When it comes to coastal getaways, few regions can match the dazzling scenery, range of dining options, and fascinating history of Cornwall.
Ah, Cornwall. Cathy and I love the “French Riviera” of England. We regularly head there for walks, great food, friendly people, and the hundreds of gorgeous sandy beaches.
In a previous article, we reviewed our favourite hotel in Cornwall. Today, we thought we would share some of our reasons we’re regular at the Boskerris Hotel and share a sample itinerary.
Delve into Celtic Cornwall with a tour of the Land’s End peninsula. Start the day by taking a short boat ride (or walking the causeway at low tide) from Marazion to St Michael’s Mount. The terraced gardens are filled with exotic species and the castle looks very handsome after its recent renovation.
Then drive – or take the open-top hop-on-hop-off bus from Penzance – along the south coast to reach the photogenic golden funnel of Porthcurno. A cliffside path climbs to the magical open-air Minack Theatre and museum to its creator Rowena Cade. Note that seats for shows are rarely available on the day. Book online well in advance and bring warm windproof clothes and a rug even on a summer’s evening.
Land’s End, England’s most westerly point, was known to the Romans as Belerion, Seat of Storms. To get a real sense of what that means, walk there from Sennen Cove where the Old Success Inn serves up a delicious fish platter.
The B3306 coast road from St Just to St Ives crosses a landscape of extraordinary beauty: drystone walls dating back to the Iron Age radiate from ancient farmsteads enclosing luminous green fields that stretch into the sea. Drop into the village in Zennor to see the famous carved mermaid in its medieval church and grab an ice-cream at the Moomaid Cafe.
Arrive in St Ives in time to catch the latest show at Tate St Ives. The gallery reopened in 2018 having doubled in size to show more of its permanent collection of 20th-century modernist art. A few minutes away is sculptress Barbara Hepworth’s home and studio.
You can, of course, simply wander the alleys of the Downalong area or stroll along the harbour front and town beaches. But if you are feeling energetic, take the coastal path to Zennor, a three-hour hike along the cliffs. Look out for seals on the offshore Carracks (rocky islands). Reward yourself with a pint at the medieval Tinners Arms before catching the bus back.
Head for Porthmeor Beach and watch the sun sink into the cerulean sea as surfers catch the last wave of the day. In pole position is Porthmeor Beach Café which serves superb tapas and, along the sand, its new venture West Beach Cafe serving delicious Asian fusion seafood in the upstairs Fish Bar and stone-baked pizzas below. Note West Beach Cafe is now closed for the season, and will likely reopen in spring 2022. We always go here when in St. Ives and request an outside cabin if the weather is good.
Other notable dining places include Porthminster Kitchen, the Seafood Café for freshly caught fish or Firehouse Bar and Grill for great standard fare.
Having spent time in the south we like to hop in the rental car and head north. Padstow is a must-do destination.
The North Cornwall fishing port of Padstow has seen its popularity explode over recent years. Centred around the attractive harbour the bustling town is an eclectic mix of fisherman’s cottages and merchant’s houses. Whilst fishing and the port’s trade have declined over the centuries the void has been readily filled with Padstow establishing itself as one of Cornwall’s premiere holiday resorts. The success of the town can be attributed to its inherent charms but there is no denying that a certain celebrity chef probably contributed to putting Padstow back on the holiday map.
When your lungs can take no more of the fresh, saline air, simply take refuge in one of the town’s proper traditional pubs or cosy little restaurants (another benefit to coming at this time of year: the open fireplaces). I’ve recommended Prawn on the Lawn as the go-to restaurant, but it’s hard to go wrong with the selection on offer – Barnaby’s (owned by Katie and Rick Toogood, who also run PotL), Rojano’s, The Basement, Greens and Trevisker’s Kitchen, to name a few. For breakfast, you can’t go wrong with a full Cornish – or bubble and squeak at Cherry Trees, grabbing a seat by the window for optimum harbour views.
Once you’ve meandered through the small cobbled streets, there’s a great opportunity to blow away the cobwebs with a walk up to St Saviours Point for some breathtaking views of the harbour. When the tide is out, you can walk down to the sandy beach for a stroll, or take the ferry across to Rock for a change of scenery (£4 return trip).
The camel trail is without doubt is the best known of Cornwall’s recreational trails. Following the route of the route of the former North Cornwall Railway there are no steep inclines along the 17 mile route. The trail begins in Padstow before passing through Wadebridge and on to Bodmin and then to the village of Blisland on Bodmin Moor. Following the course of the River Camel the scenery is stunning and there is plenty of wildlife to spot too.
Traveling to Cornwall
To get to Cornwall, we usually fly one way into NewQuay airport and pick up a car or take the GWR train about 5 hours to Penzance and grab the rental car there. Usually we do one leg by air and return by train.
We simply adore this part of England and look forward to seeing old friends again soon.
For Andrew, travel is so much more than just learning history or taking photos. Rather, the value of travel is witnessing a lifestyle, bonding with locals, and gaining rich cultural experiences. That’s why he founded the Luxury Wanderer; a place to share itineraries, offer advice, swap stories, and foster a like-minded community of curious travellers.