A guide to some of the best Cornish beauty spots

Posted on 24th August 2017

It will not be news to you that Cornwall is regarded as one of the most beautiful areas of the UK. From golden beaches to rolling countryside, the scenic highlights of the country’s westernmost point has made it the destination of choice for countless visitors over the years.

 Bude beach

Image Credit: Giuseppe Milo

In this article, we will take a closer look at a handful of the county’s most stunning locations – some you will be familiar with, others you may not – with the help of the local experts who are fortunate enough to live and work at them.

Take a few minutes to read through some of the places listed below, and find some inspiration for where to visit when you next stay at one of our cottages on the Cornish coast.

Windmill Farm Nature Reserve, The Lizard

Marsh fritillary butterfly at Windmill Farm

Image Credit: Amy Lewis

The Cornwall Wildlife Trust manages more than 50 nature reserves across the county, so are better placed than most to advise us about where visitors can spot some beautiful flora and fauna.

We could spend ages discussing the many different highlights that can be found throughout the Trust’s reserves but, for the time being, we have decided to focus on just one site: Windmill Farm on the Lizard peninsula. Here’s what the Trust had to say about this peaceful and enchanting place:

“Windmill Farm is owned jointly by Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the Cornwall Birdwatching and Preservation Society and is situated on the Lizard Peninsula, the UK’s most southerly point. This 210 acre reserve is home to an array of habitats, including wet and dry heaths, hay meadows, pasture, wetland, ponds, and arable land. The mix of habitats means the site is home to a huge variety of plant, bird and invertebrate species.

Short-eared owl at Windmill fam

Image Credit: Dan Murphy

“A boardwalk takes you through a lush area of wet woodland which is home to speckled wood butterflies, wrens, and willow warblers. Specially created ponds have been made to provide warm and sheltered conditions for dragonflies and damselflies; 17 species are regularly recorded here, newts and rare stonewarts have also benefitted.

“The rare small pearl bordered butterfly fritillary can be found on the farm at this time of year. This delightful butterfly, which feeds on marsh violets, normally plays second fiddle to the rarer marsh fritillary on the nature reserve, however, the latter have now flown and are found in larvae state.

“Windmill Farm has great visitor access with a large car park and well defined paths across the nature reserve, with the route regularly punctuated with directional arrows.

“Regretfully, dogs are not permitted due to the protected status.”

 

St Agnes

 Wheal Coates tin mine

Image Credit: Chris Lucas

Beauty spots, of course, do not just have to consist of wide open spaces and abundant wildlife. Much of Cornwall’s appeal can also be attributed to its dozens of historic villages and towns. One such example is the village of St Agnes between Redruth and Newquay, which benefits from being a vibrant community surrounded by some extraordinary coastline.

We spoke to the team at St Agnes’s official website about what makes it such a special place to live, and which locations visitors should seek out if they have a day or two to spare:

“Tucked into a stunning and unspoilt spot on the north Cornish coast, St Agnes sits in both a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a World Heritage Site.

“Our compact little village has a thriving and creative local community which supports lots of independent shops and businesses. Add beautiful, dog-friendly beaches, world-class pubs and restaurants, and access to some of the county’s most stunning coast paths and walks, and it’s not hard to see why we’re so proud of whaere we live.

Porthtowan beach

Image Credit: Janet Ramsden

“The wider area encompasses the sandy Blue Flag beach of Porthtowan, a hit with surfers and swimmers, and from the top of the St Agnes Beacon you can see for miles around. The National Trust-owned Wheal Coates evokes the mining heritage of our past and from here on a clear day you can see right across the sea to St Ives. In late summer swathes of purple and yellow cover the coast path in a blanket of heather and gorse, and on a warm September evening there is no better place to be.

“And for those fans of Ross Poldark, Winston Graham lived just down the road and used the whole Parish as the inspiration for his Poldark series of books, dubbing it ‘Poldark Country’.”

Bodmin

Eastern edge of Bodmin moor

Image Credit: Sagesolar

Although the town of Bodmin itself is one of the busiest in all of Cornwall, it is (like so much of the county) just a stone’s throw away from some truly spectacular scenery. What’s more, Bodmin – which preceded Truro as Cornwall’s county town – is a truly historic location that, unsurprisingly, features a number of exciting attractions celebrating its rich and fascinating past.

The team at Bodmin Live, the town’s official tourism website, were on hand to tell us more about the many highlights of this unique and charming destination:

“Centrally located in the heart of Cornwall, Bodmin is equal distance from the North and South Coasts (approximately 35 minutes’ drive in either direction) and on the fringe of the beautiful landscape of Bodmin Moor.

Cardinham Woods

Image Credit: Martin Brigden

“With six attractions all within walking distance of the Town Centre – The Courtroom Experience, The Jail, Cornwall’s Regimental Museum, Bodmin and Wenford Railway, The Town Museum and St Petroc’s Church, there is something for everyone.

“Bodmin is also a cycling hub with the National Cycle Network’s Route 3 going through the town, along with the trails at Cardinham Woods which are suitable for the more adventurous and Lanhydrock’s more family friendly routes. The Camel Trail can be accessed on the edge of town too. Most of these trails are suitable for walkers, as is the Bodmin Beacon Nature Reserve, a magical place for people and wildlife.”

 

The Tamar Valley

View of Calstock from Cotehele House

Image Credit: Mark Seymour

Just on the fringes of Bodmin Moor is the Tamar Valley – another beautiful area which benefits from showcasing some of the finest landscapes both Cornwall and its neighbouring county of Devon has to offer.

We were able to get the thoughts of John Marshall, Chairman of the Tamar Valley Tourism Association, whose website – www.welovethetamarvalley.co.uk – exists to promote this wonderfully unspoilt and sometimes overlooked region:

“The Tamar Valley in one of the hidden gems of Cornwall. It spans the border of Cornwall and Devon and is bypassed by most travellers which makes it all the more pleasurable.

“There are a number of National Trust houses all set in an area of natural beauty, stunning gardens to visit, riverside pubs, lovely villages, miles of walking and one of the country’s best mountain biking trails. The Tamar Valley is so beautiful that it is easy to forget that it was once a major centre of mining – until you see the ruins of ancient tin and copper mines – and there is so much industrial history to explore, with the area being awarded World Heritage status for the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape.

View of Dartmoor near Tavistock

Image Credit: David Sivyer

“Places not to be missed are:

 

  • Cotehele House – An unspoilt medieval house (managed by the National Trust). Also, Cotehele Quay with the historic barge “The Shamrock”

 

  • The Garden House – A stunning garden regarded by many as the best in England

 

  • Launceston – The ancient capital of Cornwall with its ruined Norman Castle, steam railway, historic church and medieval gateway and streets

 

  • Calstock – A lovely village by the river where you can buy the best ice cream in Cornwall.”