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Although remote, Cornwall is not 'empty'.

There is a glad profusion of sights and sites around the Cornwall region, and different micro-climates from cold and dank (on Bodmin Moor) to sunny and warm (at several of the seaside resorts).

So whether you're seeking art, food, history or mystery, there's something sure to appeal in this varied region.

 
 
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Cornwall - England's Remotest County

Part 3 :  What to See in Cornwall

A lovely sunny day on the waterfront in Cornwall's seaside town of Fowey. 

 

Part 3 of a 4 part series - click for
1.  An Introduction to Cornwall
2.  Where to Stay in Cornwall
3.  What to See  in Cornwall
4.  Touring To and Around Cornwall

 

Cornwall - Some Must See Things


Biomes at the Eden Project, just out of St Austell.

People out and about enjoying the canal and its tow path in Bude.

It is hard to come up with a short list of things to see and do in Cornwall, because no matter at what point you try and end the list, there's always another thing begging to be added.

So what follows is absolutely not a complete list at all, and should also be read in conjunction with the fourth part of this series, which offers up some touring suggestions.

This is relevant because sometimes there are things that you'd not make a special journey to go and see, but if you were driving past, you might choose to stop because you were already there.

In other words, decide on your main itinerary first, then fill it with additional content second.

South Coast


With a lovely sandy beach on one side, and a quaint fishing harbor on the other, Looe is a scenic delight for visitors.


The castle at Pendennis Point, Falmouth.


Lizard Point and its lighthouse, the southern most tip of England.


St Michael's Mount, just out of Penzance.  The causeway that you can walk across at low tide is visible.

The 'First and Last House' at Land's End.

You definitely should visit one or two of the beautiful coastal towns as you make your way west and further in to Cornwall.

Where the River Looe reaches the sea, there is the town of Looe on one side of it, and on the other side, a completely separate town, West Looe.

This is very similar to another pair of towns bisected by a river just a bit further west - Fowey (pictured at the top of the page) and Polruan.  But whereas there's a bridge across the Looe, it is a long 17 mile loop around between Fowey and Polruan (unless you take a car ferry that goes across the river on a regular basis).

Both pairs of towns are nice, but our preference would be Fowey.  There's a nice castle at the mouth of the Fowey river, too - St Catherine's Castle.

There are other small towns scattered along the coast, and then you come to the much larger town of Falmouth, with another castle - Pendennis - and the National Maritime Museum.

Continue in a south westerly direction, and before you know it, you'll be going down the narrow road to Lizard Point and its lighthouse.

Lizard Point's claim to fame is that it is the southern most point on Britain's mainland.  If you like going to places like that, then you'd definitely want to go to Lizard Point.

Now in a northwesterly direction, if the weather is blustery and - even better - stormy, why not look in on Porthleven, considered by many to be the most storm-battered location in the British Isles.  The waves can break 50 ft up the cliffs on a really rough day, so careful where you park your car! 

 Loop around the bay to Penzance, possibly stopping at St Michael's Mount, just a couple of miles out of Penzance.  Depending on the tide, you can either walk along a causeway to the island, or take a little short boat ride.

Continuing in a southwesterly direction once more, we'd recommend a detour to the lovely little village of Mousehole (pronounced "Mozzil"), and then, perhaps make another detour to Porthcurno, where some of Britain's original undersea cables came ashore.

There's a well done museum that tells the story of the cables and their role in peace and war.

Lastly for this section, you'll come to Land's End, one of the two 'bookends' of Britain's famous roadtrip between Land's End and John O'Groats (click link for our article on this).

Looping Around from Penzance to St Ives


The 19 stones of the Merry Maidens Circle.


The ruins of a tin mine on the horizon - an evocative sight seen across much of Cornwall's countryside.


Beautiful St Ives, with yet another beautiful harbor setting.

This is one of our favorite parts of Cornwall, generally following the B3315 west out of Penzance to Land's End, then the B3306 to St Ives before heading back to Penzance, possibly via Marazion and St Michael's Mount.

Keep your eyes open, and plan your journey, because you'll pass a number of standing stones and other odd things - for example, the Merry Maidens and The Pipers of Boleigh, and assorted others elsewhere.

Quite apart from the beautiful landscapes, this takes you through the St Just Mining District, one of the ten parts of what constitutes Cornwall's World Heritage District collection of mining areas.

While some of the ten areas are little more than fading ruins, this area has two working exhibits you can experience - the Geevor Tin mine, where you can actually go underground, and the Levant Mine and Beam Engine, with a beautifully restored Victorian era 'steam punk' type beam engine.

As you get closer to St Ives, you might want to make the small detour to see the Lanyon Quoit and Mn-an-Tol stones.  The latter are supposed to have curative powers, and also feature a distinctive circular holed stone.

The North Coast

The ruins of mysterious Tintagel Castle, looking all the more mysterious in the mist.


Beautiful Port Isaac.

Traveling more or less along the north coast, which much of the time means the A39 with occasional side roads off, takes you first to Newquay, the capital of Cornwall.

The next detour off the A39 takes you to Padstow, perhaps the gastronomical heart of Cornwall with half a dozen or so restaurants of note, including one with a Michelin star (Number 6 in Padstow).

However, the real surprise and delight is in Port Isaac - best known as being the location where the Doc Martin television series is filmed, but also the home of a Michelin 2-star restaurant (the Restaurant Nathan Outlaw).  Just a short walk away from this is Outlaw's Fish Kitchen, with one Michelin star.

A bit further up the coast takes you to Tintagel and its eponymous castle, and then a bit further takes you to another lovely fishing/coastal village, Boscastle.

And now you're nearing the easterly limit of Cornwall, on the other side of the Hartland Cornwall Heritage Coast - an area unusual for being both a designated Heritage Coast and also a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, just north of Morwenstow. 

 

Also of Note
Very reminiscent of The Georgian Circle of houses in Bath, this is actually a new development in Truro.
 
Bodmin Moor is the home to many different stone structures and circles.

Okay, so this is the bit where we keep adding more things!

And so we fairly should, because there's a lot more to Cornwall than the bits around the coast.

But we'll limit this to three places only.  From west to east, the first is Truro, Cornwall's only official cathedral city, and a pleasant town to visit.

The second destination would be St Austell - it is sort of on the southern coastal route, but not on the southern coast, so we didn't mention it there.  It is known for the slightly strange Eden Project a few miles out of town.

We've never visited the Eden Project because we've struggled to see the value of spending what is a fairly substantial admission fee in terms of what we'd get to see/do inside.

Also near St Austell are the Lost Gardens of Heligan, created by the people who subsequently founded the Eden Project.

The third destination is the Bodmin Moor area.  This has some wonderful landscapes, old mine engine houses, stone circles, and other things, and the entire moor is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

Part 3 of a 4 part series about Cornwall. - Please visit the other parts of this article series - click for
1.  An Introduction to Cornwall
2.  Where to Stay in Cornwall
3.  What to See in Cornwall
4.  Touring To and Around Cornwall

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Originally published 03 Jan 2018, last update 25 Aug 2018

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
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