The perfect trip: Cornwall
Kynance Cove on the Lizard Peninsula, England’s most southerly coastline. (Matt Munro)
From the hidden beaches of the Roseland Peninsula to the blustery cliffs of the Lizard, this trip uncovers some of Cornwall’s unmissable experiences.
Bodmin Moor: Best for wilderness
Bodmin Moor begins close to Launceston near the Cornish border, and takes around half an hour to cross by car
It is early morning, and there is not a soul to be seen on Bodmin Moor. A cloak of mist still hangs across the landscape, bathing everything in a hazy grey glow. In the distance, a small herd of wild ponies ambles across the plain, and a few crooked tors are silhouetted against the sky. Otherwise, the moor seems deserted. It is like a forgotten world.
“For me, the moor’s wildness is what makes it beautiful,” smiles Dominic Fairman, a second-generation farmer whose family smallholding sits right at the heart of Bodmin Moor, near Blisland. “We’re only a few miles from the north coast beaches, but we might as well be on another planet,” he adds.
Covering around 80 square miles between Bodmin and Launceston, Bodmin Moor is a corner of Cornwall that few people take the time to explore. It is one of the county’s oldest and most fascinating landscapes: a high heath formed on a ridge of 300 million-year-old granite that’s been weathered by aeons of wind and rain, forming a rugged panorama of scattered boulders, twisted tors and craggy hills.
Unsurprisingly, the moor’s wildness makes it a haven for wildlife, from dormice and otters to skylarks and stonechats, and on sunny days adders and grass snakes can sometimes be seen warming themselves on the bare rocks. Anyone concerned about the legendary Beast of Bodmin Moor should take consolation from a Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries report that concluded there was “no verifiable evidence for the presence of a ‘big cat’”.
The moor is also a draw for hikers who like their landscapes big, wild and empty: from the highest peaks, Brown Willy and Rough Tor, the views stretch all the way from Penwith to Dartmoor on a clear day.
“For me, the moor has a rawness that you can’t find anywhere else in Cornwall,” Dominic says. “There’s a beauty in its emptiness. When I’m away I miss the big skies and open spaces. I feel cooped up in the town, but the minute I turn off the A30 back onto the moor, I know I’m home.”
As he talks, the blanket of cloud that has been cloaking the moor all morning fractures, and shafts of sunlight turn the landscape a rich, tawny gold. The moor lights up in a rainbow of colours; beyond it, on the northern horizon, there’s a faint glint of silver from the distant sea.
Where to eat
Hidden in Cardinham Woods, a few miles from Bodmin, Woods Café serves homemade food using local ingredients (quiches, salads and sandwiches in the summer; stews, sausage rolls and hotpots in winter) and does a mean cream tea. It shuts up shop at 5pm sharp in summer (mains from £6). For evening meals, head to The Blisland Inn.
Where to drink
Ale enthusiasts travel from all over the moor to one-time Campaign for Real Ale “pub of the year”, The Blisland Inn. Toby jugs, beer mats and vintage photos adorn the walls, and there are at least seven ales and a local scrumpy on tap. A blackboard tallies the total number of different brews served since the owners arrived – nearly 3,000 at the last count (drinks from £2; meals from £6.50; 01208 850739).
Where to stay: Trevenna
This secluded barn complex boasts a level of design that could put many top-end hotels to shame. The barns range in size, sleeping from two to eight: all have the same open-plan feel, with A-frame beams and exposed stone walls left in situ to provide rustic character (barns from £120 per night; 01579 320 013)
For more details on Bodmin, visit bodminlive.com.
The Roseland Peninsula: Best for beaches
The Roseland is southwest of Bodmin, 45 minutes by car