Caravan County: Cornwall
You can’t get much further west than the ancient kingdom of Cornwall (or Kernow, as it’s often referred to around these parts). With the longest stretch of continuous coastline in Britain, this is a land whose history is intricately bound up with the sea, and all around the county’s shores you’ll discover reminders of its maritime heritage.
There are tiny fishing ports, old smuggler’s inns and sturdy granite breakwaters, not to mention countless beaches and sweeping bays once filled with pilchard boats, gill netters and seagoing schooners. Although fishing is still an important industry, these days tourism is by far the biggest trade, and it’s not hard to see what keeps the visitors coming back year after year.
From the secluded coves and tree-clad creeks along the county’s southern coast to the wild grandeur of the north coast cliffs, there’s no doubt that Cornwall is one of Britain’s most beautiful counties. It’s also an intriguing mix of old and new, where futuristic greenhouses and world-class galleries meet crumbling mines and ancient market towns.
There are many historical sites maintained by the National Trust and English Heritage, such as Lanhydrock House and Pendennis Castle. Given its mild climate, Cornwall has some amazing gardens to visit. In fact, so many that the Cornish tourist board have an entire website dedicated to them: www.gardensofcornwall.com
Providing a succinct review of this varied county would undoubtedly prove very difficult. Given this, we’ve selected our top 7 attractions to focus on...
1) Lands End
Lands End is Cornwall’s most westerly point, and reportedly the most visited place in the county. Visible from Land's End is the Longships Lighthouse. The Longships, a few miles out, is a serpentine and quartz island. Offshore, midway between Land's End and the Isles of Scilly, is the supposed location of the mythical lost land of Lyonesse, referred to in Arthurian literature.
2) Newquay Harbour
Newquay has been a major tourist destination for more than a century now, principally on account of its beautiful coastline and 11 long and accessible sandy beaches. These include the famous Fistral, which could claim to the best-known surfing beach in the British Isles. Around 22,000 people live in Newquay, but the population can increase to 100,000 or more in the summer because Newquay has a large stock of holiday accommodation.
3) St. Michael’s Mount
St Michael's Mount is a tidal island located 366 m (400 yd) off the Mount's Bay coast. It is united with Marazion by a man-made causeway, passable only at mid to low tide, made of granite setts. Its Cornish language name - literally, ‘the grey rock in the wood’ - may represent a folk memory of a time before Mount's Bay was flooded. Remains of trees have been seen at low tides following storms on the beach at Perranuthnoe. The Cornish legend of Lyonesse, an ancient kingdom said to have extended from Penwith toward the Isles of Scilly, also talks of land being inundated by the sea.
4) Polzeath Bay
Polzeath is a small village on the north coast. It is a favoured location for surfing, with waves rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean. There are lifeguards on the beach during the daytime in the season. Dolphins may sometimes be spotted and the surrounding coastline is a particularly good area for seeing many types of coastal birds including puffins and Peregrine falcons.
5) Lobster Pots
One of the original stalwarts of Cornish industry, fishing is still central to local culture. The sport of fishing naturally slows your body down and lets you unwind - it's just a bonus if you are lucky to
bag some fine fish on the end of your line. Take some tips from local fishermen before you pick your spot, but whether you choose a rocky outcrop or bob off the coast on board a traditional fishing boat, you can cast away your worries and appreciate the waterlogged landscape as you wait for your dinner to snag its bait.
6) The Eden Project
The Eden Project is a dramatic global garden housed in tropical ‘biomes’ that nestle in a crater the size of 30 football pitches. Within its biomes you can discover plant life from all over the world. The Eden Project is wholly owned by an educational charity - the Eden Trust. They use exhibits, events and workshops to educate people about the importance of plants in the world.
7) Minack Theatre
The Minack Theatre is an open-air theatre, constructed above a gully with a rocky granite outcrop jutting into the sea (minack in Cornish means a stony or rocky place). The theatre is located near Porthcurno, 4 miles from Land's End. The theatre is used from June to September for a full summer season of 17 plays, produced by companies from all over the UK and visiting companies from the USA. The theatre is open for visitors throughout the rest of the year.
We have only scratched the surface of Cornwall’s riches here. Although further inland there is a marked contrast to the gulf-stream-fed surfers paradise of the coastal regions, the history
of Cornwall runs deep and there should be something for everyone.