With a week of annual leave falling in the UK Easter holidays this year, an unorganised me had yet again left firm travel plans to the very last minute. With a hopeful week of sun heading England’s way, where better to explore than the land of cream teas and pirates?
With a general course for Cornwall set, we headed off to our first port of call, Newquay. Famous for its beaches and surf scene, Newquay offered the most choice in low-cost last-minute hotel stays. The four and a half-hour journey down was a day trip in itself. So, with car tunes at the ready and sat nav set, we were off!
Stop One: Newquay
Staying in the beautiful Esplanade hotel, we soon caught surfer vibes with the mammoth Fistral Beach spreading out right before us and wetsuit-clad bodies heading to the waves in constant succession.
Driving along, it wasn’t unusual to see a wetsuit hanging from an upstairs window in the colourful houses that line the area. Those looking to kit themselves out with all the gear will find no shortage of shops supplying their wares, with surf schools galore showing first-timers how to ride the waves.
Whilst there are only a handful of eateries near to Fistral Beach, a trip into the main town will show up all of the usual restaurants with a few more unusual options as well as supermarkets ready to stock up your rucksack for a day trip!
Stop Two: Saint Michaels Mount
Floating just off the coast of Marizion, Cornwall is an island joined to the mainland only at certain times of the day. If you manage to time your visit right, you can walk all the way to Saint Michael’s Mount through the ocean on a man-made causeway that disappears with the tide. Having had a late start, we just missed a wander across this (unless we fancied wading in up to our waists) so climbed the rocks ready to take one of the many boats across to the island.
Top Tip: Make sure you have cash!
Whilst they are very good at having the right change to head back to you, the tiny boats making their way across to Saint Michaels don’t yet have card readers so make sure you have the fare (£2 each way) in cash. You’ll get back a pretty ‘ticket’ for your crossing each time and a brisk dart across the water, just watch out for the sea spray if you are at the front!
Saint Michaels Mount itself is a town surrounded by ocean, the access to which is controlled by the National Trust. Whilst you can get off the boat and wander to the café, access to the castle & gardens require an admission ticket. Whilst National Trust members can access all areas for free, any other visitors can purchase a ticket for both castle and gardens combined for around £16 for an adult.
Looking out from the island, the views are incredible, even when the tide has covered the walkway, it is still visible beneath the waves making for an unusual sight. If you visit the castle, looking down from the head-spinning heights (after the extremely steep walk up there) will make your breath catch with beautiful views over the gardens and ocean beyond. What it must have been like to live in this beautiful place I can’t imagine but a walk around the grounds will reveal unexpected treasures at every turn. Be sure to keep an eye out on the way up for the heart stone, hidden in the cobblestones of the path!
Stop Three: Porthcurno Beach & The Minack Theatre
Park up in the tiny town car park and take the path towards the beach and you will find a lovely walk to the shoreline whilst learning all about how the area helped develop communications with the world. Looking like it has been lifted straight from the Mediterranean, the sheltered cove of Porthcurno beach is a heavenly sight. Take the cliffside path to your right and you will find the perfect angle from which to overlook it all.
Leading up along the cliff face, the path leads towards the spectacular Minack Theatre. With shows year-round for a very reasonable price, this theatre has the most spectacular setting jutting out over the rocky Atlantic Ocean for some of the best views around. If you don’t fancy paying to get in, the views before you reach the theatre are pretty spectacular so are worth the climb from the beach themselves.
Stop Four: Lizard Point
Another day brought another adventure. This time, it was a trip to the most southern part of the United Kingdom mainland. Home to a historic lighthouse, Lizard Point sits as a breath-taking natural beauty spot
Top Tip: National Trust members can park for free here
Stop Five: Pendennis Castle
Take a step back in time to a castle used during both world wars and beyond as a major defence point. one of the best coastal fortresses created by good old Henry VIII, the castle offers some of the best coastal views around, not to mention an absolute ton of weaponry to discover. Wander the grounds and you man even come across one of the costumed actors, ready to play their part with a tale of what went on around there.
From ancient cannons to the camouflaged Half Moon battery used during World War Two, there is a ton to explore and a huge number of ways to experience the sights for yourself. You can even load up your very own Tudor gunner (although not with real ammunition, unsurprisingly).
Admission prices for the castle sit at around £11 for adults (free for English Heritage members) with plenty to fill a good few hours.
Stop Six: Lanhydrock
An absolute dream of an estate full of endless corners to explore including what it thought to be the National Trust’s first ever tea room! Our drive back up north took us to this incredible estate by chance and we were not disappointed. Looking like a miniature castle gatehouse, the front entrance welcomes you in to the grounds of a truly magnificent late Victorian country house with endless treasures and stories to discover within.
The house itself contains everything from fun-filled nurseries to the lovely library and pretty impressive kitchens. Step outside to the gardens however and you will find beautiful gardens to explore with peaceful corners to relax in and flowers abundant. An absolutely beautiful tiny cottage also stands within the ground which was the home of what is supposed to be the National Trust’s first official tearoom.
Unfortunately, it no longer houses a tea room, but you can imagine what a perfect setting it would have been. if you fancy a cuppa and cake, the tea room at the house is perfect and sits right across from a second-hand bookshop (which I was incredibly excited about) selling everything from books on gardening to hard back antique classics.
If you are all about the woodland walks, skip the admission to the house and garden and instead explore for yourself. Although there is a charge for parking, the walks and trails around the estate are free to access.
Admission is around £9 for an adult (free for National Trust members) but the parkland is free for those not wanting to explore the house.
Full of intriguing corners and historical settings to explore, Cornwall is the perfect place to ‘staycation’ in the UK and a breath-taking place to explore if Blighty is not your native home. Whilst we couldn’t fit everything into three days, our mini trip took us to new sites and head-spinning heights with plenty added to the list for our next trip!
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