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Cornwall, the western most point in England

Wendy Ashworth

Cornwall is one of my favorite English counties, where we have spent many happy family holidays and, more recently, holidays without the family. To my mind it makes the ideal destination for nearly everyone; from families looking for bucket and spade type holidays, to art fanatics who cannot fail to be impressed by the Tate Gallery at St. Ives and the Newlyn School gallery in Penzance and by the abundance of smaller galleries dotted around Cornwall. This lovely county has become very fashionable in recent years due largely to the fame that "The Lost Gardens of Heligan" brought, followed rapidly by "The Eden Project".

Surfers will find the best surf available in Britain and walkers can walk around the coast and see for themselves the lushness of the southwest coast compared with the wild and rugged north coast. There are many way marked walks but the most famous must be the 300-mile coast path.

Romantic couples will not be disappointed either as it is perfectly possible to hide yourselves away somewhere along the shores of the Helford River or The Roseland Peninsula for example, in superb self-catering or hotel accommodation.

For garden lovers, Cornwall is a paradise as there are many small gems as well as their more famous bigger cousins. I hope to put together a whole feature about the gardens of Cornwall upon my return from our holiday in mid July.

The history of seafaring is now very well documented in Falmouth's new maritime museum. History is also visible in the lost industry of mining, particularly around Redruth where there is an excellent museum and at Botallack (on the Penwith Coastline).

Cornwall is Celtic, not Anglo Saxon like the rest of England. It is very much a land of myth and legend as evidenced by standing stones, stone circles, menhirs and probably most famously, the legend of King Arthur at Tintagel.
www.tintagelweb.co.uk

It is not at all surprising that many authors set their novels here. Daphne du Maurier is probably the most famous and the website will furnish you with all you need to know about her life and the festival that examines her works, held every May in Fowey. The history of Menabilly, the home she lived in for many years, is nicely documented on this site too. You will no doubt recognize it as "Manderley" from that most atmospheric book "Rebecca".
www.dumaurier.org

Beaches

Cornwall has some of the best in Europe with water quality standards improving rapidly. Beaches flying a blue flag indicate that they have reached European quality standards of cleanliness for both the water and sands. Many have lifeguards in the summer particularly around Newquay.

As it is impossible to keep up with the upgrading and improvement of beaches by buying a book every year, I find that websites are a better way to keep an eye on what is happening, particularly with regard to water quality.
www.seasideawards.org.uk: Check the Cornwall beach information.
www.cornishlight.co.uk/beach.htm: Check the Cornwall beach information.

Cornwall's Renaissance

I have read much about the desirability of taking a holiday in Cornwall over the last few years but I was staggered by the improvements and upgrading of many establishments, notably restaurants and cafes as well as hotels and self catering accommodations, in the five years since we last visited.

So much so in fact that I am aiming to write an additional page or two about all of the above as well as the many new burgeoning art galleries. Cornwall has always been popular with artists but now it is staggering under the weight of all the new enterprise, there are 60 or so art galleries/shops in St Ives alone!

How to Get There

Cornwall is a long way from nearly everywhere in the United Kingdom! Roads have been improved over recent years, but they are still not able to cope with the vast numbers who want to travel in the "peak" periods, i.e. school holidays from about the middle of July until the end of August. Saturdays are the worst days to choose, as that is when most self-catering agencies have their changeover days. I am pleased to say that enlightened agencies now stagger changeover so it is possible to travel on most days of the week. The National Trust properties are to date the best at this.

Drive

From the southeast of England you should allow approximately six hours for your journey. See links below for trip planning websites.
www.viamichelin.com
www.theaa.com

Fly

You can fly from Gatwick to Newquay with Air Southwest or Easyjet from around 30 single. You will then need to hire a car unless you are going to be based in or around one of the resort towns like Newquay or St Ives that have a fairly good public transport system in place.
www.airsouthwest.com
www.easyjet.com

Train

Trains run from London Paddington about 9 times a day and take up to 6 hours terminating at Penzance but also stopping at Truro and Camborne.
www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk

Bus

Coach travel from London Victoria is an economical way to get to Penzance but can take up to 10 hours!
www.nationalexpress.com

Maps

There are many good maps available for the whole of the UK and for touring the AA Road Atlas of Britain is a good example. For a larger scale, I recommend the Ordnance Survey Touring Map and Guide to the West Country (Number 13). For keen hikers and for traveling the back roads, you cannot beat the Ordnance Survey Landranger series (Numbers 190, 200, 201, 203 and 204). These are beautiful maps that also make a great souvenir of a visit.

Essential Website

www.rosemarylinks.co.uk: This must be the most informative and entertaining website about Cornwall that exists. Do check it out! It includes TV news broadcasts from the early days of television and just about all the information you could possibly need. There are many beautiful photographs particularly of gardens and it is very strong on history including all you ever needed to know about a Cornish pasty. If I had found it earlier I could have saved myself a lot of writing!

More Information in this Section

Click the links below to read other pages about Cornwall.

Towns in Cornwall: Descriptions of the towns.

Accommodations in Cornwall: Hotels, vacation rental agencies, etc.

Restaurants in Cornwall: Guide to dining.


Wendy Ashworth lives in Surrey, England about 30 miles from London. She has a passion for Italy and Cornwall particularly as both have some of the most wonderful gardens in Europe. She works part time in Hampshire running a daytime information centre for young people. Thanks to Ricardo for the photographs.

© Wendy Ashworth, 2004

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