Cornwall Travel Guide
"It takes how long from London?!" is the usual response we get when suggesting that our friends visit Cornwall, Britain's most southwesterly county.
Stuck out into the Atlantic as it is, it's either an hour's flight from Gatwick to Newquay, a five hour day train, or our favorite: the overnight sleeper train that lets you save a night's hotel costs while being rocked to sleep by the clickety-clack of the rails.
Go to bed in London...and wake up on the Cornish Riviera, Britain's version of the Côte d'Azur, with sea, surf, sand andif you're lucky, because it's still the UK, sun.
If ever you wondered why you should visit a beach destination off-season, here’s your proof.
From Easter onwards, Polzeath Beach in Cornwall, UK will be overrun by people. Surfers, swimmers, dog-walkers, hikers, the odd optimistic sunbather. Come summer, you won’t find a space to sit on the sand, let alone a parking space within sight of the Atlantic.
But this weekend, as the winds whipped the waves up against the rocks, it was almost deserted. It was also very beautiful. And, without wanting to come over all hippy dippy, there’s really something in the connection with nature you get when somewhere like this is empty. It reminded us of last year, when we went to Big Sur following a landslip, and only people staying along the coast were allowed to use the roads. Bliss.
To get to Cornwallthe southwestern tip of the UKnow that’s a whole other story. It’s expensive and it’s stressful, even off-season. But when you arrive to views like this, and inhale that Atlantic air, that all just melts away.
[Photo: Juliab for Jaunted]
The King's Speech might be a front-runner for the Best Picture Oscar, but for the UK's Tourism Industry, the most celebrated film of the year is Alice In Wonderland.
The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva) in the U.K. recently released a report that shows the Antony stately home in Cornwall saw a surge in tourists, from 25,000 to 100,000 people per year, after the Walt Disney film was shot there.
The site usually attracts an older crowd who want to relax in the home's gardens, but the 18th Century mansion recently had to hire extra staff to handle the mobs of young visitors who wanted to see where Alice lived. The mansion embraced the new visitors and even created Alice-themed events like Mad Hatter tea parties for kids.
Last one in's a rotten egg! We're finding the best places in the world to stick our toes in this summer (or next winter) for our World's Coolest Pools map. Know of any pools we must check out? Let us know.
Further proof nature has a sense of humor? A natural outcrop of rocks provided the inspiration for city officials in Bude, a popular Victorian seaside destination, to lay in the groundwork for one of England's rapidly disappearing "sea baths."
Before chlorine ruled the pool world, swimmers looking for a space more placid than the open ocean turned to natural pools along the coast of Cornwall to bathe -- same seawater, no undertow. Many of these sea baths have since been closed, but Bude's remains thanks to a small but dedicated cadres of locals who fought to keep the pools open (albeit with municipal lifeguards) after a 2005 study deemed them unsafe.
If you're dreaming of a white Christmas, why just dream? Britain's National Trust features events all over its parks and landmarks during the holidays, for those times when cabin fever threatens to get toxic.
Using their event finder, we're pitching ourselves to Cornwall to visit Lanhydrock, the Victorian country house which is sponsoring a nature walk among its formal gardens on Christmas Eve. Forget last-minute shopping; if you come by from 11 to 4, you could win a special prize for completing the "Hidden Nature" challenge. And afterwards, there'd still be time to see some of the house's 50 rooms open to the public.
In case of inclement weather, curl up at home with a copy of the National Trust's Men At Work calendar ($11.77), featuring real Trust employees hard at work. Proceeds go to the restoration of Seaton Delaval Hall, a country house in northern England.
England doesn't seem that big when you look at it on a map, but a journey from London down to the pretty southwest areas of Cornwall and Devin does take a while. Now that rail company First Great Western has revamped the London to Penzance sleeper train route, however, you don't have to waste time getting there.
This route's been there a while, but now that it's had a £2 million ($3.9 million) upgrade, Great Western is hoping to get a whole heap more passengers. A designer who's worked for Porsche has done new interiors for the trains and all fixtures, fittings and even the toilets have been completely upgraded.
The last time we traveled this route, it was neat and clean enough and very practical for saving a night's accommodation cost--now we're keen to try it again and do it in style instead. With a romantic name like the Night Riviera Sleeper, how can we go wrong?
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The big travelers are a bunch of rubber ducks. They fell off the back of a boat (literally) in 1992 and an obsessive oceanographer named Curtis Ebbesmeyer has been tracking them ever since. A few landed on Alaskan shores and now a big team of them are expected to wash up near Cornwall over the summer. Keep an eye out because the manufacturers are offering a £50 reward if you find one; although rumour has it collectors will pay 10 times that amount on E-bay.
· Thousands of Rubber Ducks to Land on British Shores [Daily Mail]
[Photo: The Mainzelmann]
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Not everything that a celebrity touches should become famous. But tell that to the owners of a small café in Kingsand, Cornwall, who decided to start what they like to describe as the "smallest museum in Cornwall": the Museum of Celebrity Leftovers.
We're almost a bit ashamed to say that it is exactly as it sounds. Celebrities (minor ones, mostly) who happen to drop by the Old Boatstore Café and don't quite finish off their meal get the leftovers stored in a specially designed cabinet. If you want to see singer Pete Doherty's leftover crust, or croissant crumbs and butter wrappers left by other even less famous British celebs, then Kingsand is the place for you. If you're something special and leave a slurp in your café latte, that might get put up on the special shelf for the world to see, too.
· Crumby Tribute Famous Patrons [BBC]
· Nights in a Tree in Cornwall [Jaunted]
Most travelers like to curl up in a comfy bed in front of their hotel room TV at the end of a touristy day. Others choose to sleep in a tree.
We're not talking cosy cabin treehouse style sleeping here. In Cornwall, south-west England, tree-huggers can take a rope-and-harness-assisted climb up into a big ol' tree and stay the night in a "tree boat", a four-cornered hammock which they claim is really comfortable.
We're not sure if it gets windy down in Cornwall, but the Mighty Oak Tree Climbing Co uses the word "safe" much more frequently than natural in their promotions. But still, koalas sleep every night in a tree and we don't hear about too many of them falling out: And they don't even have the benefit of a tree boat.