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Visiting Cornwall, England

Updated on June 19, 2013

All About Cornwall

This page is an index to many informative, interesting and exciting information pages about Cornwall.  Cornwall is the most south-westerly county in England - and there's a lot going on.  There's so much to write about that this will always be a work in progress.  Whole libraries have been written about Cornwall, so I'm just picking out the places and things which interest me, which I want to explain to my friends, and which I think will be of interest to visitors who want to quickly get to grips with the area.  I hope I can help you find what you're after here.

Cornwall has a rich mining history. Miners have mined for copper, tin and even china clay (which is now mostly used for paper making).

The wealth in Cornwall centuries ago has left a legacy of large houses and interesting castles - still standing, or ruins you can look around. Mostly, Cornish castles are ruins though.

Cornwall is a peninsula, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean - this gives it over 200 miles of sandy beaches and coves, it has mild weather (which is partly due to the fact it is warmed by the Gulf Stream) and Cornwall is windy. In fact, it's very windy and very wet a lot of the time. Warm is good. Wet and windy are not so good! It rarely snows in Cornwall, frost too is limited to areas that are high up and not near the coast mainly.

Cornwall is one of the hottest tourism areas in the UK. It's sought after for its beautiful beaches, it's fabulous sea views, its history of celebrations, myths, legends and curiosities. It's also well-visited for the surfing scene, with Fistral Beach in Newquay having probably the best "break" (that's some insider terminology I slipped in there!) in the UK. All year round you'll find surfers surfing on Fistral Beach.

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St Ives

St Ives still retains its olde worlde charm. This fishing village on the north Cornwall coast has established itself as one of the leading areas for artists in the country, if not the world. So much so that The Tate Gallery, in London, opened up The Tate St Ives in the early 1990s.

St Ives is oozing with artistic talent, so if you're looking for some great, original, yet affordable art for your home, then check out the galleries in St Ives - there are literally hundreds of small studios, art galleries and art shops in this small town. It's best to arrive by train, which you can catch from St Erth. Parking's at a premium, the roads are narrow (some impassable), the car parks tend to be at the top of the hill.

Newquay

Newquay is all about fun. It's the county of Cornwall's premier holiday resort, with miles and miles of soft, sandy beaches. Newquay is on the north Cornwall coast and it's the Atlantic Ocean that provides the fabulous surfing conditions, with Fistral Beach being the focus of most surfing contests.

There's more written here about Newquay than other places because it's where I live, but I do promise to balance this out in time!

Staying in Newquay: Accommodation

Dining in Newquay: Takeaways, Chip shops and Restaurants

Travelling to Newquay

You can get to Newquay by plane, or by train. Here's the low down on travelling to Newquay:

Local Services in Newquay


Padstow

Padstow is a traditional, typically Cornish, fishing village, on the north coast of Cornwall. Padstow is famous for: The Obby Oss May Day Celebrations, Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant, the Camel Estuary and the Camel Trail.

There's lots to see and do around Padstow, from long walks out along the headland, to sitting on a bench round the harbour and people-watching. The old streets are very narrow, with some fascinating buildings and houses dating back hundreds of years.

There's plenty of pubs selling hot meals, as well as the usual collection of Cornish pasty shops in Padstow.

St Austell

St Austell is one of the larger towns in Cornwall. St Austell is on the south coast, just about one mile inland from the coast. The railway line at St Austell is on the main London Paddington to Penzance line. The station is small and right next to the bus station - so there's no worries about getting lost if you switch from train to bus here. St Austell's history's been built around the china clay mining, done just to the north, and the various small harbours which were built to carry that cargo away around the world, as well as bringing materials into Cornwall. Recently, The Eden Project, 8th wonder of the world, opened up just a few miles to the East of St Austell, bringing worldwide exposure to this previously overlooked area.

  • Charlestown Shipwreck Museum, with gold doubloons (real ones!), sunken treasure, artefacts from shipwrecks and the necklace as worn by Kate Winslet in Titanic, it's well worth popping down to Charlestown to check out the Shipwreck Museum.
  • Fitness Suite in Pentewan - probably one of the best views from any fitness suite is the fitness studio at Pentewan, just a few miles south of St Austell. Positioned virtually on the beach, it opens up your opportunities for exercise and enjoyment.

Bodmin

Bodmin's known mostly for Bodmin Moor, Bodmin Jail. I can still remember many years ago, driving across Bodmin Moor and wonding if "The Hand" or "The Beast of Bodmin Moor" was going to get me! The area's steeped in mystery, intrigue, ghosts and legends.

Bodmin is also an integral part of The Camel Trail - an old railway line route that's been successfully converted into a public walking and cycle route. Stretching over 20 miles, some parts of the Camel Trail take in Bodmin, the Bodmin & Wenford Railway route - and some great pubs. I thoroughly love the carvery meal that you can get at The Borough Arms, which is a great place to park up and walk the Camel Trail from.

Here are a few ideas for what to do in and around Bodmin:

Penzance

Penzance has a rich history of smuggling, smugglers and myths/legends of smugglers and giants. And since the late 1800s Penzance and neighbouring Newlyn have been the home and haunt of many famous artists.

Penzance station is the last on the line. It's the very last station on the main railway line from London Paddington to Penzance, taking over 5 hours to travel from start to finish. There's a handy night train service, called the Nightsleeper Train, with affordable cabins that you can book, so you can travel overnight in relative comfort, to arrive bright and early in the morning at Penzance. Once you get off, you're right on the edge of Penzance town, within walking distance of the quayside and next to the bus station.

Falmouth

Falmouth is down on the tip of Cornwall. Falmouth is one of the deepest natural harbours in the world and has increasingly received luxury cruise liners into its docks.

Falmouth is at the tip of an extensive tributary and estuary network of creeks, rivers and waterways, with a lot of fascinating places to discover along these routes. There are many boat trips which can be enjoyed from Falmouth. There are two main quays where these boat trips run from - at opposite ends of town to one another.

One is close to the fairly new Discovery Quay, where you'll find Rick Stein's chip shop and seafood bar; the other is right in the town itself.

Although it has regular train services, it's actually on a branch line off the main London Paddington to Penzance line, so you would need to change trains towards the end of your journey if arriving by train.

Here are some great ideas for things to do in Cornwall.

Things To Do in Cornwall

Be An Animal Keeper For the Day

If you're looking for something a little bit different, something as a special surprise, or gift for somebody, then how about giving them the chance to be an animal keeper for the day?

At The Monkey Sanctuary, near Looe, on the south coast, you can be a monkey keeper for the day, feed the monkeys, spend the day with the keepers finding out all about them - and more. The cost includes lunch, a certificate, a T shirt - and membership of The Monkey Sanctuary for a year.

If monkey's aren't your thing, the Newquay Zoo run a similar scheme, but this time you get to feed lots of different animals while spending the day at the zoo as a zoo keeper.

These are both full-day experiences, which have to be booked in advance.

Accommodation in Cornwall

There's certainly no shortage of places to stay in Cornwall.... with everything to choose from. Budget hotels to 5 star hotels; Cornish holiday cottages, holiday homes, chalets, villas, park homes, holiday camps, B&B .... whatever you're looking for it'll exist somewhere.

Here are a few selections for you to consider:

Haunted Cornwall

Cornwall has a lot of ghosts, including some of the most haunted places in Britain. Check out some of these ghostly tales:

Art in Cornwall

The West of Cornwall is renowned worldwide for its rich history of art, artists, sculpture and design. In particular, the Newlyn School of Art and the breakaway St Ives School. Penzance and St Ives are on opposite coasts of Cornwall, but as they're near the tip of the county they're only about 7-8 miles apart.

Travel to Cornwall

Travelling to Cornwall needs a little bit of working out for most people, because it's right at the end of the country, so these articles I've written for you to help you to understand how best to get here, so you can have the easiest journey possible:

Cornish Myths and Cornish Legends

Cornwall is steeped in old myths and legends. Giants, piskies and even a sea monster.

Images

Blue map: http://wikitravel.org/shared/Image:Cornwall_map.png

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