SHHH... DISCOVER 50 SECRET PLACES IN CORNWALL
PUBLISHED: 11:29 19 January 2016 | UPDATED: 12:42 30 August 2017
© David Chapman
Cornwall might be famed for pasties, Padstow and Poldark, but there is so much more to this glorious county as Abby Driver discovers...
1 Ethy Woods
Legend has it Ethy Woods was the inspiration for Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows. We can certainly picture Rat and Mole frolicking about in these magical woods. At low tide take the stepping stones for an extra dose of whimsy.
2 Duchy Café
After a serious shopping splurge in the Duchy Nursery, refresh yourself in the adjoining café and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding woodland and castle. Enjoy a cup of Origin coffee or Tregothnan Tea and certainly don’t forget to peruse the home baked goods. Try the brownie, you won’t regret it.
A good fifteen minute walk and no facilities mean this secluded spot never gets too crowded. Head there for low tide when the two coves become connected for optimal exploring. Fans of Daphne du Maurier may get déjà vu – the surrounding Menabilly estate was a major influence on her work.
A splendid place to ramble in any season, the bright bluebells of spring are a particular highlight. Cross the five arched medieval bridge over the River Fowey and turn right into the woodlands. Stop along the river with a hot flask of tea and a spot of birdwatching.
5 Porthminster Beach Café
Chefs team produce from their adjacent garden plot and the coastal path with the freshest of fresh fish. The result is spectacular. Not only is the food incredible, you’ll also enjoy uninterrupted views across St Ives Bay to Godrevy Lighthouse.
If you’re after sea glass, driftwood and other such loot, Frogmore offers rich pickings. Pay attention to the tides as you can only access Frogmore at low tide.
A 100% vegan café, Wildebeest is a welcome addition to Falmouth’s bustling foodie scene. The small (but perfectly formed) menu is a melting pot of global cuisines featuring everything from Thai to Mexican. Save yourself for pudding though – the cheesecake is out of this world.
8 The Beach Hut
You’ve likely heard of Watergate Bay and Jamie Oliver’s famous Fifteen restaurant; but what about the laid back Beach Hut? This beachside spot is a perfect for a post-surf brunch and if you’ve got a sweet tooth, get yourself an extreme hot chocolate pronto.
9 Lantic Bay
It’s a steep old walk down to Lantic Bay, but you’ll be rewarded by way of stunning views on the way down and an unspoilt, quiet beach when you arrive. Bring snacks and sun cream with you, there are no facilities here.
10 The Old Grammar School
Anyone for tapas? Head to the Old Grammar School for an incredible selection of tasty treats, all washed down with a delectable cocktail. Whatever you do, make sure you try the homemade nachos. Divine.
11 Brown Willy
Climb Brown Willy - the highest point in Cornwall at 1,378 feet above sea level – and enjoy the stunning moorland views it affords. Catch your breath on the way back down and stop off at Jamaica Inn for a cheeky half and a ghost tale.
12 Lanhydrock House
A National Trust property, this Victorian house is set in a wooded estate and boasts glorious gardens. A particular highlight is the extensive servant’s quarters which are very telling of the times. Though I’m sure most keen cooks will feel a pang of envy at that kitchen!
13 Seal Sanctuary
Rescuing more than 40 grey seal pups a year, the Seal Sanctuary provides a lifeline for injured and stray seal pups. Each rescue seal pup is nurtured back to full health before being released, giving them the best chance of survival. Visit the sanctuary to meet the residents and learn all about this fascinating mammal.
14 Leach Pottery
Founded in 1920 by Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada The Leach Pottery is now one of the most respected and influential potteries in the world. Visit the exhibition spaces and revel in the craftsmanship or take a step back in time at the old pottery workshop.
15 The Exchange
With its name and industrial décor taken from its origins as a Telephone Exchange, this contemporary art space attracts exhibitions on a scale never seen before in Cornwall. Visit not only for the art, but live performances, film screenings and community events too.
16 Yak & Yeti
Nepalese cuisine in the heart of Cornwall? No problem! Owned by Sunny who grew up and worked in the Himalayan Mountains, Yak & Yeti is a real authentic treat for your taste buds. Do yourself a favour and order the lamb babari.
17 Looe Island
Open to the public between Easter and September, Looe Island is a marine nature reserve providing a fabulous habitat for all sorts of wildlife. The island attracts nesting birds such as cormorants, shags and oystercatchers and if you’re lucky you might even spot a seal!
18 Bedruthan Spa
Unwind in the vast Jacuzzi and feast your eyes on the gorgeous view of the Atlantic – spa lovers, it doesn’t get better than this! Book either a morning, afternoon or evening slot and enjoy access to the spas steam room, aromatherapy room, sauna and Jacuzzi. Tension, be gone!
19 Trebah Gardens
Head to Trebah Gardens in spring and enjoy the colourful 100-year-old rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias spring to life. With over four miles of footpath to explore, this stunning valley garden even features a secluded beach on the Helford river.
20 Bude Sea Pool
Created in 1930 to provide a safe swimming haven, Bude Sea Pool has become a much loved feature of the town. Nestled under the rugged North Cornish cliffs, this semi-natural pool is created using the curve of the cliffs which fills itself up twice a day at high tide.
21 Snails Pace Café
The camel trail is a popular choice, with holidaymakers usually ending up in Padstow. But why not detour to Wenford Bridge instead? It’s a scenic route and you can stop off for a delicious mug of mulled apple juice at Snails Pace Café.
22 Polpeor Café
Perched atop the Lizard Point, Polpeor Café has stunning views out to sea and a big hearty menu to match. It’s half a mile from Lizard village or two miles from Kynance Cove, so why not walk and work up an appetite?
23 Pandora Inn
A thatched 13th century pub sat right on the water at Restronguet Creek, Pandora Inn even has a Jetty for eating al fresco. And if you happen to own a yacht, you can sail yourself here. With low beams, flagstone floor and traditional pub food, this is an old school pub with a twist.
24 Shipwreck & Heritage Centre
Peruse the largest collection of shipwreck artefacts and treasures in the UK. Located in the port village of Charlestown - famed for its recent starring role in Poldark – we couldn’t think of a more fitting spot!
25 Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens
Set in a beautiful valley, the shelter, woods and stream all provide the perfect environment for this large-scale exotic and sub-tropical garden. You’ll also spot contemporary art installations by the likes of internationally renowned artists James Turrell and David Nash.
26 Tanglewood Wild Garden
Named after the mass of brambles the owners faced when they first arrived, Tanglewood Wild Garden subscribes to a 50/50 mind-set: it’s shared equally with humans and wildlife. So the likes of nettles and thistles are encouraged as vital habitat, rather than weeds. The garden attracts a huge variety of birds, from mallards and moorhens to coots and Canadian geese.
27 Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm
We mix apples and imagination to make delicious food and drink’. Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm has been making the most of their orchards for more than 25 years. Visit Healey’s and take a peek behind the scenes to find out what it takes to create their award winning cider and have a sample or two; it would be rude not to.
28 Daymer Bay
Heading to Padstow for the day? Why not get there by walking along Daymer Bay then taking a short ferry ride to Padstow; the views are glorious and it’s a great precursor to the obligatory fish and chips!
29 Golitha Falls
As soon as you spot the series of stunning cascades through a steep-sided valley gorge in this ancient woodland you’ll be blown away by sheer beauty. It’s not all about good looks though; Golitha Falls is also home to a diverse range of flora and fauna including several species of bat.
30 Merlin’s Cave
Located below Tintagel Castle, Merlin’s Cave is best explored at low tide when you can fully access it. The cave was made famous by Tennyson in his Idylls of the King, describing waves bringing young Arthur to shore and Merlin carrying him to safety.
31 Bodmin and Wenford Railway
Do you hark back to the good old days? Take a ride on a steam train at Bodmin & Wenford Railway and relive them! Jazz your experience up and book a murder mystery ticket, or keep things Cornish casual with a cream tea instead (far more relaxing).
32 National Lobster Hatchery
The National Lobster Hatchery is a charitable organisation that opened in 2000 to help conserve the vulnerable lobster populations and preserve coastal marine biodiversity. Visit to see the young lobsters at their various stages before release and find out more about marine conservation.
33 Chapel Porth Beach
Best enjoyed at low tide when the sea retreats to reveal a glorious expanse of golden sand. Walk along the Atlantic and spot the surfers, or revert back to childhood and explore the caves.
34 The Cheesewring
A huge granite tor on the eastern flank of Bodmin Moor, legend has it the Cheesewring is the result of a contest between a man and a giant. Wilkie Collins describes it in his 1851 book Rambles Beyond Railways: If a man dreams of a great pile of stones in a nightmare, he would dream of such a pile as the Cheesewring.’
35 Durgan beach
The cute hamlet of Durgan is home to just 15 cottages with a population of just 10. The south-east facing beach is located on the northern banks of the Helford River at the foot of the subtropical Glendurgan Gardens, making it a great place to explore both land and shore.
36 Bedruthan Steps
Dramatic Bedruthan Steps gets its name from the gigantic slate outcrops dispersed over the beach (and not the insane amount of steps required to actually reach the beach). At low tide you’ll have a mile of beach to explore with plenty of interesting nooks and crannies.
37 Lansallos cove
Escape the crowds at this quiet, south facing cove just a few miles from Polperro. The beach even features a small waterfall on the eastern side, which used to be a small mill.
38 Tehidy Country Park
The largest woodland in West Cornwall, Tehidy has more than nine miles of paths and 250 acres of woodland and lakes to explore. There is also a café and picnic area.
39 Sterts Theatre and Arts Centre
Experience the wonder of live theatre and music at this nature entwined amphitheatre. The open air theatre has an exciting and varied programme that starts up each spring.
40 Pinetum Park and Pine Lodge Gardens
With more than 6,000 labelled plants, Pinetum Park is a labour of love for amateur horticulturists Ray and Shirley Clemo, who travelled the world in search of seeds. Open all year round, this is a real treasure trove for plant enthusiasts.
41 King Arthur Walk
Tintagel is intrinsically linked with King Arthur and is even said to be his birthplace. Explore the legend in detail by doing the King Arthur walk; it’s particularly beautiful in spring when the primroses are out.
42 The Saint’s Way
For a true taste of Cornwall, we recommend this ancient route. The 27 mile coast to coast walk will take you from Padstow to Fowey and through valleys, moors, woodlands, pastures and villages. It’s signed with Celtic cross markers, but you should probably grab yourself a map too!
43 The Japanese Garden & Bonsai Nursery
Looking to get your Zen on? Head to the Japanese Garden and explore the Eastern World of horticulture. Relax in the Zen garden, watch the colourful Koi carp or simply close your eyes and listen to the tumbling waterfall.
44 Wild Food School
Want to learn about foraging? Book yourself into the Wild Food School. Based around the ancient stannary town of Lostwithiel, you’ll learn how to identify, prep and cook edible wild plants. The school is run by Marcus Harrison who has been foraging long before it was considered fashionable and has even featured on BBC’s Countryfile.
Fascinated by rocks and minerals? Join expert Dr Roger Higgs on a two-hour guided geological walk where you’ll explore the fascinating geology exposed in the cliffs of Bude.
46 Kit Hill Country Park
With around 400 acres, this park is the perfect spot for doing all sorts of outdoor activities from kite flying to bird watching. At 334 metres high Kit Hill offers a pretty neat view too.
47 Carnglaze Caverns
Explore three caverns, one of which features an underground lake. Music fans should check out The Rum Store; this cavern was once used a safe storage area during WW2 but is now a 400-capacity live music venue!
48 Trewidden Garden
Originally planted in the 19th Century, the 15 acre garden incorporates an outstanding collection of camellias and magnolias as well as one of the largest tree fern dells in Europe. There is also the Trewidden Trail to keep young green thumbs entertained.
49 Cardinham Woods
Cardinham is popular with dog walkers, horse riders and thanks to the snazzy new track, cyclists. With a variety of routes – from flat and easy to hilly and challenging - there is something for everyone.
50 Gorran Haven Beach
Situated at the most eastern point of the Roseland Peninsula lies the small fishing village of Gorran Haven. This quiet spot has two sandy bays and thanks to its position in a valley, they are fairly sheltered and perfect for taking a dip in.
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