With family in the area, we trundle back (slowly, very slowly) to Cornwall at least once a year, and there are a few places we always make sure to hit:
· Land's Endliterally, the end of the world. Yes, keep following it the A30 road out of Penzance and eventually you'll hit it (or go splash into the sea). Skirt past the grotty tourist trap selling Land's End pencil sharpeners and Land's End wallets and head for the hotel, which does a decent coffee and offers free parking. Try a bracing walk along the cliffs to Sennen Cove for a restorative something at The Beach restaurant.
· St Michael's Mount, the castle in the sea, is stuck off Penzance and is well worth a visit. If you've ever sung in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, now is the time to go climbing over rocky mountain, skipping rivulet and fountain, passing where the willows quiver, like a Pirate of Penzance.
· The B3306 from St Ives to St Just may not have a snappy name like "The Most Beautiful Road In The World", but it's certainly up there. It clings to the side of the cliffs and curves its way blindly through villages for fifteen miles, past some of the oldest neolithic field patterns in the world. Stop off in Zennor for a pint at the Tinner's Arms or a Moomaid ice cream. Don't have a car? There's an open-topped double-decker bus that does a round trip from Penzance.
We didn't promise sunshine on the B3306...
· Lamplighter Restaurant in Probus, a small village just east of Truro, which incidentally also contain's Cornwall's tallest church tower. Chef Rob used to be Head Chef on the QE2, and now runs what we reckon is Cornwall's best restaurant. Seriously, you want the tempura squid.
· "St Endellion! St Endellion! The name is like a ring o'bells." So said poet John Betjeman, and this tiny church is a musical gem. Twice a year, two incredible choirs and orchestras descend into the 150-seat church, filling it to the rafters and doing things like Wagner's Die Walküre (Hojotoho! Heiaha!) in a church on a hill with views down to Tintagel, the erstwhile home of King Arthur. (Disclosure time! We sing in the St Endellion Festivals, but like everyone else who comes down, we do it for love and nobody's paid.)
Seriously, when are you going to get to sit six feet away from an opera singer fresh from the Met singing Wagner?
[Pictures: John Walton]