninsula is often overlooked as people head for Land’s End and its ‘attractions’, but The Lizard is a birders’ and walkers’ paradise. My partner Matt took us there in search of choughs (pronounced chuffs), Cornwall’s elusive red beaked crow. He was in luck and spent ages gazing across the fields, whilst I wandered along the cliff path, imaging Poldark galloping across fields to meet me. My reverie was shattered by Kitty asking for motivational sweets (I find these are essential in my walking kit). Poldark did not appear, …..but a cream tea was waiting for me at the clifftop café, which was almost as good. The views are glorious. See website for more details. Here’s a link to The Lizard on Google Maps.
You might find ancient Cornish ghosts along the Rocky Valley walk. It begins at a ruined water mill, where ancient carvings (circa 1800 – 1400 BC) mark the stone walls keeping the secrets of past visitors. As often in Cornwall the clue is in the name and the valley has steep sides and follows a stream towards to sea cliffs, so your efforts are rewarded with a sea view. Rocky Valley is run by The National Trust, see website for more details. Here’s a link to Rocky Valley on Google Maps.
If you fancy more walks the National Trust has a good selection, as they manage a lot of the Cornish Coast.
Another good resource is a locally developed website and app called iWalk Cornwall, which offers over 200 walks around the county.
FIVE AMAZING ATTRACTIONS
What an amazing transformation… from a deserted clay mine to an indoor rainforest. The Eden Project makes a great day out, whatever the weather. The two enormous biomes house plants from around the world, the larger simulates a rainforest environment, with a canopy walkway and the smaller a more temperate drier climate. A recent addition is England’s longest zip wire ! We go back again and again. See website for ticket prices and further details. Here’s a link to The Eden Project on Google Maps.
Another amazing botanical transformation. The Lost Gardens were literally lost, neglected and overgrown after the death of many of the estate’s gardeners in World War One. They were restored in the 1990s. Highlights for me include a walled kitchen garden which recalls the lives those who lived and worked there and the tree fern laden valley known as The Jungle which will transport you to era of the dinosaurs. The 200 acre site requires a full day’s commitment and plenty of walking…but it is well worth it as it is a magical place, full of colour and life. See website for ticket prices and further details. Here’s a link to The Lost Gardens of Heligan on Google Maps.
My love affair with Cornwall started twenty years ago when I was studying for a year in Falmouth. The town has changed loads in two decades, no longer a sleepy backwater, it is thriving tourist destination. Our first attempt to visit The National Maritime Museum failed as we just couldn’t find a parking space, so tummies rumbling we headed to the Pandora Inn for lunch instead. The second time we were more successful and we enjoyed learning about the town’s place in British maritime history. There are boats of all shapes and sizes and lots of interesting exhibitions, plus the kids get to climb on RNLI rescue vessels. It will bring out the pirate in everyone. See website for ticket prices and further details.
Tintagel Castle is the ruins of a medieval castle perched high on a cliff top overlooking the coast. It has long been associated with King Arthur and Merlin. However a recent addition of a statue of the mythical King has caused some controversy. Whatever you think about Arthurian associations the ruins are an impressive sight and great for inspiring young imaginations. The site is run by English Heritage. See website for ticket prices and further details. Here’s a link Tintagel Castle on to Google Maps.
On a recent staycation in Cornwall, we decided to avoid the bank holiday traffic and cycle along the Camel Trail from Wadebridge to Padstow. The trail doesn’t involve real camels, rather a disused railway line, which offers a car free way to walk, ride or cycle along the Camel estuary. However that day (being a bank holiday) we failed in our attempt to escape the throngs as the path was crowded with family groups of cyclists, a scout troop, honeymooners on tandems, kids on tag-alongs, plus babes and dogs in trailers. Our efforts were rewarded with lunch in Padstow. We ate at Rick Stein’s fish and chip restaurant near the harbour, indulging my love of oysters. Yum. You can hire bikes at various points along the route. See website for more details.
TOP TIP : If you head towards Bodmin the trail is quieter and you can stop at the Camel Valley Vineyard for a wine tasting, and enjoy the lovely views over the valley.
I hope you enjoyed my staycation inspiration. If you do try any of these activities, I would love to hear from you. What are your tips for a staycation in Cornwall ? #staycationinspiration.
NOTE : each title is linked to a relevant website providing more details.