Cornwall is the Cape Cod (Massachusetts) of England. I love this region, and while I mentioned that I would be writing about my favourite towns, Cornwall is a county in the Southwest of England and at the top of my list of favourite places. A rugged peninsula with some of the most stunning beaches you will ever come across, including moorlands, some of the best hiking, and charming harbour fishing villages. There is a laid-back vibe in Cornwall and some incredible coastal hiking. Might I say, not easy at times and moments of vertigo (for me) where it looks like you might hike into the ocean.
The best option to get to Cornwall, if not by car is by train (trainline.com) or by air (skyscanner.com); depending on the area, you want to visit. Of course, by car is the fastest and most direct, but I have opted to not drive anymore since leaving the States.
The first two times I went to Cornwall was by air (about one-hour from Heathrow) as the airport is in Newquay and I was staying within the vicinity of Tintagel then Port Isaac. I booked a taxi in advance as I wanted to take advantage of the short amount of time I was planning to stay in Cornwall. (Usually a three day weekend).
My last two trips to Cornwall (Penzance then St. Ives), I opted to take the train, which was about 6 hours. Not that bad if you are a fan of train travel and beautiful scenery along the way. The train is direct to Penzance and if visiting St. Ives; you will have to switch to another train or a 30-minute bus ride.
Some highlights of Cornwall and so much more to be discovered!
Tintagel is a small coastal village with almost everything in walking distance. It is the birthplace of the Legendary King Arthur in which you can visit Tintagel Castle, the medieval fortification with its striking views and impressive coastline. Make sure to take advantage of the entire area and visit the remarkable statue of Gallos at the top of the cliffs.
After spending a day at Tintagel, I hiked down the Coastal Path South towards Port Isaac. Google map shows the hike to be about 4 hours. It took me all day. Not only because some areas of the trail where quite vigorous but the views were too breath-taking not to stop and enjoy. Along the way, there were soft sand beaches rooted between cliff crevices and remnants of wildflowers from early spring. A highly recommended hike. While the walk starts easy, please note that it does become a lot more rigorous in areas and becomes a hike.
Activity level: Moderate, Difficult
Port Isaac is a quaint English fishing village in the countryside put on the map thanks to the quirky comedy TV series Doc Martin. Small enough to walk through the town with lots of winding streets and cute cottages. An idyllic place to hang out, relax, and explore after a long exhilarating hike. I arrived during the Big Swim where swimmers swam from neighbouring Port Gaverne to Port Isaac Beach, raising money for various charities. Port Isaac is a must-see of quintessential England.
My return trip to Cornwall, I opted to hike from Port Isaac and spend the evening in Padstow. Another rigorous hike with absolutely stunning ocean views and hidden beaches. With clear weather, I was able to see up and down the coastline for miles. While the walk starts easy, please note that it does become a lot more rigorous in areas and becomes a hike.
Padstow is a more significant port town, even though it is small, the harbour is vibrant with the hustle and bustle of tourists and families but idyllic for singles who love the outdoors. Soft sand beaches are abundant within walking distance along the coast. Great leisure walks that are not strenuous if you are looking for something laidback.
Activity level: Moderate, Difficult
Penzance is a port and market town in the far West of Cornwall. At one point, smugglers and pirates passed through. The city has a rugged feel to it and unusual locals. One can fly or take the train. I opted for the train as it is a direct route. By flight, you would have to rent a car or take a long bus ride from Newquay. The train takes about 6 hours, but there is some beautiful scenery to view along the way and who doesn’t love train travel. trainline.com is a user-friendly site to find all your train travel needs within the UK and into Europe.
A highlight to see outside of Penzance is a stroll along the coast to St. Michaels Mount that was built and established by the monks of Mont St. Michel in France. Best time to go is early and walk across at first low tide to avoid the tourists that will infiltrate by mid-morning. Here is the link to check beforehand for causeway tidal crossing times https://www.stmichaelsmount.co.uk/
St. Ives. A short 30-minute bus ride from Penzance brings you to this thriving town; a must-visit for galleries and Tate St. Ives. A perfect way to spend a cloudy overcast day. Even if the sun is beaming, you don’t want to miss visiting this gem, featuring British artists from the region. St. Ives and most of the Cornwall region has a culture of surfers so if you are looking to learn, St. Ives (and smaller villages dotting the coastline) is worth exploring. St. Ives also offers some great shopping and if you are looking for the best burgers, visit Blas Burgers.
St. Ives also offers some great shopping and if you are looking for the best burgers, visit Blas Burgers. While I don’t write about food, from time to time, I will do a call out, and Blas burgers are one of them. Be prepared to stand in line unless you get there at opening time, 5 pm. If you want to browse their menu, here is the link http://www.blasburgerworks.co.uk/ You won’t regret it.