We’re justifiably proud to call Cornwall home, and at a time when we’re not able to explore beyond our own shores, now’s the perfect time to share a love letter to our favourite English county. (Due to Covid-19 some restrictions are currently in place. We recommend checking with venues and destinations direct to confirm access and opening times.)
Covering an area of 1,376 square miles, with the longest coastline in Britain, over 300 beaches, rugged moorland, tranquil estuaries and pristine wilderness, Cornwall has it all for lovers of the great outdoors. Its rich farming and fishing heritage, coupled with a bounty of talented chefs, means it has an enviable reputation for its exciting food scene too.
Candace and Tom decided to heed the call of the ocean soon after starting El Camino and moved to Newquay on the north Cornish coast in 2015. We’re glad they did! After much debate amongst the team, friends and family, here’s our pick of the top, knock yourself out, very best of Cornwall.
Best beach – Watergate Bay
This was never going to be an easy topic to resolve. Ask any Cornish local and chances are they’ll each have their own idea as to the merits of their favourite beach. South Coast? North Coast? Surfing? SUPing, swimming? Or maybe rock pooling and dog walking. With so many to choose from, we’re undeniably a little spoilt and have a beach for every activity and season.
Newquay takes some beating when it comes to superlative seaside, however, with seven miles of golden sand making up twelve glorious beaches. One all-rounder that draws us time and again, makes our jaws drop and hearts swell, is Watergate Bay. No matter if it’s a sunny bank holiday in peak season, get your tide times right and you’ll have plenty of sandy beach to explore. Dogs, surfers, adrenalin junkies and families are all welcome.
Best walk – Constantine Bay to Trevone
Stop off anywhere along the winding coast road between Watergate Bay and Padstow, pick up the South West Coast Path and you’ll be met by captivating clifftop vistas and unspoilt beaches. Pretty cove after cove after bay, welcoming picnic spots and soaring seabirds. Depending on the time of year, the sea can change from the most alluring aquamarine to a wild and frothing tempest crashing against the shore. One thing’s for sure, the scenery is never dull.
We particularly love the stretch between Constantine Bay and Trevone via Trevose Head, Mother Ivey’s Bay and Harlyn Bay. Stop at Trevone for a picnic or ice cream and marvel at the Round Hole, an 80ft blowhole (but take care not to get too close to this treacherous cavity). This walk can easily be extended to take in Treyarnon to the west or Padstow via Stepper Point to the east for a longer hike.
Best coffee stop – Jam Jar, Newquay
The Jam Jar café is something of a Newquay institution, a cute little pitstop at the harbour end of town. Owner Jess is famed for her healthy smoothies and heavenly home baking as well as her coffee. Nowadays Newquay is blessed with a growing number of amazing independent coffee shops, including Basket, another firm favourite and must-visit.
For somewhere a little different and with striking views out over the famous Fistral Beach, Sea Spray is another great shout. You’ll often find one of the El Camino team here with a laptop and oat latte in hand.
Best lunch spot – Potager Garden, Constantine
This secret garden gets our vote for the most magical venue and foodie idyll. We’d been hearing tales about Potager Garden and its delicious café a while before we paid our first visit. A former nursery, market garden and abandoned garden centre, Potager is tucked away in a secluded spot in the parish of Constantine within striking distance of Falmouth and the beautiful Helford River. The wholesome, seasonal menu is served in a converted greenhouse at the heart of this restored wilderness, the vegetarian dishes changing according to what’s come out of the ground. Grab a table outside, lounge in a hammock and don’t leave without trying the homemade cake.
Best view – Kynance Cove
Looking down over Kynance Cove on a sunny day you could be forgiven for thinking you were somewhere in the Mediterranean. Located on the southwestern tip of the Lizard peninsula, this sandy bay is instantly recognisable for its turquoise sea and striking rock stacks. The steep scramble down to the beach is worth the effort, or just settle down with a blanket and a cold beer to watch the sun dip down over the Atlantic Ocean.
Another of our favourite coastal viewpoints is Bedruthan Steps on the North Coast. Local legend tells of a giant named Bedruthan using the beach stacks as stepping-stones. (We think he’d definitely approve of the cream teas served in the National Trust café at the top.)
Hidden gem – Nanjizal
With no signposts how to get here and no car park when you do, Nanjizal or Mill Bay is a truly hidden cove. Situated a mile from Land’s End, those who come here are most often hiking the coast path, drawn by the crystal-clear waters to linger a while. The cove is home to large stone structures including the Song of the Sea, a tall slit in the cliffs, and is a great place to sit and seal watch while communing with the countless seabirds.
Got your own favourites? We make no excuses for this being North Coast heavy (we’re a little biased towards our own backyard) but we’d love to hear your suggestions for the best of Cornwall.
You can find the Cornwall Small Step here.