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Cornwall Towns - Bodmin Fowey Liskeard Lostwithiel

Updated on September 14, 2013

Clone towns which have spread across much of the UK don't really exist in Cornwall. Most towns and villages here still have their own unique character. Find out about historic market towns, stunning harbours, pretty fishing villages and Victorian seaside resorts.

Bodmin

Historic Cornish Town

Bodmin is a good base for visiting both the north and south coasts of Cornwall as it's equal distance from both. It's also as plenty to offer in its own right as it's one of the oldest town in Cornwall, which many historic buildings and museums. Don't miss Bodmin Jail, the Shire Hall and if you like walking, the misty magic of Bodmin Moor.

In summer it also serves as an haven from tourists as it doesn't get as crowded as some of the coastal towns.

Bodmin Attractions

  • Bodmin Moor (12 miles):
    A tourist-free haven in the summer, Bodmin Moor will take your breath away. No posh hotels up here, but friendly B&Bs, farm stays and camping. Must-sees include: the Cheesewring, a bizarre tor made of piled up slabs of granite; Rough Tor and Brown Willy, the two highest points in Cornwall; the mining relics of South Caradon Hill and ancient villages, farms and moorland, telling the story of 4000 years of farming.


  • Eden Project (10 miles)
    Domed eco-marvel set in a former clay pit.This is Cornwall's most important visitor attraction, and it has been called "the eighth wonder of the world" by the New York Times. It would be easy to spend a few days here, but highlights include: the world's largest indoor rainforest complete with a lookout high above the treetops; gardens for nearly every climate and every season, including a Mediterranean Biome, a global garden. vegetable gardens and medicinal gardens; the Core, an interactive museum, wordclass sculpture and art; and a superfoods café.


  • Pencarrow (4 miles)

    Privately owned Georgian Mansion and largely Victorian gardens.

  • Shire Hall

    Architectural highlight of Bodmin with a handsome façade outside and 19th century holding cells and interactive Courtroom Experience inside. This is a good place to kill a couple of hours on a rainy day.


  • Bodmin Jail (half a mile) is a grim granite building with a fascinating history. Built in 1779, it has housed not only thousands of prisoners, but also the Crown Jewels and the Doomsday Book, which were placed here during World War II. Another of Bodmin's rainy-day attractions, it's good value at £6.50 for adults and £4.50 for children. The jail's restaurant and bar are excellent, and you don't have to pay the entrance fee to use them.

    The building is reportedly haunted, and you can join an overnight Ghost Walk - if you dare.

  • St Petroc's Church

    Cornwall's largest Parish Church certainly is impressive. In fact, only Truro Cathedral is larger. The church dates largely from the 15th century but part of the tower is Norman. It is filled with all manner of monuments and carvings, some the finest in the country. Step outside into the large churchyard and see the atmospheric ruin of the Chapel of the St Thomas a Becket

  • Chapel of St Thomas a Becket
  • Cardinham Woods
  • Camel Trail:

    Bodmin Jail is at start of Camel Trail

  • Bodmin and Wenford Railway (half a mile)

    Cornwall's only full-sized steam train trundles through the pretty countryside around Bodmin.

    Tickets start at £9.50 for adults and £5.00 for children. A day rover is £11.50 for adults and £6 for children. Trains with special themes, such as Murder Mysery, Steam Beer, Jazz and Luxury Dining cost more .

  • Bodmin Town Museum

    Quite interesting local history museum in the town centre. Apart from a broad range of artefacts, the museum has a shop, and hosts children activities.

    The museum is free but closed on Bank Holidays and Sundays.

  • Lanhydrock House and Gardens (2 miles)

    Lanhydrock is a gem of a house, Jacobean on the outside and High Victorian on the inside. There is lots to see: 50 rooms, ranging from the Gallery, which has a 400-year old Jacobean ceiling, to simple servants rooms; 1000 acres of parkland, and formal and wild gardens. Visit in spring and see the camellia, rhododendrons and magnolias in flower.

    Entry is free for National Trust members. For others, it's £10.70 for adults and £5.30 for children (house and garden). There's a reduction if you arrive by public transport in for August 2012 children are free.

  • Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry Museum

    This is a military museum in the Keep of Bodmin Jail.

    Admission is £4 (£2 for children).

  • Priory Park

    Pretty park with a large lake and home to Bodmin Town Football Club.

Fowey

Gorgeous working harbour and estuary flanked by a beautiful town and a tiny fishing village.

Fowey Attractions

See town square, harbour, esplanade etc etc

  • Bodinnick Ferry

    This car and foot ferry between Fowey and the lovely riverside hamlet of Bodinnick is an enchanting little trip. Although it only takes minutes, it gives you a fish-eye's view of the Fowey River as it flows between lush wooded river banks. Look out for Ferryside, on the Bodinnick side, where Daphne du Maurier wrote her first novel.

    Another attractions, if you're on foot, is Hall Walk, which starts here. It has been called one of the best walks in England. It loops through Pont, a tiny woodland port to Polruan, from where you can catch a foot ferry back to Fowey.

    The ferry runs every 10 to 15 minutes, for most of the day in summer, but during reduced hours in winter. The fares are: cars from £3.50, foot passengers £1.30 and children 70p.

  • Church of St Willow

    Daphne du Maurier was married in this very pretty church near Lanteglos-by-Fowey.

    It can be reached by taking a detour from Hall Walk, which starts in nearby Bodinnick.

  • Cry of the Gulls Gallery

    Gallery showcasing important local Cornish art, with many of the artists represented having exhibited in major galleries such as Tate St Ives and Penlee House and/or internationally. Ceramics, sculpture and textiles are on sale.

  • Daphne du Maurier Centre

    This museum explores Fowey's many literary connections, with exhibitions x to its most famous author, Daphne du Maurier as well as others such as Sir Arthur Quiller Couch, editor of the Oxford Book of English Verse, and Kenneth Grahame, author of The Wind in the Willows.

    Admission is free.

  • Fowey Marine Aquarium

    This is a fun aquarium well-stocked with sea life from around Fowey - all inmates are released back to the wild at the end of the season. The Touch Pool, with crabs and lobsters if a highlight, especially for kids.

    Admission is £2.

  • Fowey River Canoe Expeditions
  • Fowey River Gallery
  • Fowey Town Tours
  • Hall Walk
  • Images from the Wild
  • Polridmouth cove
  • Pont
  • Pont Pilll (1 mile via the Bodinnick Ferry)

    This secluded tidal creek is hidden behind the Fowey Estuary, which flows into it near Fowey. It is remarkably peaceful considering its proximity to that busy town and teaming with wildlife, making it popular with birdwatchers and fishermen.

    One of the best ways to see the Creek is to hike Hall Walk, a circular path from Fowey via Polruan. In addition, the river is navigable at high tide and even then for not much more than a mile. If you don't have your own boat, you could try joining a trip with Encounter Cornwall or Fowey River Expeditions.

  • Readymoney Cove
  • River Fowey

    The Fowey River must be the most beautiful river in Cornwall, especially where it flows between the lovely Harbour of Fowey and the exquisite little port of Polruan and out to sea. Further inland it flows through the Fowey River Valley, which is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

    You can explore it by kayak, canoe, whitewater raft (near Bodmin), yacht or on foot. Other popular activities include birdwatching and fishing.

  • St Catherine's Castle (1 mile)

    St Catherine's Castle reflects 400 years of military architecture. First built in the 1530s by Henry VIII, it has been added to, repaired and modified during subsequent wars such as the Crimean War and World War II. The view of the Fowey Estuary from here is unforgettable.

    Entrance to the fort is free.

  • St Fimbarrus Church
  • Toe in the Wall Gallery
  • Whitehouse Beach
  • Saints Way

Lostwithiel

Lostwithiel is probably the antiques capital of Cornwall. Not only is the town full of antique shops it hosts popular monthly antique fairs. The town itself is pretty old too, with buildings dating from the medieval period and later, all very well preserved.

Other attractions include a fortnightly farmers market, which is said to be the best in Cornwall.

  • Coulson Park Nature Reserve

    Nice riverside park just outside Lostwithiel. A footpath through it continues to Shirehall Moor.

  • Restormel Castle

    Mott and Bailey Castle atop a Norman mound surrounded by a dry ditch and views of meadows, forests and the Fowey River. The Castle has one of the best preserved Shell Keeps you'll ever seen.

    Entry Fee: £3.50 for adults; £2.10 for children; free for members of English Heritage. Open from Spring until Autumn. More info at English Heritage.

  • St Bartholomew Church

    Grade I listed 14th century church with some of the finest stained glass in Cornwall.

  • Lostwithiel Museum

    Small museum founded in the 1970s with very good local history section.

  • Church of St Winnow

    idyllic church by the River Fowey two miles from Lostwithiel and from Lerryn.

  • St Winnow Museum
  • Taprell House

    Historic house dating from the 16th century and now home to the county library.

  • Boconnoc House (5 miles)
  • Trethevy Quoit

Liskeard

Liskeard is a handsome market town with an historic town centre, a cattle market and a pipe well. It has very good transport links - road, bus and train. The coast at Looe is about 10 miles away, and the own offers good access to Bodmin Moor.

  1. Golitha Falls (4 miles)

    Golitha Falls is a local beauty spot deep in a valley gorge deep in a forest.on

  2. Stuart House Arts and Heritage Centre

    Combined arts centre, museum and histori house in Liskeard. Highlights include the restored King's Chamber, where Charles I spent the night during the English Civil War, a 17th century gentleman's garden, a permanent exhibition on the English Cive War, and a varied programme of events including crafts fairs, concerts, art exhibitions and lectures.

  3. The Cheesewring (6 miles)

    Bodmin Moor is a windy place. Add frost and millions of years, and you get the Cheesewring, which looks like a pile of giant stone plates.

    Get here by parking at Minions and walking for about a mile.

  4. The Hurlers

    Three impressive stone circles near Minion. Unlike Stonehenge, you can get up close.

  5. Liskeard and District Museum

    Community Museum in an historic 19th century building. Events for children are held regularly.

  6. Pipewell

    Intriguing but not overly exciting medieval well. Worth a look.

  7. Trethevy Quoit (3 miles)

    This might look like a primitive stone house, but it's actually a neolithic quoit or portal dolmen, of which Cornwall has more than anywhere else in Britain. They are numerous in Ireland too. The jury is still out on their purpose, but it's believed they may have functioned as places of worship as well as burial chambers or shrines.

    You can actually walk inside this one.

Marazion

Marazion is a nice seaside town with an excellent beach and good access to the South West Coast Path. A quieter alternative to Penzance, it has an historic centre with a great view.

  1. St Michael's Mount

    Hilltop castle, island, tropical garden, St Michael's Mount is one of Cornwall's premier attractions. Highlights include the trip there: by boat at high tide, and on foot across a ancient causeway at low tide; a castle rich with the history of 1000 years, and some of the most spectacular views in Cornwall.

    Entrance from £9.25 for a combined castle and gardens ticket (£4.50 for children).

  2. St Michael's Way
  3. Marazion Museum
  4. Marazion Beach

Mevagissey

  1. Fowey Mevagissey Ferry

    Ferry boat running between Fowey and Mevagissey from spring to autumn. Marine life watching possibilities include dolphins and basking sharks.

  2. Mevagissey Museum
  3. Polstreath Beach

    Secret beach hidden behind high cliffs, traversed by a metal staircase.

  4. World of Model Railways
  5. Victorian Contrasts Walk

    Circular walk from Mevagissey

  6. Mevagissey Aquarium
  7. Lost Gardens of Heligan
  8. Church of St Peter
  9. Jason Liosatos Gallery
  10. David Weston Gallery

Portmellon

Hamlet harbour on the Roseland Peninsula with a wave-bashed pub.

  1. Chapel Point and Beach
  2. Portmellon Beach

Newquay

Newquay can be described as the Benidorm of Cornwall, so if you're looking for coastal chic you won't find it here. But, like Benidorm, it has fabulous beaches, lots of attractions and a lively night life. If it all gets a bit much, it's easy to escape. Head west to Towan Head for some peace, and just keep going for some of the best surf in Cornwall at Fistral Beach.

  1. Bluereef Aquarium
  2. Lappa Valley Steam Railway (4.5 miles)

    Family attraction in the heart of a beautiful valley. Three miniature railways, a maze, a kayaking lake and mini-golf will keep younger kids occupied for hours.

    Open April to October. Entrance is £12.75 for adults and £9.25 for children.

  3. Great Western Beach

    Sandy family and surf beach in the centre of Newquay.

  4. Fistral Beach (1 mile)

    Perhaps the UK's premier surf beach, Fistral is a west-facing slab of sand about a kilometre long.

  5. Newquay Zoo
  6. Little Fistral Beach

    Quite wild tidal beach on Towan Headland. No facilities but there's a car park behind the beach and a footpath to Towan Headland.

  7. Trerice (3.5 miles)

    Delightful Elizabethan Manor House owned by the National Trust.

  8. Watergate Bay

    Fabulous surf beach with vast golden sands, huge granite cliffs and some of Cornwall's best restaurants and cafés. Eat, drink watch the sun go down, and imagine you're in California or try your hand at traction surfing at Extreme Academy.

Penzance

  • Art Gene
  • Chapel Street

    Running down a hill to the sea, Chapel Street is a historic street in Penzance lined with handsome Georgian and Regency Buildings and excellent restaurants. Choose from the friendly 17th century, Admiral Benbow Pub, the Michelin-starred Untitled or the Penzance Arts Club.

  • Chysauster Ancient Village
  • Cornwall Geological Museum
  • Eastern Green Beach

    A good walking and cycling beach, Eastern Green is followed by St Michael's Way, on its way to St Michael's Mount, which can see across the vast shimmering sands as you pedal (or stroll).

  • Egyptian House

    This is a very strange Victorian building with a mock-Egyptian facade, and one of Penzance's best known landmarks.

  • The Exchange

    Contemporary Art Gallery, sister gallery of Newlyn Art Gallery.

  • Jubilee Pool

    The UK's largest surviving Art Deco Pool is a streamlined reminder of a 1930s fitness boom. Open in summer only.

  • Merry Maidens Stone Circle
  • PZ Gallery
  • Penlee House Gallery and Museum

    Park, sub-tropical garden, museum and important art gallery. This is the place to see Cornish Art, from the Newlyn School to emerging contemporary artists.

  • Penzance Harbour
  • Scillonian III
  • St Mary's Church

    Church with an impressive sub-tropical churchyard with impressive views.

  • Trengwainton Garden (3 miles)

    National Trust Garden with fabulous views, a unique giant tree fern glade, kitchen gardens, impressive collections of Magnolias, Rhododendrons and Camellias and an award-winning tea room.

  • Chysauster Ancient Village (4 miles)

    Rebuilt 2000 year old settlement reflecting an ancient way of life unique to this small corner of the UK. Stone and thatch homesteads with enclosed courtyards, village streets and meadows are set in the rugged Penwith landscape.

Porthcurno

  1. Minack Theatre

    World famous theatre set in a sub-tropical garden on the edge of a cliff.

Padstow

Padstow is one of the most popular fishing villages in Cornwall. It is still largely unspoilt, but it can get very busy in August.

  • Camel Trail

    This disused railway line has been turned into a multi-use trail between Bodmin via the beautiful Camel River Valley and Camel Estuary and Padstow on the coast. The entire trail is some 18 miles long and it's open to walkers, horse riders and cyclists.

  • Prideaux Place (half a mile)

    Handsome Elizabethan manor house and gardens about half a mile from Padstow. Great views and a picturesque deer park make the estate a good way to escape the summer crowds in August. Although Prideaux too can get crowded on a Saturday.

    You can visit the gardens for £2 (£1 for children), with a combined house and garden ticket costing £7.50, and although Prideaux is compact, that is still considerably cheaper than most National Trust Places.

  • Harbour Cove Beach (1.5 miles)

    Lovely large beach next to the shores of the Camel Estuary, where it slushes out into the sea. Access is from the South West Coast Path and there are no facilities.

Polruan

  • Lantic Bay (2 miles)

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