Thursday, December 4, 2014

Cornwall - one of the most beautiful places in England

"England doesn't have any good beaches!", was my occasional whine soon after I moved to London. After growing up on the beach, the hardest part about leaving Australia was saying goodbye to white sandy beaches only to be replaced by what I thought were just miles of pebbles or if I'm lucky, course gray sand. I heard people telling me about white beaches around England, but since no one ever told me an exact location I dismissed their bold claims. 
Well, I was wrong. England does have white sandy beaches, and some of them - yes I'm being really daring here - are more beautiful than some of Australia's beaches. The Cornish coast is stunning and after being there twice, I would still happily go back again. Besides beaches, there is also so much more to do in Cornwall.

St Ives

Probably one of the most popular spots in Cornwall, this town definitely has a English sea side feel. The white sandy beach is nice and long and the water on a sunny day (although likely to be freezing) is stunning shades of blue. The town is quaint and good for a little walk around. I was very amused by several people very seriously warning me about seagulls. Although I didn't have a problem with them, apparently they are some serious kleptomaniacs. I thought Australian seagulls were pesky, the ones in England are twice the size and they know it!


After a short drive from Penzance or a pleasant 1 hour stroll along the beach, you will find yourself in Marazion. Another one of Cornwall's most popular spots, Marazion is the home of an island in the sea. With a castle. But wait for it...that you can walk to! I thought (well I still think) this was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. When the tide rolls out, a cobblestone path is revealed, leading to St Michael's Mount. I was far too eager the first time and went over before the water had fully receded. It was a freezing March, and so as you can imagine pretty cold with soaked shoes and socks! 
Lesson: Always wait for the tide to fully recede!
The castle itself is like any other castle inside, but offers some fantastic views from various points around it. When you're done, although there is not too much in the town, there is a couple of pubs (the Godolphin Arms is nice) or a good old fish & chips shop.

Porthcurno Beach & Minack Theatre

Porthcurno Beach was my favourite beach in Cornwall. Although quite small, it is sandwiched in between cliffs and is made of soft white sand. I managed to go on a sunny day and the colour of the water was stunning! Once you're done at the beach, you can climb up the cliff to get to Minack Theatre. Built in 1932, it is a granite open-air theater overlooking the Atlantic. Even if you are not seeing a show here, it is worth a visit for the incredible panoramic views. There is a small cafe there as well if you want to enjoy the view for a little bit longer away from the wind.

Land's End

Land's End to me is one of those things that you should do at least once but isn't all that amazing in itself. Land's End is the furthest point east you can go in England. The little town-like place is a little tacky, and they've taken the "first and last whatever it is" a little too far. The first and last pub, the first and last post box, the first and last garbage bin. Okay I'm kidding about the last one, but it was getting a little ridiculous. 

You can get a picture with the famous Land's End sign for a price and get your name put on it. Or you can just try to pose in front a few meters away when no one is there. There was also some Dr Who phone booth when I went. I've never seen Dr Who so have no idea what that was about. The town has some cool little 4D movies if you like that kind of thing, but the food is pretty theme parky. Unless of course you go to the first and last inn...sigh... Wouldn't the first west coast town in England also consider themselves first and last? What about the last town until the Scottish border or the most southern town in England? I could really go on and on about the inaccuracy of this "first and last claim"...
All in all, if you've got time to go here, then it's probably worth a little look, but if you're on a tight schedule I wouldn't bother.

The above are just a few things you can do in Cornwall. There is also the Eden Project, Lizard Peninsula, Mousehole and the stunning train ride between St Erth and St Ives. There is at least a weeks worth to see, and it is beautiful all year round, even if it is too cold to swim!

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