UK Driving Tour: Cornwall
Day 1: Depart from Greater London for a journey towards the end of England. This is deep Cornwall, the extended finger of land that touches the warmer Gulf Stream currents, creating an almost subtropical paradise in the height of summer.
Arriving in Penzance feels like arriving at the end of the world, as indeed, it is the westernmost city in Cornwall. Rife with a history of piracy and ghost hauntings, the ancient mystery is as palpable as the aroma of bougainvillea blossoms in the air. Settle into the slower pace of life with a harbour-front dinner in the diminutive town of Mousehole, where seafood is as fresh at it comes.
Day 2: Begin your explorations with a scenic rail journey along the northern coast from St Erth to St Ives. Though only a short journey, the views along the tidal flats are exceptional, where exotic birds flock to nest and feed. Explore St Ives’ twisted lanes, poking in among the many galleries and antique shops, or simply enjoy a walk along the seawall while savouring fresh Cornish ice-cream.
Back on the opposite side of the peninsula, take in sweeping harbour views in the evening on a sailboat journey from Penzance. An hour-long discovery tour aboard a twin-hulled catamaran takes in sunset views from the south rocky coastline with basking harbour seals to the holy tidal island of St Michael’s mount.
Day 3: After a view of the holy island from the bay, take the journey onto the island itself the following morning. Tides dependent, you can either journey on foot or by motorboat. Climb the winding paths among the lush gardens to the summit castle and chapel: the terrace views are excellent, and it’s easy to imagine high-brow cocktail parties taking place among the parapets and gargoyles.
Slow things down with an afternoon visit to the Polgoon winery, set amidst green acres on the edge of Penzance. Young and bright, the reds and whites prove that British winemaking is not all sour grapes. Grab a bottle or two to crack open later in the evening as you enjoy sunset over Land’s End — the south-westerly most point on the UK mainland.
For theatre lovers, the open air Minack Theatre is carved from the rock face overlooking the Atlantic. Bundle up warm for an evening performance of local dramatic arts. Or for the mystical at heart, stop by Cairn Euny Iron Age village and wander the barrows and homes under the rising moonlight — if you dare.
Day 4: Awake to set sail aboard the ferry to the Isles of Scilly for a day’s journey to the archipelago that guards the mouth of the English Channel. With forts and tall ships and white sands, strolling the islands feels more like the Caribbean than the UK. And with good reason: Star Castle, crowning the hill overlooking Hugh Town, dates from 1593 — at the start of Britain’s colonial expansion into the Caribbean.
Day 5: For the physically adventurous, hire a bicycle near Cambourne and pedal-power your way across the Cornish peninsula in an afternoon. As you travel along the ridges and valleys, you’ll pedal past some of Cornwall’s most important history — the abandoned tin mines, from which Cornwall once made it’s money. Refuel at pubs en route while enjoying views of aqueducts and nature reserves sprung up amongst crumbling Victorian smokestacks and smelting furnaces. If you’re less inclined to cycle, head towards St Austell to the incomparable Eden Project, home of the world’s largest rainforest in captivity and a centre for eco-friendly education.
Location: Cornwall, England
Recommended Journey Length: 5 days, plus travel time to / from Penzance
Suggested Accommodation: Trereife House, a historic Queen Anne-style manor home
Estimated cost from London: £650/person*
*Prices are purely for guideline purposes, based on the listed itinerary and a minimum of 2 people sharing accommodation. Subject to variation according to group size and chosen activities.