Brief Roadtrip Guide to Cornwall

If you aren’t familiar with the main points of visiting Cornwall, use this quick guide to get you started

Amazing Beaches & Quaint Villages

Cornwall is a county of England, located in the far south west tip of the UK mainland. The area is known best by the British as a county with unique coastscape, beautiful little villages and its own cultural heritage. On a hot Summer day, if you didn’t know better, you could be forgiven for thinking you were on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean, such is the clear turquoise sea and fine soft sand. You can find small typically English villages, both on the coast and in land, all built on the lush undulating landscape of the county.

The Cornish have the Cornish Pasty, a dish authentically Cornish as Champagne is to the specific region of France. A hearty meal of meat, potatoes and vegetables conveniently wrapped in pastry, it’s a must to experience when visiting Cornwall.

Getting To Cornwall

The best way to experience Cornwall is by motorhome or campervan, and ideally with a bicycle. Getting in and out of the area can a little tricky, as can getting around by motorhome during the high seasons, that’s why taking a bicycle can be a huge advantage when day visiting small villages. All the roads coming into the county can get very congested during high season, so avoiding peak travel times is a wise thing to do. Coming in on the A30 is the most popular route, if you want to take your time and see some coastal scenery the A39 from the M5 is great. If you are visiting Plymouth use the A38 from the A30 or M5. Always expect heavy traffic & delays if traveling on weekends during the Summer.

The A30 stretches all the way from London and to the tip of Cornwall, so if you are coming from most places in the south and heading into the heart of Cornwall, it’s best to firstly travel midweek if possible, and then use the A30 to access most areas, take some driving nibbles and plan some driving entertainment in case you find yourself in making slow progress in the traffic.

What To Do in Cornwall

Probably the most popular activity in Cornwall is enjoying the coast in some way. There is Hiking around the entire county, the area is well-known for surfing either on the north or south depending on the direction of the weather. Enjoying and exploring the amazing beaches is popular, small sandy coves line the coast which are accessible in various ways. Visiting coastal towns and villages is a great way to spend a day, St Ives is one of the largest and has a thriving art community, many great pubs, gorgeous sandy beach where you can surf, kayak, snorkel or just enjoy the sun and scenery. Maybe the best way to get a feel for the real Cornwall is to visit the small & quaint less well-known villages. Here you can get a feel of what Cornwall was like hundreds of years ago, try fresh local catches, learn about the local traditions and take some amazing photos. A top 10 of the villages we would recommend are:

  • Mousehole
  • Cawsand and Kingsand
  • Helford Passage
  • Mullion
  • Polperro
  • Mevagissey
  • Boscastle
  • Port Isaac
  • Cadgwith
  • Gorran Haven

There really are and endless list of things you can do in Cornwall, the area excels in some activities though so if you are interested in any of the following then hiring a camper van and heading to the area on a road trip is the perfect way to spend a week or two. Hiking, kayaking, photography, painting, cycling, marine nature watching, snorkeling, scuba diving, food tasting, local pubs.

The Best of The Best

The following are examples of things to to see and do at the more specific end of the scale, reasons to come to Cornwall not just to have a taster of something, but if you already are an expert and why come to Cornwall for your specific interest or hobby than anywhere else in the world.

1. Mountain Biking at Gawton Gravity Hub

Ok so this technically isn’t in Cornwall, but it’s just near the border and if you are coming to Cornwall you will travel right past it, and if you are an mtb’er then spend a day here at the start or end of your visit to Cornwall.

Gawton is for the experienced or keen mountain biker. There are tracks here graded from blue to black, the blue being fairly easy if you already know what you are doing, through to international level difficulty downhill tracks. The vertical descent is over 500ft, so not the biggest but also not the smallest, just get in plenty of runs and practice all the different trails. There is an uplift service here, so if you bring your downhill bike book on and get in a full day of challenging riding.

2. Surfing at Fistral Beach, Newquay

Cornwall is the best well-known place in the UK for surfing. And the best known place for surfing in Cornwall is Newquay, specifically Fistral Beach. The area is known for its surfing, and as a result the scene is booming, surf shops, surf cafes and everything else related, come here if you want to immerse yourself in the scene.

This is the UK big wave spot, with swells fairly often holding swells up to 8 foot, and it does get even bigger. To get here just follow the signs for the beach, it’s best to come in through Newquay. When you need to refuel there are great places to eat, Rick Stein fish & chips, Reggae Reggae chicken restaurant, loads of surf cafs and pasty places!

3. The Eden Festival

A festival of music hosted at the Eden Project. Eden is a boutique festival, so you won’t find huge stages here, but lots of small to medium sizes stages hosting some big artists and groups but with a strong showing of unsigned talent. Eden festival is usually in June, some come here for the weekend and then see the rest of Cornwall before the crowds really descend in the Summer.

You will find a huge selection of music genres, Traditional, Reggae, Swing, Ska, Balkan, Hip Hop, Folk, Classical, Rock, Blues, Bluegrass, Rockabilly, Electro, Breaks, Dub Step, Chill Out, Psy Trance, House and Minimal, some come here and enjoy what you know or experience something new.

4. Hiking the South West Coastal Path

If you are very serious about your hiking then come to Cornwall and walk the entire South West Trail! You will be looking at 4-6 weeks to walk the entire thing, so if you have the time this is an unforgettable experience. Or break the hike up into smaller parts and come back time and time again.

Possibly one of the toughest parts and most spectacular is the walk from Westward Ho! just over in Devon, to Padstow. This is a 78 mile route which will take you from 5-7days depending on your fitness. This part of Cornwall has been shaped by the full force of the Atlantic weather, and takes you through forests, along cliffs and over hills. Not to mention small Cornish villages where you can stay the night.

5. Scuba Diving off the Scilly Isles

There’s much Snorkeling and Scuba Diving to be had directly off the Cornish mainland, however despite technically not being in Cornwall, the Scilly Isles are off the Cornish coast and deserve the mention because here you can do some of the best scuba diving in the world.

The water is crystal clear, the weather temperate, and there are countless wrecks to dive in and marine life to experience. A friendly colony or seals live on the islands and you are nearly guaranteed a close encounter. Basking Sharks are a common sight at the right time of year, and the visibility of up to 20m means you can really appreciate all there is to see.