England’s western extremity is blessed with some of the finest beaches and most unspoiled coastline in the country. From surfing to sampling the culinary creations of a celebrity chef, there’s no shortage of things to do in the ancient Celtic kingdom. Don’t like heading to places where too many tourists gather? We’ve chosen our collective favourite beautiful non-touristy to visit in Cornwall, which are sure to please all the travel snobs out there…
Cawsand and Kingsand Beaches
Today, these unspoiled hidden gems are twinned but for many centuries they were on different sides of the border with only a tiny stream acting as a border. In 1844, Kingsand rejoined Cornwall from Devon and now, only a sign on one of the pristine cottages is the only evidence of the divide. The two villages are a superb option if you’re looking for unspoiled things to do in Cornwall – they are steeped in an exciting history of smuggling and fishing legends of which, the Pilchard Palaces now highlight. The most beautiful thing about these historic villages is the view, from Kingsand there is a spectacular panorama over the breakwater to Jennycliff while in Cawsand a pub on the beach offers the perfect luncheon spot with breathtaking views of over the sea and the passing boats from Plymouth. Both offer excellent watersports opportunities, safe and clear waters and secluded bays. Perfect for a weekend away from it all!
You won’t be in the gorgeous village of Polperro long before you see exactly why it was voted one of the prettiest villages in England. Lying a few miles along the coast from Looe, it has been preserved from the ravages of time and tide by it’s surrounding cliffs, resulting in an enchanting plethora of unique, quaint cottages, narrow streets, sandy inlets and secret caves. This village too is steeped in a fascinating history of smuggling and trade which is evidenced all over the stonework. A small gangway across the beach at low tide conveys tourists to the fleet of boats available for trips on sunny days and for those missing their sealegs, there are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. To experience Polperro at its best, we recommend approaching it from the sea – truly beautiful!
Daymer Bay Beach
It is hard to believe that Daymer Bay has remained so unspoiled and untouristy with its superb sandy beach and intricate network of rock pools, it is a must for a romantic peaceful getaway or for all the family. At low tide, the sand stretches for miles and is encircled by powdery dunes and sandhills. It is secluded and sheltered thanks to the dunes, which makes it a more peaceful choice over its neighbours- Rock and Polzeath. At the south end of the beach, there is a grassy mound of Bray Hill which, once climbed, offers an exceptional view of the surrounding area. It is also worth visiting St. Enodoc Church, affectionately nicknamed Sinking Neddy because of its intimate relationship with the tide. The combination of local history, grassy knell and tumbling dunes makes it the perfect family destination- something to keep everyone happy.
Located on the delightfully named Lizard peninsula, is also known as Porth Mellin and the harbour was originally built in 1895 as compensation for fishermen for several disastrous pilchard seasons. Since then, Mullion Cove and Island (half a mile offshore) have become popular tourist destinations due to their sheltered, peaceful vibe and lie within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is easy to understand why- the old pilchard cellars and net store have been preserved in their original state and there are stunning walks along the coast and pier. The area offers lots of eateries, elegant white-washed guest houses and hotels, all offering the best of the best when it comes to seafood. Without a doubt, Mullion Cove should make it onto your bucket list.
Set in 140 acres of grounds, it will not come as a shock that Caerhays Castle is one of Britain’s horticultural treasures and is the stunning home of the Williams family. Caerhays has it all- naturally beautiful coastline, green valleys, architectural wonders and interwoven into it all an overwhelming sense of history. What more could one ask for? Wonder? Tick. 200-year-old castle! Exploration opportunities? Tick. Acres of stunning garden! History? Tick. The breeding ground of the first Williamsii Camellias. A trip to Caerhays is not a one off, it’s a place you come back to over and over because there will always be a path you haven’t strolled along, a flower collection you haven’t seen or corner of the Georgian estate you haven’t explored. Make it your family’s tradition now.
This beautifully enchanting village in West Cornwall is located in the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Beauty and it a lovely unspoiled place to visit in Cornwall. While it was once an important port for trade, now while it’s trading tradition has subsided it is now a sleepy, little village in retirement from a stellar trading history of rum, tobacco and lace and the pirates who camped out here during the Napoleonic Wars are simply ghosts but in when the sea mist shimmers over the glassy waters, Helford’s unique history doesn’t seem that far in the past and the perfect setting for a du Maurier novel- who incidentally spent her honeymoon here. If it’s good enough for Daphne. The Helford River that snakes through the village is probably one of the most unspoiled in Cornwall and strolling along its banks will bring you into ancient oak forests, wooded tracks and hidden creeks.
Walk the South West Coast Path
Ok, we understand that the whole 600+ mile stretch might be a bit ambitious, after all, it takes about three weeks to cover the entire path along the coast of Cornwall but it is possible to do it in sections at a time. Get yourself a good map and plan your route. This amazing experience can be achieved anywhere along the South West coast of England, go either left or right and you are setting foot on the longest National Trail in the UK. It is right here that heritage, wildlife and geology collide into a kaleidoscope of natural beauty. Whether you are an experienced hiker up for a new challenge or just looking to enjoy some of the best scenery that England has to offer, there is a walk just for you. Hike around the shores of Poole Harbour or simply opt for the Tea Shop and Café walk which, incorporates some of the most pretty tea shops in the area so you can have a cream scone and a picturesque view! There are various combinations to suit all walkers from dog walkers, to family walkers to serious walkers. Chose yours now!
High Cliff at Crackington Haven
Looking for more naturally beautiful things to explore in Cornwall? Then the aptly named High Cliff is the highest point on the Cornish coast and is one of the most stunning spots in England from which to see the sunset. Settle yourself down to see one of the most unique natural phenomenon- the famous green flash that occurs seconds before the sunsets. Following any of the paths in the area will bring you meandering along the most scenic and beautiful sights. Some of the paths require more care as the terrain can be quite rocky, especially along the cliff edge so it is important to stick to recognised paths and avoid doing too much exploring as the cliffs are brittle and some of the paths are treacherous. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the cliff in time of sunset, sit back and enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer.
A delightful coastal village in southeast Cornwall which has a light shingle long beach, be warned though- the east beach has a reputation as a nudist beach so probably best to stick to the slipway or other parts if you are on a family stroll! The village itself is home to tasty restaurants as well as spectacular views of Looe Island, Rame Head and on clear days, Eddystone Lighthouse blinking in the distance. If the beauty of the area inspires you, you are within a short drive of other wonderful sights like; The Lost Gardens and the Eden Project.
St. Nectan’s Glen Waterfall
History is omnipresent in St. Nectan’s Glen, from the eponymous saint himself to the supposed Celtic chapel secreted on the site but the most famous presence is the 60-foot waterfall that dominates the area. It has gained a reputation as a key spiritual site and it is not unusual to find crystals, ribbons and other mementos littered around the area, which adds to the sense of otherness that emanates from the site. Ultimately, the area of St. Nectan’s is geared towards those wishing to take time out and offers a plethora of opportunities and areas for inward reflection and meditation. The ideal location for those looking to tap into themselves, find themselves or simply switch off, surrounded by some of the most unique and interesting flora and fauna England has to offer.
There we have it. Cornwall truly has something for everyone. A family might take a weekend trip Caerhys Castle, a romantic couples weekend would be perfect at Mullion Cove or High Cliff, a break from the city for the over-stressed at St. Nectan’s. Who needs expensive trips or European package holidays when right at the very corner of England there is all the remedy you need?