Cornwall is England’s south-western tip, where the UK dips her toe into the Atlantic ocean. Land’s End’s stacks and arches and the Lizard Point’s rocky outcrops mark the country’s most extreme points. It’s a county of two coastlines where rugged headlands alternate with surfing beaches and sleepy bays. The pastel cottages of Padstow, Newquay’s tiny international airport and the seaside art of St Ives mark the northern shore. In the south, ales are brewed at St Austell and cathedral spires pinpoint Truro. Bodmin is Cornwall’s inland heart where the moor is dotted with granite tors.
Cornwall’s pale, silky sands and deep bays can compete with any Caribbean paradise. Children paddle in shallow streams left by the tide on the tiny dog-free bay of Porthcurno, south of Penzance, where the rocky steps clamber to the rock-carved Minack Theatre. Horse riders take seaside gallops when the tide drops back on the north coast’s Perranporth beach, which stretches for two miles. Surfers head for tides at the unspoilt beaches and bays below the grey slate cottages of St Merryn. In Looe, Hannafore Beach rock pools spill with wildlife in low tide, while the grassy dunes behind Praa Sands draw seabirds and butterflies on the south coast.
Follow the woodland trail around the 13th- century estate at Trevarno Gardens near Penzance where peacocks strut across the lawns. Wander the wilds of Bodmin Moor and stop for Cornish ale at Jamaica Inn or trek the South West Coast Path from Zennor to St Ives over stiles and past clifftop farms. Cornwall’s surf scene draws pros and amateurs to boogie board in the Atlantic breakers between the headlands at north coast St Agnes and Newquay.
Wobbly bridges and punch bags break toddler tumbles at Crazy Camel Indoor Playground in Wadebridge. Little pirates love boat safaris that launch from Padstow and St Ives to spot porpoises diving and seals basking. Clamber with the kids through the bomb-proof Second World War tunnels at Porthcurno Telegraph Museum near Land’s End.
Work up an appetite with a rainforest expedition around a biome greenhouse before beer and curry at the Eden Project ecological park. Taste antipasti cooked with Cornish produce at Fifteen restaurant set in a renovated wooden beach hut on Watergate Bay. For seafood straight off the trawlers, head to Padstow to pick from four Rick Stein restaurants.