the classic guide

A guide to the West Country from the people that know…

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Holidays in West Cornwall

You’re right, it does take a while to get here, but when you arrive in the far west of Cornwall, you’ll feel as though you’ve crossed the border into an entirely different country.

That’s not to say that you won’t find the welcome little luxuries we all look for in a holiday - some of the region’s finest restaurants are tucked away in this little corner of Cornwall, watersports are big news here and St Ives is a Mecca for art lovers. Historic houses and gardens, one-off little shops, family attractions, museums and one of the most intriguing theatres on the planet (The Minack - worth visiting even when there are no plays on) - you’ll never be stuck for ways to amuse yourself in the far west of Cornwall.


If beaches are a vital part of your break, you’re in for a real treat - the coastline here is peppered with vast swathes of the whitest sand in Cornwall and the merest hint of sunshine turns the sea turquoise. For bucket and spade fun, the bigger beaches have all those facilities that make a family day on the sand a cinch, from easy parking and loos to cafes and restaurants.



A word of warning - when you’ve comfortably slipped into far west Cornwall time (you’ve stopped rushing and find yourself frequently stopping to admire the view), the urge to stay another week can be overwhelming. Well, you’ve not yet managed to squeeze in that day trip to the Isles of Scilly, and the lady in the newsagents mentioned a good pub in the next village along… You might find yourself planning a return trip before you’ve even got the last bag in the boot for the drive home.

Then there’s the Lizard peninsula to explore.You’re not alone if the south west of Cornwall is a bit of a mystery to you - this area is perhaps less well-trodden than other areas and tranquility is up for grabs here even at the very height of the summer. The Lizard peninsula contains a raft of coves and harbours that make exploring this coastline endlessly fascinating.

If you’re thinking ‘backwater’, you’re mistaken though. South west Cornwall has some of the county's most popular attractions, including the Cornish Seal Sanctuary and the perennial children’s favourite, Flambards. And many people are surprised when they visit Helston to find a thriving town whose streets are lined with elegant Georgian architecture, instead of a quaint but sleepy Cornish village, as they had expected. 

There is plenty of scope for getting out on the water during your holiday here. The coast around the Lizard has claimed many ships; a tragedy for the sailors of old but a real bonus for divers now. While much of the coastline is battered by the gales that blow from the west, it is possible to find sheltered waters in coves ideal for windsurfing, one of the best spots being Coverack. For the best surfing, you’ll need to head north, to the jaw-droppingly wide expanse of sand at Gwithian. This bay is an excellent place for learners - due to the gently shelving nature of the beach, the waves roll in more slowly than at other breaks, giving beginners plenty of time to ‘pop up’ on their boards.



You needn’t be fully immersed to enjoy the waters here; if messing around on the river is more your scene, then take a trip up the Helford - this unique river has creeks, beaches, primeval-looking forests and great pubs along its banks. The literary-minded are always keen to spot Frenchman’s Creek, as mysterious and other-worldly now as it must have been when Daphne Du Maurier placed it at the centre of her novel.

For the green fingered, the gardens in this neck of the woods are jaw-droppingly exciting; wander through Trebah or Glendurgan, and it feels as though you have stumbled into a tropical paradise.

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