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Facts about Cornwall

 

Cornwall

Cornwall, in Cornish known as Kernow is the most southwesterly county of England , on the peninsula that lies to the west of the River Tamar . The administrative centre and only city is Truro . Cornwall covers an area of 1,376 square miles (3,563 km²), including the Isles of Scilly , located 28 miles (45 km) offshore. Cornwall has a population of 513,528, with a relatively low population density of 373 people per square mile (144 / km² ).

Cornwall is noted for its wild moorland landscapes, its extensive and varied coastline and its mild climate. Also notable is Cornwall's Stone Age and industrial archaeology , especially its historic mining landscape , a World Heritage Site . Tourism therefore forms a significant part (24%) of the local economy; however, Cornwall is one of the poorest areas in the United Kingdom (62% of the UK average wage) with the lowest per capita contribution to the national economy.

The Cornish Pasty!

It was once said that the Devil would never dare to cross the River Tamar into Cornwall for fear of ending up as a filling in a Cornish Pasty! For centuries the Cornish have been filling their famous pasties with almost any ingredients that you would care to think of. The traditional filling is, of course, beef and potato, usually with slices of onion and swede mixed in as well, but the humble pasty can also be found in a number of other guises. Popular fillings down the years have included Egg and Bacon, Rabbit, Apples, Figs, Jam, and Egg and Currants.

There is virtually no limit to what tasty filling you might find when you take a first bite into that delicious crunchy pastry! Surprisingly, however, in a region where the sea plays such an important role in everyday life, fish has never been regarded as an appropriate pasty filling. In fact, the more superstitious among Cornish fishermen will refuse to take a pasty on board their boat when they set out to sea, in the belief that it will bring them bad luck.

The pasty originally evolved to meet the needs of tin mining, that other great, but now sadly declined, Cornish industry. A hearty meal wrapped in a pastry casing made for a very practical lunch (or "croust" , as they used to call it ) down in the dark and damp tunnels of the mine. Some mines even built huge ovens on the surface to keep the miner's pasties hot until it was time to eat.

Tradition has it that the original pasties contained meat and vegetables in one end and jam or fruit in the other end, in order to give the hard-working men 'two courses'. Cornish housewives also marked their husband's initials on the left-hand side of the pastry casing, in order to avoid confusion at lunchtime. This was particularly useful when a miner wished to save a 'corner' of his pasty until later, or if he wanted to leave a corner for one of the 'Knockers'. The Knockers were the mischievous 'little people' of the mines, who were believed by the miners to cause all manner of misfortune, unless they were placated with a small amount of food, after which they could prove to be a source of good luck.

 

Interesting Information on Towns/Villages in Cornwall

 

Newquay

Situated on the north Cornwall coast, the lively seaside town of Newquay is a surfer's paradise! Surfing became popular in the 1960's and the British Surfing Association was formed in 1966. Newquay became the first surfing destination in Britain due to its fantastic waves; today Newquay is still known as the surf centre of Europe '. The town has a lot to offer as a seaside resort with a buzzing atmosphere, glorious beaches and stunning coastline.

Historically the town was famous for pilchards which is depicted in the town's insignia. A Huer's Hut' can be seen in the Harbour where there would have been a lookout who would alert the fishing fleet when they spotted pilchard shoals.

To explore Newquay then pick up a free Discovery Trail map which is readily available throughout the town which gives details of routes like the Hetty or the Ada Trails which are great to walk or ride. There are also information discs around the town to follow which give interesting historical details about the area.

 

Watergate Bay

Watergate Bay is a the venue for the Extreme Academy where you can have a go at a huge selection of watersports including kite surf, traction kite, waveski as well as volleyball and Frisbee, the ultimate day out for watersport enthusiasts.

Also at Watergate Bay is the Fifteen restaurant owned by Jamie Oliver. The restaurant is well known for its unique chef training programme, but ultimately the beachside location and the quality of the food make this a popular destination restaurant.

 

Port Isaac

The charming fishing village of Port Isaac is the location for the popular Doc Martin TV series starring Martin Clunes which is known in the programme as Port Wenn.

We love the architectural styles of the properties in the village including the Cornish houses with slate fronts or the white washed cottages, many of which are listed. It is best to park your car and walk through the village's quaint and winding narrow streets down to the harbour where there are fishing or pleasure trips available.


Padstow

The port of Padstow provides fresh fish to the many fish restaurants in the area, all of which are of a high quality with the most famous being the Rick Stein restaurant. The area has increasingly become a fashionable destination for both visiting the restaurants and there is also a good range of shops to browse around.

The harbour is a fantastic spot to relax and watch the world go by. There are plenty of boat trips to be enjoyed from the harbour and a ferry service to the popular Rock. You can cycle or walk the Camel Trail to Wadebridge and of course like much of Cornwall there are plenty of other scenic walks to explore. The Padstow Tourist Information Centre will advise on what the town and the surrounding area has to offer.

 

Rock

Located just across from Padstow on the northern side of the Camel estuary, Rock has become a popular and exclusive resort for the upper class and affluent including Prince Harry, Al Fayed, Hugh Grant and Jemima Khan to name just a few and in fact has been described as Britain's Saint-Tropez' or Chelsea on Sea'.

There are plenty of exclusive shops and restaurants to cater for the expensive tastes of the clientele including the Michelin star restaurant The Black Pig. If you wish you can arrive in style by yacht or land at the Helipad or alternatively there is always the ferry from Padstow! Watersports are popular including canoeing, windsurfing, and waterskiing. The sandy beaches, clear calm water together with the stunning views do explain why this is such a popular destination.

 

Boscastle

The pretty harbour village of Boscastle situated on the north Cornish coast suffered a disastrous flood in 2004 however has now been restored to its former glory. The medieval harbour remains unspoilt and is owned and looked after by the National Trust as the harbour and surrounding coastline have been designated an area of outstanding beauty.

Boscastle reputably gained its name from Bottreaux Castle which was situated at the top of the village but unfortunately has long gone although it is said that many of its stones have been used throughout the village. The village has many attractive buildings including the traditional Fishermans cottages.

Thomas Hardy worked as an architect on the renovation of St Julioits Church and whilst in Boscastle met his first wife Emma Gifford.

There are some great walks to be enjoyed in this beautiful area including the seven mile walk along the coast to Crackington Haven. There is a Visitor Centre in Boscastle to find out more about what is on offer in the area.


Tintagel

The ruins of 13 th century Tintagel Castle are situated in a stunning location right on the coast with spectacular views. It has an interesting history and legend has it that it was the birthplace of King Arthur. Merlin's Cave is situated below the castle where it is said that Merlin lived whilst King Arthur was growing up. You can walk through the cave at low tide. There have also been many artefacts found in the area dating back to the 5 th and 6 th Centuries and also to Roman times. The castle is looked after by English Heritage and there is a beach cafe to enjoy.

Tintagel village itself is charming and has its own visitors centre to obtain information on the local area. King Arthur's Great Exhibition Hall on Fore Street built around the 1930's, allows you to re-live the legend of King Arthur with a Round Table and granite thrones. The building is impressively built with granite and slate, internally many different types of Cornish stones have been used and for us the 70 plus stained glass windows are a fantastic feature of the building.

 

Bodmin

Bodmin enjoys a central location so is a great base to explore both the north and south coastlines but also of course to explore the unspoilt Bodmin Moor.

Look out for the Bodmin Beast on Bodmin Moor, just one of the legendary tales that has been associated with this vast expanse of unique landscape ranging from the granite tors which are also known as cheesewrings such as the cheesewring near Minions. The Rough Tor is known as the second highest point in Cornwall . There are also a lot of boggy areas which are not ideal for walkers but are ideal conditions for wildlife. In the mid 1800's mining for tin and copper was carried out on the moor and some changes to the shape of the landscape obviously occurred then as did quarrying for granite.

The Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor was made famous by the author Daphne Du Maurier following her book called the Jamaica Inn in the 1930's about smugglers hiding in the moor. Today the Jamaica Inn is a hotel and also has a museum dedicated to the stories of smuggling.

 

Lizard peninsula

Surrounded by the sea on three sides, the Lizard peninsula is accessed via a bridge. There are many charming fishing villages and hamlets to explore and the beaches and cliffs are spectacular. The biggest town on the peninsular is Helston which has many attractive Victorian and Georgian buildings.

Lizard Point is known as England 's most southern point and there are fantastic walks around the cliffs there.


Land's End

The famous route from Lands End to John O'Groats is a whopping 874 miles and many have taken the challenge to travel the route by foot or various other methods and raised money for charity whilst doing so.

There are amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean to admire on the cliff walks. There are also many attractions to visit and you can even get your photo taken at the famous Lands End signpost!

 

St Austell

St Austell is the home of the huge Eden Project which opened in 2001. Set in a disused china clay pit the project is vast totalling a site of around 35 acres. Huge greenhouses contain climates and plants from throughout the world from the Rainforest to the Mediterranean , you really could be anywhere in the world. It is a unique and amazing day out as well as being informative and educational.

St Austell itself is a busy market town and historically was a mining town for tin and then copper. Many of the mines closed after the decline of copper values in 1865. China clay was also a major contributor to the town's prosperity in the 1800s and many buildings were built in the town around this time that still remain today. The China Clay Museum and Country Park re-tells how china clay was mined and its uses such as paper making. China Clay still makes up a large part of Cornwall 's economy today.

St Austell is also home to the St Austell Brewery which was established in 1851. The Brewery runs over 170 pubs in the South West.

 

St Ives

St Ives has had long associations with the art world and there are several art galleries throughout the town including the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden and notably the St Ives Tate Gallery which was opened in 1993 by the Prince of Wales. Built on a former gas works site this unique building sits above Porthmeor Beach .

St Ives' beautiful beaches, busy harbour and cobbled streets with quaint fishermen's cottages all attract visitors to this lovely Cornish town and also because the town boasts a mild climate. No wonder so many have been inspired to pick up a paint brush in this beautiful town!

 

St Michaels Mount

Situated near Marazion and about 3 miles from Penzance is the spectacular sight of St Michael's Mount, an island which is sat off-shore with a church and castle at its highest point where some of the buildings date back to the 12 th century. You can either cross the causeway to get to the mount by boat or by walking across, depending on the tides!

Historically it was a Benedictine Priory linked to Normandy 's Mont St Michel in France but since then it has had a varied and interesting history and today is a popular attraction for visitors to Cornwall . It really is worth climbing the steep cobbled paths to the top to step back in time and as a bonus the views are amazing. The Mount has been looked after by the National Trust since 1954 together with the Aubyn family who have lived on the Mount since the 17 th Century.

 

Penzance

The caves and coves of Penzance and smugglers in the area were the inspiration behind the famous Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance'. Overlooking Mounts Bay , its rocky coastline and sandy beaches together with its close proximity to St Michaels Mount and Lands End make this a popular destination.

The market town of Penzance has a great mix of architecture to admire including Regency, Georgian and even an Art Deco swimming pool.

The Isles of Scilly are accessed from Penzance either by ferry or helicopter.

 

Truro

The city of Truro is centrally situated and easily accessible from all over Cornwall . The town has a mixture of architecture including Victorian and Georgian which house a great selection of independent and national shops together with bars and restaurants. The city also hosts markets and farmers markets making this a bustling shopping location.

Dominating the city is the beautiful Truro Cathedral, a Gothic Revival Cathedral with three spires, the highest of which is 250 ft tall. Building started on the cathedral in 1880 and was completed by 1910 on the former site of the Parish of St Mary and in fact unusually the south aisle of the former church was incorporated into the new cathedral.

Truro has amazing gardens to relax in and enjoy such as Victoria Gardens and the vast 375 acres at Trelissick Gardens.

 

Falmouth

Falmouth has some fantastic beaches and its roads are lined with palm trees giving it a tropical feel. There are some great shops and the architecture ranges from modern cutting edge apartments to grand old hotels.

In order to protect the Carrick Roads from invasion, Henry VIII ordered the building of the clover leaf shaped Mawes Castle and then Pendennis Castle at either side of the Fal estuary around 1540.

Falmouth Docks were originally developed in the mid 1800's and are set for further development as a new terminal for cruise liners is planned. One of Falmouth 's three train stations is at Falmouth Docks, the other two being at Falmouth Town and Penmere.

The town has had some notable historic events over the years including on the 4 th November 1805 when Lieutenant Lapenotiere arrived at Fish Strand Quay on HMS Pickle to deliver the news to the Secretary of the Navy in London that Britain had won the Battle of Trafalgar and that Admiral Nelson was dead. There is a monument to mark the event.

Ellen McArthur returned to a massive reception at Falmouth in 2007 after her record breaking feat of sailing single handedly non-stop around the world. Falmouth also saw the return of Robin Knox-Johnson in 1969 as he completed the first ever solo non stop voyage around the world.

 

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