Surfing, swimming and walking at Porthcurno Beach in West Cornwall

Awesome Activities in West Cornwall

West Cornwall is a stunning part of the Uk and perfect for summer holidays in the South West. Here our writer discusses some of the best activities to do while in this magical part of Cornwall.

Cornwall was among the last parts of England to be incorporated into the Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Perhaps because of this, the country making up the island’s southwestern tip retains a sense of independence, of difference from the rest of the nation. The rolling hills and endless moors appear much as they must have done before the industrial revolution. It’s not only actual history that you can find here, though: Myths and legends abound, from Jack the Giant-Killer in the hills to more recent pirates and smugglers along the coast.

I’ve been visiting Cornwall all my life, either camping or renting one of the thousands of summer homes within walking distance of the many beaches throughout the county. As just about the only place in the UK where you can reliably get a tan, it’s been a popular holiday location for well over a century, and has retained its popularity even while Britain’s other seaside towns fell into disrepair in the wake of cheap long-haul flights to more exotic destinations. Perhaps Cornwall’s relative success is down to it’s stubborn uniqueness in the face of an encroaching Anglo-Saxon culture and language it’s been holding off, with varying degrees of success, for over a thousand years.

Of all the parts of Cornwall, the area known as West Penwith or West Cornwall is the most special to me. it’s here where my parents brought be on holiday as a child and I keep returning because the atmosphere and culture here is pretty much the same as it was when I was young. For more information on tourism in West Cornwall I recommend this website from the National Trust: http://www.westcornwall.org.uk/

Surfing in West Cornwall

These days, Cornwall’s main attraction for me is the surf. Surfing in the UK may not have the exotic appeal of Hawaii (you have to wear a chin-to-ankle wetsuit even in August, for one thing – no surf shorts for you) but there’s a variety of surf available along the north coast of Cornwall, making it easy for beginners who hangout in the whitewater and challenging for the experts who can paddle out to the reefs and sandbanks where some impressively huge waves can crop up. There’s great surf at Gwithian beach, near Hayle, and more at Porthmeor just a short walk from St. Ives. If you’re a total beginner – no problem! There are over 60 surf schools in Cornwall and most of the best beaches have at least one school nearby (and many hotels and resorts likewise offer surfing lessons in-house).

Walking the Coast Path

For less adventurous types who still want to get outdoors, there are dozens of walking trails throughout West Cornwall, particularly around Hayle, the first Cornish town to be designated a ‘Walkers Are Welcome’ area. All the footpaths around the town are well looked after, and you can walk to St. Michael’s Mount Paradise Park, a wildlife sanctuary with exotic and tropical birds and red squirrels, which have been displaced by the American grey squirrels in much of the country but find a home here.

Other great walking areas include the South West Coast Path which almost surrounds West Cornwall. Some of my favourite hikes in this region, include stretches of clifftop trails around Zennor, Land’s End and Lamorna. These sections are simply stunning, affording great views of the rugged Cornish coast and rolling Atlantic waves. There is some great accommodation for walkers in West Cornwall such as St Ives Hotels, Mousehole cottages and B&Bs in Penzance. There are also some secure and secluded campsites dotted around West Penwith, which make great bases for walking adventures and other sightseeing activities.

Explore the Cornish Countryside

Still in West Cornwall you’ll find a two-hundred and fifty acre woodland area, Tehidy Country Park, near Camborne which is the largest woodland in the area. At Kit Hill Country Park, located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you can explore Cornwall’s rich heritage as you walk through an area with over 10,000 archaeological remains.

Get Arty in St Ives

If you’ve still got some energy left and fancy taking in a bit more of West Cornwall’s history and culture, head over to St. Ives. There you can visit the Tate St Ives gallery. One of four Tate galleries in the world, Tate St Ives houses work by, among others, JMW Turner, Britain’s greatest landscape artist, who is widely credited with being the first to discover St. Ives’ beauty. Appropriately enough, there’s a painting school for all ages in town, too, for those who are inspired by the master to take up a brush and palette.

Go Wildlife Spotting

You can head out into the harbour to get a closer look at Godrevy Lighthouse, which partly inspired Virginia Woolf’s modernist classic To the Lighthouse. Further out, Seal Island, which is the summer residence of a mid-’90s R&B singer… Or perhaps actual seals. (Okay, it’s the latter. They’re very friendly, but their singing’s terrible. Don’t tell them I said that.)

Relax in a Cornish Pub

After a hard day’s surfing, walking, painting and sailing, you can wrap up your visit by dropping into the Sloop Inn for a pint (of Cornwall’s finest cider, naturally). The inn dates to the fourteenth century, so you can even tell yourself it’s all very educational as you doze off in a corner of this ancient watering hole.

Get a taste of West Cornwall with this video:

Polperro Harbour in Cornwall

Exploring Cornwall’s Best Bits

Cornwall is an absolute delight to visit. There are so many magical destinations from isolated seaside villages, to high moors, to hidden beaches, to funky towns. Cornwall is both old and modern, where make-believe and myth mingle with a vibrant cultural scene and surfy lifestyle. The spots on our list will sooth and rejuvenate the stressed out soul.

Having the best of both worlds the Best Holiday Destinations In Cornwall artlessly combine the historic and the artistic, the mysterious woodlands with seaside coastal views and the modern with celtic folklore and myth. Although Cornwall is known more for its beaches than towns the major towns in Cornwall are St.Ives, Penzance, Falmouth, Fowey, Padstow, Newquay amongst others and Truro is Cornwall’s only city.

Just a day or two in Cornwall and you will quickly find why Cornwall is such a sought after holiday destination. It offers intrigue, romance, history, adventure and relaxation; whatever experience you’re looking for you’ll find it in Cornwall.

Where to Go in Cornwall

Mousehole is an absolute delight. Situated in the far west of Cornwall, this pretty town forms an car around a lovely harbour. It’s a perfect place to drop by if you’re staying nearby in Holiday Cottages Cornwall. Christmas is a magical time to vista Mousehole, when the town and harbour is illuminated my colourful lights and you can sample a piece of Star-Gazzy Pie, a fish dish prepared in memory of Tom Bawcock, a legendary but brave local fisherman of the 16th century who caught enough fish to feed the village who was starving at that time in history.

Another top harbour holiday town in Cornwall is Polperro which also has fascinating winding streets with its own collection of old stone cottages, sweet and gift shops, pubs and restaurant and some galleries. Quaint and attractive, Polperro is an artist’s haven because of its scenery, offering excellent painting and drawing opportunities.

Top holiday towns in Cornwall should always include St Ives. Popular with surfers and artists, The Bay of St Ives has 50 miles of spectacularly clean beaches, and has award winning beaches with qualified life savers. The climate is mild, perfect for taking a walk along the spectacular South West Coast Path, which runs through the village. The Tate St Ives Gallery is also well worth a visit if you love art and this gallery also manages the fabulous Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden. A visit to Cornwall is not complete without a trip to St.Ives. This scenic harbour town has four beaches and an abundance of cafe’s, pubs, restaurants, and galleries to add to its fame. This is one of the best destinations if you are visiting Cornwall with family or friends.

Falmouth is one of the top holiday towns in Cornwall. There are some exciting boat trips from Falmouth to give you a taste of the exquisite beauty of the coastline. Tourists with kids love Falmouth because of all the activities geared towards them. From adventure playgrounds to the National Maritime Museum to Pendennis Castle. Falmouth is however famous for its harbour together with Carrick Roads it forms the third deepest natural harbor in the world and Henry the VIII built Pendennis Castle to protect this very harbour. It has five beaches including the well known Gyllyngvase beach.

Truro is Cornwall’s only city. It is great for holidaymakers who want to get to the city and do some shopping. Truro has an excellent selection of stores, restaurants and nightclubs, and for lovers of history, the Royal Cornwall Museum and the magnificent cathedral. Like eleweher in Cornwall, water is not far away and it is possible to take boat trips down the estuary to Falmouth.

Fowey in Cornwall is a great family holiday destination. Its known for having inspired Daphne Du Maurier. Fowey with its breathtaking sea views and picturesque narrow winding streets has great hotels with good restaurants and is an excellent starting point if you are planning a trip to Cornwall. Fowey River Gallery and Fowey Aquarium which are worth a visit.

Looe is another charming little town with fishing harbour and bustling narrow streets lined with shops, art galleries, cafes and pubs. There are also some great beaches nearby and breathtaking walks along the South Cornwall coast.

Lizard Point is the most southerly part of mainland Britain and well worth a visit for fantastic views of the coastline and close encounters with the local wildlife. Places to visit nearby include Lizard village, Cadgwith Cove, Kennack sands and the spectacular Kynance Cove protected by the National Trust, with its rocky whores and superb coastal beauty.

Penzance is a historic harbour and still a bustling market town. The popular attraction is the Minack theatre is located nearby at Porthcurno. Dramatically located by the sea this open air amphitheater hosts musicals and plays. There are loads of art galleries in this area, featuring work inspired by the sea and rural life.

Other fantastic attractions to visit in Cornwall include England’s only tea plantation the Tregothnan Estate, Trelissick Gardens, St Micheal’s Mount and the Eden Project with its Cornish, Mediterranean and tropical gardens with exotic plants brought from all over the globe.

Wherever you go in Cornwall, you will not be disappointed. Come, explore, enjoy everything that this magical county has to offer.

Photo credit: Polperro Harbour in Cornwall by Eugene Birchall [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Cornwall Beach Metro Cornwall

Come to Cornwall… The Water’s Lovely

Welcome to Metro Cornwall – our new blog in which we will present the very best bits of Cornwall. This will include places to visit, hidden gems, local events, places to stay, fantastic local businesses and more. This is our own personal take on Cornwall – the county where we live and work. We hope everyone can enjoy the fantastic scenic, tourism, cultural, leisure and business destination here in the South West.