Truly local Cornwall
Published: Friday 25th Aug 2017
Written by: Francisco Rosas
Picture-postcard sunsets, subtropical climates, a fresh catch of the day by the harbour – sounds like heaven? You might be surprised to hear that you don’t need to travel far to find it. In fact, you won’t even need your passport. From the blossoming botanical gardens of Trebah to the rugged wilds of Lands End, you won’t have to look far to find your own little piece of paradise, right here in the UK.
For most Cornish folk, the busy beaches of Newquay, cobbled streets of St Ives and historic harbour in Falmouth all become a bit too busy, peak season. Instead, they head to the places few people have heard of – the secret locations that go a little less noticed.
Off the beaten track
Just west of Padstow lies the gorgeous coastal village of St Merryn. Still relatively unknown to tourists, it’s surrounded by hundreds of acres of lush green fields, with a fresh sea breeze rolling in off the Trevose Headland – a nature lover’s delight. The village is known as having “seven bays for seven days” thanks to over five miles of coastline, dramatic cliffs and stunning beaches, all waiting to be explored.
Slightly further inland, Wadebridge is another gem of the northern Cornish coast. Known for being a welcome pit-stop on the Camel Trail, an 18-mile footpath through some of the South West’s most dramatic landscapes, Wadebridge is the place to be if you’re ready for an adventure. Following an old, disused railway track, the trail takes you past everything from impressive clifftop peaks to impossibly blue lagoons. Choose to walk, hire a bike or book a riding lesson along this scenic route.
Both St Merryn and Wadebridge are surrounded by countless paths to explore, castles to conquer and beaches to soak up the sun. To the north is the breathtaking village of Port Isaac. Once a thriving trading hub for Cornish commerce, you can still watch local fishermen bringing in the daily catch, their boats bobbing rhythmically on the clear water.
As much as we love our unsung hotspots, you can’t (and shouldn’t) ignore the popular attractions that bring so many people to the county year after year.
The west will fulfil thrill seekers, with Watergate Bay and Perran Sands offering great watersports facilities, from surfing to coasteering. Godrevy, Gwithian and Hayle make up a three-mile stretch of golden sand and grassy shifting dunes, popular with the locals for its surf and open space. If you’re not hunting for waves, but looking for that perfect photo opportunity, then why not take a walk around the Godrevy coastline and snap the 150-year-old lighthouse? Or head to Marazion and - tide dependent - take a walk across the causeway or catch a boat across the water to the mystical shores of St Michael’s Mount.
Then there’s the south and the east, both offering some of the most unique views and scenery in Cornwall. From The Roseland Heritage Coast to the harbour town of Fowey, graceful slopes end at the water’s edge and boats of all shapes and sizes sail along or moor up. There’s nothing like soaking up a coastal view from the water. Why not hire one yourself, and enjoy a picnic lunch on board? Or take a stroll down to the Minack? This impressive open-air theatre, carved into the granite clifftop above Porthcurno, stages performances - from Shakespearean classics to contemporary plays - throughout the year. Pack up a light theatre supper in your hamper, take a blanket for when the sun dips below the horizon and see if you can spot dancing pods of dolphins in the sea beyond the stage walls, framed by panoramic ocean views.
An ancient moor cloaked in mystery: wild, rugged grasslands stretch for miles as jagged ritual stones pepper the landscape. And clusters of plated, granite rocks offer unique vantage points with sweeping views, helpful for navigating the epic expanse of walkable countryside. Perfect for a hike or a ramble, explore the stunning scenery and - if you’re feeling brave enough - hunt down the phantom Beast of Bodmin.
Weather not quite up to exploring the wilds? Then take a trip to the UK’s largest indoor rainforest, the Eden Project. It’s a world of tropical climates and environments. With birds chirping, waterfalls rushing and walkways through the forest as high up as the canopy, it’s easy to forget you’re in the UK.
Cornwall isn’t just about views and nature. It’s also about good food. With the UK’s top restaurant in Port Isaac - Restaurant Nathan Outlaw - crowned in the top spot by the Waitrose Good Food Guide 2018 , it’s clear that Cornwall takes its food seriously. With dishes from all around the world, as well as traditional favourites retaining pride of place, Cornwall’s every foodie’s dream.
If it’s seafish you’re craving, you’ll be spoilt for choice, but there’s one particular seafood mecca the locals love: The Wheel House in Falmouth. Tucked away in an arched alley leading to the harbour, from the outside you’d think it was actually someone’s home. But be sure to book before you set off on your travels – it’s sometimes fully reserved weeks in advance.
Or maybe you want a proper pasty, Cornish style, created with the same care today as they have been for generations. If you’re taking the time to explore some coastline, wander to The Lizard, follow the path around the cliffs and hills, with nothing on the horizon but the beautiful blue sea. Then find a quiet spot to sit, and indulge in a pasty from Ann’s.
With something for everyone, explore our truly local Cornish stays for a truly local experience.