Cornwall is one of Britain’s natural treasures; its stunning coastal scenery has inspired great writers, poets and artists and its fascinating history includes the legend of King Arthur.
It has a strong Celtic heritage, once the Cornish language was spoken, a Celtic language similar to the Welsh language and the indigenous Cornish people are said to be closely related to the Welsh and other Celtic races. Cornish cream teas are said to be exceptional because of the quality of Cornish clotted cream and homemade Cornish ice cream is another treat for any visitor. “The Cornish Pasty” another famous delicacy originated as a portable meal-in-one for the miners who worked in the copper and tin mines and the ruins of some of these old mines still hug the coast today. Also included in Cornish folklore are stories of Cornish piskies (pixies) who cause mischief to people they encounter and tales of smuggling and ship wrecks during the 18th and 19th century.
Cornwall is the land that inspired novelists Daphne du Maurier and Winston Graham. Daphne du Maurier lived on the Menabilly Estate near the port of Fowey and the house Menabilly is said to have inspired her novels “Rebecca” and “My Cousin Rachel”. Her story “The Birds” was based on her observations of Cornwall’s birds in the local fields, “Jamaica Inn” inspired by Bodmin Moor and it is claimed “Frenchman’s Creek” is set around Helford River.
Winston Graham who wrote the popular Poldark novels is said to have based his period sagas of passion and copper mining around the coastline of Perranporth. Perranporth is named after St Piran who brought Christianity to Cornwall and is Cornwall’s patron saint. The miles of beautiful sweeping sands on Perranporth beach can cause problems and the original St Piran’s church has had to be abandoned and relocated because of the moving drifting sands. Once a year there is a St Piran’s Day procession across the dunes of Perranporth to the Lost Church.
Near Perranporth is the well known popular town of Newquay nicknamed “The surfing capital of the U.K.” Newquay has some impressive long sandy beaches where the Atlantic rollers come riding majestically in and hosts world class international surfing competitions during the summer. It is a busy and energetic resort with pubs, clubs, shops, surf stores, restaurants and a lively nightlife as well as parks and even an aquarium!
But the highlight of any trip to Cornwall has to be Tintagel Castle, the ruined castle on its windswept headland above the crashing sea and reputed to be the remains of the court of King Arthur. While other locations in the U.K. lay claim to the same legend Tintagel is the most famous Arthurian site and its setting is breathtakingly dramatic and wild.
Another wonderful Cornish cliff top site is the “Minack Open Air Theatre” at Porthcurno; a Greek inspired amphitheatre carved out of the cliffs between the 1920’s and 1930’s where plays and operas are performed against the backdrop of the sea. The theatre is also open to visitors when plays are not performed and can be reached by steep steps from Porthcurno’s beautiful sandy beach.
Along with the internationally famous Eden project, a subtropical horticulture paradise, “The Lost Gardens of Heligan” near the pretty fishing village of Mevagissey are a must-see for any visitor to Cornwall. For decades this beautiful 19th century garden lay hidden beneath a forest of bramble and ivy and has only recently been discovered and unearthed in all its former glory.
Mention Cornwall and everyone immediately conjures up images of St Ives as the archetypal Cornish town with its charming houses built around steep narrow winding streets and cobbled lanes, picturesque harbour and golden beaches. The natural light and ambience of St Ives has attracted artists to its shores for years and the St Ives Tate Gallery displays paintings by national and international artists. The novelists Rosamunde Pilcher and Virginia Woolf have also been inspired by the area of St Ives and the Godrevy Lighthouse is said to feature in Virginia Woolf’s “To The Lighthouse”.
St Michael’s Mount near Penzance is another famous picture postcard image of Cornwall – the island can be reached by boat during high tide and by foot during low tide and the church on the mount was erected as a match to the abbey at Mont St Michel in France.
Cornwall is constantly associated with the sea and The National Maritime Museum at Falmouth has a wonderful exhibition of seafaring history which is well worth visiting. Falmouth is one of Cornwall’s major resorts with its natural harbour and chic town that also plays host to yachting and sailing fiestas. It has lovely sheltered beaches, Tudor castles and a variety of restaurants, cafes and shops. And from Falmouth you can take river or sea cruises to explore the local surroundings like the stunning Trebah Gardens which flourish in the sheltered environment.
The Lizard Peninsula of Cornwall has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is the most southerly point of the U.K. mainland. The exquisitely pretty Kynance Cove is a stunningly beautiful spot and the area is full of rare wild flowers and plants, birds like the oystercatcher and cormorant while the surrounding seas have seals, dolphins and even basking sharks to watch out for!
Finally no trip to Cornwall would be complete without a visit to the dramatic Land’s End, England and the U.K. mainland’s most south-westerly point.
Cornwall is a land of contrasts, one minute you can be surrounded by whitewashed cottages, teashops and fishing villages, the next you can be battered by the roaring elements on a wild rugged cliff or coast. You can party and live it up in trendy resorts or find yourself alone on the spooky Bodmin Moor. It’s always worth remembering that on some of Cornwall’s beaches the tide, which can recede miles to reveal intriguing coves, can come in again rapidly and you need to take care not to get stranded. But whatever you want to do, surf, walk, play on the beach, pony trek, mess about in boats, play golf, visit gardens, eat culinary delights, there’s a part of Cornwall for you!
Ricki Crookes has worked as an actress in the film and television business throughout most of her life. She has appeared in numerous commercials which have been shown on television and cinemas world-wide. She has also worked as a model and been in many prestigious photo- shoots which have featured in magazines and bill-boards. In addition she has written articles for both newspapers and magazines and is an award winning poet.