Please sign in to post.

Cornwall vs. Northumberland

Which of these regions would other travelers recommend visiting in June, taking into account weather and crowds? I'm guessing Cornwall would be a little warmer, but more crowded - but will it be terribly crowded? Both look extremely appealing! Our goals would be to see spectacular coastal scenery, do a wildlife viewing boat tour and enjoy some beach time and nearby attractions. We would probably stay in a self-catering cottage and have a car. Our 3-week itinerary is completely up in the air at the moment, but we would base the rest of our itinerary on whichever coastal region we choose - so either a northerly London-York-Northumberland route, or Cotswolds-Cornwall-London route. Any thoughts are appreciated!

Posted by
9110 posts

The couple of times I've been in Cornwall in the summer it was miserably crowded, more so on the Channel side rather than the Celtic Sea coast. Northumberland has some really desolate spots. Also, I like the topography along the North Sea better.

Posted by
112 posts

Ed - Were you there later in the summer when schools were out? I've heard it can be miserably crowded, as you said, at that time. I was hoping June might be better. On the other hand, I haven't heard any reports of Northumberland being crowded, and it would probably fit well with other things we'd like to do, so... that's one vote for Northumberland!

Posted by
9110 posts

Just once in Nothumberland in the dead of summer, I think. The area just didn't seem to get the crowds that were down around Scarborough and Whitby. Actually, it seemed that there was almost an anti-mob fence at the Tyne or maybe just to the north of it. What I've seen might be an aberration. Some of the local folks will have something to say in a few hours after they drag their tails out of the sack.

Posted by
112 posts

Thanks Ed - That's been my impression of Northumberland as well. I'll wait to see if any locals chime in!

Posted by
1586 posts

We have visited both and you have nailed it - those are the two best corners of England. I don't see any reason you can't visit both if you like. Spend one week in Cornwall, drive up towards York (probably overnight somewhere around Warwick), spend another week plus in Northumberland and the Scottish borders which are filled with castles and abbeys. (Be sure to visit Whitby on a day when the weather is moody and overcast). Turn in your car, take the train to London for at least three full days....Our trips are always about 22 days, we usually locate in three places. If they are far apart, link by air, if in the same country, just throw in an enroute overnight. Choose a travel route that goes by a couple of attractions so the travel day has a few perks.

Posted by
112 posts

It hadn't even occurred to me to try to visit both, just because of the distance, but it's an intriguing thought. I'd like to minimize the long drives, and had considered taking the train for the longer hauls - possibly Bath to Penzance, rent a car in Cornwall just while we're there, then train back to London - something like that. We would really like to see the Cotswolds and York, which would certainly fit in with your suggestion, Cynthia. Perhaps we could take the train to/from Cornwall, pick up a car in Bath and drive through the Cotswolds, then to York and Northumberland, then return the car in York and train back to London. Still seems like a lot, and we may not have 3 full weeks, but it's something to consider. I'm open to ideas!

Posted by
1586 posts

I wouldn't keep switching back and forth between cars and trains - you will waste a lot of time with the logistics. Out of curiosity, I just googled distances: Penzance - Alnwick is about the same as Denver - Salt Lake City. 8 hours, 525 miles....when we move from vacation week one to vacation week two, we usually just take the fast M roads and save the scenic roads for when we arrive at the destination. By the way, we have always traveled in June and have never encountered huge crowds at that time in England. Of course London is always crowded.

Posted by
518 posts

Hi Beth, My wife and I spent a week in Cornwall in June of of this year. We had a car and stayed in Penzance. The only places that were crowded were Lands End and St. Ives. We just drove by both. Our favorite area was The Lizard. The coast is beautiful with some lovely walking trails. Bodnant Gardens, close to Penzance, was spectacular. We enjoyed looking for stone circles and other ancient remains. Mousehole was fun to explore. Driving is easy. There are some tiny lanes, but it was not a problem. I wouldn't bypass Cornwall due to crowds. It was relaxing. It was a favorite for us. We really enjoyed the Dartmoor area too, which is not too far away from Cornwall.
Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
112 posts

Sorry about the double posting earlier.... Cynthia - your approach does make sense. Do you usually stay in cottages for a week at a time? My mom and I were in England two years ago and stayed one week in Winchester to see a friend and another week in the Wiltshire countryside, and did day trips out from both locations. Our first week was in a lovely, friendly pub with rooms; the second was in a cozy thatched cottage. That was just about perfect for us, but we didn't travel very long distances. This time we are hoping to cover a little more ground and I was hoping to avoid long-distance drives, but your approach of taking motorways for the long hauls does sound much simpler logistically than mixing train trips with car rentals. We're planning on taking my 11 year old son with us this time and I think self-catering would suit our needs and budget best. Either of these coastal regions looks perfectly suited to keeping us all happy, and if we could fit in both, well - so much the better!

Posted by
112 posts

Hi Thomas - thanks for the reply. Good to hear some first-hand experience for that time of year. I'm sure Northumberland is quieter just about any time of year, but Cornwall sounds so beautiful that we're really torn. We just have to decide whether we want to travel between these two areas, or concentrate on just one. Your comments are very much appreciated. I think we'll sit down with a map, determine our other "must-see" interests, and probably do a little Google Earth session.

Posted by
518 posts

Hi Beth, You can put your drives into viamichelin.com to get a good idea how long it will take. Add some time to the estimate they give you. We've traveled around England and Scotland quite a bit on several trips. Cornwall is definitely one of our favorite areas. We spent one full day seeking out ancient stone circles and other ancient sites. At each, we were either alone or with 1 or 2other people. The crowds seemed mostly to be shopping.
The moors in Dartmoor had some unusual and spectacular scenery as well. We have not been to Northumberland, so if you go there let us know how you liked it.

Posted by
1829 posts

Difficult one. Both are full of historic spots and have beautiful sandy beaches with lovely coastal scenery. My parents lived on the Northumberland coast just above Newcastle for a while and I loved to visit. Have also spent a lot of holiday time in the South West. Daylight hours in Northumberland are longer than further south and June has the longest days. IMO the inland Northumberland countryside is better (and more of it) than Cornwall itself but then the beautiful Devon countryside is so near. A big difference is the climate. Cornwall is governed by the Gulf Stream and the westerly winds off the Atlantic and therefore milder. Whereas Northumberland has the cold North Sea and generally easterly winds. On a sunny/hot day you can find the beach suddenly covered in a sea mist (sea fret) while a couple of minutes walk inland it is still bright sunshine! I am going to chicken out and say if you can, visit both. They are so different in atmosphere/architecture/scenery to make it worth your while. And if you do, don't forget to visit Newcastle which is one of my favourite English cities, we visit friends there. You can park the car at one of the outlying Metro stations (Whitley Bay or Tynemouth?)and catch the train to the city centre. The historic centre (Grainger Town) has some beautiful Georgian architecture.

Posted by
837 posts

If you want to get a taste of the beauty of Cornwall, try to watch a couple of episodes of Doc Martin. I believe that it is currently running on PBS. Alternatively, use Netflix's free trial and either stream or get DVDs of Doc Martin. Completely agree that St. Ives may be the most crowded. Mousehole may be also. Look into Falmouth as a place to stay. Much smaller than Penzance with a lovely harbor.

Posted by
112 posts

Wow - great replies! I have never watched Doc Martin, but my mom has... I've seen the DVD's at the library and will make a point to check those out. I believe it still airs on PBS, doesn't it? As far as trying to visit both areas on this upcoming trip, I would LOVE to do that, and I know there are plenty of sights in between that would make great stop-overs (Cotswolds and Peak District come to mind, along with Dartmoor, Devon, Wells... endless possibilities!) I haven't yet had a sit down with Mom to really work this out, but we have plenty of time. We had hoped to make this trip next June, but Mom just told me the other day that she may want to wait one more year (2015) so she can celebrate her retirement. So, I may have LOTS of time to plan (which can be good and bad, but mostly good :-)) Thanks everyone - I'll be back with more specific questions.

Posted by
70 posts

Avoid Cornwall... too many people this time of year.

Posted by
70 posts

I would also add that some of my most peaceful moments have been spent in the Northumberland region and if I had to choose between the two, I would go north.

Posted by
112 posts

Thanks for your reply, Steve. If we did go to Northumberland instead of Cornwall, we'd probably head on up into Scotland - either just to Edinburgh with a couple of side trips, or tour around the Borders a little. Were you in Cornwall in June? Just wondering, because you mention that it's busy this time of year, but I still keep thinking June might be better...

Posted by
409 posts

For what it's worth, we spent a week in Cornwall (Port Isaac) last July, two weeks before the Olympics, and we didn't find any crowds except in St. Ives. Padstow, Falmouth, Dartmoor, Mevagissey, Fowey, Boscastle, Tintagel, Clovelly, Lands End, etc. were all quite manageable. The year before, we were in Penzance / Mousehole, also in July, and we again found it manageable. Just more food for thought.

Posted by
70 posts

Beth, yes I have been throughout the West Country in the summer months and in the Northumberland region. I enjoy both very much so however if you desire more solitude I would recommend heading north. Of course given your 3 week time frame you can easily accomplish both. Hadian's Wall to the north is a full day plus if you plan on any considerable hiking. One of my fondest memories is hiking the wall and ending up in Greenhead for the night. Lovely. Good luck and safe travels!

Posted by
112 posts

Thanks, Steve. We wouldn't be doing much hiking with my mom, but it's something I'd love to do sometime (Hadrian's Wall, or any other long-distance hikes in England!). I'll look more at the possibility of visiting both regions, since several people have suggested it's doable. It would be interesting to compare the regions, and I like the idea of starting in more popular Cornwall and saving Northumberland for later in the trip. We are definitely into peace, quiet and solitude, but I think we would all enjoy both areas.