With its winding lanes, delicious food and idyllic seaside towns - is it really any wonder people flock to Cornwall every year?
Cornwall is not an easily accessed region of the UK, however, once you arrive in this charming corner of England, the long journey will soon be put behind you as you get set to find a region with its own fascinating Celtic history, tales of piracy and unique take on the English language and has once again proved to be one of Britain's best loved destinations. During the summer months British families flock to the coast to enjoy its temperate climate and pristine beaches. Ice-creams, clotted cream teas and Cornish pasties are all part of the Cornish experience, however, there is another side to Cornwall, and one which take a little more delving to discover.
Away from the main roads, it is possible to find another Cornwall away from the buckets and spades. This is one of Britain’s gastro havens, where one may discover local produce in abundant in the local restaurants and takeaways - fish and chips being a local favourite straight from the sea! Restaurateurs are passionate about their Cornish roots and it would be hard pressed to find a local restaurant or hotel that does not source local produce. One example of this can be experienced at the Cornwall Hotel and Spa Resort, boasting a the 2 AA Rosette Arboretum Restaurant where menu changes daily. At the hotel it is possible to enjoy a light lunch, Cornish afternoon tea or evening meal, "For me, it's all about the ingredients, and letting the cooking do justice to the finest produce," says Head Chef, Tom Bradbury. "And sourcing fantastic ingredients in Cornwall is easy. I've been cooking here for 10 years now, so I know where to go for the very best fish, the very best lamb. We're spoilt for choice." When you can find Slow roast shoulder of Cornish pork, Roast fillet of Hake or Glazed ling fillet, Mylor prawns and bisque sauce followed by Selection of Cornish cheeses on the set menu from £29 for two courses you know you are in for a treat! Rick Stein is one of the more famous local chefs best known for his seafood dishes. The town of Padstow is where you can find a number of his award winning RIck Stein restaurants, suiting every budget. However, you do not need to go to a celebrity restaurant or top hotel to find the local gastro delights. Pass through the picture-perfect villages and stop off at a ‘local’ and you will find delicious local food at very reasonable prices for example: Tyringham Arms Restaurant Steak House and Carvery (St Ives), The Ship Inn (St Austell), Golden Lion Inn (Port Isaac) and the Ferryboat Inn (Falmouth).
This is a region for people who love the outdoors and there are ample opportunities to enjoy the fresh air and stunning panoramas. The lovely seaside town of St Ives has been an artists favourite for many years - drawn to its fantastic light and delightful scenes. The Dartmoor National Park is another oasis for naturists - where wild ponies roam and roads are only wide enough for a single car - this is real backroads country! As a coastal outcrop of the UK you will find spectacular views behind every corner and if you are feeling adventurous take a walk along one of the many coastal paths or hire a bike and explore its many cycle routes. Its pleasant temperate climate and the local passion for nature and conservation is evident with an abundance of gardens in the area, from the famous Eden Project to smaller yet rewarding Gardens of Trebah and Lost Gardens of Heligan – boasting a vast range of species of plants and flowers perfectly arranged.
Much of Cornwall's landscape was transformed in the 18th and 19th centuries due to the mining industry which dominated the area - making this a UNESCO World Heritage site. At one stage two thirds of the world's copper came from this area and it is still possible to stumble upon the substantial remains - a testimony to the contribution Cornwall and West Devon made to the Industrial Revolution in the rest of Britain and to the fundamental influence the area had on the mining world at large. Cornwall's ancient past is also evident with intriguing Celtic crosses littering the landscape which once marked the easiest route between local parish churches and farms, as well as he route to sacred sites such as holy wells, monasteries and chapels. St Michel's Mount is one of the most famous mystical sites in Cornwall - legend says this was the where a vision of the Archangel St Michael appeared to some fishermen in the year 495 another legend says the mythical giant named Cormoran once lived on the Mount, and would wade ashore to the village to feed on local livestock. No matter the truth this island has remained a place of pilgrimage for centuries, and today can be enjoyed by catching a local ferry or wading across in low tide. There is another mystical history which can be explored at the reputed home of King Arthur at Tintagel. This castle clings precariously to the cliffs, holding onto the legends from the days of knights, damsels and heroes. Whether King Arthur actually existed is up to debate, however, these ruins let your imagination believe that he and Camelot were indeed once on these shores.
Cornwall has also secuded film makers over the years, drawn to its rugged coastlines and natural beauty. Recent television shows have included the set at Port Isaac (visited on our Corners of Cornwall Tour) the villaged used as the the fictional home of Doc Martin, whilst the Eden Project appeared in James Bond's Die another Day and Tim Burton filmed part of Alice in Wonderland at Anthony House. Download this comprehensive film location list and see if you can spot further locations whilst on a Back-Roads Tour.
So whether you are looking for great food, eye-popping panoramas, a historical journey, relaxing days in stunning settings, or a friendly welcome Cornwall really has a lot to offer as a holiday destination.
If you would like to find out more about Cornwall, Back-Roads Touring offer a fantastic 7 Day Corners of Cornwall tour which includes: great local hotel accommodation, Port Isaac, Padstow, Tintagel, St Michel's Mount, Falmouth, St Austell, Gardens of Trebah and Heligan. There will be opportunities to try local food at pubs and restaurants (some meals included) and see the UNESCO minig sites and Celtic crosses. Dates still available in 2011.
2012 tour released soon and will include lunch at one of Rick Stein's restaurant!