13 April 2017

Cornwall roadtripping: our favourite places to explore

Both my friend and I had eyed up the beautiful scenery, cozy thatched cottages and wild beaches of the Cornish coast often enough to each have a wishlist of places to explore, so on our long weekend we tried to fit in as many places as we could.

Result? The best road trip we could have hoped for, complete with excellent tunes, copious snacks and occasionally crazy weather conditions. Full of pirates and smugglers, intriguing history, rampant gardens, cream teas where we discussed the big questions (cream then jam, or jam then cream, obv) and weather conditions that changed by the minute from hail to beaming sunshine.

Road trip itinerary Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi
Road trip itinerary Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi
Important disclaimer: I've only visited Cornwall the once so I can't ever call myself an expert, and ideally we needed an extra day to spend in St Ives properly, but these were the places we loved.

Hopping on a Friday evening train from London, we arrived in Truro for around 9.30pm (I've heard that the overnight train can be super uncomfortable, and we wanted to hit the ground running the next morning) and caught the train back mid-afternoon on the Tuesday. You can fly in & out of Newquay, cutting down the 5 hour train journey significantly but the flight times didn't suit our trip unfortunately (well, this time!) 

Truro:
The only city in Cornwall, we made our base in Truro for the first two nights. Picking up our hire car at the train station we dimbled about the countryside.

Where to stay in Truro:
The Old Vicarage - this was a press invite, but I would return in a heartbeat. Their luxurious riverside guesthouse tiptoed the line between home comfort and elegant relaxation.

Road trip itinerary Truro Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi

Where to eat in Truro:
See above - the Old Vicarage breakfast was delectable and all as locally sourced as possible. Sadly  the one dinnertime we were in Truro we grabbed a pub dinner as we were too tired to dress up and go fine dining, but we couldn't leave without trying a Cornish Pasty.Reading through scores of reviews (and narrowly missing the World Pasty Championships) we sampled the classic miners fare at the award winning Warren's Bakery - which was insanely good.


What to do in Truro:

Explore the Eden Project
The bio-domes are incredible - with the tropical gardens thriving despite the sea winds. Unfortunately we ran out of time but our hosts recommended visiting - and told us how the Eden Project have started having evening concerts which intrigued us no end. Next time, next time.

Discover the Lost Gardens of Heligan
Set aside at least 4 hours, more if you can. If driving from a southern city in Cornwall, ignore your SatNav and drive to St Austell, before following the brown tourist signs. We ended up winding through teeny tiny little countrylanes which almost turned my teetotal friend to drink.

Lost Gardens of Heligan Road trip itinerary Truro Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi

Walk along the beach at Mevagissey
Recommended to us by Mevagissey is an attractive old fishing town which still boast a working harbour, not to mention the most incredible clifftop glimpses of the ocean if you drive over from Heligan Gardens, 5 minutes away.

Lost Gardens of Heligan Road trip itinerary Truro Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi
Lost Gardens of Heligan Road trip itinerary Truro Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi


St Michael's Mount/Penzance
Within 20 minutes of leaving our lovely Truro base we could see why exactly how the rugged coastline and mist cloaked isle inspired mystical tales and the legendary escapades of King Arthur. Making our way through the beautiful countryside hemmed with stone walls (determinedly sticking to A-roads unlike our slightly stressful foray through teensy farm lanes to the Lost Gardens of Heligan) we simply rolled up and over the undulating roads.

Where to eat at St Micheal's Mount:
If you visit after the end of March, the island has cafes and tearooms, but we ended up with the best view in the area sat in the Godolphin Arms. Tucking into a late lunch of perfectly cooked fish and chips (the portions are huge - we split one plus a cauliflower cheese and still struggled) and a coffee we were as happy as clams.

St Micheals Mount Lost Gardens of Heligan Road trip itinerary Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi

What to do near St Micheal's Mount:
Try to visit around low tide, and you'll be able to walk along the man-made causeway linking the island to Marazion village. Then, just explore. If you get caught on the island or can't be bothered walking there are shuttle trucks (low tide) and shuttle boats (high tide).
 St Micheals Mount Lost Gardens of Heligan Road trip itinerary Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi

Drive through Penzance and Mousehole
We wriggled our way through the narrow streets of this town, and would be super curious to see what the town is like in better weather, but loved each corner of Mousehole, a smaller town slightly further up the coast. We watched the sunset with St Micheaj's Mount in the distance which felt a little bit special (which I ruined by telling instagram that my friend had kidnapped me and was trying to make me lose all sense of direction in the teeny lanes.)

Visit Lizard Lighthouse:
A lighthouse at Lizard Point the southernmost point of England, Lizard Lighthouse was built to guide vessels passing through the English Channel, and it is the only lighthouse you can climb in Cornwall. Well, after the end of March... There are also cottages to rent that would have a beautiful view over the ocean.


Lizard Lighthouse road trip itinerary Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi

St Ives:
St Ives has been a busy fishing port since the Middle Ages and is believed to have been settled as early as the Bronze Age. A picturesque fishing harbour and seaside town voted best family holiday destination by Coast magazine and one of TripAdvisor’s top 10 European beaches. This is the town that we wanted to spend much more time in.


St Ives road trip itinerary Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi
Where to stay in St Ives: 
Not here. It was ooooooooooooooookay, but as a castle needs a thorough brush up of credentials. There are a plethora of gorgeous cottages within St Ive's town centre that would have been simply darling - but you'll have to navigate the heartstoppingly tiny lanes that weave in between buildings there far longer than the motor car.

St Ives road trip itinerary Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi


Where to eat in St Ives:
We breakfasted in the Scoff Troff Cafe (not quite trusting the hotel breakfast, and keen to spend as much time in St Ives as possible) which was really rather good. I had the eggs benedict and announced that it was better than a few that I had tried lately in posh London hotels...

We dined at the Rum and Crab Shack (above), enjoying a cracking Lobster and Crayfish Roll (no pun intended). The Lobster and Crayfish were dusted with cajun spices, served with lemon and coriander mayo in a brioche roll and fries, all with a view over the harbour.

St Ives road trip itinerary Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi
St Ives road trip itinerary Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi



What to do in St Ives:

Just wander - I know I say it often enough to have created my own cliche, but it's truely the best way to discover the nooks and crannies of any place. We popped in and out of cute boutiques, laughed like drains as a parent warned his son that the seagulls would carry him away if he didn't behave and generally enjoyed everyone else relaxing in the rare sunshine.


Get high:
Pick up the South West Coast Path from Porthminster Beach (a nice tarmaced stretch of coast path) towards Carbis Bay. The path’s a bit steep, but worth it, as you emerge to the most spectacular view. Stop at the black-and-white Baulking House. This early nineteenth-century building was a “huer’s hut”. A “huer” was a lookout who would watch for pilchard shoals arriving in the bay. When he saw one, he would raise a hue-and-cry (hence the name) of “Hevva, hevva!”, and guide the fishing boats to the right place. Perch on one of the hut’s benches, and you’ll appreciate why this was such an outstanding lookout spot.

St Ives road trip itinerary Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi


Selfie at Lands End
We couldn't resist the (touristy) siren call of visiting Land's End, the westernmost point of England. Lands End is the legendary Cornish destination that has inspired people since ancient Greek times when it was referred to as ‘Belerion’ – place of the sun. We followed (drove) in the footsteps of nineteenth century visitors who would travel to The First & Last Inn before making the final stage of the journey to ‘Penn-an-Wlas’ [Lands End in Cornish] on horseback or foot along the narrow lanes. It does get busy with tourists but...

Lands End road trip itinerary Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi

Newquay:
A surfers paradise, Newquay is known for sandy Fistral and Watergate Bay beaches, where waves from the Atlantic Ocean create strong surf. On the seafront, the Blue Reef Aquarium features an underwater tunnel going through a coral-reef tank with pufferfish, sharks and rays. Further inland, surrounded by tropical gardens, Newquay Zoo is home to lions, wildebeest and sloths. (Or so my internet research tells me.)

Where to stay in Newquay:
The Scarlet - also a press invite, but rather delectable. Snugged into the cliffs, the Scarlett Hotel is a peaceful retreat, hiding away from the clanging updates of the world.



Newquay where to stay road trip itinerary Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi

Where to eat:
We enjoyed the hospitality of their delectable restaurant, and then our breakfast in bed, in true relaxation style.

Newquay where to stay road trip itinerary Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi

What to do in Newquay:
We didn't explore much, actually any of Newquay, we just relaxed in the hotel. And in the cliffside hottub and have no regrets whatsoever.

Newquay where to stay road trip itinerary Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi

We left with regrets that we didn't have more time, but the days we did enjoy brimmed with enjoyment.

Have you been? It seems as though most of England decamps there for family holidays in the summer?

{Pin Me For Later}
Road trip itinerary best ever Cornwall Adventures of a London Kiwi

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