In our Bowgie blogs, we let you in on some well-kept Cornish secrets, because we love exploring our beautiful county and all its wonderful variety! In this one we’ve picked our five favourite landmarks in Cornwall for spectacular views – so one for the outdoorsy amongst you!
Gull or Carter’s Rocks at Holywell Bay
Our closest – Holywell Bay has got to be one of our favourite beaches (after Crantock obviously). What makes Holywell so distinctive are the two huge slate Gull Rocks that sit 500 metres out to sea, creating an unbelievably atmospheric backdrop for sunrise walks, fabulous family days out at the beach, and of course, sunset surfs. They’re surrounded by kelp reefs which attract a variety of marine life, including dolphins! The expanse of sand and the unspoilt countryside surrounding the beach means a beautiful, calming view – perfect for a few deep breaths and resetting your head. As an added bonus, at the north end of the beach, there’s a holy well inside a natural cave – formed by a spring, the minerals in the water have created a beautiful cascading series of pools which have built up over the centuries. However, this is only accessible at low tide, and best visited with a torch and an eye to the incoming sea so be careful!
Goonhilly Downs and Earth Station
A bit of a trek this one, way down on the Lizard Peninsula – but definitely worth it in our opinion. In the Cornish language, Goonhilly means “hunting downs”, because the area is a stretch of open moorland. Perfect for a flat, dog-friendly walk, it features a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and is home to rare plants and animals, including Cornish heath – the only place that it grows in the whole of the UK. In the summer you can hear nightjars “churring” at dusk – featuring standing stones, and Croft Pascoe Pool – where legend has it you can see a ghostly ship sailing at night. It’s not only home to natural wonders though – what makes the Goonhilly skyline so spectacular are the gigantic dishes at Goonhilly Earth Satellite Station. Its first antenna, nicknamed Arthur, is 25 meters across and was built in 1962 to link with Telstar, carrying the first live transatlantic television feeds. The dishes there played a part in broadcasting the moon landings, the Olympic games – and are now going to be part of new commercial flights to the Moon!
One of our absolute favourites – and it’s all natural! One of the most spectacular stretches of dramatic coastline on the whole Cornish coast, this long sandy beach is truly iconic. A lot of people think that the steps in Bedruthan Steps refer to the 149 steps down to the sea – but did you know that the name actually refers to the islands dotted along the long sandy beach, used by the giant Bedruthan as he wandered along the coast in Cornwall’s legendary past? The steps even have their own names – from north to south, they’re called Diggory’s Island, Queen Bess Rock, Samaritan Island, Redcove Island and Carnevas Island. Access down the steps is restricted by the National Trust in the winter for safety reasons, but a walk along the clifftop gives you spectacular views all the way up to Trevose Head in the north and to Newquay, St Agnes and beyond to the south.
There aren’t many places in Cornwall where you can see from the rugged and wild north coast to the gentle and sheltered south coast, but Carn Brea is one of them. Rising 738 metres above sea level, the granite of the moor is part of the Cornubian batholith – a geological formation which stretches from the Scillies all the way up to Dartmoor. The area is peppered with mine works and ruins from Cornwall’s industrial past – you can just imagine how busy it might have looked in times past! At the top, two man-made features can be seen from miles around – Carn Brea castle, which was built on top of natural granite boulders as a hunting lodge by the Bassett family (although it’s now a restaurant!), and the Bassett Monument, a 90 foot high granite Celtic cross, erected by public subscription in honour of Francis Bassett, 1st Baron de Dunstanville and Basset in 1836.
Finally, a sheltered river view – beautiful Frenchman’s Creek, hidden away on the Helford River not far from Goonhilly Downs (perhaps you could visit both for a special day out!) The scene of Daphne DuMaurier’s novel of the same name, the creek is so unspoilt that it’s barely changed from the days of Charles II when the novel was set – you can certainly imagine meeting a dashing French pirate around a corner. Surrounded by wooded banks and sloping fields, the trees dip over the tranquil dappled waters to create mesmerising patterns of light and shadow as you wander round the headlands. The river is tidal and attracts a huge range of marine and bird life – from kingfishers to little egrets to seals. Cosy villages with thatched-roof houses complete the picture of the perfect seaside idyll – well worth the visit!