Cornwall Travel Guide South West England
As he guided me through Cornwall’s old county capital, Tremain explained that while the rest of the UK often sees Cornwall as “”just another English county””, Cornwall is technically a Duchy. Alongside the Cornish language, it’s a curious historical quirk that’s used to promote the idea of a Cornish “”nation”” that’s distinct from England. Located near the Devon border, the Cornish town of Launceston sits in the midst of this once-bloody borderland and is the first Cornish town that travellers reach when driving along the A30 from Devon. Crossing the river at Polson Bridge – the historical gateway into Cornwall – the green, black and white flag of Devon changed to the black and white of Cornwall as a road sign welcomed me, in both English and Cornish, to Kernow.
Leaving Launceston, I crossed back east into Devon before heading south. The Tamar is a formidable barrier, but history on either side of the river isn’t as black and white as the Cornish flag. During the medieval period, the entire south-west region was a land simmering with discontent against distant monarchs; quite often, the Cornish would find comrades-in-arms amongst the equally disgruntled Devonians. Nowadays, all the tin mines in Cornwall are closed – but you can experience the region’s rich history can still be seen in the many abandoned mines and mining museums that dot the landscape. Today, visitors can explore the fascinating history of mining in Cornwall by visiting museums, heritage sites, and even underground mines.
The biggest towns are Falmouth, Camborne, Newquay and St Austell, and all are larger than Truro. This fact always starts a few brawls, especially as I live in Devon… but both counties serve cream teas with jam, clotted cream and scones. Plus, many local’s surnames are Cornish; I’ve actually traced my family back to the Tremayne family, who were a prominent Cornish family in the 15th century.
No Poldark TV tour around the county as yet, but it’s a Cornwall fact that if you can make money out of the tourists from something, then someone will do it. You can go along to the castle in Cornwall to learn more while you’re there. If you want to read more about this, check out this article on Cornwall and England in The Guardian, or this video on the BBC. Truro is the smallest city in the United Kingdom and is the third capital of Cornwall after Launceston and Lostwithei. If you like flowers and fauna, visit the amazing Eden Project on one of your days out in Cornwall to see even more plants, trees and fauna. Growing as long as a double decker bus, the basking shark is the world’s second largest fish , weighing up to seven tonnes and living for 50 years.
Passing through the Anglo-Saxon village of Lifton, I spotted The Arundell, a pub named for an old family of landed Cornish gentry. With all that coastline comes a lot of beautiful beaches, ranging from long stretching white sandy bays, secluded coves, to pebbled shores. Now recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, split into 10 areas in Cornwall and Devon, you can visit the few existing mines such as Botallack Mine on the Tin Coast cliff used as a Poldark filming location. Here’s an interesting Cornwall fact for you – this region has it’s very own language, Kernewek. It is a Celtic language and its use began to decline in the 18th century. A popular tourist attraction, Land’s End, is the most western point of England which sees many visitors each year, wanting a photo with the iconic signpost.
A geologically recent rise of sea level resulted in the drowned river valleys, or rias, of southern Cornwall, including the Tamar, Fowey, and Fal estuaries. The effect of the rias, combined with the variety of rocks, is an attractive coastal landscape that is subject to increasing pressures by the demands of recreation and tourism. Long stretches of the coast are now owned by the National Trust or are otherwise protected from commercial development. Cornwall has a rich history with copper and tin mining once bringing it substantial wealth. Today its major industry is tourism, however, market gardening, dairy farming, fishing, civil engineering and ship repairing all contribute to its current economy.
Fistral Beach has something for all surfers whether you’re a beginner or a professional. Waves are high and plentiful, and the beach provides some of the best breakpoints in the country. You’re likely to be familiar with many Cornish dairy products as well, including Cornish fudge and Cornish ice cream. Cornish clotted cream is in the unique position of being protected under EU law with the main manufacturers being Rodda’s. The two main roads into Cornwall are the A30 and A38 and they may it accessible for road users to visit Cornwall with ease. The A30 runs between Exeter and Penzance with 111 mile stretch of road being largely a dual carriageway.
The Cornish flag is an exact reverse of the former Breton black cross national flag and is known by the same name “”Kroaz Du””. In 2002, Cornish was named as a UK regional language in the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Several words originating in Cornish are used in the mining terminology of English, such as costean, gossan, gunnies, kibbal, kieve and vug. The geology of the Lizard peninsula is unusual, in that it is mainland Britain’s only example of an ophiolite, a section of oceanic crust now found on land. Much of the peninsula consists of the dark green and red Precambrian serpentinite, which forms spectacular cliffs, notably at Kynance Cove, and carved and polished serpentine ornaments are sold in local gift shops. This ultramafic rock also forms a very infertile soil which covers the flat and marshy heaths of the interior of the peninsula.
This is available for all car parks where coaches are permitted and costs £15 for 24 hours or £50 for 7 days and £35 for 4 days. These can be obtained by creating an account to use the ZatPermit system. Due to the high volume of traffic on Cornwall’s roads during the summer months the main routes can become congested especially at weekends. Travelling overnight or outside peak rush hours is recommended to avoid long delays.
What makes Cornwall so special is that it doesn’t just have to be a summer destination, with most of the things to see in Cornwall running year-round. It has a population of around 21,000 people and is famous for it’s gothic architecture and paved streets. A pleasant place to spend the day shopping or visiting the Royal Cornwall Museum. In the evening there are plenty of bars and restaurants, a cinema and the Hall for Cornwall theatre. The south coast is gentler, historic fishing villages, small sheltered coves and green fields running down to the water’s edge.