By Hayley Spurway
There are many reasons to visit Cornwall, but here are the top 10.
Whether you’re into fine dining or foraging, Cornwall is a gastronomes hotspot where talented chefs serve up lip-smacking ingredients grown, reared and plucked from the coast and countryside. Staples include ice cream made from Jersey cows grazing by the ocean, and seafood so fresh it goes straight from rod to pan.
Chic fishing villages
When Cornwall’s fishing fleets declined in the 19th century a new wave of holidaymakers made a beeline for Cornwall’s picturesque fishing villages. Now the likes of St Ives, St Mawes and Mousehole have been transformed into stylish seaside destinations that still retain a hint of the traditional fishing villages they once were.
While Cornwall isn’t all about beach life and bucket-and-spade days, its 300-plus beaches are still its biggest draw. From surf-lashed sands to secret coves, the county is home to some of the finest beaches in the UK – in fact, St Ives Bay is ranked one of the best in the world.
Who can resist the mystique of smugglers, shipwrecks and seafaring legends? Uncover the county’s maritime past at big-name attractions such as the National Maritime Museum Cornwall and at the Lizard Lighthouse Heritage Centre, seek out smugglers’ caves and shipwrecks, or clap eyes on smuggling artefacts at the Jamaica Inn museum.
From rock bands on the beach to full-throttle festivals, Cornwall’s calendar is jam-packed with music events where you can dance with your feet in the sand. Watch the sunset over the sea and get down to international headliner acts at the Electric Beach Festival, Tunes in the Dunes, the Lusty Glaze Sundowner Sessions and the epic Boardmasters Festival.
Tune into the BBC series Poldark and you’ll be as swept away by the staggering coastal scenery as you will be by the fate of the characters. From the smugglers’ coves to the cliff-top mining landscapes and wild moorland, Poldark has brought the beauty of Cornwall to our TV screens.
The Literary landscape
As well as Cornwall’s best-loved author, Daphne du Maurier, countless writers have penned the county’s natural beauty into their tomes. Dylan Thomas dubbed Mousehole ‘the prettiest village in England’; Thomas Hardy fell in love with his first wife in Boscastle; DH Lawrence took up residence in Zennor; Kenneth Grahame took inspiration from the River Fowey, and Virginia Woolf immortalised Godrevy lighthouse.
Beach life isn’t all about surfing – in fact mastering the art of wave riding isn’t as easy as it looks. If you want a fast-track ocean adventure try hand-planing (body-surfing with a mini surfboard strapped to your hand), stand-up paddleboarding or coasteering (swimming, scrambling and cliff jumping your way around the coastline).
Aside from the mega-star Eden Project, Cornwall is home to an abundance of garden wonderlands thriving with sub-tropical species gathered by the globetrotting plant hunters of the 19th century. Picnic in carpets of bluebells, tunnel through bamboo jungles, take shelter under giant gunnera or play hide-and-seek in magical woodland.
From seals and seabirds to sharks and sunfish, Cornwall’s waters are teeming with an incredible array of marine life. Search for starfish and spider crabs on rock-pooling rambles, go snorkelling or surfing with playful seals and dolphins, or watch gannets and terns dive beneath the waves to catch fish.
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