Cornwall sits at the westernmost part of the south-west of Great Britain and as a result is often left off people’s travel itineraries. I believe Cornwall needs to sit at the top of people’s lists of destinations to visit in the UK. Around five million people visit annually but most are from England.
Aesthetics: 10 out of 10
Cornwall covers an area of 3,563 sq km (1,376 sq mi). It is a little bigger than Rhode Island and one and a half times the size of Australia’s ACT. Its population is 535,300 people. Some of the most stunning landscapes in the world demand your attention with gorgeous villages, seascapes and countryside all packed in. I spend most of my time in Cornwall saying “wow”.
Liveability: 8 out of 10
There are three things that one needs to know about the Cornish climate. 1. It is the sunniest part of England. 2, Winters are warmer than anywhere else in the Uk 3. the weather is very changeable.
Cornwall is one of the poorest parts of the UK and as such qualifies for EU development grants to help development. Average incomes are 20% lower than Great Britain. House prices are way higher than the rest of the UK but rents are the fourth lowest. Food seemed to be about the same. Cornwall is quite isolated and travel is harder because of its geography.
Many Cornish see themselves as a different country to the rest of England and you will see the Cornish black and white Saint Piran’s Flag displayed all over the county. The Cornish language is being revived and you will see signs in shops, cafes and libraries all over Cornwall for Cornish language classes. Not many signs are in Cornish, however and I have never heard it spoken.
Art, music, theatre and film opportunities abound throughout Cornwall.
The typical fast food outlets jostle with Chinese and Indian outlets, pubs and Gastro pubs. Cornish Pasties, a steak and vegetable parcel wrapped in pastry are available throughout Cornwall (and at railway stations across the UK). There is much debate as to the authenticity and quality of many of the examples. . The best use of Cornish milk has to be Cornish Ice cream. You will eat well in Cornwall!
Transport: 7 out of 10
Do not drive there. The roads in Cornwall are narrow, twisting and full of tourist cars. Take the train down from London or Bristol or Manchester. It is a stunning trip through Devon. In Cornwall itself, you can buy a daily Ride Cornwall card for ten pounds which allows travel on all trains and buses. Travelling by bus through most of Cornwall is easy and almost everywhere is accessible. NB I found off season (October to Easter) schedules can be frustrating so some trips took some extra planning. Riding on the double decker buses gives you an amazing views.
Vibe: 10 out of 10
There is something seriously special about Cornwall.
Overall: 9.0 out of 10
My Cornwall Top Ten
1. The South West Coast Path – I am completely in love with the coastline of Cornwall. Much of the coast is protected as Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it is easy to see why. Hills, cliffs, crags, and beaches can all be walked around on the well sign posted Coastal walk. some sections are relatively easy and some quite difficult. Be prepared for multiple weather changes.
2. Eden Project- an abandoned polluted quarry was rehabilitated into an environmental regeneration project housed in two biodomes” and a surrounding garden.
3. Mount St Michael – this legendary island is visible from the area around Penzance. Completely surrounded by water, the island becomes accessible by foot via a cobblestone causeway for a few hours every day. There is a castle on top of the island run by The National Trust but I found opening hours were a little erratic in summer and in winter, almost non existent. Here I am standing at the island entrance.
4. St Ives-stunning seaside village with incredible art focus. Be warned its a pricey place for many things because of the tourist traffic which clogs the streets up in summer.
5. St Ives Rail Line- the train journey from Penzance to St Ives is amazing. The line was one of those almost closed under the notorious Beeching closures of the 60s but was reprieved. Thankfully because not only is it amazing but it reduces traffic into the seaside town significantly. Sit on the right side of the train when going to St Ives to maximise the scenic views. The view from Penzance across the water is a stunning prelude to what is to come when the train winds itself on top of the cliff into St Ive’s Railway station.
6. Tate Cornwall -I thought the Tate building to be a little uninspiring -sorry. The art collection inside is very cool but what topped it off are the stunning views from the building. The staff were very friendly. The Tate visit must be combined with a look at the Barbara Hepworth Museum sculpture garden
7. Village visits- there are so many stunning villages and towns across Cornwall. Apart from St Ives, my favourites are Morazion, St Just, Falmouth and Mevagissey.
8. Walking in the Countryside- Cornish countryside consists of picturesque hills, narrow winding lanes, green fields and cute farms. Some great walks abound.
9. Cornish Cream Tea -A sweet scone, jam and Cornish clotted cream are a delight eaten in a cafe people watching
10. Tintagel Castle – supposedly the birthplace of King Arthur and home or Merlin-it sure feels like it
I have left Lands End off my Top Ten, as most tourists end to Land’s End complex anyway and the complex itself is not my cup of tea . Lands End represents the very south of the United Kingdom. Nestled at the end the complex includes some tourist shops, a restaurant and adventure rides. I took the bus there and could not wait to get out, hiking away along the Coast Walk toward Sennen and St Just. I found it to be a relatively easy and stunning walk.