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Visiting Cornwall, UK

Updated on January 11, 2013

Not what you see when you think of England is it? Well, it's real. Cornwall has sandy beaches, palm trees, turquoise water, and even on occasion, sun. The Duchy of Cornwall has an abundance of natural beauty to offer, but also a great wealth of history as well, and a starkly different culture than found in any other part of England. In fact, this separation in cultural characteristics has pushed many a Cornwall to talk of succession from the rest of Britain, although that usually just remains talk. Cornwall's place in English history stretches farther back than the country itself. Cornwall was the area in which the legendary King Arthur emerged, as well as where King Alfred of Wessex defended the last corner of England from the invading Vikings and prevented a total takeover of England

Cornwall is a beautiful county which comprises England's southwestern tip. The county town of Cornwall is Truro, a sleepy little city compared to most county towns in Britain. The landscape is a peculiar mix between England's typical rolling patchwork hills lined with stone walls combined with a slightly Mediterranean look. The coastline is a mix between rugged craggy coast and wide sandy beaches. The water is turquoise in many places, and you'll find palm tree's in more and more abundance the farther south you go.

The Cornish people are friendly and quite accommodating, yet you discover very quickly a slight air of contempt. Cornwall is a very exclusive area of England. The Cornish people are proud folk and consider their history completely distinct and unique from the rest of England's. They are quite happy in their ways and suspicious of outside influences. I believe they just assume keep things the way they are as it's worked for them in the past, a bit like hobbits...

Hobbits like I said...
Hobbits like I said...

Top Sights

The best way to explore Cornwall is by car. Many of the sights are not connected on the main train line, plus half the adventure is roaming through the beautiful Cornish countryside. My only suggestion for car rentals is DON"T rent AVIS. I rented through them on my trip to Cornwall- car broke down in the middle of the night, had to sleep on the side of the highway, and didn't even get compensated for it, terrible company. So I would recommend another company for your journey around Cornwall. It's not a very wide country but it 's quite long from end to end. I would spend at least a weekend in the area if not longer, as there is much to see.

Tintagel Castle- Located in northwestern Cornwall, the castle is mostly ruins now, but used to be a mighty fortress dating back all the way to the Romans. According to Geoffrey of Mammoth the castle was supposedly conquered and taken by Uther Pendragon, King Arthur's father, which is where, according to legend, Arthur was born. Although not many structures remain, the rugged coastline and majestic setting make the ruins appear mystical. There is green moss growing all over the rocky coast with ruined castle adding to the magical ambiance. Now if this wasn't magical enough the castle's not through yet. On the coastline facing the castle is a small cave, which legend says was the mythical cave of Merlin, in which he received the prophecy that Arthur would become king and rule over a just land. True or not it's a sweet cave.

Merlin's Cave
Merlin's Cave

St. Micheal's Mount- Basically the English version of Mont Saint Michel in Normandy, France, this beautiful tidal island appears in history about the same time. Apparently touched by the Arch Angel Michael the people thought the land holy and built a monastery here in the 9th century A.D. (As was the scenario across the channel in France as well, I guess that was a popular hangout spot for the Arch Angel). If you have the time it's worth walking to the island, but if not the monastery and views of the coast are worth the effort.

Lands End- Officially the most southerly point of Britain, Land's End is a beautiful and popular destination for visitors. (There is also another lands end near John O' Groats in Scotland marking the northern most tip). While touring through Cornwall this a great place to stop take in the gorgeous coastline and grab some memorable pictures of the famous sign.

Truro- As the county town of Cornwall, Truro is the official center of Cornish administration, retail and leisure. The city traces its beginnings back to the invasion of the Normans, with its first castle being constructed in the early 12th century. The city reached minor prominence in the 19th century as a stannary town for its mining industry. Sights to see in the city are the Cathedral, Royal Cornwall Museum, the music Hall of Cornwall, and the City Council and Chambers of Justice.

Truro Cathedral
Truro Cathedral

St. Ives- St. Ives is a small fishing village on the southwestern tip of Cornwall. Voted best seaside several separate occasions, the once thriving fishing village now relies exclusively on tourism. A nice stop along the Cornish coast, with beautiful beaches and quaint shopping streets.

Eden Project- Cornwall's own personal international garden, complete with stunning gardens and habitats on display all year around, and home to the largest captivated rain forest in the world. This place should actually probably be the number one attraction in Cornwall it's so amazing, but you have to see that history stuff first I suppose. Time permitting you must make a stop here, you will not regret your visit. There's also loads of events, exhibitions, and activities throughout the year. For more information click the link below.

St. Austell- Located on the south eastern tip of Cornwall, this parish town is the largest in Cornwall at 38,000. Nicknamed "Snozzle" by the locals, the seaside town sees thousands of visitors each year looking to visit the nearby Eden project. St. Austell is a great place to set up camp to visit the impressive attraction and explore the surrounding countryside.

Padstow- Dating back to the 9th century, Padstow served as an important port town for importing timber from Canada. Located on the northwestern coast of Cornwall, this quaint seaside village offers nice local pubs and beautiful views of the coast.

Bodmin and Bodmin Moors- Bodmin is a good size town in the middle of the county, and was once the county town of Cornwall before being moved to Truro. A quaint little town, the main attractions are the local parish church and the nearby Bodmin moors, a beautiful tract of land a few miles north.

Penzance- Well known for being the most westerly town in Cornwall, this sizable town dates back to pre-Roman times. The town is rich with culture featuring yearly festivals, top end theater and music, and historical attractions. Main sights in the town are the three large residential estates and old parish church. The town also plays host to a famous yearly festival held in June called the Golowan Festival; which is Cornish for Midsummer celebration.

Accommodation

In my opinion the best option for stay in Cornwall are the many cottages for hire around the area. People often have unused cottages for rent for discounted prices, often very large and in the most picturesque countryside. If you are taking a trip with a bunch of friends it is definitely the ideal situation as you have plenty of space, and with four or five people chipping in you can often get great cottages for twenty or thirty quid a night (the same as a hostel bed).

You should find cheap hotels in all the bigger towns and cities, and many of the smaller villages.

You will find hostels in the bigger towns and cities like Truro and St. Ives

Driving in Cornwall

Driving in Cornwall can prove difficult and burdensome even to the most experienced driver, so do not venture out unless you are ready for the adventure. Cornish roads are notoriously narrow, and most are lined with high stone walls making the drive even more enjoyable! Next to northern Scotland, I would place Cornwall as one of the most difficult places to drive in Britain. But, don't let that discourage you as there benefits way outweigh the dangers!! Just drive slow and keep alert!

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    • TravelinJack profile image
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      Jack Baumann 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Thanks Bristolboy...yes you are correct, it is just easier for the reader this way since there actually is a "lands end" sign that tourists visit ever year. But, perhaps I should rephrase the wording. Thanks for the read!

    • BristolBoy profile image

      BristolBoy 4 years ago from Bristol

      Excellent hub. One tiny point, despite popular belief that lands end is the most southerly point - that geographical distinction actually belongs to somewhere near lizard point on the lizard peninsula.

    • TravelinJack profile image
      Author

      Jack Baumann 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Campervan would be a great way to get around Cornwall, just sleep next to the ocean!

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 4 years ago from Southern Spain

      Hi, I am not sure yet as it depends on if we buy a campervan or not . We will be looking for the cheapest accommodation available - Want to see as much of Cornwall as possible . I loved our last visit !

    • TravelinJack profile image
      Author

      Jack Baumann 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Thank you freecamping! whereabouts are you staying in Cornwall??

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 4 years ago from Southern Spain

      I Love this hub as I really love Cornwall & we are going there this year !!! Voting you up and sharing !!

    • TravelinJack profile image
      Author

      Jack Baumann 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Thanks Travmaj, it really is a beautiful place...hey why did your post appear as guest post? I am unable to click on your profile...

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      travmaj 4 years ago

      I'm very fond of Cornwall and visit whenever I can. It has so much to offer. Visited relatives there when I was a child also so your piece brought back many happy memories. Great images - thank you.

    • TravelinJack profile image
      Author

      Jack Baumann 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      HaHa yes yes you are correct, the Cornish are truly proud of their heritage and your cousins remarks only prove it!! But I felt I shouldn't get into the wholy Duchy thing as it seemed more info than the average reader wanted to digest, but perhaps I should at it. Thanks for the read!

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Love your photos and I'm glad you enjoyed your visit to Cornwall. However, it is a Duchy and my Cornish cousins did not like it - and let me know! - when I referred to it as England once on a letter. GB or UK is acceptable. Like Wales, Scotland and Ireland, the people there are proud of their Celtic heritage and most do not see themselves as English.