Things to do in Cornwall – a week in photos

Rob and I have just returned from a week in Cornwall. It was his first trip but I’ve been many, many times as my grandparents lived there when I was young. Family holidays consisted of all 5 of us squishing into our red Rover and spending what seemed like half the week sat in traffic jams across the Tamar bridge then down the A30 as it took 8-10 hours to travel from Buckinghamshire to Falmouth.  I have even more admiration for Mum and Dad who managed to take themselves, 3 kids and all our associated paraphanalia South West for a week or two every summer without totally losing their minds. These were the days pre-rear seat seatbelts so my brother used to sleep on the parcel shelf – I guess that freed up some space.

It seems times have changed and we made the trip in 4 and a half hours with a stop. It was a relevation: Cornwall is now do-able in a weekend! No more being dragged out of bed like that one time when we were woek at 3am to miss the traffic and be in Penryn in time for a fish n chip breakfast. I kid you not.

Here are some photos from the week with a few reviews of our favourite places and tips for money saving.

We booked The Tannery Loft through Cottages for You and used our Tesco Points to reduce the cost by £100. The Loft was in a little linear village called Grampound which was perfectly centrally located, no more than 45min-1hr to all the major hotspots and only 10minutes from St Austell and Truro for supplies.

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We pre-booked out tickets for the incredible Eden Project 2 weeks ahead online. Picking a day saved us 20% but picking a window saves you 10%. If you pay full price, you can convert your ticket into an annual pass at no extra cost. If I lived closer it would be a no brainer. What a boon for locals! Plans are to do a separate blog on the Eden Project.

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Truro Cathedral is a must see. It’s a very young building, the foundations were laid in the 1880s. Entry is free.  Sweet gift shop and lovely cafe with homemade cakes.

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Can the fact I asked people on Twitter what we should do on our last day and 2 people repsonded with the same answer mean I can call our activity CrowdSourced? Maybe? OK. We took the Falmouth to St Mawes ferry across the Carrick Roads, a 20 minute, blustery journey to a quintessential Cornish fishing village with a castle and shops to explore. Rob just loved the ferry ride – anything with a motor keeps him happy. The trip felt a bit pricey at £10 a head but that was return and you get glorious views of two castles, the working boatyard, harbour and if you’re lucky you can see seals and maybe even dolphins.

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One of our favourite things to do on family trips to Cornwall was to disappear to the North Coast, to one of the seaside bay villages and eat our fish n chips off our laps in the car watching the sun go down from the car park. I’m sure we did sit on the beach to eat sometimes, but my memory is sitting in the car. We did the same in Perranporth and had probably the best fish n chips I’ve ever had from Haddock’s End chippy.

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Mevagissy is the picture postcard fishing village you’ve probably see images of. It has the higgledy piggledy streets you’d expect and a plethora of great places to eat. I loved the fish of the day grill (4 types of fish and a fish cake) at the Wheelhouse and were entertained by the fusion of seafood and Americana at the Sharkfin.

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I have to confess to not being dead keen on visiting the Cornish Seal Sanctuary at Gweek but it was top of Rob’s to do list. I was fighting memories of a cold, bleak, windy, fishy set of pools with nothing to see in them, a memory from way back when. So I was delighted to find a mouch more welcoming and informative animal sanctuary, with woods and wildflower meadows to stroll through as well as plenty of animals to watch and coo over. Oh yes, and tey have otters too before anyone queries the photo below! This is Starsky and Hutch, the resident otter pair. Discounts available online.

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An absolute delight and unexpected highlight of the week were the Lost Gardens of Heligan. As the name suggests, these formal and informal gardens were left to ruin until the early 1990s when they were brought back to life. Visit the the pigs, look for natural sculptures and cross the rope bridge over the Jungle floor.

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St Michael’s Mount was our first National Trust property and another boat ride. Look for the giant’s heart and steel yourselves if you’re not good with heights – the castle at the top is worth the climb but our nerves were certainly tested. We would have loved to have walked the causeway to and from the island but the tide times were against us.

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Next National Trust was Trerice, a very small but sweet house and garden on the way to Padstow.

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Fistral Beach at Newquay, with a lunch stop at Rick Stein’s: Fistral for Thai. Yummy, and much better than his famous chips from the take away in Padstow which we were both underwhelmed by.

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Last National Trust was another blast from my childhood past – Trellisick Gardens. A few weeks late for the rhodedenron blooms but bang on for the wisteria.

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Other highlights and tips:

  • Padstow and a walk from the centre to the war memorial overlooking the River Camel to Rock.
  • Porthtowan, another north coast bay town with rough seas and great for surfing.
  • Falmouth Town, a town of two halves, one the perfunctory high street with WH Smiths and the banks and another half full of gift shops, local artists and crafts, pasty and bakeries and cafes. We loved the tea and cake at Ragamuffins and had a feisty, cheap lunch at Cribbs, where you go for Caribbean food in the south!
  • The App for Cornwall is useful, with links to vouchers and discount codes for entry.
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