Phillipa Ashley’s Top Tips for a Summer Staycation in Cornwall
THE WILD WEST OF CORNWALL
My recommendations for a holiday in the Wild West of Cornwall
(West is Best!)
Top tips before you set out:
In high summer, Cornwall’s roads can be extremely busy and many are very narrow so allow plenty of time to travel around, and set your alarm to be sure of getting a parking space. The earlier the better – or why not try an evening visit? If your chosen location is full, take a deep breath and move on. You’re on holiday.
Always be mindful of tide times, and obey any RNLI signs and flags. There are so many beautiful places inland that merit a visit if the coastal areas are full.
The best beach in Cornwall in my opinion but extremely busy on a sunny day. This deep cove with white sands and azure waters is surrounded by the wild granite coast. You may even spot a seal, dolphin or basking shark.
Porthcurno beach may be a stunner but If you are an adventurer at heart, you can scramble down the cliffs to neighbouring Pedn Vounder, regularly voted one of the world’s top beaches. You’ll have to be very careful as the ‘path’ is steep and involves a short climb at the bottom. You can easily get cut off so be careful – or why not simply enjoy the view from above?
After a day at the beach, be sure to call in at the Logan Rock, Treen, a beautiful old 16th Century pub full of character and great food.
The Minack Theatre
The iconic Minack Theatre is a must see! This unique, open-air venue, set on the side of a cliff, was designed and built by Rowena Cade. You now have to book for a visit or a show.
Global Museum of Communications, Porthcurno
On a rainy summer’s day – as is often likely in the UK – check out the Global Museum of Communications, a fascinating exploration into the history of modern communications from Morse to the Internet. You can also see the amazing underground bunkers used in the war. The museum was one of my inspirations for A Secret Cornish Summer.
Now, this is a must! Overlooked by some, it is one of my favourite places, giving stunning views of Lands End and the Isles of Scilly. I’d recommend a walk into Kenidjack Valley where you will find old mining ruins, birds, wildflowers, donkeys, nature and – most importantly – tranquillity.
You can also find St Just nearby which is a lovely little arty town with loads of pubs, delis and galleries.
Full of character this is a wild and windy but fabulous fishing cove and beach. It’s just a short walk up to a lookout over Lands End and there are plenty of pubs and cafes for food, coffee or an ice cream. A 30-minute walk along the cliffs brings you to Lands End, with views of a real life shipwreck – and if you’re lucky, you may see some rare Cornish choughs.
Carn Euny (near Sancreed/St Just) or Chysauster (near Penzance)
Want to get away from the crowds at the coast? These atmospheric Iron Age villages are tucked away in breath-taking locations, offering wildflowers and fabulous views. Chysauster is run by English Heritage but Carn Euny is free!
B3306 St Ives to Zennor
Often voted most beautiful road in Britain, the B3306 hugs the coast as it winds its way from Sennen to St Ives via Botallack, Pendeen, Morvah, and Zennor – and I can tell you just how to experience the best of it!
First stop could be the engine houses at Botallack where Poldark was filmed. Two of the mines cling perilously to the cliff edge and the workings spread deep beneath the sea.
Next you could stretch your legs at Pendeen lighthouse. Park here and stroll along the coast path, past a fishing cove to reach Portheras Cove, a quiet ‘locals’ beach.
Moving on west in your car, drive through Morvah which has a gallery. Make sure you stop at Rosemergy Tea Garden for the most amazing cream tea!
Just after the tea garden, park at the engine houses and walk to Bosigran Cliff for solitude and the most beautiful views in the county.
Moving on through the moorland and seascape road, you will pass The Gurnards Head, a famous pub which was an old haunt for John Le Carre.
After stopping for a quick refreshment continue to your final destination, Zennor. This is a gorgeous little village which is famous for its mermaid folklore. You can visit the church to see the famous mermaid carved pew and stop at the ‘Moomaid’ café for ice cream. There is also a lovely boutique for shopping!