You might feel like you’ve stepped into another world when you enter Cornwall, surrounded by rugged coastlines, famous beaches, tin mines and rural landscapes. The English County has a strong heritage and identity apart from England. The Cornish people are a recognized Celtic nation, along with the Irish, Welsh and Scots. The land was once known as Kernow and you will see flags and bumper stickers proudly supporting the peninsula’s heritage. The River Tamar divides Cornwall from Devon. Falmouth and Truro have the largest populations. Popular places to visit include Penzance, Newquay, Land’s End and St. Ives.
Cornwall has just over a half million permanent residents, although, being a very popular tourist area, its population fluctuates, especially with second homeowners who came for weekends. The tourism industry is important to Cornwall’s economy, but the increase in popularity and things like second homebuyers and holiday lets has increased the value of housing and decreased availability, making most areas unaffordable to locals. St. Ives, which use to be a fishing community, has tried to stop the flow of houses moving out of the local market. Those living and working there are being pushed out of the area and having to commute or move because the once reasonably-priced market has sky-rocketed. This is just something to keep in mind while you are traveling.
The tin mining industry brought wealth to Cornwall, and at one point Cornwall was home to some of the wealthiest people in Europe. Engine rooms still dot the landscape, though they fell out of production in the 19th century. They are amazing to see and there are some fine examples, as well as ruins. You’ll find several pamphlets marking out where to see these unique buildings. If you enjoy walking, you can find a footpath to many.
Agriculture and fishing have always been important to Cornwall. Its mild climate makes specialty gardening possible. There are world-famous gardens available for viewing and at any time of the year the County has something of beauty to offer. Cornwall has 12 Areas of Outstanding Beauty that consist of about 27% of the land. The Lizard Peninsula is of special interest do to its microclimate. The South West Coastal Path follows the coastline and is over 600 miles in length. The path ranges from paved surfaces to footpaths.
The beaches of Cornwall are beautiful, with white sand and crystal blue waters. Places like St. Ives, which became popular for Victorian travel, and Penzance have popular beaches. St. Micheal’s Mount, a castle estate on a tiny island, is also a great day out or two. Land’s End has also become a popular spotting point. Recent successful TV dramas, Poldark and Doc Martin, have also brought in more tourism and now tours feature the popular backdrops to the shows. Daphne du Maurier, who wrote such classics as Rebecca, Frenchmen’s Creek, My Cousin Rachel and The Birds, set her novels and short stories in the Cornwall she loved. Rosamund Pilcher’s novel, The Shell Seekers, draws in large crowds to see where it was filled.
There is so much to see and do in Cornwall that you might want to think of staying for an extended period. The railroad will take you clear to St. Ives and Penzance, but you will need a car or bus link to reach certain areas. A lot of people take weekend holidays using the train.