Cornwall is a beautiful county on England’s south-west tip – a narrow peninsula with many contrasting landscapes, from sandy beaches and wild moorlands to surfers’ paradise and picturesque harbour hamlets.

Whether you’re planning on visiting tourist attractions, relaxing, enjoying an activity holiday, or soaking up the region’s rich heritage and history, read on to discover ten of the best things about Cornwall…

 

  1. Minack Theatre

This unique theatre is located high on the cliffs, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at Porthcurno. The world-famous open-air venue stages musicals, drama, comedy, opera and story-telling throughout the summer months. It opened on 16th August 1932. A successful outdoor performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1929 led local thespians to look for an outdoor venue to stage The Tempest. Rowena Cade, who owned Minack House, offered her garden. She and her gardener, Billy Rawlings, moved most of the earth and granite boulders themselves and the Minack Theatre was born.

 

  1. The Eden Project

The Eden project is a multiple greenhouse complex in St Blazey, where state-of-the-art, futuristic biomes house hundreds of unusual plants collected from many diverse environments and climates all over the world. The Tropical Biome covers 3.9 acres and is 180 feet high. Kept at a tropical climate, it houses plants including giant bamboo and rubber plants, fruiting banana plants and coffee plants. The 1.6-acre Mediterranean Biome stands 115 feet high and is home to plants such as grape vines and olives, as well as beautiful sculptures.

 

Eden Project

 

  1. Lost Gardens of Heligan

Located near Mevagissey in Cornwall, the Lost Gardens of Heligan are world-famous 19th century botanical gardens. Undiscovered for decades, they were found by chance after a door was spotted in the ruins of the Heligan estate – home of Cornwall’s Tremayne family for more than four centuries. This real-life secret garden was lost in history. Following the hurricane of 1990, workers discovered the door to the walled gardens, buried under fallen masonry. The gardens have been painstakingly restored to their former glory, to create the wonderful visitor attraction you can enjoy today.

 

  1. National Trust properties

The National Trust manages around 50 locations in Cornwall, including exotic gardens, ancient houses and reminders of the county’s mining history. The organisation cares for many paths and trails, such as the cliffs around Boscastle and the Valency Valley. Its historic gardens include Glendurgan, Godolphin and Trengwainton, and the Trust also manages and restores historic sites and properties such as the ancient Dovecote building at Antony and Cotehele estate, where a historic house, mill, garden, gallery, shop and restaurants attract visitors.

 

  1. Famous people

Cornwall has its fair share of celebrity residents including actress, writer and comedian Dawn French and her ex-husband, fellow comedian Lenny Henry. Television’s golden couple Richard and Judy fell in love with Cornwall after taking a holiday there in the 1980s and they bought their Talland Bay home near Polperro in 1998. Television presenter Gloria Hunniford has a property in Fowey and Wham band member Andrew Ridgeley lives in Wadebridge.

 

  1. Cornish pasties

The beloved Cornish pasty is made from meat, potato and vegetables, wrapped in a flat shortcrust pastry circle that is crimped before baking. The term “Cornish pasty” was first used in the mid-19th century. Pasties were mentioned in James Orchard Halliwell’s 1861 book, Rambles in Western Cornwall, as being a popular food of the working classes. The tin miners’ wives would send them to work with a pasty, as they worked at such depths that it was impossible to get to the surface at lunch time – one end would be savoury and the other would be sweet.

 

Cornish Pasty

 

  1. Coastal areas

Cornwall has many famous beaches such as Perranporth, Fistral, Newquay and St Ives. Fistral beach has been home to the International Surfing Centre since 2003. Perranporth beach and the neighbouring Penhale beach combine to form one of the north coast’s longest unbroken stretches of sand, while beautiful St Ives beach is a focal point of the historic fishing port. Newquay beach is also a surfers’ paradise and attracts people from across the globe to take part in world-ranking surf competitions.

 

  1. Duke and Duchess of Cornwall

The current Duke and Duchess of Cornwall are Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, who are always warmly welcomed when they attend special occasions, such as their annual tour of Cornwall and Devon every summer. They always inspire a great sense of community when they visit, as the local residents line the streets to catch a glimpse of the royal couple. The Prince of Wales became the 24th Duke of Cornwall in 1952 but he wasn’t entitled to the Duchy’s full income until 1969, when he was 21. Currently, he’s the longest-serving Duke of Cornwall in history.

 

  1. Haunted places

Cornwall has a reputation as being a hotbed of ghosts and paranormal activity, largely thanks to its history of shipwrecks and smugglers. The ghost of Merlin is believed to haunt a cave beneath Tintagel Castle, while the mysterious Beast of Bodmin Moor is said to steal livestock at the dead of night. The Jamaica Inn is one of Britain’s most haunted places. Built in 1750 on Bodmin Moor, the former coach house is said to be haunted by a highwayman who walks through closed doors, a young mum with a baby who appears in a mirror, and a smuggler who paces the courtyard at night.

 

  1. Historic monuments

Cornwall has a generous scattering of historic sites, as it has been a dwelling place since the Stone Age 20,000 years ago. The countryside is full of monuments that various civilisations have erected over the centuries. Among the most popular for heritage seekers are the Men-an-Tol, comprising four giant stones, including an unusual circular stone with a hole in the centre. Historians date it back to the Neolithic period, but have no idea of its purpose. Lanyon Quoit was built in around 3000BC, but its purpose is also unclear – the monument was rebuilt in 1815 after it was struck by lightning.

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