Cornwall’s east coast was an extraordinary solo-travel adventure. I found outstanding people, places, and lots of unexpected.
When you hear Cornwall, England the name might bring images of wild seas crashing against towering cliffs. Vast brooding heaths where highwaymen wait for unsuspecting travelers. Cornish pasties, cream tea, and Cornish Yarg hold court at the table. The highwaymen and pirates are long gone, but the wild Cornish Coast endures. Exploring Cornwall’s east coast was one of my most extraordinary solo travel adventures. GPS and my phone were all that kept me and my little rental car on track. However, driving on the left with standard shift and right-hand drive proved more challenging than expected. I took more wrong turns than you can imagine. As a result, I became a U-Turn Master.
The cool thing about being perpetually lost—I found some outstanding people, places, and several things that weren’t on my agenda.
The Cornwall Hotel Spa and Estate is a Great Place to Stay when Exploring Cornwall’s East Coast
Finding a place to call home while exploring Cornwall’s East Coast is vital. I like to settle into one hotel and make excursions up and down the coast, to and from one locale. The Cornwall Hotel Spa and Estate is ideal. The Cornwall is near Highway A390, which runs down the east side of Cornwall. In addition, it has arteries leading to the smaller villages on the coast.
The Cornwall has a variety of accommodations. You’ll find hotel rooms, suites, and fully equipped woodland lodges perfect for a family getaway. A full-service restaurant and bar prepare three meals a day, including room service. The Sunday Roast was my favorite meal. It’s a traditional Sunday dinner that includes roast meat and potatoes, veggies, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, gravy, and of course, dessert.
The hotel contains a full-service spa, indoor pool, tennis courts, and a children’s playground. Parking is included with your stay.
The Fishing Village of Mevagissey
Looking west and up the steep valley, lights dot the hillsides as the sun sets. Cafes and pubs are lively spots for food, drink, and conversation on the harbor’s edge. The customers are a mix of locals, ex-pats, tourists, and hikers passing through while hiking the Cornish Coastal Path.
The last fishing boat for the evening passes through the stone gates. A fisherman tosses a line over a large brass cleat and goes about securing the vessel. People pack gear and admire their catch next to the lighthouse along the quay before heading home. Finally, a bay-tour boat unloads a few passengers, returning from the last trip for the day.
For a while, there’s a warm buzz in the harbor. When the sun drops behind the hill, the air turns damp and chilly; folks say their goodbyes and head for home, hotel, or boat. The occasional gull screeches, a boat bumps the wharf’s edge and strains at the ropes. The harbor is quiet.
Even if you haven’t been to the small fishing village Mevagissey, you’ve probably seen it in a movie or British TV show. It may look like a movie set, but it is authentic. This quaint working harbor took shape in 1774 when the first harbor walls were built. Although the gigantic Pilcher fishing catches are no more, fishermen still go out to sea daily, weather permitting.
A folk museum, aquarium, lighthouse, boat tours, and fishing boats are surrounded by small pubs, cafes, and shops. There is no parking in the harbor. Park on the outskirts of the village in the only large lot in the area. It’s a short walk to the harbor.
Tregothnan on Cornwall’s East Coast
The Boscawen family home since 1334, Tregothnan, is a working estate. And much to everyone’s surprise, Tregothnan is home to England’s only tea plantation. Camellia Sinensis, the Chinese Tea Plant, grows in terraced gardens. The tea is harvested and prepared for use in The Trading Shed across the drive from the tea room.
Tregothnan also has a botanical garden covering most of the estate. Much of the garden is tropical, very unusual for England. Warm, moist Gulfstream breezes from the sea, eight miles south give the property a tropical climate. Palms, ferns, tea plants, cork trees, and rhododendrons are imports from the tropics. You’ll also see plants that are close to extinction. In Tregothnan, they are protected from harm and exploitation.
A Tea Room and The Trading Shed are open M-F, 9-5. Purchase estate tea and produce. Car parking, washrooms, and picnic tables are available. Check the website for the current offerings of classes, special tea events, and seasonal produce. Tours of the gardens are by appointment. Call +44 (0) 1872 520000 at least 24 hours in advance.
Visit Eden Project
Eden Project’s Mission—We are an educational charity and social enterprise. Our global mission is to create a movement that builds relationships between people and the natural world to demonstrate the power of working together for the benefit of all living things.
Visiting this formerly abandoned china clay pit will be the highlight of your Cornwall visit. The iconic biomes are dazzling from the outside, but inside they are verdant tropical and Mediterranean paradises.
A zip line runs over the top of the biomes, with adventurous visitors whizzing by every few minutes. Food and landscape gardens cover every inch of the ground. Many of the plots are testing new varieties or different growing methods. All are for your enjoyment and education.
Eden has more to do than walk through gardens. There are ever-changing exhibits and activities. It’s a great place to take children that love to explore. Walking along Eden paths, you’ll encounter truck-sized bumble bees, ten-foot metal flowers, waterfalls, and treehouses.
There is a garden shop selling all types of plants and gardening gear. The book store and gift shop have quality nature-themed and sustainable merchandise fair-traded from around the globe. Bring a picnic or stop in the food court for a snack, beverage, or meal.
There is not a hotel at Eden. However, modern hostile lodging made from shipping containers or safari tent camping is available on the property through YHA.
The Eden Project is located in Bodelva, Cornwall, England, and is open every day except Christmas. The hours vary seasonally. Admission ranges from free to $50. Find directions for auto, train, bus, and cycle on the website.
Exploring Falmouth on Cornwall’s East Coast
One of the highlights when exploring Cornwall’s east coast was the time I spent in Falmouth. Falmouth sits on a peninsula overlooking Falmouth Bay and the English Channel. Falmouth is an important port town. In fact, it was so important that back in 1540, King Henry VIII built Pendennis Castle here to defend the area.
Lodging in Falmouth
The Greenbank Hotel is a delightful place to stay or stop in for a meal. Lovely spacious rooms have views of Falmouth Harbor. I loved sitting in my room’s bay window, watching the boat and water taxi traffic moving past. I only wish I could have moved the enormous soaking tub from the bathroom to the bay window for a soak, glass of wine, and captivating view.
The restaurant and bar offer local favorites for eats and libations. The fish and chips were served with mushy peas, one of my favorites. One evening, I had Shepherd’s Pie in the bar, some of my favorite pub food. The Greenbank is located at Harbourside, Falmouth, Cornwall, England.
Walk to Town
A walk around Falmouth is the perfect way to begin your exploration. Along High Street, you’ll find an eclectic collection of shops, markets, pubs, and restaurants serving and selling Cornish brands for everything.
This part of Falmouth is high above the harbor. As you walk along, there is the occasional opening between shops. The spaces give you a peek-a-boo view of the harbor and the assortment of watercraft that work in this beautiful setting.
National Maritime Museum
Falmouth has a long and vibrant maritime history. The harbor has sheltered everything from pleasure craft to warships. The National Maritime Museum offers permanent and changing exhibits to show you the ancient relationship between the Cornish and the sea. The museum is located on the Falmouth Discovery Quay. Find directions for every type of transportation to the museum here.
Ferry to St. Mawes
Ferries and water taxis are popular modes of transportation in Falmouth. Small passenger-only ferries frequently transport people and bikes to towns and villages on the opposite shore. St. Mawes, a small fishing village, is a lovely spot for a superior seafood lunch or dinner and a nice boat ride across the harbor.
There are several other destinations via ferry. Learn more about this scenic and inexpensive way to tour the Fal River and harbor. Destinations, schedules, and tickets can be found on the Fal River website.
Discover Cornwall’s Helford River
Budock Vean Resort Hotel is a resort and golf club on the Helford River. This 4-Star resort has hotel rooms or fully-equipped cottages for those who love cooking.
The list of activities includes golf, tennis, swimming, boating, fishing, walking, cycling, and a full-service spa. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with traditional European food and service.
This historic and stunning property is beautifully maintained. Whether a spa massage, round of golf, or a picnic by the river, Burdock Vean is where to unplug and unwind while soaking up the Cornish countryside.
Trebah is another of Cornwall’s tropical gardens. Sitting along the Helford River, Trebah has over four miles of trails passing through tropical vegetation thriving in the warm, humid microclimate created by the Gulf Stream, influencing the environment as it passes by the coast.
Trebah is open year-round and is accessible to all abilities. The gift shop and museum present the history of the gardens. A cafe has food and beverage that can be enjoyed indoors or outside in one of the picnic areas.
Trebah also hosts outdoor performances. I enjoyed a musical that took place in different parts of the garden. Guests wore headsets as they strolled along so they could hear the live performance and musical numbers. It was enchanting and ended with a sunset glass of wine at the riverside.
Trebah Garden is a do-not-miss Cornwall treasure. Open every day, you will find hours, special events, and ticket purchasing on the website.
Getting to Cornwall
Cornwall is about 250 miles from London. Therefore, a car or driver is the most convenient mode of transport. However, there are trains and buses if you have the time.
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Soak up the Charm of Cornwall’s East Coast
Cornwall is a county in the southwest of England. The coastline ranges from wild and rugged, to beautiful sand beaches. Sometimes called the Cornish Riviera, the scenery along the east coast of Cornwall is unforgettable. This part of England is lightly populated, filled with history, tradition, and marvelously friendly people. The charm of Cornwall won’t disappoint.
So, whether it’s a solo getaway or a bucket list trip of a lifetime, let Wander help you plan your next destination travel adventure.