- For other places with the same name, see Cornwall (disambiguation).
Cornwall (Cornish: Kernow) is a Duchy in the extreme south west of the UK and includes the Isles of Scilly, considered the mystical home of the legendary King Arthur. Lying westwards beyond the River Tamar border with its nearest neighbour Devon, Cornwall is one of the more isolated and distinct parts of the United Kingdom but is one of the most popular with travellers and holiday-makers. Its relatively warm climate, long coastline, amazing scenery, and diverse Celtic heritage (combined with tales of smuggling and pirates!) go only part of the way to explaining its appeal. Cornwall is increasingly becoming a popular destination for those interested in cultural tourism due to its long association with visual and written arts, and enormous wealth of archaeology. Its mining heritage has recently been recognised by the United Nations (UNESCO). Over thirty percent of the county is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) giving it national status and protection. Cornwall has always been fiercely proud of its Celtic identity, and for many residents their Cornish identity supersedes their Englishness or Britishness.
Cities, towns and villages
- Truro - Cornwall's main administrative centre and only city
- Marazion - Home of St Micheals Mount (Pictured)
- Mevagissey - picturesque hillside fishing village
- Newquay - surf capital of the UK
- Redruth - world capital of tin mining
- St Austell - largest town in the county and home to the Eden Project, the world's largest greenhouse
- St Columb Major
- St Ives - home to a branch of the Tate Gallery
- St. Just in Penwith
- St Buryan
- St Levan
- Tintagel - legendary birthplace of King Arthur and seat of the Kings of Cornwall
- Land's End
- Tamar Valley
- Madron and Sancreed parish area
- Bodmin Moor
- Cape Cornwall
- Helford River
The modern English name of the Duchy is thought to be derived from its old Celtic name, Kernou, or the Horn, from its projecting promontories; that it was Latinised to Cornovia or Cornubia; that when the Saxons gave the name of Wealas (foreigners) to the Britons, they distinguished those who had retired into Kernou or Cornubia, by the name of Cornu-wealas; and their country was thus called Cornuwall or Cornwall . Cornwall is called Kernow in the Cornish language and many signs have Cornish language descriptions on them. However, everybody in Cornwall speaks English as their first language. The Cornish language is recognised internationally and has government funding, a thriving community of speakers and publishers and is making a successful comeback, with the number of fluent speakers now increasing, being in the thousands.
Recent polls place Cornish identity amongst young people at around 40% regarding themselves as Cornish rather than English, with calls for a Cornish assembly or government by some. Some might take offense to being called English, though most will take it in good jest.
A common, somewhat derogatory term for tourists is emmet, a Cornish Dialect word meaning ant. The Cornish word for ant is actually murrian. Be aware of locals recommending "Porthemmet Beach" - it simply means 'tourist beach', and it doesn't exist.
The Cornish have several patron saints rather than those recognised in other parts of the United Kingdom (Andrew, George, David etc.) but the pre-eminent one is Saint Piran whose flag, black with a white cross, can be seen all across the Duchy and flown from not only private homes but also Government and public buildings as well as in most towns. Saint Piran's Day is widely celebrated on March 5, not only in Cornwall but amongst the Cornish diaspora across the globe.
The stereotype of the Cornish as 'inbred' and 'backward' is a misconception and if repeated to a local is likely to cause embarrassment and offence (and perhaps a smack). Cornwall is generally quite ethnically homogeneous in comparison to most areas of the UK, and the Cornish people tend to hold onto traditional morals and lifestyles. They are also slightly more conservative than the UK as a whole and very patriotic. Cornwall has a strong Protestant heritage, where Methodism is the main denomination. Nearly every village has at least one Methodist church: some small villages have more than one Methodist church and no church from any other denomination. It's common to be driving along a backroad and find a Methodist church in the middle of nowhere, with no houses or settlements in the vicinity or in a tiny hamlet of a couple houses, but it still holds regular Sunday services with good attendance.
Cornwall was a contributor to the industrial revolution, famous particularly for its tin-mining and has produced major writers, artists, scientists and musicians to current times. The Cornish are extremely proud of their history and heritage pre-dating the arrival of the English Anglo-Saxons in Britain, and many Cornish people are loyal to their Duchy. You may even see some Cornish people wearing kilts and playing Cornish pipes at cultural and other gatherings and Cornwall is recognised as a separate nation by many international organisations. One such popular organisation is Gorsedh Kernow, aimed at promoting Cornish culture and festivals such as Gorsedd.
Cornwall has a small but developing lesbian and gay community. Flamboyancy showed by men may rise some eyebrows (or frowns) but for the most part is accepted. There is an annual Pride event in Truro.
Regular trains run on the main line from London Paddington (12 daily to Plymouth, 3 hours, 8 daily all the way through Cornwall to Penzance, 5 hours) Bristol, Birmingham etc. to Plymouth, Truro and Penzance. There are also a few branch lines, the most useful linking St Ives to the main line at St Erth, from Truro to Falmouth via Perranwell and Penryn, and from Newquay to Par. There is also an overnight sleeper train which runs Sun-Fri nights to/from London Paddington and Penzance.
Train from London take about 3 hr 20 min to Plymouth, and 5 hr 30 min to Penzance.
Cornwall can be accessed by road via the A30 which starts at the end of the M5 at Exeter and runs all the way through the heart of Devon and Cornwall down to Land's End. Cornwall can also be accessed from the A38, crossing the River Tamar at Plymouth via the Tamar Bridge. From London it's a 5-6 hour drive. On Saturdays in July & August and Easter bank holiday weekend roads can be busy, although the A30 is now (bar one final section at Temple currently in progress) fully dualled and grade separated between Exeter and Carland Cross (near Truro).
Newquay airport (NQY) is the main airport for Cornwall which has the following services:
- Air Southwest - Bristol, Cork, Dublin, Glasgow-International, Grenoble (winter only), Leeds/Bradford, London-Gatwick, London-City, Manchester, Newcastle
- Flybe - Belfast-City, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Isle of Man (seasonal)
- Isles of Scilly Skybus - St. Mary's (Isles of Scilly), Cardiff, St. Brieuc
- Lufthansa - Düsseldorf (weekly, summer only)
- Ryanair - London-Stansted, Alicante, Girona
There is also Penzance Airport, which operates a helipad in addition to plane flights.
Cornwall is served well by National Express coach services from London Victoria coach station (9 hours, 3 daily) and other parts of the UK (Edinburgh - Glasgow - Penzance, 18 hours, 1 daily).
Megabus also run a daily service (8 hours) from London Victoria through to Penzance stopping off at a few major towns in Cornwall. With ticket prices from £1 this is a very cheap option, the coaches are relatively comfortable, but expect them to be pretty much full.
CrossCountry Trains and First Great Western operate regular train services between the main centres of population, the latter company also serving a number of outlying towns via branch lines. For train times and fares visit National Rail Enquiries .
Everybody in Cornwall speaks the English language as their native tongue. Centuries ago people in the Duchy were monolingual in Cornish, a Brythonic language, which is closely related to Breton and Welsh. It survived as a first-language tongue until the 19th century. Dolly Pentreath of Mousehole, who died in 1777, was the last person thought to have been monolingual in Cornish. The publication of Henry Jenner's "Handbook of the Cornish Language" in 1904 caused a resurgence of interest in the Cornish language, and it is now increasingly used. Several thousand Cornish people speak the language fluently, and several young people have grown up bilingual in both Cornish and English. Increasing areas of Cornwall have bi-lingual road signs in both English and Cornish and there is a full-time language staff at Cornwall Council.
Cornwall boasts a large number of attractions for the traveller, many lying outside of cities and towns amidst the Cornish landscape:
- Bodmin Moor. Within the 208sq kilometres of the Moor, is King Arthur's Hall, a megalithic monument and Brown Willy, the highest point in Cornwall at 417 m (1,368 ft). Dozmary Pool is a small beautiful lake, linked with the Arthurian Legend. There is also a reputed Beast of the Moor, a phantom-wild cat that haunts and stalks at night, but is similar in fantasy to the Loch Ness Monster.
- The Eden Project, near St Austell, a fabulous collection of flora from all over the planet housed in two 'space age' transparent domes.
- Land's End. The extreme South-West where Britain meets the Atlantic head-on
- The Lost Gardens of Heligan. 80 acres of stunning landscaped scenery with a huge complex of walled flower and vegetable gardens
- Tintagel Castle. legendary birthplace of the famous King Arthur and seat of the kings of Cornwall. Earl Richard of Cornwall and King of the Romans built the present medieval castle at the site. Ongoing excavations are revealing a Cornish royal seat of the period 400 to 700 AD.
- Minack Theatre an outdoor theatre built, by hand, into the side of cliff over looking the ocean; located between the villages of Porthcurno and St Levan, the theatre includes a museum and offers tours when there are no performances
- The Tate St Ives, One of the four Tate Galleries in the UK - Modern Art
- The National Maritime Museum Falmouth. Home of the National Maritime Museum's small boat collection and other exhibits.
- Penlee House. Home of the famous Newlyn School of Art
- Cornwall's Crealy Great Adventure Park, Crealy Great Adventure Park, Tredinnick, Wadebridge, PL27 7RA, ☎ +44 1841 540276. Great family days out at Cornwall's top theme park, which is the Cornish counterpart to a theme park in Devon.
- Cornish World. Combining shopping and leisure. Browse and shop at Cornish Market World, while the children play at Kidzworld, Charlie's offers fun for young adults and The Kids' Academy is an Ofsted approved nursery, pre-school and holiday club.
- Helford River - an idyllic river estuary located between Falmouth and Penzance. An ideal stop over for yachts heading for the Isles of Scilly, or further afield, with a selection of excellent pubs and other attractions. There is also a passenger ferry crossing the river as part of the coastal path around Cornwall linking Helford Passage (a popular holiday destination for families) on the north coast to Helford Village on the south. Helford River Boats runs the ferry and a range of small hire boats with which you can explore the river in your own time. Also on the river are the Gweek Seal Sanctuary, Porth Navas Oyster Farm and Trebah Gardens.
National Trust Properties
- St Michael's Mount, Marazion, Near Penzance
- Cotehele, St Dominick, near Saltash, PL12 6TA, ☎ +44 1579 351346, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Godrevy, Gwithian, near Hayle, TR27 5ED, ☎ +44 1872 552412, e-mail: email@example.com. A stunning mix of long sandy beaches, high cliffs, and smugglers coves.
- Lanhydrock near Bodmin
- Trerice, Kestle Mill, near Newquay, TR8 4PG, ☎ +44 1637 875404, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- East Pool Mine, Pool near Redruth
- Levant Mine and Beam Engine Pendeen
- Tintagel Old Post Office
- The Hurlers (Cornish: Hr Carwynnen) are a group of three stone circles in Cornwall, similar but smaller to Stonehenge. The site is half-a-mile (0.8 km) west of the village of Minions on the eastern flank of Bodmin Moor, and approximately four miles (6 km) north of Liskeard. Each stellar alignment was given with tabulated declinations at a date some time in between the range of 2100 to 1500 BC!
National Trust Gardens
- Trelissick, Feock, near Truro
- The South West Coast Path - Which runs along the coastline of Britain’s south-west peninsula. The Cornish section is supposed to be the most scenic, particularly around Penwith and the Lizard. The trail takes walkers to busy towns, remote cliffs, beaches, heaths, farms and fishing villages. Walking along it is a great way to experience the region in all its variety. For more information on the coastal path .
- The Camel trail - An 18 mile off-road cycle-track following the scenic estuary of the river Camel view the local council website
- Cornish Film Festival - held annually each November around Newquay. The 11th edition takes place 8-11th in 2012.
- Surf - Cornwall, in particular Newquay, is the UK's surfing capital, with equipment hire and surf schools present on many of the county's beaches, and events like the UK championships or Boardmasters festival.
Cornwall has recently become famous for its Michelin starred seafood restaurants, with Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein opening swanky restaurants in the county/country. Cornwall arguably has the most distinct and finest cuisine of all Britain, and a number of regional specialities, such as:
- The Cornish Pasty - a semi-circular pockets of soft or flakey pastry, usually filled with meat, turnip, onion and potatoes with a crimped crust to hold whilst munching.
- Cornish Ice Cream - distinctly yellowish in colour, and rich in flavour, on account of high buttermilk content. Clotted cream is another product.
- Cornish Cream Tea - plain scones with clotted cream and jam or treacle washed down by a pot of tea, traditional in Cornwall to put the jam on first then the clotted cream, unlike Devon who put cream first then jam.
- Cornish Gilliflower is a unique cultivar of apple, that was found in a cottage garden in Truro in early 19th C.
- Cornish fairings biscuits
- Figgy 'obbin - type of raisin cake.
- Saffron Cake - fruit loaf flavoured with saffron, saffron being historically popular in Cornwall
- Hevva Cake - lardy cake made with fruit
- Hogs puddin - a spicy thick white sausage which is sliced then grilled or fried
- Seafood - Cornwall has a long tradition of seafood - specialities include crowled pilchards, salmon cake and fish cream stew
- Squab pie is a mutton pie with a shortcrust pastry lid. It should be made with at least one layer of onions, followed by alternating layers of sliced apples and mutton chops.
- Star Gazey pie, a mixed fish, potato and egg dish with fish heads 'escaping'. The pie is cooked as part of traditional celebrations for Tom Bawcock's Eve, but is not generally eaten at any other time.
- Confectionery - in particular locally produced Fudge, Biscuits (called Fairings) and Rock Candy.
- Yarg is a semi-hard cow's milk cheese made in Cornwall. It is covered around the outside with nettles. Gevrik is a soft, full-fat goat's milk cheese.
Vegetarian food is easy to find in Cornwall - even in tiny towns with just one pub there is frequently a meatless option.
Cornwall has three main breweries which are available to drink in most pubs in Cornwall:
- Skinners. Based in Truro. Tours of the brewery are available for details.
- Sharps. Based in Rock. They have a shop at the brewery for details.
- St Austell Brewery. Based in St Austell. They have a museum and shop, for details
- Swanky beer, Australian-Cornish bottle-conditioned beer which has been reintroduced from South Australia's Copper Triangle (which has one of the largest Cornish communities abroad) back to the homeland. Cider is also popular in the region.
Cornwall is also well known for its production of mead wine (Honey Wine). Because of its climate Cornwall also has a number of vineyards, and produces decent wine not to be sniffed at.
- Camel valley vineyard. Guided tours are available see for details.
Note these festivals tend to not be public holidays and not all are celebrated fully across the Duchy.
- AberFest - is a Celtic cultural festival celebrating “All things” Cornish and Breton that takes place biennially (every two years) in Cornwall at Easter. The AberFest Festival alternates with the Breizh – Kernow Festival that is held in Brandivy and Bignan in (Breizh/Bretagne – France) on the alternate years.
- Allantide - (Cornish Kalan Gwav or Nos Kalan Gwav) is a Cornish festival that was traditionally celebrated on 31 October elsewhere known as Hallowe'en. Since 2009 many of the Allantide traditions are celebrated in Penzance as part of the town's Apple Day celebrations that take place in late October. Bobbing for apples is traditional, and candy Gilliflower apples has become a recent edition for the kids.
- Chewidden Thursday - a festival celebrated by the tin miners of West Cornwall on the last clear Thursday before (i.e. at least one week before) Christmas.
- Furry Dance - also known as Flora Day, takes place in Helston, Cornwall in early May, and is one of the oldest British customs still practised today. The dance is very well attended every year and people travel from all over the world to see it. The local school children take part in the 10am dance and the Midday Dance is with the ladies in long dresses and the gentlemen in suits and top hats.
- Golowan - (sometimes also Goluan or Gol-Jowan) is the Cornish language word for the Midsummer celebrations, widespread prior to the late 19th century and most popular in the Penwith area and in particular Penzance and Newlyn. The celebrations are conducted from the 23rd of June (St John's Eve) to the 28th of June (St Peter's Eve) each year, St Peter's Eve being the more popular in Cornish fishing communities. The celebrations are centred around the lighting of bonfires and fireworks and the performance of associated rituals, it has seen a resurgence with the neo-Pagan movement. Some towns have a street-parade during this period.
- Guldize - ancient harvest festival in Autumn, which involved the 'crying of the neck' ritual where there would be chanting in the corn field. A revived Guldize celebration has been held in Penzance, and since 2010 in several other locations across Cornwall.
- Montol Festival - is an annual heritage, arts and community festival in Penzance, Cornwall held between the 16th and 22nd of December each year
- Mummer's Day - "Darkie Day" as it is sometimes known, is an ancient Cornish midwinter celebration that occurs every year on Boxing Day and New Year's Day in Padstow. Now considered somewhat 'un-PC' as people will paint themselves black.
- Nickanan Night - traditionally held on the Monday before Lent. Sometimes called roguery night in West Cornwall, this event is an excuse for local youths to undertake acts of minor vandalism and play practical jokes on neighbours and family. The name Nickanan may come from the practice of knocking on doors and running away which is known as 'Nick Nack' in some parts of English speaking world. The eating of pea soup and salt bacon is also associated with this date.
- Noze looan - is a style of Cornish-Celtic dance, and associated music and events similar to the Breton Fest, Noz. Noze Looan is late Cornish for "happy night"
- 'Obby 'Oss - held annually on May Day (1 May), mainly in Padstow, where there is large marching bands and traditional music. Attracts large crowds so show up early.
- Royal Cornwall Show, is an agricultural show organised by The Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association, which takes place at the beginning of June each year, at Wadebridge in North Cornwall. The show lasts for three days and attracts approximately 120,000 visitors annually, making it one of Cornwall's major tourist attractions.
- Picrous Day - celebrated by the tin miners of Cornwall on the 2nd Thursday before Christmas. Luxulyan hosts a particular big party.
- Shrove Tuesday Hurling - "Cornish hurling" or "silverball" (Cornish: Hyrlîan) is a medieval game once common throughout Cornwall but now only played in St Columb (Major) and St Ives. The St Columb's game takes place first on Pancake Day (moves around in February) and then again on the Saturday eleven days later. The game involves two teams of several hundred people (the 'townsmen' and the 'countrymen') who endeavour to carry a silver ball made of apple wood to goals set roughly two miles (3 km) apart, making the parish the largest pitch for a ball game anywhere in the world. The annual St. Ives hurling match happens on Feast Monday each February (the feast is on the Sunday nearest to February 3). Hurling also survives as a traditional part of Beating the bounds at Bodmin, played on the Moor every 5 years. The next one is in 2015.
- St Piran's Day - (Cornish: Gool Peran) is the national day of Cornwall, held on 5 March every year. There is large parties widespread across the whole of Cornwall, with people dressing in the black, white and silver national colours. St. Piran's flag represents the Duchy and is the patron saint of tinminers, the largest historic industry of the county.
- Tom Bawcock's Eve - 23rd December, stargazey pies are traditionally consumed on this day. In mythology, pies were seen bizarrarely as the reason the devil stayed out of Cornwall.
Cornwall boast a large range of tourist accommodation, ranging from 5 star luxury hotels to B&Bs, guest houses and hostels. There is also a large number of serviced holiday cottages that can be rented from anything from a long weekend to upwards of a month.
There are Tourist Information Centres (TICs) in most major towns. Theses are normally run by the local council and can check latest availability on the day to save having to phone round a number of B&Bs and guest houses. Note that they are unbiased and won't express an opinion on accommodations, more than giving its tourist board rating and facilities.
- Helpful Holidays. Is a family business with over 600 high quality, inspected holiday cottages in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset.
- Classic Cottages, ☎ +44 1326 555555, e-mail: email@example.com. Established in 1977, with over 750 handpicked and personally inspected holiday cottages throughout Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset.
Visitors to Cornwall should at all times be aware of the unpredictable and dangerous nature of some of the tides and currents around the Cornish coast and seek advice from local lifeguards before swimming or surfing. It should also be noted that there is a small chance of getting great white or tiger sharks off the south coast, but don't let this worry you as they are very very rarely seen, and there have been no known attacks.
Be very alert when driving at night as some roads, especially the A39 in North Cornwall, contain sudden hairpin bends that are deceptively sharp and are not illuminated by street lighting. There is also a risk of running over nocturnal wildlife. Use your headlights' full beam where possible and err on the side of caution.
Newquay in the summer attracts tens of thousands of tourists, and with that inevitably comes increased crime during the months of June, July and August. Particularly assault and muggings occur, usually at night and often down on some of Newquay's many beaches.
Crime rates are mostly low in Cornwall, but there are some impoverished areas of some towns where crime is more common. Occasionally, outsiders can attract attention in local pubs, but this is no worse than in other areas of the country.