Laura and I finally braved driving on the left side of the road so we could make it down to the southern most tip of England: Cornwall! (We survived)
Favorite Things: Gardens, beaches, and seafood.
Things to know: If you are indeed driving, be aware that the roads can become quite narrow and winding as you get into the various small towns. Also be prepared for a thousand roundabouts.
We went at the very end of tourist season which means several things: Our dog was allowed on the beach (yay!); the crowds were far smaller than in peak summer months (nice for us, but if you like a busy beach town vibe, go in summer); it wasn’t particularly sunny (in summer St. Ives is known for being one of the sunniest places in England, but take that with a grain of grey English salt).
Lots of things are closed or close early on Sundays and Mondays.
I truly wish we had built in another two days too (we did three days). We drove from Bristol out to Penzance, making lots of stops along the way. At each stop I wished we had more time to spend there, and FYI; lots of things close at 5. Ideally we should have driven half way, taking more time at the various sites, and stayed somewhere for a night, then spent two nights down in the Penzance/St. Ives area, and then spent another night somewhere along the northern part of the peninsula on the way back.
Accommodations: We stayed at the ever-so-lovely Artist Residence Cornwall in Penzance (don’t worry, no sign of any pirates). They kindly upgraded us to a suite, which for whatever reason — maybe they knew it was my birthday, or more likely they just had the room available — was very old-school-classy on their part. The atmosphere reminded me of a warm seaside cabin — duh, we were near the sea — and the staff were super sweet and helpful. They have a great patio that I’m sure would be lovely in summer, and they are dog friendly!
The Cornish Barn – The restaurant at The Artist Residence is quite cozy, open seven days a week, and serves some pretty decent food. The breakfast is yummy as well, and included if you’re staying there. Again, dog friendly!
The Tolcarne Inn – This is an old school pub! I think 300 years old (possibly?), located down the road from Penzance in Newly. The interior is authentic, although it could do with a minor update. Most of the diners were 70+ and they awkwardly don’t play music which means there’s a lot of knives scraping on plates, which is one of my least favorite sounds in the world, plus we got some odd stares. HOWEVER! The seafood was fantastic. They write the specials on a chalk board and it changes regularly according to what they catch. I would say try going for lunch rather than dinner, you might get a friendlier crowd. Dog friendly.
Ben Tunnicliffe Sennen Cove – The same head chef as The Tulcarne Inn, this team really know how to perfectly cook seafood. It’s a bit of a drive, as it’s one of the furthest points at the end of the peninsula, but the views and food are well worth it. Plus a beautiful beach where your dog can run around. Highly recommend any scallop dish on the menu.
Porthminster Cafe – Located right on the Porthminster beach, they have great ocean views and scrumptious food. There’s a few tables in the back where dogs can sit, which still has charming views, but no ocean. But, you can follow the path down to the beach when you’re done.
Star & Garter – I guess this is what one would call an upscale pub? It has all the cozy charm of a pub, but with an updated interior and elevated food, plus gorgeous booths overlooking the harbor in Falmouth. Monday’s they do a limited menu, but the chicken wings and brisket were still really good. They also have two rooms for rent upstairs. If you can snag one on Airbnb they look really cute.
Cornish Cider – We had a few we really enjoyed!
Places we wanted to eat but didn’t get to:
We somehow didn’t have any crab while we were there, which I’m kicking myself for since they are known for it. Guess we’ll just have to go back.
St. Ives – St. Ives is about as darling as England gets. Even when it’s cloudy the turquoise water and colorful roofs and boats give it a cheery feel. There’s also a Tate here, which we sadly didn’t make it to since we had our dog with us. But the town and the beaches alone are worth the trip.
Porthminster Beach – Furthest from the town center this beach gives you a nice view of the peninsula on which St. Ives sits. Above it are trails you can hike if you want more of a birds eye view.
Porthmeor Beach – The smallest beach at the very tip of St. Ives. I imagine a midday picnic would be perfect here. Perfect view looking back at the bay of St. Ives, with lots of colorful boats.
Porthgwidden Beach – On the opposite side of the peninsula from the main part of town, this beach is ideal for sunset. The Common Wanderer, a nice store in town sells recycled wool blanket for 25 pounds in case you’re like us and didn’t think to bring one. Take some Cornish cider and a Pastie with you, relax and enjoy watching the colors change.
Note: All of the following sites are part of the National Trust. The land around them is free, beautiful, and dog friendly, but if you want to go inside I would recommend purchasing a membership beforehand in order to save money and don’t bring your dog.
LanhydrockLanhydrock – A beautiful manor built in the 1600’s. I can only imagine just how Downton Abby it is on the inside. The outside is striking and surrounded by rolling hills and free roaming cows.
Eden Project – Looking like an evil lair from a James Bond film, or futuristic igloos, these enormous greenhouse biomes built in a crater are actually jaw dropping. They house the largest interior rainforest in the world. We sadly arrived 30 minutes before closing so we didn’t get to explore all the wonders it has to offer (plus dogs can’t go in the domes). I’m certain you could spend an entire day, maybe even two wandering around the grounds. Plus they have zip lining, an ice skating rink, and a theater! What!
Trelissik – Yet another beautiful old manor with stunning surrounding scenery. Again we couldn’t enter the manor due to our canine companion, but the estate itself is gorgeous, with river views straight out of Peter Pan.
St. Michael’s Mount – This oh so cool castle is perched on an island that can be reached by boat at high tide, or by a foot path at low tied. Once again we did the whistle stop tour, but I would suggest leaving enough to time to make the trip up to the castle through the tropical gardens, and make sure that your trip either to or from the island is when the tide has come in just enough so you can still walk the path, but it’s slightly underwater. We went at low tied and I wish we had gone just an hour or so later.
Wish we had made it to Tintagel Castle. Supposedly the castle King Author’s castle was based on.
Clearly we will have to go back.