On the southwestern point of the UK lies the stunning county of Cornwall. With it's own language, food, and collection of folklore, Cornwall is the hidden gem of the UK, set in a rugged landscape of wild moors, beaches and castles. About a 5 hour train journey from London Paddington, it makes for the perfect summer getaway or multi day excursion to your trip to the UK. Whether you're a history buff and want to explore the numerous ancient monuments scattered through the moors, or an avid book reader who grew up on the books of Enid Blyton, Cornwall has it all.
I grew up visiting my family in Cornwall each year, going on walks with my uncle, a Cornish bard who studies and translates old Cornish stories into English, and watching every existing episode of Mr Bean on tape with my grandparents. I would listen to tales of my great great grandad, a miner in the Cornish cliffs, and my grandads journey's as an engineer in the Royal Navy. My name itself, is a traditional Cornish name, translating to little sister joy.
Through the years spent in Cornwall, I have visited almost every corner of the county, discovering the most gorgeous sights, many of which are perfect for a solo traveler and introvert like myself. This list is tailored towards fellow minded travelers who are looking to discover the beauty of Cornwall themselves, but don't want to find themselves in throngs of people, all vying to take that perfect photo. These 5 spots are a variety of quieter less known gems, and the bigger attractions that are just too amazing to not be included. So with that in mind, here are my top five spots to visit in Cornwall:
Great Western Beach is located in the coastal town of Newquay, a beautiful stretch of sand situated at the bottom of a steep cliff, and surrounded by caves. It’s less populated, and less known than the famous Fistral beach also found in Newquay, but in my opinion is superior. The town perched along the cliff face makes for a stunning backdrop to the beach, and the quieter nature makes it the more comfortable option for an introvert. In order to get to there, you must walk down the steep path that winds down from the town, at the edge of the beach.
It is on this path that you will find my favourite place to sit, relax and watch the sunset. I have spent many hours on this cliff spot, drawing sketches of dragons, and sunbathing in the rays. About halfway down the path, you will see a small pile of large rocks, just positioned well enough to climb up onto the slightly scuffed patch of grass. Here you will see a bare ledge, well used as a hangout spot, looking out over the beach. You may find that this spot is occupied, but usually it frees up pretty quickly, just be careful when sitting here, as there is nothing preventing you from falling off the cliff, so just be aware of your surroundings, and be safe.
Newquay is a very popular holiday destination, with scores of beach goers surfing out in Fistral beach, visiting the zoo, or playing old arcade games in the coffee shops. Great Western Beach, is relatively quiet compared to the rest of Newquay, with the best time to go in June, still hot, but without the summer holiday crowds.
You can get to Newquay quite easily by bus or train, but the best way from Truro is to catch the 91 from Truro Bus station, which takes about 1hr. If you want to get to Newquay straight from London, your better off getting a train which will take you around 5 hours.
Possibly my top rated day out as a solo traveller, is the harbour town of Falmouth. Whether it’s the sea shanty festivals, the cobbled streets, port-side views or beaches, Falmouth maintains a timeless beauty, easy to reach, and comfortable to visit on your own. Here you can browse the small shops on the Highstreet, pick up your fish and chips and wander down to the port where you have your pick of the outdoor seating. Out of season, it remains mostly empty, leaving you free to order a refreshing drink from the temporary outside bar, and read to your heart’s content, enjoying the sea breeze and bird noise. Of course you will have to dodge the occasional attempt to pilfer your fish and chips by the cheeky seagulls. To round off this perfect day, I usually take a long walk down the coast past the castle and the two beaches, to see the views on the other side, before heading back towards the main street, and watching a film at the small Phoenix cinema. With just three screens and limited, but cozy seating, in the form of armchairs and sofas, it is perfect for a solo filmgoer. In every film I have watched there, there has never been more than five other people in the screening unless you’ve chosen a newly released film. Choose a seat at the back, bring your popcorn or pick n mix, and enjoy!
Falmouth is just a 40 minute bus or 20 minute train ride from Truro, making it very easy to get to.
This is the first spot on this list that will require an entrance ticket to enter, and I would highly recommend purchasing it online, as it is much cheaper than buying it on site. This ticket allows you unlimited entrance for a year and whilst definitely not on the cheaper side, Eden project is one of a kind, and is absolutely worth every penny. This money all goes towards the Eden projects mission, which is to bring awareness to the current environmental crisis, through education and community initiatives, and expanding societal understanding of the connections between all living things.
Here, expect a sensory overload, with Eden comprising of two main biomes, the rainforest biome, and the Mediterranean biome. Both biomes comprise of stories told through walkways full of native flowers, spices, and plants, wildlife and fragrant smells, each with over 1,000 varieties of plants, journeying through many countries and cultures. The many highlights of the rainforest biome include the spice market, waterfall, treetop walkway and wobbly bridge, where terror has been induced far too many times from the joint efforts of me and my Dad wobbling the bridge. With a full hour needed to explore the biome fully, expect a sweltering temperature inside, so plan accordingly! For the Mediterranean biome, keep an eye out for the ancient olive trees and perfume garden, and I would highly recommend eating at the lovely café inside the biome offering a menu of tasty Italian dishes.
The activities do not end here however, as the outdoor gardens host seasonal plant life, exhibits, play areas and art instillations. You can even book a slot on the zip wire, though if your looking for a zipline or adrenaline filled activity, I'd suggest heading to adrenaline valley instead, as the zipline at the Eden project is extremely overpriced.
In order to get here from Truro, you must first take the train from Truro to St Austell, before catching a bus from here to Eden, which overall should take an average of 1hr 12mins.
When I say I have dreams about the chicken I have eaten here, I'm not kidding. Their garlic butter chicken is one of the best meals I have ever eaten. When you cut into the chicken, the butter immediately oozes out, filling the plate with mouthwatering flavours. Of course, they offer a far more extensive menu than just chicken, offering a variety of Italian dishes. The chicken is simply my favourite, haunting my dreams frequently. The waiters are warm and friendly, and the environment of the restaurant itself is cozy and comfortable. The way the restaurant is run, and feels, makes it easy to sit and eat here alone, something I would normally avoid. You can find the restaurant in the centre of Truro
As a big fan of the TV show Merlin, it is no wonder that Tintagal is on this list. Balanced on the edge of a cliff, it is famed as the place where King Arthur, the legendary King of Britain and central figure in medieval literature, was conceived. The tales of King Arthur and his mage Merlin are legendary, with Arthurian stories about the knights of the round table, Lancelot and the kingdom of Camelot, reaching international fame. Of course the TV show, focuses on the cheeky magical antics of Merlin, and I'd herald a guess that the fire-breathing dragons may have strayed ever so slightly from reality. Tintagal is shrouded in mystery and literary significance, taking you on a scenic route along the Cornish cliffs, passing through the rubble and remains of a once great castle and down into Merlin's cave, where he is believed to have lived. With an entrance ticket you can purchase on site, you can cross the bridge to the castle and explore the legends for yourself!
As for the small village of Tintagal at the foot of the castle, it offers a range of pubs and souvenir shops selling all kinds of things, from small figurines and bracelets to medieval weaponry. Tintagal is a long day out, located on Cornwall's north coast, so make sure to leave yourself plenty of time! To get there, you can take the 89 bus to A3059 and then change for the 95 bus to the stop Visitor Centre. All in all its about a 2hr journey, though this will depend on where you are departing from.
Ok, now I know I said only 5 spots, but technically this is more of an activity than a spot. It is entirely optional, as I admit, it's not the easiest, or most comfortable activity to book solo. That being said, if there was one activity I would suggest, it would be this. Growing up, this segway experience was my favourite memory of the year. I will never forget my first experience, weighing just over the minimum weight requirement, and being kept at the front of the group at all times, so the tour leader could keep an eye on me. The owners remembered me everytime I went back, as the little girl who kept whizzing past the shop in pure excitement, giggling at the top of her lungs. To this day, it remains my favourite thing to do, and is something I always look forward to on my visits to Cornwall. I dare say, I now scare the owner when I turn up, as my top speeds and daring antics, make him fear for my life every time. Though I have had my fair share of topples and the occasional flip over the handlebars, I assure you that that was solely due to my risky antics, going highspeed over hills, and driving no handed. Segways are as safe as they come, and are more commonly a leisurely ride, rather than adrenaline race.
You can include this activity in your day out to Newquay, as 30 minute buses run frequently from Great Western Hotel in Newquay to Atlantic reach resort, where Segway Cornwall is located.
Meur ras a redya, ha viajyow lowen! Omlowenhewgh agas godrik dhe Gernow deg!
Thank you for reading, and happy travels! Enjoy your visit to the beautiful Kernow!
(Trans. Roger Courtenay)