Written by Hugh Collins
Earlier this year we launched a competition asking you to submit your own Perfect Day in Cornwall. We wanted to hear your tips on where to go and what to see, and what makes the county special to you.
We receieved some wonderful entries which were passed over to Kirsty Fergusson, author of our Slow Travel Cornwall guide, for judging. Her comments and the winning entry can be found below:
“It was a real pleasure to read so many varied accounts of what makes a perfect day in Cornwall and each one of the entries (which included a lovely poem) deserves a prize. It was a very tough call, but in the end, Jude’s description of the Slow pleasures to be enjoyed along the road that follows the north coast from St Just in Penrith to St Ives emerged as a clear winner. Jude caught the spirit of the place both in essence and close up description – I felt I was there!” Kirsty Fergusson
My perfect day would be to explore the rugged coastline and former industrial landscape between St Just and St Ives. West Penwith has a very different character to the rest of Cornwall; it feels almost like an island. Remote villages and hamlets are strung along one of the most beautiful roads in the county. Drive past rows of sturdy granite-built terraced cottages in the treeless, bleak, bare, beautiful empty landscape.
Travelling by road is slow. Tractors, buses, German campervans, French motorhomes; sharp bends, unforgiving granite walls; crumbling engine houses, carns, views across the patchwork arable fields, bleak moorland, gravel lay-bys barely big enough to fit two cars in, a maze of hidden lanes and paths and tiny trout streams trickling down to the aquamarine coloured coast. You will be forever reversing into too tight spots and hearing the hedgerow whip the wing mirror as you squeeze past a vehicle coming from the other direction.
If you start in St Just then you must have breakfast or brunch at the Cook Book around the corner from the Clock Tower, but do try to resist buying several books from the collections upstairs, then creep slowly into lush Cots Valley, or steeply down to Cape Cornwall where the views of the coastline stretch to Land’s End; explore the abandoned Levant Mines being careful not to fall down any holes; drive down to Pendeen Watch and, if you have the energy, walk to the secluded Portheras Cove.
Or drive into St Ives to visit the Tate Modern or the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden (or do both if you have the time), buy the hottest chilli olives ever from the Allotment Deli on Fore Street and greedily drink in all the talented artwork in the many studios and galleries. Spend time on one of the three beautiful beaches, have lunch outside on the terrace of a beach café. Admire the view.
The scenery will take your breath away, or rather allow you to breathe, to be as one with the land. No fast cars, no noise pollution, just incredible views, and glimpses of the sea. All around you. A buzzard. A hawk. A gull gliding on the thermals above your head. Hedgerows full of colour, bright blue sheep’s-bit, eggyellow birds trefoil, pale pink thrift in huge drifts across the granite walls and clifftops. Clouds of frothy cow parsley and wild carrot. And foxgloves everywhere, great, huge banks of them backlit by the evening sun.
The landscape is enchanting, where the sea and the sky become one, a land littered with history, where the past is always present. Watch out for old milestones and signposts, pull into a lay-by and scamper up a hill just to see the view or look for an ancient monument or even a mermaid.
A setting sun over the sea and a full moon rising in the east. End your day with dinner at one of the many pubs along the road. Seafood, fresh fish or a bowl of mussels. Perfect.