Penwith & Scilly – Cornwall
Here on the very edge of Britain, sandy coves nestle between granite cliffs that are encrusted with ruined mine workings. The sacred symbols of ancient humans are everywhere, from stone circles overgrown by moorland heather to secluded holy wells by sheltered streams.
The mysterious monuments of this remote peninsula give Penwith an air of magic and mischief. Its special atmosphere may tempt you to dance around stone circles at sunrise, explore undergound fogous by candlelight, or just relax and watch the sun set from an ancient, hilltop fort.
Beyond the cliffs, the ocean stretches almost 30 miles to the exotic Isles of Scilly. Beneath these waves, according to Arthurian legend, is the lost kingdom of Lyonesse. If you can make time for a trip, head for the offshore islands and campsites on St Martins, Bryher or St Agnes and experience amazing beaches, organic food and an absorbingly slow pace of life.
The coves and beaches along Penwith’s sensational, rocky coastline take some finding, but you will be rewarded with pure, white sand and clear water. Warmed by the Gulf Stream, it carries an abundance of sea life, from the harmless basking shark to dolphins and porpoises.
Nanjizal Bay, near Land’s End, feels like the edge of the world. At the north end, three sandstone caves are hunched like gnarled dinosaur claws. At the south, a tall eyelet rock arch – Zawn Pyg or the ‘Song of the Sea’ – shields a low-tide plunge pool and an echoing sea cave. For the perfect beach, head for Pedn Vounder, a dramatic bay protected by towering granite outcrops. In summer, the sandbars and shallow lagoons that form between them warm up in the afternoon sun.
The area has always attracted artists, owing to its remote location and luminous ocean light, and the many unpretentious places to eat or sleep also have a relaxed and creative feel. Try living in a Celtic round house, or eat at one of the many artist’s cafés, but for real gastro flair in a fantastic, wild setting, The Gurnard’s Head is our absolute favourite, every time.