Fun fact: I am actually half Cornish. Not exactly earth shattering information, but my family love that area of the country and are always talking about the other-world-like ‘life back West’, so it’s as ingrained into me as much as a more exotic heritage would be.
Despite this, I hadn’t actually been to Cornwall for about 15 years until a couple of weeks ago; my dad moving abroad when I was a teenager and me leaving home when he came back to England meant that family excursions down to the homeland stopped when I was under 10.
So when I was invited (ahem *invited myself because I can’t stand it when anyone goes on trips without me) down to Cornwall to spend the week with my dad, grandma and great aunt, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought, as my gran still lives in Devon, beaches might be be similar to the ones there. Would the towns bear a resemblance to the Somerset villages that I work in? What would the scenery be like?
I left Bath at 5:30am on a clear day. The further west I drove, the foggier the air became. But when I got to Piran Meadows Resort and Spa, the caravan park which we were staying at, the sky cleared and the sun made a majestic appearance.
Apart from an incredible gale force wind on the clifftops on day two and a bit of a gloomy afternoon on day three, the weather more or less remained that way for my whole three day mini break. This was great, as I feel that I really experienced the best of what Cornwall has to offer because of the gorgeous weather. When the sun comes out, Cornwall really comes alive.
In fact, I spent most of my time in Cornwall in disbelief that I was still in the United Kingdom. These can’t be British beaches! I thought on more than one occasion. It turns out, there’s so many Cornish destinations that will have you thinking you’re hundreds of miles South. Here’s the top five ways to pretend you’re abroad in Cornwall.
1) Visit Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps (or should I say the South coast of Cyprus?)
My first glimpse of the Cornish sea was pretty spectacular. As we drove around the corner on the top of a cliff, I took in the crystal waters and golden sands below me, and asked my dad if we could stop to take a picture. “Pah” he said “we’ll get a much better view than this”.
He wasn’t lying. Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps are stacked rocks along a spectacular coastline. You can walk along the cliffs and catch a fantastic view of the rocks, and even descend down the (treacherous, I may add) steps to the beach below. The rocks reminded me of Aphrodite’s Rock in South Cyprus; although, if I may say, even better!
2) Wander down to the beach at Trevose Head (or was it the shore of Barbados?)
As soon as I got out of the car at Trevose Head, I was blown away. The beauty of the beaches isn’t immediately evident, but the wind was ridiculously strong!
While still really beautiful and interesting, the clifftops still looked rather British, but as soon as we traversed the headland and wandered down to the beach, I felt as if I’d been transported to the other side of the Atlantic to a Caribbean shoreline. The rolling blue waves reminisced a tropical sea that I normally see a lot further South, and the golden beach was unspoiled. All I needed was a piña colada!
3) Chill in Newquay (or maybe it’s East Australia)
Newquay is often known as the most popular surfing spot in the UK, and the town certainly makes the most of this claim to fame. With huge waves, surf schools littering the coastal road and colourful, quirky shops boasting trinkets and souvenirs, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in Byron Bay or somewhere else in Surfers’ Paradise. And when the sun’s out, the coastline is a paradise of sorts!
4) Spend a day at The Eden Project (while feeling like you’re in the midst of a tropical rainforest)
The Eden Project is a Cornish attraction which consists of two biomes full of plants from diverse environments. The larger biome is full of plants from a rainforest environment and the second plants from a Mediterranean climate. The Eden Project use their impressive collection of flora as a source of environmental education, explaining which plants are used for different medicinal purposes. An eco-friendly project, the attraction uses Green Tariff Electricity from Cornwall’s wind turbines and the water used to heat the biomes is sanitized rain water from the bottom of the nearest quarry.
One thing is for sure, when you’re in the larger biome, marvelling at the tropical plants , you’ll be thinking that you’re somewhere in the Amazon rather than in the South West corner of the UK!
5) Just go to Cornwall! (It’s a different country, I swear)
As previously mentioned, my family are very proud to be Cornish. They, amongst many others firmly believe that Cornwall is a separate country to England; just as Scotland and Wales are.
There’s a fair amount of feasible support for this idea; the county does have its own language and its own flag. Cornwall celebrates St Piran’s day, just as England celebrates St George’s day and Wales St David’s. The Cornish accent is unmistakable, and it even has a fantastic array of ‘national’ food.
The Cornish have a Celtic identity, which differs to the rest of England; they infact have more in common with Scotland, Wales, Ireland and The Isle of Man.
Cornwall’s got the most fiercely strong identity of any area in the UK (bar Scotland and Wales) and this is what is so great about it. Because by just being in Cornwall, only a three hour drive from Bath and just over the border from Devon, I felt like I was in a far away land.
Don’t just take my word for it – here’s a telegraph article stating just that ‘Cornwall is far more than just a county‘. The article deems the area of the UK to have “people, customs and language very different to those further north” and be deserving of as much independence as Wales and Scotland are given.
It discusses how Cornish people will identify as British, but not English; which is something that my family would wholeheartedly agree with!
So, as you cross over the Cornwall-Devon border, you are actually going abroad… which might account for some of the tropical-esque beaches!
Is Cornwall abroad?
Jutting out from the bottom of the country, Cornwall is the UK’s most isolated county and boasts its furthest southern point. Twin this with exotic beaches, chilled surfing towns and Mediterranean rock structures and you could easily be in a different country. Here is the perfect option for a ‘staycation’; if budget or circumstances won’t allow you to travel abroad this summer!
So if you’re looking for an exotic escape, but you’re stuck in the UK, have no fear! Just across the Tamar is a glorious land, full of exotic cultures and beaches, waiting to welcome you. Visit Cornwall to experience the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Australia, the Amazon and a country within its own right all in one.
When you’re booking your Cornwall holiday, I’d really recommend checking out the fab eco-friendly caravan site, Piran Meadows Resort and Spa, that I stayed at.