Cornwall, like many counties on the edge of the British Isles, has a unique identity rather like Norfolk at the opposite end of the country. But Cornwall isn’t just a county, in fact, some Cornish people would say it isn’t a county at all but it was a Kingdom and it is certainly also a Duchy.
Cornwall has always been a separate and special place, so vastly different from its immediate neighbour, Devon. Once you cross the Tamar, the river that marks the border between Devon and Cornwall, you will feel the difference. Cornwall is not England.
In the middle years of the 20th century, Cornwall was at risk of disappearing into a well of mediocrity and unfashionableness as the continental package holiday held sway; suddenly, bucket and spade holidays in the UK were a thing of the past. But, rather like Wales and Scotland, Cornwall has majored on its distinctiveness and now the flag of St. Piran is everywhere, on car stickers, fridge magnets and fluttering from the tops of Cornish civic buildings. The Cornish language which was virtually dead in the water now receives government funding for lessons in schools and even appears on road signs up the top end of the A30 near the Devon border. Every new housing development has signage in English and Cornish. That sense of separateness is growing bigger by the day.
Perhaps the sense of distinction is because Cornwall is surrounded on all sides by water, the sea on three sides and the River Tamar on the fourth. Throughout the last 1,000 years, the rulers of England didn’t make many inroads into subduing or managing Cornwall. The 21st-century visitor will feel the sense of Cornishness once they cross the Tamar and begin to see the difference in place names, a real survival of Cornishness from earlier centuries. There is an abundance of saints in the county adding to the legacy of mythology and the Celtic vibe which does not exist east of the border in Devon. Parts of Cornwall are rich in standing stones and stone circles which gives this place a sense of other worldliness which is only confirmed by the staggering beautiful coastline. It is no wonder that so many people begin a love affair with Cornwall once they have visited on holiday.
The essence of Cornwall was captured by a famous group of artists in the 1930s, that and the extension of Victorian railway lines put Cornwall firmly on the tourist map until the later years of the 20th century when cheap package holidays lured travellers overseas instead. But Cornwall and Cornishness are on the ascendancy and this has put if firmly back on the radar for many former visitors plus some new ones too. Cornwall is not a big area, no more than 80 miles in length but it is a different world. Many tourists visit for the coast but the real Cornwall actually lies inland. So what does Cornwall hold for the visitor?
Here are six things which make Cornwall really special
- The dramatic coastline, rugged, spectacular beaches on the North Coast, tranquil, sheltered picturesque coves on the South Coast
- Captivating fishing harbours
- Cornwall is an adventure playground for those who love anything connected with water – fishing, sailing, swimming and surfing
- There are two vast and varied coastlines to choose between and never are you anywhere more than 20 miles from the sea
- Cornwall is on the eastern edge of the Gulf Stream and enjoys an exceptionally mild and temperate climate so it is no coincidence that it is full of beautiful subtropical gardens
- Cornwall is famed for its delicious cream teas and tasty Cornish pasties
- A huge selection of incredible holiday homes and cottages to stay in – just check out these holiday cottages in St Ives!