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Cornwall?

Anyone know why the latest RS"Best of England" book doesn't cover Cornwall?
My sister and I are doing a week long Cotswolds walk in Aug/Sept 2019. Afterwards we thought we'd head south (by train) to St Ives, rent an apartment, and check out that area for another week or so (by foot and public transport only). But since the area isn't even mentioned in the Best of.. book, I'm wondering if maybe we should choose a different area for that last week.

Anyone's thoughts on Cornwall in general and St Ives in particular welcomed!

Posted by
3106 posts

First , Rick does not cover everything in his books , not enough space . The " Best of " any location are like a " Rick Lite " incarnation . Cornwall is breathtaking , I have spent time there on multiple occasions . The current England book may include it , but don't miss it , it is beautiful . You need to do some reading , and your focus depends on your interests . A large area , what calls to you ? The tin mining , maritime trades and history , Doc Martin , perhaps ? St Ives is charming , with an art colony component .

Posted by
19161 posts

I spent 4 or 5 nights in St. Ives last summer. I enjoyed it a lot. I liked window shopping for art and ceramics. There's a branch of the Tate Museum there; it had an all-ceramics exhibition during my visit. I liked it, but the local painters seemed a bit perturbed.

Public transportation around Cornwall is slow, so you may find your day-trip options a bit more limited than you expect if you don't want to spend a lot of time in transit. Especially if you don't expect to spend much time looking at art/ceramics, I urge you to explore the bus and train schedules to be sure you'll have enough viable day-trips to keep you busy for a week. This is not just an issue when you base in St. Ives; it's a consideration just about anywhere in Cornwall if you don't have a car. I split my time between Mevagissey (which gave me access to the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan) and St. Ives.

I also spent a night a few hours' sightseeing time in Truro, which I thought was quite attractive though not on the coast.

Cornwall is extremely popular these days. Lodgings get booked up to the point that there simply is nothing available (or at least nothing easily found online). In addition, there appear not to be enough restaurant tables to meet dinner-time demand in some of the coastal communities. If you do not make a reservation for dinner, you may find it quite difficult to find a place to eat.

But since the area isn't even mentioned in the Best of.. book, I'm wondering if maybe we should choose a different area for that last week.

You mean you don’t think you should go to Cornwall because it’s not mentioned in a book, therefore it can’t be worth it? Or because it’s the only guidebook you have, therefore you need to go somewhere that’s mentioned in the guidebook?

Cornwall is glorious and also hugely popular with British families. St Ives is lovely but very busy, although September is much less busy than August. It’s very doable by train. Other guidebooks exist: I can warmly recommend Rough Guidd to Devon & Cornwall.

Posted by
8390 posts

I've only spent a partial day at St Ives and it was a school holiday week and on a Rick Steves tour. I did not enjoy it as much as I liked Falmouth, where I stayed for 6 nights on a Road Scholar tour. St Ives during holiday time was jam-packed with holiday goers and I just did not want to be in those crowds. My stay in Falmouth was late September so was not crowded.

That day aside, I really, really like Cornwall and would go back in a heartbeat. I particularly enjoyed the megalithic sites that you can just walk up to, plus the cute little harbor towns such as Charlestown, Fowey, Mevagissey, St Mawes (ferry ride across from Falmouth) and Boscastle. There are a number of really neat gardens as well.

I'd definitely get a guidebook which focuses on Cornwall! There is so much to see and do!

Posted by
1149 posts

I've been to Cornwall twice and loved it both times. The first time we explored the Mousehole area, mainly by bicycle and long walks. This past summer I was on a tour that spent the day in Port Isaac where Doc Martin is filmed and again, it was spectacular. I can't wait to visit again, but as others have said public transportation is more difficult and on Sunday nonexistent. Have you been watching "Poldark" on PBS? That really highlights the beauty of Cornwall.

Posted by
8293 posts

As I was going to St Ives
I met a man with seven wives
The seven wives had seven sacks
The seven sacks had seven cats
The seven cats had seven kits
How many were going to St Ives?

Sorry, could not resist

Posted by
2315 posts

I am so glad that we went to Cornwall! It was in November 2001 so I can't give you any practical information, but I would go back in a minute.

We took the train from London to St. Austell, and a pre-booked private driver took us to the Tresanton in St. Mawes. St. Mawes looked exactly like I expected Cornwall to look like - foggy, evocative seascapes, and seaside hikes. We rode a tiny ferry to Falmouth and checked out Pendennis Castle. In September, it is probably a completely different place, which I would love to check out.

Don't limit yourself to the parts of England that the RS books choose to cover.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you all for your speedy and most informative responses. We got a little uneasy that perhaps we hadn't made a good choice when our RS book didn't even mention it....thought maybe we should opt for the Lake District instead or something. It's good to be reassured by folks who have been to Cornwall that it's a beautiful area (probably the most important thing to us), plenty to see, and worth the admittedly rather long train ride down from Cheltenham.

Posted by
4867 posts

You would really benefit from hiring a car wherever you are based in Cornwall. Public transport is slow. It will be very busy in August/September. Cornwall is increasingly popular, with Poldark being filmed there.

It’s a number of years since I went to St Ives, but then it was a bit scruffy and faded. I prefer the Fowey and Mousehole areas to St Ives.

I prefer Dorset and Devon to Cornwall. Being in the west of the country, there can be plenty of rain and wind, as I discovered this September!

Posted by
2774 posts

Just to reinforce that you would not be making an unwise choice by going to Cornwall, I'll say that in my opinion the Lake District is somewhat overrated. If you were a serious fan of the literary figures who lived and worked there, or if you were a dedicated fell walker, then fair enough. But if your goal is to spend time in a beautiful setting, Cornwall is right on the money.

Oh, and don't miss St. Michael's Mount (which is served by public transport). It is truly magical!

Posted by
256 posts

We are going to Cornwall in March. I know, it was suppose to be Sept but an unexpected grandson appeared!I did a teacher exchange in Truro 15 years ago and wanted to go back with my husband. I agree, it IS magical! I loved St. Michael's Mount and don't forget the Minnack theater! Just go and explore!

Posted by
1586 posts

We have visited Cornwall several times. That area and the northeast corner of England are, IOHO, the most scenic parts of England. If you are determined to visit Cornwall without a car, the only really central location is Truro, which is not on the coast.

A far better idea is to rent a car and choose two locations, one for eastern Cornwall and one for the western tip. Our two choices were Zennor (Gunard's Head Inn was lovely and had excellent food) and Mevagissey.

I can give you lots of suggestions for places to visit if you have a car, but I have no idea how to navigate the region by public transportation.

Posted by
16866 posts

Steven is correct that Rick's "Best of" titles are condensed and abbreviated from the larger Rick Steves titles. The Cornwall chapter is in Rick Steves England, 8th Ed (and earlier editions). You might look at your local library to review it.

Posted by
6 posts

Renting a car would be lovely and I considered it just for the increased range and flexibility it would give us. But I've only driven on the other side of the road and have no great faith in my ability to make that transition without killing someone or at the very least freaking out the locals. >:-) I couldn't even seem to remember which way to look for traffic when walking in London last time I was there. I drove in Paris last year (accidentally...) and am actually looking forward to not having to deal a car at all this time.

My sister and I are big walkers and perfectly willing to take public transport (the little single track train sounds wonderful) or even hire a guide for a day if we really want to go afield. We've rented a darling little apartment (over a fudge shop!) on the harbor and we'll certainly be doing some sketching too.

Posted by
188 posts

We loved Cornwall. Travel books that are helpful are Eyewitness Travel Top 10 Devon & Cornwall and also Frommer's Cornwall day by day. We started in London near Paddington Station and then took the train to Bath for an enjoyable one day and night there. Then we took the First Great Western train to Plymouth for one night to break up our trip. The Plymouth Hoe, Barbican area, Mayflower steps, Sutton Harbor and promenade by the sea were very interesting. We rented a car, but I would not recommend it. The GPS often did not know where we were and said Unnamed Road, and the hedgerows and stone walls and narrow roads were difficult to navigate. You can take the train farther into Cornwall and get a hired driver if needed. We especially enjoyed touring the Lanhydrock National Trust Estate near Bodmin. The rugged coastline at Bedruthan Steps and Mawgan Porth (beach) is gorgeous. Truro has a beautiful cathedral where we enjoyed Evensong. There is so much more that we would have liked to explore. I hope you have a wonderful time in Cornwall and St. Ives!

Posted by
8889 posts

A GPS is of limited use when travelling between the villages of Cornwall. "Unnamed Road" is not the problem, roads with no names (or no names recorded in official maps) are common. However a GPS treats all roads the same. In the database it is a road without a speed limit, so the GPS just picks the shortest route. WRONG, the locals know if a road is narrow with sharp blind corners which you have to slow right down to go round. They choose the main road which may be a bit longer, but is a lot faster.

Public transport in Cornwall can be challenging. The rail lines have regular services. There is one main line with trains from London, and branches like the one to St Ives), buses less so.

Cornwall Council has an overview of the bus services here: https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/transport-and-streets/public-transport/public-transport-information-and-advice/cornwall-public-transport-guide-and-town-plans/
There are many operators and thgey sometimes change services at short notice.

Posted by
1663 posts

hey hilarie10
my friends went to cornwall twice. first time to port isaac since they were doc martin fans, they loved it. this past september they went to st ives for a week and had a great time. as others have mentioned, public transportation is slow. they booked a full day tour, there is mmttravel.co.uk or djcars.com that do tours. helped my friend with research for things to do and places to see.
escapesurfschool.co.uk "beach hut for hire"
polgoon.com family run vineyard making cornish wines, ciders and juices
stives-cornwall.co.uk tourism site
guidedtoursof stives.co.uk
greatscenicrailways.co.uk
cornishpremierpasties.co.uk
54lemons st ives is make a ceramic pot in a studio/cafe and enjoy the day.
have a sunday roast in a pub, make reservations
roseinvalehotel.co.uk has an afternoon tea.
look to see if any festivals happening the time you are there
have a great trip and enjoy st ives
aloha

Posted by
27 posts

The best places are often not found in a travel book. We did a day trip into Cornwall during the week we spent in Dartmoor last year. We only wished that we had spent more time in Cornwall. We particularly enjoyed our afternoon in Polperro. But, as others have pointed out, public transportation is sparse so we ended up renting a car.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks to all of you for all of the helpful suggestions and tips - I am keeping track of them and researching one by one. It really is just so much better when you can get advice from people who have been there recently and know the ins and outs.

I looked into festivals that might be going on during our stay. Unfortunately we will just miss the arts festival in St Ives...but apparently it brings in a madhouse of people so our timing might actually be good. Point taken on the public transport being very slow - I will definitely look into hiring a local guide for at least one day to get us farther out and about. We will be very happy being able to walk the cliffs, sketch, hang out in tea houses and pubs, and pet the local animals. We are meanderers for sure.

I've always loved Dr. Martin and Port Issac looks like such a beautiful little town. I'd love to see it early in the morning when it's hopefully quiet, before the rest of the tourists (like us!) descend on it. I'm watching Poldark now - area just looks wonderful. We're also hankering to see Mousehole...just because the name is enchanting.

Posted by
3106 posts

As you are hankering to see Mousehole , a good way to accomplish this would be to go from St Ives to Penzance ( public bus should be possible for this ) and walk along the coastal promenade to Newlyn and then to Mousehole . This is an easy stroll and quite picturesque . Before you go , this engaging book about Gloucester , Massachusetts , contains a chapter about Newlyn and Mousehole , and will broaden your understanding of the maritime and fishing cultures of the area , giving more meaning to your visit . It's a roaring good read as well - https://www.amazon.com/Last-Fish-Tale-Atlantic-Gloucester/dp/1594483744/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1544464453&sr=8-1

Posted by
623 posts

Just a quick note that you can take a public bus from Penzance to Mousehole. I did that a few years ago. I was staying in Penzance. I walked the coast path to St. Michael's Mount, then caught a bus back to Penzance from Marazion.

Then from Penzance I took the bus to Mousehole (and back). The bus company is Kernow aka First Bus Cornwall, and this is their website: https://www.firstgroup.com/cornwall .

Posted by
1 posts

We spent a week in Penzance last June, and had no problems with public transport. There are buses that circle the Penwith peninsula -- try to ride up top on a double-decker for a thrifty tour with outstanding views. You can stop along the way at Lands End, Geevor tin mine, etc. -- just get a day ticket, and hop on and off. (Or look into the ticket prices for a week.) But be sure to check the schedules so you know when to be back at the bus stop!
If you are interested in the megaliths, ancient stone circles, etc., -- Cornwall is studded with them -- you might want to visit the Ancient Stones of Kernow website. Martyn Jackson is based in St. Ives and offers walking tours, as well as tours in his vehicle, all at very reasonable prices. We thoroughly enjoyed a day out with him last year. The monuments are in fields in the open countryside; since you are walkers, this might be something you should put high on your list. Would make for good sketching, too!
In fact, we enjoyed Cornwall so much that we are planning another trip this coming June; we will be based in an apartment on Falmouth harbour this time, and will again rely on public transport. If you have questions, we will be glad to answer as best we can!