Kynance Cove, Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall, UK

When you picture British seasides, you likely conjure “Kiss me quick” hats and looming 50s ferris wheels, yet there’s so much more to the UK’s coasts.

Tacked neatly onto the bottom of the island, you’ll stumble upon Britain’s most underrated county. Cornwall is a place of authentic natural beauty, quiet country walks, and historic architecture. When planning a visit to the UK, you’re certain to be engulfed by main tourist traps; they are utterly inescapable. Once you’ve had enough of the London Eye and Buckingham Palace, though, I strongly urge you to venture just a little further south. The celtic region is most definitely worth exploring should you be able to spare a few days or so.

An iconic Cornish Engine House perched on cliffs at Rinsey Head on the Cornwall coast

An iconic Cornish Engine House perched on cliffs at Rinsey Head on the Cornwall coast

Before we begin, let’s delve into just a little history. To look at the area now, all is serene, but Cornwall was once one of the most significant industrial hubs in Europe. Back in the 19th century, the region was infamous for both its copper and tin mines. Although the area is a mere dot on the surface of the planet, there was a period in which most of the world’s copper was sourced exclusively from Cornwall. What’s more, for a short time, the region was home to the “richest square mile” in the world thanks to its booming industrial trade.

Dawn at the harbour in Padstow an historic fishing town on the north Cornwall coast

Dawn at the harbour in Padstow an historic fishing town on the north Cornwall coast

These days, there is undoubtedly less mining in the area than there once was. Like many places in the UK, the region has succumbed to a steady decline in traditional industry. What’s left is a region steeped in traditional values, celtic festivities and some of the most awe-inspiring country you will see here in Britain.

Experience Wild Woodland Walks

Exploring this region is best done on foot, but you ought to be wearing sturdy shoes. The woodland walks in Cornwall are simply enchanting. They look like something out of an old German fairytale, decorated with bluebells, shrubbery and the odd hidden away cottage. From deep country valleys to disused railway tracks, walking along these paths is like taking a step back in history. You won’t get phone reception while rambling, and that’s just how it ought to be. For just an hour or two, you can immerse yourself thoroughly in the natural world.

The historic Treffry Viaduct and aqueduct across the Luxulyan valley in Cornwall

The historic Treffry Viaduct and aqueduct across the Luxulyan valley in Cornwall

While the region is rife with walks of this nature, there are a couple that I’d certainly recommend. In the north of the region, Luxulyan Valley is rich with entwining branches, trickling streams and signs of the ever-forgotten industry here. It’s not unusual to find an abandoned factory or rusting wheels. A little further south, you’ll find my personal favorite walk in Cornwall, which brings you out in the formidable sounding Deadman’s Cove near Camborne. This circular walk offers the best of both worlds; you start in a wooded, overgrown area, yet along the way find yourself discovering a hidden and isolated beach. Should you find yourself near either of these paths, I’m certain that they won’t disappoint.

Luxulyan Valley

Luxulyan Valley | Photo: Charlotte Grainger

Taste Some Authentic Cornish Staples

The popular food in the area is derived from its industrial history too. The humble yet moorish Cornish pasty was initially created as a transportable meal for workers, specifically miners. The D-shaped pastry has a hard outer-crust, which was used as the handle and not eaten, while the inside was traditionally filled with cheap and readily available vegetables, such as turnip, onion and potato. Over the years, though, the recipe developed; and as meat became less of a luxury, the bakers began to include it in their pasties.

Pasties

Pasties | Photo: Charlotte Grainger

These days, you can barely walk a village street in Cornwall without finding that the air is thick with the smell of these indulgent baked treats. This affordable street food makes for the ideal snack whilst sightseeing. Of course, all the modern bakeries offer the authentic recipe, but most have branched out to make new varieties of the staple. From peppered steak bakes to cheese and bacon, the stores here have put an ultra modern twist on the classic recipe.

The Summer Festival Season

When the rare British summer sun raises its sleepy head, so does the festival season in Cornwall. There’s a handful of modern music festivals in the area, such as Tunes in the Dunes in Perranporth and BBC Music Day in St. Austell.

While these events are bound to be enjoyable, they offer little more than any other music event in Britain. You’d hardly know where in the country you were. That’s why I’d suggest passing these up in favor of a longer established festival in the area.  

In mid-June, the Golowan Festival, down in Penzance, is the highlight of the Cornish calendar. The festivities date back to the 1800s, when the locals would celebrate the coming of midsummer. Intriguingly, this is one of the only remaining events of its genre in the area, which is why it’s simply unmissable. For many years, after some unmentionable fire trouble, the event lay dormant but was resurrected in 1991, and is an annual fixture once again. Mixing celtic traditions with contemporary theatre, art and music installations, this is a unique and bizarre spectacle. The festival culminates on Mazey Day, when there are fireworks in the street, and a parade led by a man wearing a horse’s skull marches on. Needless to say, it must be seen to be believed.

Visit Breathtaking Beaches

Finally, you simply cannot talk about the Great British seaside without mentioning the expansive beaches here. Which you choose to grace solely depends on what you’re hoping to gain. If you’re looking for sheer beauty, there’s a wide array of choices. Porthcurno Beach is a secluded cove where you can relax in peace, without fearing the endless chatter of excitable tourists or screams of unattended babies.

CORNWALL, ENGLAND: Busy Porthcurno Beach in the lovely summer day, minutes walk from Minack Theater

CORNWALL, ENGLAND: Busy Porthcurno Beach in the lovely summer day, minutes walk from Minack Theater lulu2626 / Shutterstock.com

You’ll have to take a clifftop walk to reach this cove, though that is more a pleasure than a chore. Other notably attractive beaches include the ever-popular Porthmeor Beach in St. Ives and Marazion Beach, just near Penzance. These are the places in which you can spend an afternoon walking or maybe pitch yourself a seat and begin reading a novel.

Kynance Cove, Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall, UK

Kynance Cove, Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall, UK

Newquay

Newquay | Photo: Charlotte Grainger

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for excitement and maybe aiming to try some watersports, there’s only one place you need go. Newquay is the surfing capital of the country, since the waves there can often be ideal for the sport. If you’ve never surfed before, there’s also a surf school in the area, where you can book week-long lessons and individual lessons too.

Surfing on Fistral Beach, Newquay

Surfing on Fistral Beach, Newquay

The coast of Newquay is scattered with bars, restaurants and arcades; and so, it offers a stark contrast to other areas of Cornwall. If you have the chance, it’s worthwhile visiting both this tourist-centric side of Cornwall and the more secluded areas. They are not to be pitted against one another, since both have a wealth to offer travelers.

Newquay

Newquay | Photo: Charlotte Grainger