Cornwall again…I keep coming back to this place for countless reasons. We are at the end of April, when the weather is everything but summer. Still, a friend asked me: “Hey Andrea, when is the best time to visit Cornwall?”. I smile and so would you if you have lived long enough in England. This guy has only been to London a few times and he seems delighted by my Devon and Cornwall pictures. He obviously never experienced four seasons in one day before. You got to laugh as only now I understand why English people spend so much time talking about the weather. British weather is distinct and I’m tempted to say “unique”. And it’s not just me saying that. Being an island, positioned between the Atlantic Ocean and a large mass, continental Europe, says it all.
Back to our story ...Cornwall
I’d like to start by describing how our first day in the Cornish Land went. But not before mentioning that Cornwall is something you can explore for years and still be able to discover something new. If you ever imagined hundreds of sandy beaches, wild moorland, extremely beautiful coast paths and picturesque harbour villages, it’s not just a dream, it’s Cornwall.
Today after breakfast we decide to visit Fowey, a 20-minute drive from where we’re staying. Fowey is a small but busy port town. Its harbour is flanked by fourteenth-century blockhouses, one in Fowey and one on the opposite side of the river in Polruan. We park at the top of the hill before entering the town centre as access is limited. I know many of you absolutely hate walking but believe me, the proper way to discover this area of outstanding natural beauty is by foot. Besides, it’s cloudy and I love the unique combination of sea and clouds.
As soon as we leave the car park behind, I am fascinated by the charm of this little town. Its narrow and steep streets, pretty cottages, busy port buzzing with yachts and boats, well-maintained gardens, tea rooms, bistros and waterfront cafes serving their best local produce.
Best things to try: crab sandwiches, Fowey River mussels and the freshest catch of the day fish and chips.
Fowey Aquarium – Cornwall
We have children in tow( as per usual, haha), not just our son but one of his friends too. That’s why we decide to pop into Fowey Aquarium, on the Town Quay. On the outside, it reminds me of my childhood, quite old fashioned and no trace of modern advertising. Keeping it old school!
A small aquarium, more suitable for younger children but it has something particular, something that gets even the silly adults involved. And that is why this little aquarium is worth a visit. Did I mention they have a petting pool? I never held a starfish before. There’s always a first, I guess.
The children loved it and so did we. As a bonus, it’s quite affordable if you consider the prices of other aquariums. I believe we have paid 10 pounds for the family. Barg alert!
St. Catherine’s Castle
Immediately after that, because it’s still the middle of the day when the energy level is at its highest, we are heading to a fort built by Henry VIII in the 1530s to defend Fowey Harbour. It’s called St Catherine’s Castle. It takes its name from the rocky headland on which it stands. To me, its position is the cherry on top. This artillery fort stays high above the entrance to the Fowey estuary. You get a spectacular view across the town and harbour. However, for history lovers there is quite a good read in Morley B, Henry VIII and the Development of Coastal Defence (HMSO, London, 1976).
The main highlight is that after it was kept in repair around the Tudor period it was later used in the Crimean War. During World War II, the fort was modified again to form part of a more extensive battery.
To me, it looks amazingly well preserved. Looking at it, you can tell where the gun ports are and also where the spiral staircase used to be.
I love it because kids are fascinated about the Medieval period, for the gorgeous views across the town and even for the workout to get there (20 min walk from the Town Quay through steep narrow streets). Not to mention it’s free entry.
A short break in Cornwall…
Here we are, going back to the harbour, to recharge our batteries in a little cosy café, chatting with other friendly tourists and tasting the local
After stuffing our mouths with crab sandwiches, we go back on the Quay. Here we take one of their local ferries. There’s one every 10 – 15 minutes. It is a short ride (less than 10 minutes), it is used as part of the local transport and it only costs 2 pounds. Therefore, if you have toddlers that can’t be too long on a boat, this is the perfect experience.
The reason behind taking the ferry is that we want to see what it’s like across the harbour from Fowey. Adventure awaits!
We soon find out that this village, called Polruan, is an ancient shipbuilding community. It has such an interesting history but I fall in love with their narrow streets and the beautiful silence.
And you can visit Polruan Blockhouse, a roofless ruin that has been stabilised and the best part, it’s free entry. You can see the remains of the stairs and where the gunports used to be. Great place to hang around for another hour or so.
This is just a small fragment from our trip to Cornwall. In order to clarify with my friend about when is the best time to visit Cornwall… I can loudly say it’s anytime you have time. In other words, it’s when you aren’t rushing when, you’re able to stop and notice the little details. When you can afford to make your way through the coastal paths to find a hidden beach.
That is the best time to visit Cornwall.
See you in my next adventure!