7 Wonders of the South West
The South West is the captivating corner of England and a destination for all with wonders at every turn. Whether you're a beach lover, keen hiker or a sun worshiper, you'll find a piece of the South West perfect for you. From the land of Thomas Hardy in Dorset to the gently rolling hills of Devon and down to the sandy coves and fishing villages of Cornwall; this is a corner of Britain which has delighted holidaymakers for over a hundred years, and it isn’t showing any signs of flagging.
Original Cottages have over 1500 holiday homes in the South West, and we've thought long and hard about its 7 wonders. Every nook and cranny is beautiful, but there's 7 that stand out, and we'd love to share them with you.
South West Coast Path
The South West Coast Path is England’s longest waymarked footpath, stretching 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset, along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, round to Poole Harbour in Dorset. The path has been voted Britain’s Best Walking Route twice in a row by the readers of Ramblers Walk magazine, and regularly features in lists of the world’s best walks.
We recognise the importance of the South West Coast Path and are thrilled to be one of their core sponsors. Every stretch has its own feel and charm, why not spend a few nights in each county and explore the unique coastline of the South West?
Stay: The South West Coast Path runs all the way along the coast, so stay in any of our cottages within the area and you won't be far from a section of the path. You could attempt to do the whole thing, but you may need a chauffeur for the end of each day! See all our cottages in the South West.
St Michael’s Mount
Visit the amazing island world of St Michael’s Mount and discover legend, myth and over a thousand years of incredible history. Stroll across the granite causeway, or cross by boat and enjoy a very different day out! Tread medieval pathways, climb to the castle, admire the views, hear the islanders’ tales and unearth history in every step.
Day trip suggestion: Start your day with a few hours in St Ives, wander the cobbled streets which are full of independent, local shops. If you’re an art lover, then the Tate St Ives and Barbara Hepworth Museum are two of the best attractions in Cornwall to visit. Then travel to St Michael’s Mount and tuck into fresh local food for lunch at either the Island Café or the Sail Loft Restaurant.
Allow a good 3-4 hours to fully explore the island, and if you have time afterwards then we’d recommend heading to the picturesque harbour town of Porthleven. There’s a large number of dinner options in Porthleven but Rick Stein’s or The Square are great choices.
Stay: On the opposite shore of St Michael's Mount is Marazion. Just half a mile away from the pretty island, you'll be able to see St Michael's Mount every day by staying in Marazion. Alternatively, St. Ives is a twenty-minute drive from Marazion where we have a selection of over 200-holiday cottages.
Set in sub-tropical gardens, overlooking the remarkable Porthcurno Bay, Cornwall’s world-famous open-air theatre presents dramas, musicals and opera with the Atlantic Ocean as the backdrop! Listed as one of the World’s most spectacular theatres, from May to September visitors can enjoy performances in this dramatic clifftop setting. It’s hard to believe that just under eighty years ago there was nothing there except a sloping gully of gorse and heather, and below that, the almighty ocean.
Day trip suggestion: We can’t think of a better way to start your day than walking on the gorgeous, soft sand at the award-winning Porthcurno beach. With spectacular scenery and turquoise seas, it has to be one of our favourite beaches in Cornwall. From Porthcurno, you can also reach Pedn Vounder beach which is another must-visit!
For lunch, the Porthcurno Beach Café is a family-run, fully licensed café with a great selection of lunches and snacks. Alternatively, there’s a café at the Minack Theatre which serves snacks and light meals. Spend a few hours exploring the Minack Theatre site - there are often shows to enjoy at 2 pm.
After your Minack experience, make sure you visit the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum. Once the largest telegraph station in the world, it tells the fascinating story of worldwide communications from the very first global network to the modern-day web of fibre optic cables. On the way home, we’d recommend stopping by Fraser’s Fish & Chips in Penzance for a bite to eat!
Stay: The centre of Porthcurno is just a 6-minute stroll from Minack Theatre. Described by many as 'paradise', Porthcurno has won awards for its beauty, and with white sand and turquoise sea on its doorstep, who could disagree? Find our cottages in Porthcurno here.
Corfe Castle, Dorset
Guarding the Purbeck Hills, this dramatic castle ruin is sure to take your breath away. Discover thousands of years of history and explore the surrounding area.
Day Trip Suggestion: After a couple of hours exploring the ruins, discover Corfe village with its chocolate box cottages and quaint tearooms. Walkthrough underground passages and discover the history of ball clay mining at the Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum before jumping aboard the steam train for an afternoon on the beach in Swanage. For great views of Corfe Castle and the Purbeck hills, head to Scott’s Arms pub and admire the view from the pub garden.
Stay: A mere 10-15 minute drive from Corfe Castle is Swanage. Original Cottages has over 80 properties in this stunning coastal town where you'll find plenty more fun things to do. We'd suggest staying a Belvedere Lodge, a stunning Georgian Grade II listed apartment with room for four guests.
Jurassic Coast, Dorset
Scattered with geological wows, incredible rock formations and fossils, the Jurassic Coast is something that we had to make it into one of our Wonders of the South West.
Famous for its historic past, the Jurassic Coast (stretching from East Devon to Dorset) is one of England’s most famous coastlines and even became a World Heritage Site in 2001.
Day Trip Suggestion: Of course, exploring the Jurassic Coast means hunting for fossils! For the best chance of finding some, head to the beaches between Charmouth and Lyme Regis. Fossil hunting is an activity that can be enjoyed at any time of year, particularly with the beaches being quieter out of season.
Head further along the coast to Lulworth Cove for great photo opportunities and don’t forget to pop into The Dolls House for a sweet treat.
Stay: Original Cottages has holiday homes all along the Jurassic Coast, but staying in Lyme Regis or Charmouth you put you in and amongst it all
Valley of the Rocks, Devon
With many fantastic trails, Exmoor is a walker’s heaven, but The Valley of the Rocks is one of the most impressive sights, so make sure you don’t miss out and be sure to pack your camera – there are plenty of photo opportunities!
Day Trip Suggestion: From Lynton Cliff Railway Station, lace up and take to the South West Coast Path to walk the circular trail to see the Valley of the Rocks in all its glory. For a great photo, be sure to stop by Castle Rock.
Once you’ve completed the walk, take some time to explore Lynton and Lynmouth by taking the unique water-powered cliff railway between the two villages. Our #TrulyLocal team in Devon love to take a quick detour on their way home and enjoy a cream tea at National Trust Watersmeet.
Thurlestone Rock, Devon
Proudly standing on the South Devon coastline, Thurlestone Rock is a stunning rock formation and is one of our favourite spots to watch the sun go down in Devon.
Spend the day with the whole family (dogs are welcome year-round), discovering rock pools and having fun in the water. Whether you enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding or kite-surfing, you are sure to leave feeling refreshed and inspired.
Day Trip Suggestion: Chuck the walking boots and rock pooling kit in the car before heading out the door, ready for this coastal adventure. If you’re a keen walker, park at Hope Cove and grab a coffee from The Cove before heading out to Bolt Head to admire the fantastic views. Then turn back on yourself and head along the coast path until you get to Thurlestone Sands for a close view of the stunning rock.
In the summer months, you can easily spend a day on this beautiful beach. Pack some food and the rounders kit for a fun BBQ in the evening with friends. Or in the winter, wrap up warm and grab some lunch from the Beach House - try their king prawns, they are incredible!
Stay: Located only a stone's throw from the heart of the quintessential village of Thurlestone is Island View. If you're a dog-loving holiday party, this is the perfect choice for anyone wanting to explore this area of Devon.