Cornwall’s Granite Peninsular – Part 1

The granite land mass of Britain’s furthest Westerly point …

… has been in the dreams of most of us at some time or other, from its Southerly palm trees and sheltered coves, to the imposing black cliffs that stand guard over the Atlantic ocean in the North. Shipwrecks, smugglers and the history of the dark world of tin mining, all go to form our majestic peninsulars’ legendary stories. With the inland areas being less fertile, mining has been exploited since prehistoric times.

Cornwall - Touring Britain and Ireland Map
Cornwall – Touring Britain and Ireland Map


The capital Truro is an array of narrow streets with dreamy Georgian houses overseen by the Gothic spires of it’s Cathedral. Truro once controlled the tin industry and its foundation was due to the convenience of the river network here. The Royal Cornwall museum plays host to its rich heritage past with family activities and impressive exhibitions. From an alternative perspective Enterprise Boats Classic River Trips will take you past iconic maritime locations, historic houses and landmarks, as well as taking you up close to the array of ocean-going vessels laid up at anchor on the upper reaches of the adjoining River Fal. For those that prefer to explore on foot, the tourist information centre provides a choice of self guided or guided tours of this amazing city. Wednesdays and Saturdays play host to the white and green striped stalls of the Truro Farmers Market, the grassroots of Cornwall’s culinary scene; freshly baked bread and smoked fish, rows of perfect blue duck eggs, preserves in a rainbow of colours and cakes to delight your senses.

Truro – Photo © David Dixon (cc-by-A ferry ride from Trurosa/2.0)

A Ferry ride from Truro will take you to the National Trust’s Trelissick Garden. Almost made an island by the River Fal, this Oak, Beech and Conifer woodland is set over 375 acres with a 40 acre garden at its centre; an excellent venue for walkers and children with grounds even leading up to the waters edge.

Land’s End and the West

Granite outcrops meet the mighty Atlantic ocean at Land’s End, home to sea birds, seals, dolphin and porpoise and guarded by Longships lighthouse. On clear days, King Arthur’s legendary Lyonesse can be seen in the form of the Isles of Scilly, a lost kingdom of fabled heritage. You can relax in this area of outstanding natural beauty and enjoy ice cream and fudge from the ice cream parlour, or eat in the restaurant. Land’s End boasts the existence of last post box in England. Heritage walks take you along this magnificent coast line through a long and fascinating timeline dating back to Neolithic times. The ancient 1st century village Carn Euny nearby continues an underground Iron Age account of life here.

Further East is Penzance providing a connecting Ferry service to the Arthurian Isles of Scilly. This town is the birthplace of Sir Humphry Davy, inventor of the miner’s safety lamp and famous for its pirates, although these days it is a rail accessible base for tourists to the region. St Michael’s Mount is in view, just three miles away, once home to 14th century Benedictine monks and now accessible by a path way at low tide. The granite outcrop rises 300 ft to a glorious fairy tale castle, with legends linking to King Arthur.

St Michael's Mount
St Michael’s Mount

Godolphin House lies to the East of Penzance, an example of an early Tudor and Elizabethan country mansion with gardens on the slopes of Godolphin Hill. The 17th century house is open on selected dates. St Ives is an artists haven to the North of Penzance, a working fishing town built of stone cottages and a narrow maze of streets. The town is rich with artistic heritage on show, including the Tate Gallery and Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. East of St Ives is Cambourne, rich in mining heritage, complete with a heritage trail to follow and home to Richard Trevithick’s invention of the steam carriage in 1801. Museums and country parks are near by including Geevor tin mine surrounded by granite shrewn moorland around Pendeen. The mine closed in 1990 and gives glimpses into those last days, whilst the encompassing theme is 18th century tin mining.

Lizard Point and surround

The Southern tip of the mainland is marked by Lizard point, where narrow lanes lead to a plateau with spectacular views of Mount’s Bay. The 12th century church building at Church Cove displays woodwork from the wreck of a Portuguese treasure ship. Sea birds make a home in the 200 ft high cliffs of adjacent Kynance Cove with the sea lashing out of the Devils’ Bellows below.

Nearby Cadgwith is a fishing village, embraced in a narrow valley with cottages built in local serpentine stone. The tiny harbour is home to fishing boats and artists. Easterly, Coverack village which is also on the South West coast path, contrasts with a crescent shaped sand and shingle bay, where smuggling once supplemented the fishing industry. Mullion is a tranquil village with a old harbour. The beach is accessible at low tide through a rock tunnel and above, Predannack Head gives astounding heathland views over Mount Bay, and located near to a nature reserve.

Falmouth is the well known holiday resort that is dominated by Pendennis Castle, built by Henry VIII in the 1540s. A well designed themed water park is on the headland too with slides. The harbour based National Maritime museum is indeed a wonder, with its interactive sections and includes an aquarium. Exhibitions are themed yearly. Four beaches offer all from relaxation, rock pools or water sports and activities. A number of gardens are locally found, taking advantage of the climate and location for historical plant imports.

Falmouth –  Photo © David Stowell (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Poldark Mine to the East of Falmouth has been in use since Roman times and now a complete underground museum of tin mining over several levels. Guided tours take you on an 18th century mining experience. In 2014 the Mine was the location for all of the underground sequences for the BBC Poldark series. Artefacts from the museum were used as props in the filming and can be seen by visitors today. Nearby Helston was a port until the 13th century until the ‘Loe Bar’ choked the harbour mouth. The town hosts an annual ‘Furry Dance’ on the 8th May, a Flora dance to welcome Summer. Stone cottages and modern buildings co-exist in this market town. Helston Museum explores 19th and 20th century Cornish culture and Helston Railway offers diesel and steam attractions.

Part two of this blog will explore the middle region of Cornwall, a land associated with the legend of King Arthur.

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