1. Cornwall, England
With its whitewashed seaside villages and greener-than-green countryside dotted with Celtic ruins, the Cornish peninsula is a hybrid of historical attractions and natural beauty. From its subtropical gardens to its steep cliffs that cascade into the Atlantic, Cornwall has an island feel, and is, in fact, almost an island, nearly separated from the rest of Britain by the Tamar River.
While some of Cornwall’s highways are two-laned, be prepared for narrow roads for most of the route. If you run across an oncoming car, get used to backing up and making room on the road. And when you tire of driving, park your car for a while and explore the tiniest of hamlets and coves by walking along the 630-mile (1,013-kilometer) South West Coastal Path, the longest footpath in Britain.
Start your tour in Penzance with a visit to the ninth-century Penzance Cross, one of Cornwall’s most famous Celtic crosses, located outside the Penlee House Gallery and Museum.
From Penzance, drive some three miles (five kilometers) east to St. Michael’s Mount, which, through history, has been a tin-trading post, pilgrimage site, and military fortress. Climb to the top of the island’s castle and envision approaching ships of the Spanish Armada. To your east is the Lizard Peninsula, blessed with beaches and some of the best pasties in Cornwall. To your west is Penwith Peninsula, dotted with Neolithic sites, and Mounts Bay. At low tide, you can walk right out to St. Michael’s Mount via a causeway; when the water is up, opt for a short ferry ride from Marazion.
From St. Michael’s Mount, a 10-mile (16-kilometer) jaunt along route A394 leads to the market town of Helston. Stop in at The Blue Anchor Inn and for a more tame Helston experience, visit the Helston Folk Museum. Helston is the geographic gateway to the Lizard Peninsula, with its small sandy coves and picturesque villages.
On the Lizard Peninsula, hike or drive less than two miles (3.2 kilometers) to Kynance Cove (follow road A3083), a glorious nook with island-speckled waters and numerous caves.
Make your way across southern Lizard—all four miles of it—to Cadgwith, a fishing village of whitewashed thatched huts and pubs filled with men singing sea shanties. Make time to meander the South West Coastal Path and discover your own favorite Lizard coves and Iron Age villages.
Just 8 miles (13 kilometers) north, Falmouth boasts an array of attractions. Visit the National Maritime Museum for a lesson on Cornwall’s maritime heritage. Head back outdoors for a stroll through Trebah Garden, a 26-acre subtropical ravine, listed as one of the top 80 gardens in the world.
St. Austell, 25 miles northeast of Falmouth, is the most populous city in Cornwall and home to one big-time attraction: the global garden of the Eden Project (just off road A30 at Bodelva. The expansive property features a greenhouse complex the size of over 30 football fields. Educational programs explore the complexities of managing food supplies and waste.
Widely considered the most picturesque fishing village in Cornwall, little Polperro (25 miles east of St. Austell) is a feast for the eyes. Experience a different kind of horsepower with a horse-drawn “bus” from the main car park to the village center, and ride through the narrow alleys. Walk on a classic coastal walk from Polperro to Lansallos (fewer than three miles/five kilometers away), exploring the cliff’s edges by foot.
From Polperro, head some 17 miles (27 kilometers) northwest to Bodmin. Tour the town’s former jail, a 1779 structure built for King George III. The famous Domesday Book, an 11th-century survey of England, and the Crown Jewels were actually lodged in the prison’s walls during World War I. The Bodmin Moor, a unique landscape, also features several attractions made famous by novelist Daphne du Maurier. The 18th-century Jamaica Inn now houses a museum commemorating the author Daphne du Maurier.
Head southwest for about 24 miles on roads A30 and B3285 to the North Coast. The region around Perranporth and St. Agnes is surfing heaven.
A southward shot on roads B3277 and A30 from St. Agnes takes you through former tin and granite mining towns, ancient villages, and exquisite beaches and visit Chysauster (Off road B3311), a 2,000-year-old late Iron Age settlement, with stonewalled homesteads, a house-lined village street, and remains of an underground passage (called fogou).
Continue driving along roads A30 and A3074 to St. Ives, a multiple winner of the Britain in Bloom contest and a famed artist colony. Visit the contemporary Tate St. Ives (Porthmeor Beach), a branch of the more famous Tate Gallery in London. Gaze out from St. Ives’s harbor at Godrevy Lighthouse, made famous by novelist Virginia Woolf.
Below St. Ives, the Penwith Peninsula is speckled with some 400 Celtic sites. Just five miles southwest of St. Ives is Zennor, a good base for exploring two fortified cliffside castles in the region, Gurnards Head and Bosigran Castle. Enjoy the scenery by walking from Gurnards Head (park at Gurnard’s Head Hotel) to Bosigran, 90 minutes by foot.
Southwest of Zennor is Land’s End, the most westerly point of mainland England. One of Cornwall’s most popular outdoor attractions, Land’s End is chock full of museums and gift shops, but the natural beauty here wins out.
Before heading back to Penzance, be sure to stop at Merry Maidens Circle, along the B3315 road that runs from Land’s End. The best preserved late Neolithic site in the U.K., Merry Maidens Circle consists of 19 granite stones that form a perfect circle nearly 78 feet (23 meters) in diameter.
Late spring or summer is the best time to tour Cornwall, as the region’s gardens are in full bloom. The attractions listed below reflect a counterclockwise loop beginning in the town of Penzance, accessible by train via London Paddington.

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I would like to think of myself as a full time traveler. I have been retired since 2006 and in that time have traveled every winter for four to seven months. The months that I am "home", are often also spent on the road, hiking or kayaking. I hope to present a website that describes my travel along with my hiking and sea kayaking experiences.
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