Our top 10 things to do in Cornwall
Well I’m sure there could be a few disagreements here but I guess that only goes to show that there are so many great things to do in Cornwall that it can be hard to choose a top 10!
Anyway, we thought we would have a go…
Please feel free to write in the comments any different places you would choose.
THE CAMEL TRAIL
The Camel Trail (www.cameltrailcyclehire.co.uk) is always a popular thing to do with our students. The amazing view as the Camel Estuary opens up along the route is so beautiful and relaxing.
Then there is the fun of all the other cyclists along the route which creates such a lovely atmosphere of bimbling through the Cornish countryside.
While cycle routes like this can be quite common in other countries they are unfortunately rare in the UK which makes them just a little bit more special.
The only downside is that it is not a little longer before we arrive in Padstow for a wander through this picture postcard seaside town with some of Rick Stein’s famous fish’n’chips on the harbour wall.
It’s always a magical trip when we take our students to Tintagel Castle (www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/tintagel-castle/) and it is worth the trek up to the top of North Cornwall.
The castle is supposedly the birth place of the legendary King Arthur and you can just feel the mystical history in the landscape around the castle.
Although the castle is in ruins now, there is still a fairytale feeling everywhere from Merlin’s cave at the bottom of the island to the far reaching views out to sea at the top.
As well as the castle, there is Tintagel village which is home to some weird and wonderful shops selling an endless supply of mystical King Arthur souvenirs!
TELEGRAPH MUSEUM & PORTHCURNO
The Telegraph Museum (telegraphmuseum.org) is one of those hidden gems in Cornwall that not everyone knows about. It is right at the end of the county just next to the wonderful Porthcurno beach. The museum houses some fascinating history which always has the students completely spellbound.
In the modern world, when we are so dependent on telecommunications, it is amazing to see the early development of this invaluable technology. The museum is still on the original site where the first ever transatlantic communication signals were sent. In fact, it was once the largest telegraph station in the world and it is still a key site for the current internet cables that connect Europe to North America.
There is just so much to see and do at this museum and then to finish the day off, we like to wander down to Porthcurno beach for a BBQ and a swim in the sea!
GEEVOR TIN MINE
Geevor Tin Mine (geevor.com) is another less well known attraction to people from outside Cornwall, yet it is actually one of the most important places to visit in order to get a real understanding of the history of this county.
We have taken lots of groups to Geevor over the past few years. When the groups arrive they always seem a little underwhelmed and wonder why we have chosen to bring them to this bleak part of Cornwall, yet as soon as they are inside, they are amazed by the engineering feats achieved by the miners who worked in this mine.
The highlight of visiting Geevor is the tour given by the ex-miners who used to work in the mine, the stories they can tell about the history of this place leave students with a real understanding of Cornish history and culture. And the icing on the cake, are the homemade Cornish pasties that we enjoy in the cafe looking out to the Atlantic Ocean at the end of the visit.
ST MICHAEL'S MOUNT
While some of the previous attractions may be relatively unknown, that cannot be said for St Michael’s Mount (www.stmichaelsmount.co.uk) which is one of the most recognisable places in Cornwall. The ebb and flow of the tide at St Michael’s Mount creates this ever changing island that can suddenly become out of reach. It creates a little danger and excitement to consider exactly when the island will be cut off and if you will have to rely on a boat to get there or back. (Be careful in winter as the boat does not run and you really can get stuck!)
We always try to visit the mount at a time when you will get to experience both options: the walk and the boat. For those who like a little more excitement (and who are happy to get wet), there is also the option to walk along the causeway as the tide is coming in! We love to do this and will always make sure you are 100% safe if you want to be a tide chaser 🙂
As well as the tide, there is all the magnificent history of the island that can be experienced as you walk around the house which is still lived in by the St Levan family. The amazing National Trust guides are always at hand to tell you some amazing stories about the rich history of the castle.
THE EDEN PROJECT
Although it has only been around since 2000, the Eden Project (www.edenproject.com) has become an iconic attraction in Cornwall that is recognised all over the world. It is regularly in the top 10 tourist attractions in the whole of the UK.
It was commissioned as a Millennium Project to demonstrate how an old mining site that seemed to be a lifeless eyesore can be completely regenerated to become an exciting living, breathing tourist attraction with a really interesting educational message.
What has been achieved at the Eden Project is truly phenomenal and it should be a part of anyone’s visit to Cornwall. The two biomes are amongst the biggest in the world and you really feel like you are walking through a tropical rainforest and the Mediterranean hills of Tuscany and that is before you have even explored the outdoor gardens!
FAL RIVER CRUISE
As a local to the Truro and Falmouth area, I may be a little biased here but this is one of my favourite things to do in Cornwall.
Sailing down the river to Falmouth (www.falriver.co.uk) on a sunny day is complete paradise! It is so peaceful and beautiful with the gentle breeze from the river, you really feel like you could be cruising down the Amazon or another tropical river.
Of course these river channels are well known by sailors around the world and various Olympic champions like Ben Ainslie have learnt their sailing skills on this precious stretch of water.
After a dreamy hour or so on the water, you arrive in Falmouth (www.falmouth.co.uk) for some fun times in its local cafes, pubs and arty shops. It is the perfect destination to finish this journey and there are even some hidden beaches on the other side of town if you know which way to go!
TATE ST IVES & ST IVES
There is so much to St Ives (www.stives-cornwall.co.uk) that it was impossible to choose a photo to sum up everything this perfect little seaside town has to offer!
You may think it is cheating to include both St Ives and the Tate but then these two parts of St Ives are totally intertwined and anyone who visits St Ives should not miss a visit to the Tate Art Gallery and the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden (www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-st-ives).
There was a time when St Ives was at the forefront of modern art and the group of artists around Barbara Hepworth were a key part of that. The fact that there is a Tate art gallery in the town is a testament to the importance of the art history in this quaint little seaside town. There is nothing better than wandering through the narrow streets of the town and discovering new little cafes, galleries and shops you didn’t know existed.
Amazingly, this town also has four completely different beaches all scattered around the town and within 10 minutes walk of each other!
THE MINACK THEATRE
In many ways the Minack (www.minack.com) is my number one place to visit in Cornwall. It is so special and unique, there are very few theatre venues in the world which could claim a more atmospheric venue than The Minack. And then, when you understand it was largely the work on one indomitable lady and her gardener, it just makes you even more awestruck at its existence on a cliff at the edge of Cornwall!
Growing up in Cornwall, I have many happy memories of being taken to this otherworldly place to watch plays under the stars. It has now become a key place to take our groups to watch a play on a summer’s evening.
As well as the performance on the stage, there is also the backdrop of gannets diving for fish and even pods of dolphins jumping in the bay – just magic!
THE SOUTH-WEST COAST PATH
Through writing this blog of our top 10 excursions, it came as quite a surprise that the South West Coast Path (www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk) would be number one.
I had envisaged somewhere like the Eden Project as the top activity that students would value the most. However, time and again, at the end of our programmes when students review the different activities they have done, the walk we have done on the coast path comes out at number 1!
It is something I must thank my students for as it is through their love of the walks we have completed on the coast path that I have come to discover so much more of this amazing resource on our doorstep.
It is in fact an unbroken path of over 600 miles around the coastline of Cornwall and England’s other south-western counties. That is such a fantastic achievement for the people who have marked and maintained this wonderful path that it definitely deserves to be our number one excursion and we look forward to exploring many more parts of it with our students in the future 🙂