The Place That Stole My Heart: Cornwall

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In this modern era, travelling to exotic rainforests and towering mountains is no longer a thing for the rich and brave. But, I believe that travelling isn’t just about all the pretentious prerequisites of not knowing where you are, drinking with locals and ‘finding yourself’; which are only valid if you’ve shelled out a car’s worth of money on return flights. There is a world to explore much closer to home. In particular, I want to talk about the county where I was born and grew up in: Cornwall.

Cornwall is a large county on the south west coast of England and I believe that for a summer trip away from Southampton city life there couldn’t be anywhere more refreshing and different on this island.

Growing up there, you don’t fully appreciate your surroundings until you have moved away, then you understand that there is beauty in every single one of the tiny coves that grace the coastline, that the ancient hills are so perfectly imperfect in the way they form and the way hedgerows cut across the faces at peculiar angles nonsensical to the modern farmer. You’d be looking for years, if you wanted to find a single straight stretch of road off the A30, and there is something endearing about this in my mind. As I meander down the lanes on the way to surf my local break, my senses are ignited; the sun on my arms, the warm wind through the open window, the smell of cut grass and the sound of the birds and my music.

However, Cornwall is not just a place for the lovers of nature. For example, the Cornish people long ago realised the joy of water sports and being so close to the sea it seemed only natural that they would exploit this inexorable source of joy. If you’re looking for a week away and want to try something you may not have tried before (like surfing or sailing), Cornwall boasts some of the best surf in the UK. Boards, wetsuits and lessons in sailing or surfing are available just about anywhere there are waves and/or wind. The water sports are only a small part of the coastal culture too. This past summer, I set my self the challenge to explore every cove on the south east area of the county (the Lizard). I would drive to a town and park; then walk along the coastal path till I got tired. I would mark my position on the map; so that the next time I would pick up where I left off –  all the time appreciating the serenity of the area. The scenery is incredible and abnormal due to the geology of the area. The Lizard is part of an ancient ocean floor that was forced up on to continental rock and metamorphosed from its parent rock into a lovely green red rock called serpentine.

This is Mullion, one of the locations i stopped at on my exploration of the Lizard
This is Mullion; one of the locations I stopped at on my exploration of the Lizard. – Photo credit: Rhys Fairlie

The pub game is strong in Cornwall and one of the best parts about being home the odd weekend throughout my studies is the pub trips. Cornwall, like the rest of the UK, can experience some cold weather, and it’s times like these when a warm crackling fire and a pint of Tribute (local ale) really come into their own.

Cornwall’s music scene is, also, one to be envied especially if you are a small venue sort of person. There are many quirky bars and cafes that will put on regular gigs for all the up and coming talent that comes out of Cornwall. There are, also, opportunities for festival goers too; the largest being Boardmasters, a surf, skate and music festival that takes place in August every year.

Singer/Songwriter Ben Howard playing at the Eden project in Cornwall. The Eden Project is a top attraction and a must visit for those exploring the county of Cornwall.
Singer/Songwriter Ben Howard playing at the Eden project in Cornwall. The Eden Project is a top attraction and a must visit for those exploring the county of Cornwall.– Photo credit: Rhys Fairlie

Cornwall also has a rich history; much of which derives from its famous tin and copper mining industry. Many old pump buildings and evidence of mining still stand proudly along the Cornish landscape and a visit to one of them is a great excuse to take a walk along the coastal path.

If I were to say “shopping in Cornwall is the best” it would be a lie; but that is because it’s not specific enough, in Cornwall we don’t have designer cloths shops or massive shopping centres, Instead, you will find hundreds of art galleries and artisan shops along the streets of Penzance and Falmouth, alternatively for those lovers of organic produce and hearty foods there are many farm shops and niche markets.

Sunset over Falmouth bay. Falmouth is home to one of the best art and design schools in the UK and many small galleries.
Sunset over Falmouth bay. Falmouth is home to one of the best art and design schools in the UK and many small galleries.– Photo credit: Rhys Fairlie

Hopefully, I have convinced you that Cornwall is the perfect place to escape to this summer. As a final note, I would like to remind you that Cornwall really does have its own special character. Only yesterday I was given directions to a friend’s house, where I was told to carry on past the butchers (of course, I would know which butchers they meant, everyone knows). Then, when I got lost and realised I had no phone signal (just like everywhere in Cornwall) I asked a local elderly couple, who had no idea who I was looking for; but were helpfully able to name every family that lived on that street. That was no help; so, I asked the butcher, and him knowing everyone in town, was able to point me in the right direction. It’s this community and many other things that will make you fall in love with Cornwall.

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