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Visit to Cornwall

I am looking into spending a week in West Cornwall in late August/early September and wondering whether it would be better to set up lodging in one place and branch out from there or book accommodations in other places in different areas? I would like to see a few highlights - like Saint Michael's Mount - but otherwise have no definite plans put together yet. Also - is it possible to travel around by train or is a rental car better? Thank you!

Posted by
21282 posts

I enjoyed my time in Corwall last August, traveling by train and bus, but a car is definitely easier there. You do, however, have to worry about parking.

It will depend on what specific places you want to see, of course, but I imagine you'll do better with two bases rather than one. I chose Mevagissey on the south coast (near St. Austell--two large gardens nearby) and a spot near St. Ives on the north coast.

There seems to have been quite an upsurge in travel to Cornwall. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it is the Poldark/Doc Martin effect. Having a car will give you a lot more flexibility than I had, but then most of the other visitors to that area are probably driving, too. Don't wait too long to nail down lodging.

The thing that surprised me most was how hard it was to find a place for dinner at a restaurant, even extremely casual places. Everything seemed to be booked up. It appears that the restaurant side of the hospitality business is lagging behind the demand. I like to remain flexible about how I structure my days, but I also like to eat. Tough choice.

Posted by
3485 posts

I have made several trips to Cornwall and for my tastes , a car is a necessity . There is bus service , but it is generally sporadic , and winds up killing a lot of valuable time . I would divide my hotel bookings by two - one location in the general area of Penzance or St Ives ( I stay in Helston ) which gives you good access to the Penwith area , and to the northeast , somewhere around Padstow , giving you easier access to those places in the northeast of the peninsula ( Port Isaac , Tintagel , Bodmin ) Keep in mind that Cornwall in Summer is much like Cape Cod as far as visitors are concerned , so booking ahead is really essential . Among the varied places of interest are the old tin mining sites , and old fishing villages like Newlyn ( the analogous equivalent of Gloucester , Massachusetts , or Stonington , Connecticut ) A favorite spot for me is this little village on The Lizard , Coverack - https://www.google.com/maps/place/Coverack,+Helston,+UK/@50.0259524,-5.1021187,16z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0x486ab7f0bf270ec9:0x6e423c85d94b4571!2sCornwall,+UK!3b1!8m2!3d50.2660471!4d-5.0527125!3m4!1s0x486b2e48d709fb4d:0x2e576777acf3d8a0!8m2!3d50.0243951!4d-5.0974846 This wonderful book will tell you a good deal about the fishing industry in Cornwall , as well as New England , Enjoy ! https://www.amazon.com/Last-Fish-Tale-Atlantic-Gloucester-ebook/dp/B0017T0A30/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1520966180&sr=8-1&keywords=gloucester+the+last+fish+tale&dpID=51ojg5cEtqL&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you both for your suggestions about splitting between two different areas. I was leaning that way but having no idea how the geography lays out, I really wasn't sure. I have to admit to being a bit of a Poldark fan having read all of the books and I've watched all of Doc Martin too but I prefer to visit the non-touristy sites when possible, in which case I had kind of figured that a car would be essential but I had read about the difficulties of parking and was a bit concerned about that.

Would it be better for me to plan for the second week in September or is pretty much all of September a wash as far as the crowds go? Funny that you should mention Stonington, Connecticut being that I live not too awful far from there. Trying to park anywhere down there in the tourist season is definitely near impossible - worse even than a lot of places on the Cape!

Posted by
3485 posts

September would be better for avoiding crowds , We are here in White Plains , and for many years have spent a lot of time in Stonington Borough , love DuBois beach on a summer afternoon . Frequent visits to the Seaport as well . I'm sending you a PM !

Posted by
1063 posts

Kids are back to school after the Summer holidays usually during the first week of September, so it will be less crowded BUT September is apparently popular time for couples without children.

Posted by
7 posts

Yes, thank you. I have spent hours on it over the years and get updates from Visit Cornwall to my email. It’s very useful and hearing from folks who have been to the area and can advise or make suggestions helps in planning too.

Posted by
183 posts

I loved my visit to Cornwall a few years ago. When planning to drive to neighboring towns, plan on a bit more time than you think for travel time. The traffic can be terrible, roads are very narrow and everything just seems to take longer. I would also comment that night driving is challenging between towns unless you have experience driving in Cornwall/Devon.