UNIQUE CASTLES & CURIOUS CAVES
1 Tintagel Castle, Tintagel
Said to be the birth place of King Arthur, the thrill of visiting this Cornish castle comes from its natural topography. Its split across an eroded headland, so part of the castle is perched on an island while the rest remains on the mainland. In the wards on the mainland, search for Dark Age pottery, before crossing the chasm to the island and climbing stone steps to the castle’s Great Hall and chapel dedicated to local saint St Juliot. Also on the island are rectangular huts and the Iron Gate, which guards the only landing-spot on the isle. Its and ideal day out for avid explorers and history buffs.
Merlin’s Cave is located below Tintagel Castle, Merlins Cave is best explored at low tide when you can fully access it. The cave was made famous by Tennyson in his Idylls o the King, describing waved bringing young Arthur to shore and Merlin carrying him to safety.
Open from 10am – 4pm daily, 15-21 Feb and weekends 22 Feb – 24 Mar. Entry fees are £7.20 for adults and £4.30 for children (english-heritage.org.uk)
2 Lost gardens of Helligan, Pentewan, St Austell
Twenty-five years ago, Heligan’s historic gardens were unknown and unseen; lost under a tangle of weeds. It was only the chance discovery of a door in the ruins that led to the restoration of this once great estate. Today, the Lost Gardens have been put back where they belong: in pride of place among the finest gardens in Cornwall.
Visitors can explore Cornwall’s only outdoor jungle garden, duck and dive under giant rhubarb, banana plantations and avenues of palms before passing ponds on a raised boardwalk. The sub-tropical environment also contained a 100 foot high Burmese rope bridge, which is not for the acrophobic. Keep an eye out for the Giant’s Head, Mud Maid and Grey Lady on the Woodland Walk before stopping off at the Heligan Kitchen and Bakery.
The gardens and estate are open every day from 10am – 5pm until 31st March, when closing extends to 6pm. Garden admission costs £12.50 for adults, £6 for children and is free for under 5’s (heligan.com)
3 The Camel Trail, the Camel Estuary, Wadebridge
This renowned cycle route runs between Wendfordbridge & Padstow, passing through Bodmin & Wadebridge. The 18 miles trial follows a disused railway and routes through a Special Area of Conservation, which makes for stunning surroundings. Most of the trail is free from traffic and steep inclines, so it a family-friendly cycle ride, and it offers spectacular views of the Camel Estuary, which are ideal for picnic backdrops. There is free access all year round and bikes are available to hire from Padstow and Wadebridge (visitcornwall,com)
4 National Lobster Hatchery, Padstow
Sustainable seas are something that we should all be striving for. The work of the National Lobster Hatchery – a marine conservation, research and education charity – is helping us preserve marine biodiversity by aiding baby lobsters through their early life and releasing them into the wild. On a visit to the lobster hatchery, you will learn all about marine conservation, see young lobsters (as well as the resident giant lobster) and take part in fun activities, which are available for all ages. Don’t forget to visit the Little Shop of Lobsters and , if you like, adopt a lobster for yourself. The visitor centre is open daily from 10am. Admission fees are £3.75 for adults, £1.75 for children and under 5’s go free (nationallobsterhatchery.co.uk)
5 Cornish Seal Sanctuary, Gweek
Surrounded by 40 acres of undulating countryside, the Cornish Seal Sanctuary is a haven for stray, sick and injured seal pups that are discovered along the coast of Cornwall. The centre provides educational talks about how seals are rescued, rehabilitated and released. Look out for the sanctuary’s beloved cross-eyed Ray, who is suspected to be brain damaged and Babyface, who is living with one eye at the grand old age of 32. If tums get hungry the Seal Sanctuary Cafe provides tasty titbits and i Summer, a BBQ. Open daily from 10am – 4pm. £10.46 for adults & £8.75 for kids (visitsealife.com)
6 The Eden Project, Bodelva, St Austell
The eco-friendly site is speckled with biomes, Mediterranean and rainforest ecosystems, and outdoor gardens brimming with plants and sculptures. Don’t miss the giant bee amidst the flowerbeds, the WEEEE Man (a 7 metre high sculpture showing how much electronic waste a British household discards in a lifetime) or the chance to treat the rainforest canopy walkway. For adrenaline seekers, the Eden Project is home to England’s longest zip wire and giant swing. The site is open 10am – 4pm daily. Tickets cost £22.50 for Adults and £12.50 for kids (edenproject.com).
7 National Maritime Museum, Falmouth
Packed with historical arfefacts, the National Maritime Museum Cornwall will not disappoint. Current exhibitions include Mermaids: Women at Sea (ends 21 February) and Viking Voyages – where treasured relics sit alongside a full-scale replica Viking cargo ship and visitors lean about myths and legends – which runs until 2 January 2017. The museum also provides activites, workshops and lectures. Open from 10am – 5pm daily. Adminssion is £11 for adults, £8.50 for children and under 5’s go free (nmmc.co.uk)
8 Bude Sea Pool, Summerleaze Beach, Bude
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. (budeseapool.org)
9 Bude, Widemouth Bay, Sandymouth Beaches
Bude has a thriving surfing community, primarily due to the consistent beachbreak peaks. Whilst all of our beaches are great for surfing, most popular are Widemouth Bay, and north to Duckpool, Sandymouth and Northcott beaches. In the town itself, Crooklets and Summerleaze both face west, work on all tides and hold swells up to about eight feet. Local surf shops and tutors offer advice, and we highly recommend our local surf schools and outdoor activity centres for both surfing and for more activities below…
Surfing is what Bude is famous for, but there is so much more to do on, and off the water! including Kayaking, Canoeing, Rock Climbing, Coasteering.
10 The Minack Theatre, Porthcurno
This waterside open-air theatre thrives during the summer, when a programme of drama, musicals, opera, comedy and storytelling takes place. The 1930’s-built theatre is made from granite boulders, its construction orchestrated by Rowena Cade, who lived in Minack House on the clifftop at the time. The theatre’s first performance was The Tempest in August 1032, but today you can catch the likes of Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends and The Three Bellies. Shows start on 15 March.
The theatre is open 10am – 3.30pm daily until 31st March, when it opens 9.30am – 5.30pm Entry Fees are £4.50 for adults and £2.20 for under 15’s (www.minack.com)