Writing about a much loved part of Cornwall when I’ve moved further afield has been much harder than I anticipated. I long to be within walking distance of the sea air and waves crashing. Living in Cornwall you’re never far away from the ocean breeze but what once was a little walk is now a short car journey away. But alas why should my sadness stop many of you experiencing the beauty that West Cornwall is.
So here it is, the very overdue guide to West Cornwall, from a locals point of view. I have tried to include links where possible. All of the things detailed are family friendly, some are less pram/pushchair friendly which I’ve highlighted. National Trust membership would be to your advantage to save money on a lot of attractions and for free parking, but it isn’t a necessity. However do your research before your holiday, if you plan on visiting a lot of places then it may be more cost effective signing up.
What better place to start than at Land’s End. Enjoy the beautiful views, head to the farm to see the animals, give your little ones their first 4D cinema experience, go on Arthurs Quest, play in the park and have your picture taken with the famous Lands End sign. If you’re visiting between 25th July – 29th August be sure to stay for the firework display.
Top tips: Take a picnic, the food is a little expensive for what it is. So bring your own picnic and some change for ice creams. A lot of Lands End is pram friendly but to really experience the walks/views I would recommend taking a carrier for little legs and if you have a confident walker i’d be sure to take some reins just in case they take a stumble close to the cliff edge! The views are best appreciated on a clear day. If you want to beat the crowds arrive for opening, then take a walk to Sennen (see below) and make it back in time for the fireworks.
Follow the link (above) and see for yourself. It is simply beautiful. If you have chance to see a show I would thoroughly recommend it but take a blanket as the evenings can get chilly nestled into the cliff. There is something so serene about watching a show with the sound of the waves crashing against the cliffs in the background. If a show isn’t your thing then fear not you can still visit the theatre and see the beauty of it without seeing a performance, just be sure to check their website before you visit as opening hours can vary and be dependant on running shows.
Note: Whilst some sections are wheelchair/pram friendly the majority is not.
For a bit of history visit Geevor Tin Mine, the largest preserved mine site in the country.
This is a must see to anyone staying in West Cornwall, I have been many a time and can’t recommend it enough, on a sunny day the views from the top of the mount are beautiful.
The climb to the castle is steep, even confident little walkers may struggle, so if possible take a carrier. Take your time as you follow the path to the top, read the signs along the way and look out for the giants heart. It can get very busy but don’t let that put you off or make you feel rushed, take your time and soak it all in.
Plan your trip to suit the tide. When the tide is out you can walk across to the mount and then when the tide is back in you can get a little boat back, a perfect few moments to take in the beauty of the mount.
Top tip: Wear sensible shoes, flip flops and sandals may be appealing but the path leading up to the castle is cobbled and much easier and far more comfortable to do in trainers.
An award-winning wildlife sanctuary guaranteed to be a fun filled family day out. We got season tickets for Paradise Park for our sons first birthday and hands down it was the best gift. We’ve returned so many times i’ve lost count. Soft play, a park, farm animals, penguins and bird shows are among some of the offerings.
Arrive for opening time so you get the full day. There is always a lot happening across the day including; penguin feeding, a free flying bird show and carrot time on the fun farm. If you are lucky you may also get to meet and stroke a penguin.
Top tips: Check the website before visiting as they often have money off vouchers. There is plenty of picnic benches across the park. Food is available but I would take a picnic and save your pennies for goat food, a ride on the train and an ice cream or cake.
Flambards theme park guaranteed a fun day out with plenty to do for little ones and adults. Ok this isn’t a patch on Alton Towers or Peppa Pig World however it has lots to do for all ages. The adults can take it in turns to watch the children while they ride the rollercoasters and then the children get their turn in their own dedicated section of the park.
Top tips: If you book online you save 10%. There is picnic benches all around and a Sainsbury’s/Tesco nearby, personally i’d take a picnic as the food is a little overpriced.
A short walk along the cliff tops from Lands End and you’ll find yourself in Sennen Cove, a small little coastal village with a beautiful beach and working harbour. Sit and enjoy the views and watch the surfers catch the waves. Before you leave be sure to visit the Sennen Cove Lifeboat Station .
If walking from Lands End you’ll need a child carrier (if visiting with a baby/toddler) and to be relatively fit. The walk itself is fairly short but there are some steep steps down the cliff into Sennen.
Nestled below the cliffs of Minack Theatre you’ll find Porthcurno Beach, it gets very busy but facing the crowds is worth it. This beach is one of Cornwalls most beautiful.
A small secluded little beach, perfect for the romantic in you.
With views over St Ives bay this is one of my all time favourite beaches. Pick up a pasty en route and then spend the day exploring the rock pools, caves and watching the surfers catch the swells.
In peak summer season everyone rushes here. It’s beautiful, so beautiful it’s been named many a time as one of the best beaches in the world. The white sands and turquoise sea really make you feel like you’re in an exotic country far far away. It will be busy and crowded but my goodness it’s worth it. Plan your visit according to the tide, aim to arrive for low tide to really appreciate its beauty. Keep an eye on tide times, high tide can be dangerous as the beach disappears.
Note: There is pushchair access however that requires you to travel at high tide, so if you are steady on your feet leave the pushchair and instead walk via the steep path and steps.
If you want to spot seals on your visit to Cornwall then Godrevy is your best bet. This cliff top walk is beautiful. Follow the path to Hells Mouth and back again, a 5 mile trip that is simply stunning. The kind of walk that makes a local like me feel so lucky and privileged that I get to call this wonderful county home.
Top tip: Take a picnic and picnic blanket and stop half way to soak in the ocean breeze and views. Take a carrier for little ones, the cliff edges are very steep.
Places To Eat
For the best cream tea (in my opinion) head to Rock Pool Café in Mousehole. The freshly baked scones are simply amazing, as are the views. Be warned though it can get busy! Also remember you’re in Cornwall so always put the jam first and then top with copious amounts of clotted cream (the more the better!)
You’ll know instantly where Jelbert’s is by the queue out of the door and down the road. It may not look much from the outside but don’t be put off. Not one to be missed when visiting West Cornwall. The family run business (owned and run by Olympian Helen Glovers parents,) based in Newlyn, serve one flavour of ice cream, vanilla. But don’t be disheartened at the lack of choice, it’s arguably the best vanilla ice cream you’ll ever taste. Top with a dollop of clotted cream, a wafer and enjoy.
This medieval themed restaurant is tucked away not far from Jelberts ice cream in Newlyn. You don’t go here for the food you go here for the mead, make sure you’re not the designated driver when you visit as you don’t want to miss out, take this as your warning though, it’s lethal. The food is good enough, mostly deep fried offerings; chicken in the rough, scampi, breaded mushrooms, you eat with your hands and are served by ‘wenches’. A fun evening out but definitely not a michelin star establishment.
Everyone will tell you to head to Philps, their pasties are good so be sure to sample one during your stay however and this is a controversial opinion, you’ll find the best pasties at Hampsons. Either way be sure to make sure it’s hot, fresh from the oven is even better! Steak is my preferred choice, and go large you’re on holiday!
You don’t come here for the food, you come here for the fun. The food is good don’t get me wrong but the activities are what makes it. A bookcase filled with a selection of board games old and new, air hockey, table football, mini golf, plus more and not forgetting skittles. A guaranteed relaxed family friendly evening of fun.
Top tip: Book in advance! It gets busy.
The best burgers and sides around. The cheddapeno bites and cajun shroomies are my favourite. Head to the website now and drool over the menu.
Top tip: Order a burger and then get a load of sides to share. Book in advance it’s small and well loved so can get very busy.
Go for the fruit picking and farm animals and stay for the cake. The dessert counter is enough to tempt anyone and has a selection to suit everyone’s taste.
Top tip: If you can’t decide what to have then ask for a half and half, that way you’ll get to pick two offerings and have a half portion of each. Full from gobbling all the pick your own berries? Fear not you can also get the desserts to go.
Walks & Added Extras
Once you’ve picked up your ice cream from Jelbert’s in Newlyn walk along the promenade into Penzance, with the sea air in your face and the beautiful view over to St Michael’s Mount it’s the perfect back drop to enjoy your ice cream. Head to the arcade to spend some pennies along the way.
Keep walking along the promenade and take a peak at Jubilee Pool, Cornwall’s celebrated fresh salt water filled Art Deco lido.
A beautiful little walk in Hayle. Plenty to see if you have a little time spare. Look out for the fairy doors.
A beautiful family friendly walk with plenty to see.
Boating Lake in Helston
If you’re heading to Helston for Boo Koos or Flambards and you have time to spare and restless children then make a stop at the boating lake. A lovely little walk around the lake finished off with a play in the park.
Ok this may be a weird one, but if you’re anything like me then you love a good car boot /boot sale. Look out for the stall at the top of the field selling home made cakes, cheesecakes and pies! A perfect addition to any picnic. There is also a park so once you’ve dragged the kids around bartering for your goodies they can let off steam on the zip wire.
I am the first to admit that St Ives isn’t really my cup of tea. It’s always busy, it’s always crowded, navigating the streets can be a nightmare and don’t get me started on parking! However even as someone who doesn’t love it I can appreciate the beauty of the coastal town. The beaches are beautiful (Porthminster beach is one of my favourites) and it makes for a wonderful day out (if you don’t mind crowds.) Lots of places to eat, fudge shops, ice creams, beaches, arcades, pubs and bars as well as many shops to explore. And if you’re really lucky you may even spot the St Ives mermaid in the harbour.
Top tip: If staying in a neighbouring town I would get a bus, save stressing over parking and prices will be similar.
And that’s it for now. I will no doubt come back to this list and add more but for now i’ll leave it there. Let me know your favourite West Cornwall spots in the comments.