There is a lot of it and it is very local. Weather reports can be totally inaccurate. Cornwall gets most of the UK’s weather first, as seasoned watchers of the weather forecast will know, but it remains one of the warmest places in the country. We usually have a wonderful spring and an amazing Indian summer. We only have a light sprinkling of snow in the winter and are able to walk most days along the headland, beachcombing or strolling through the riverside nature reserve and Lanhydrock House. May has been, as it often is here, a delightful month with the rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias in riotous bloom. Come prepared for anything and remember that if the rain is coming off the moor in Bodmin it may well be sunshine in Fowey. Towns a few miles apart can have totally different days weatherwise. And remember nowhere is very far from anywhere else in Cornwall so be flexible in your plans. When the sun is out don’t insist on dragging the children round some worthy educational museum . When it rains don’t sit in bemoaning a lost day on the beach. There are so many things to do and places to visit and Cornwall is highly geared up to entertaining its visitors come rain or shine.
This will be stating the blindingly obvious to many guests but it is important to know the state of the tides. You would be surprised how many folk we meet dragging children to beaches which are accessible only at low tide just as the tide is coming in and who are astonished to learn of the danger.
Even if you are not embarking on such perilous adventures there is nothing worse than setting off for a good rockpooling session or mass sandcastling and discover the facilities are a fathom or two under. We try to keep a tide timetable at the house but they are very popular and often ‘walk’. You can always get a copy from the local newsagent.
Fully recovered from the floods, the 12th century capital of Cornwall is about 7 miles from Fowey by road. It looks nothing from the main road but turn into its ancient streets and you find yourself in an enchanting little town. On the hill is Restormel Castle and in town the old Duchy Palace and Brunel’s engine sheds (now beautiful riverside apartments). The medieval bridge leads across to the quaint railway station (Paddington to Penzance) and the other side of the river you can follow the trail through Coulson Park down to the nature reserve where birdwatchers and fishermen spend many happy hours.
Lostwithiel has one of the best butchers around, Liddicoats, (try the venison!) and a full range of excellent shops. It is also known as the Antiques Capital of Cornwall. Don't miss Watts Trading, an organic emporium full of beautifully made everyday goods and lovely children's toys. The Duchy Nursery has a fine range of strong well priced shrubs, fuschias and alpines and has recently opened a beautiful new shop and cafe that are well worth a visit.
Lots of excellent pubs, the Globe is a favourite, tearooms and restaurants ‘Trewithen’ has a deservedly fantastic reputation.
Cornwall is full of beautiful gardens. Endless small gems are open for charity as and when but the big ones include:-
Trebah: A beautiful semi-tropical paradise just beyond Falmouth.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan: On the way to Mevagissey, the lost gardens are a step back in time and a real delight for the serious gardener or the visitor wanting a day out in peaceful and restorative surroundings.
Trelissick: Lovely National Trust garden just south of Truro.
Tremenheere: A lovely new sculpture garden near Gulval, Penzance. Excellent restaurant and can be combined with trip to St.Michael's Mount and the church of St. Hilary.
The Eden Project
The great biomes of the Eden Project in the old clay pit are credited with single-handedly transforming the Cornish economy. They are a remarkable sight and well worth a morning’s visit as they are only c.6 miles from Fowey. Tickets can be bought in advance and you certainly want to avoid queuing on a busy day. Food is pretty good there and reasonably priced. Eden hosts a lot of cultural events out of season from Jazz to Theatre to Ice Skating.
Lanhydrock is a beautiful National Trust property between Fowey and Bodmin. Part of the old Priory lands it became a family estate until the 20th century and retains much of the feel of its final Edwardian occupants. It is set in a beautiful rolling landscape with its own ancient church in the grounds and a glorious formal garden to the fore and a magical rear garden filled with mature magnolias and lovely walks down from the heights all the way to the Respryn Bridge along the river. You can get a good reasonably priced lunch in the restaurant there or just tea and cake in the café.
You are on the wrong coast ! Surfers go to the North Coast, Newquay et al. Having said that, if you want a day’s surfing nowhere is that far in Cornwall and you can be in Newquay in an hour with its raging night life and cheery vulgarity.
The Other Coast
Places for a day out or half a day even must include the beautiful little harbour town of Padstow where Rick Stein’s catering empire is based. At the mouth of the Camel River it is well worth a visit and if you are the energetic sort you can park in Wadebridge (which has its own folk festival in August) and cycle the old railway line along the river to it. They even have attachable buggies for tinies. So if it’s a lovely day and you are up for it...
St. Ives is a lovely harbour town with the most amazing light, hence its eternal attraction for the artist community. The town is full of interesting galleries and, of course, the Tate Modern, a building more distinguished than its contents.
Students of Arthurian history will want to visit Tintagel Castle but it is also one of the most glorious vistas in the County. Crossing the narrow promontory onto the headland and finding yourself high up surrounded by boiling seas, above Merlin’s Cave and amidst the ruins of the ancient monastery and royal palace is an unforgettable experience historically and aesthetically.
There are cinemas in St. Austell, Wadebridge, Padstow and Truro among others and details can usually be found in the Cornish Guardian (published weekly on a Wednesday). Most take advance booking now.
There is usually much travelling and outdoor theatre in the summer but regular venues include Hall for Cornwall, Truro, Princess Pavilion, Falmouth, Keay Theatre, St. Austell but again the Cornish Guardian will have many notices in its ‘What’s On’ supplement.
Again read the ‘Cornish Guardian’ and look out for local music offerings advertised on pub and church notice boards. A lot of excellent musicians live locally.