Lying at the extreme South West of England, the peninsula of Cornwall is a truly a place unto itself. A coastal paradise overlooked by successive generations of invaders, it remained ignored and untouched by the Anglo-Saxon, Roman, Norman, and Viking invaders who left their marks on other parts of the country. As a result, it has maintained a distinct culture shaped not only by its undisturbed Celtic past, but by its unique geography. It even retains its own language, Cornish, although even in the most remote parts of the county it is not spoken as a first language any longer.
Cornwall not only enjoys the longest coastline out of any English region, but it is shaped such that wherever you are, you are never more than 16 miles from the coast! The beaches situated on the northern side of the peninsula are immensely popular with surfers, who can enjoy the warmest water and highest waves anywhere in the country. St Ives and Newquay are both well-equipped for those keen to take to the waves and have enormous sandy beaches for those who would rather enjoy a more relaxed seaside experience.
Perhaps an underrated aspect of Cornwall are its towns. On the county’s southern coast, the port city of Falmouth has plenty to do and to see from its picturesque harbour to the main street complete with pubs and restaurants all serving fresh seafood – some of it caught from literally the other side of the building! A great way of enjoying a seafaring experience in a region shaped by its nautical past is to take the ferry from Falmouth across the Carrick Roads to the pretty tourist town of St Mawes.
For less than £5 you can pick up a return ticket and travel over, enjoy a Cornish ice cream or a pint of local St Austell ale, and be back in Falmouth in no time. If you’re feeling even more adventurous you can hire a small motorboat from a stall in the harbour and explore the area under your own steam! The National Maritime Museum is also located in Falmouth harbour, and gives a fascinating account of the history of the region and its inextricable links with the sea. It also includes interesting parts of global maritime history such as the Father’s Day – at 5ft 3in the shortest boat ever to have crossed the Atlantic, and a workshop where you can watch vintage boats being lovingly restored by volunteers.
A brilliant walk to do near Falmouth is an afternoon’s stroll along the coastal path from the gardens of Durgan to Maenporth. This trip will take you along the cliffs of South Cornwall, looking down on the spectacularly blue waters of the Helford river estuary. If you’re lucky you can catch a glimpse of the seals swimming down below, in between the pleasure boats taking customers to the quaint pub at Helford Passage. Maenporth itself is a stunning deep cove with a huge sandy beach that forms a perfect sun trap in summer! It is also home to a beachside shop from which you can buy all flavours of Cornish ice cream.
Situated just above the beach is a restaurant called ‘The Cove’, partially owned by actor Michael Caine. It serves quality food from around the world with a Cornish twist and provides amazing views down the cove and across the beach – right out to the impressive tankers making their slow way across the English Channel.
Cornwall is a beautiful and popular part of the UK that is an absolute must for fans of tranquil beaches and boating adventures. It’s mild weather and beautiful coasts make for a totally unforgettable holiday experience!