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From the Blog

Postcards from Cornwall: a guide to the county's most iconic photo opportunities

Posted by Bethany Walton on Sep 11, 2021

A local's take on 10 much-loved locations

With 422 miles of coastline, over 300 beaches, plus endless countryside and quiet fishing villages dotted across the county, there's plenty of picturesque places to visit during a holiday in Cornwall. While you’ll have heard of these iconic locations before, we thought we’d let you in on some local insight. From where you’ll find the best photo opportunity to the perfect time to visit, we’ve got plenty of tips and tricks to enhance your trip year-round.

Charlestown Harbour, South Cornwall

© Matt Jessop

Nestled away on the south coast is Charlestown, a tranquil harbourside village loved for its magical maritime history and pretty views stretching across the ocean to Gribbin Head. As you wander down into the picturesque village, you're greeted by the magnificent 18th century harbour lined with tall ships and sparkling lights. Appearing untouched by the years, Charlestown has provided an idyllic backdrop for many well-known films and TV programmes including Poldark. In the autumn months, you may be lucky enough to stumble across a production in full swing.

While visiting Charlestown, be sure to snap a shot of the iconic harbour – a great spot to do this is from just outside Tall Ships Creamery, order an ice cream and enjoy watching the boats below. Or take a seat on the harbour wall to capture a photo of the gentle waves rolling into shore. With pastel-coloured houses dotted along the water, cobbled streets and charming cafés, there’s plenty of picture-perfect shots around every corner.

Where to stay nearby:Beachcombers, Gorran Haven

Kynance Cove, West Cornwall

A guide to Cornwall’s most picturesque locations wouldn’t be complete without Kynance Cove. Sitting on the Lizard Peninsula, Kynance Cove is one of the most photographed, filmed and painted beaches in Cornwall. Known for its turquoise waters, white sands and serpentine rocks, a trip to this part of the county can have you believing you’ve arrived in paradise.

The cove can become very busy in the summer months, so we suggest visiting early in the day for a slow stroll or a morning dip to avoid the crowds. At low tide, take a wander through the caves and snap the perfect shot looking out onto the sparkling ocean from within. Or capture the magic of the two tides meeting below from the top of the grassy headland as you walk back along the winding coastal path back to the car.

With plenty of beautiful stop-offs to make on your way back, head to Coverack just around the coast for an afternoon of wandering through cobbled streets in search of the best scoop of Cornish ice cream. Or take a detour via Porthcurno, the home to The Minack Theatre – a beautiful open-air theatre perched on the cliffs with spectacular views over the ocean. Catch an early evening performance or head to the serene sands of Porthcurno Bay once the sun begins to set.

Tintagel and Boscastle, North Cornwall

Left: Tintagel Castle. Right: Boscastle © Matt Jessop

Steeped in history and local legend, Tintagel and Boscastle are two of Cornwall’s most magical towns. Situated on the rugged north coast, views of the lapping ocean below are truly spectacular. 

The larger of the neighbouring towns, Tintagel lies a mile north of Trebarwith Strand and is known for its links to King Arthur and medieval castle sitting on the clifftops. From the beach, you can capture beautiful shots of Tintagel Castle while the waves crash against the headland below. Or enjoy views over the glistening coastline from the castle's footbridge – a walkway stretching 180 feet above water and connecting the mainland to the island.

While in the area, be sure to pay a visit to the picturesque St Nectan’s Glen. Park in the nearby farmer’s car park and walk down little lanes and into the woodland where you'll find a magnificent 60 foot waterfall spilling into a crystal-clear pool below. To capture the perfect photo, slip on your wellies to walk into the shallow waters and stand beneath the sparkling waterfall.   

Just along the coast from Tintagel lies the beautiful Boscastle - a small village with a collection of houses strung along the road leading down to a tiny harbour. For those unafraid of heights, walk from the village towards the beach and over the headland. From here you can join the South West Coast Path and enjoy elevated sea views from the clifftops. Otherwise, you can get a lovely family photo on the bridge, perfectly framing the harbour behind.

Where to stay nearby: The Yellow Cottage, Trebarwith Strand

Fowey, South Cornwall

© Matt Jessop

With Lostwithiel nearby and Polruan just over the water, Fowey is a charming riverside town known for its jumble of cottages and narrow streets. With ice cream parlours aplenty and sparkling waters, Fowey is as Cornish as they come. 

On sunny days, arrive mid-morning and park at Caffa Mill Car Park – this way you can enjoy walking along the river as the town begins to wake up. As you wander through the high street, dip in and out of small independent shops and marvel at the historic buildings along the water’s edge. Sitting on the River Fowey, the town’s harbour provides spectacular views over Polruan and out to sea, where Lantic Bay sits just around the corner. 

While on the south coast, stop by Polkerris - a small sandy cove perfect for dipping your toes in the shallow waters or watching the sun go down from the beachside pub. 

Newquay Harbour, North Cornwall

Known for its excellent surfing scene and miles of golden beaches, it’s easy to see why Newquay is loved by visitors and locals alike. For a great photo opportunity, join the South West Coast Path from Fistral and follow it over the headland towards Towan Beach. As you follow the path along the water’s edge, you’ll often spot paddle boarders and wild swimmers making the most of the sheltered coves.

After a short walk, steps then descend into the harbour where crystal-clear waters await. Spend an afternoon soaking up the sunshine from the Boathouse’s beachside dining tables, where you’ll find a couple of our favourite foodie pop-ups, Kern and Fat Cat Cornwall, in residence.

If you’ve packed a waterproof camera, enjoy an evening dip and snap some photos of the harbour as golden hour descends. You may even be lucky enough to spot seals swimming amongst the boats!

Wheal Coates, North Cornwall

© Matt Jessop

A former tin mine sitting on the cliff tops between Porthtowan and St Agnes, Wheal Coates is an iconic Cornish landmark. The ruins of the 19th century mine is one of the most spectacular views in the county with wildflowers adorning the cliff and the golden sands below. Recognisable as one of the filming locations in Poldark, the engine house represents Cornwall’s tin mining history perfectly.

The best way to photograph Wheal Coates is to walk the coast path and head right towards the sea where the ruins of the mine will come into view. The path follows in the footsteps of the miners that worked there over 200 years ago, and will take you through the remains of the engine house. Dotted along the coast path are sea-view benches, so you can enjoy flicking through your photographs or snap some more of the waves lapping against the shores below before heading back to the car park.

For those staying in West Cornwall, pay a visit to Wheal Prosper Tin Mine near Praa Sands. Park in Rinsey Car Park and head down the coast path where the old Cornish mine sits looking out towards the rugged Atlantic Coast.

St Michael’s Mount, West Cornwall 

One of Cornwall’s best-known locations, St Michael’s Mount is a special sight, and a must-visit spot in the summer months. The historic castle sits atop a rocky tidal island out on Marazion’s shores. At low tide you can walk from the beach, along the causeway and up to the castle. While here, find a quiet spot on the harbour wall and enjoy views over Mount’s Bay before exploring the castle’s charming grounds and gardens.

Another great way to capture St Michael’s Mount is from water level. While the mount only offers its own boat trips over to the island at high tide when the causeway is covered, there’s nothing stopping you from commandeering a kayak from a local hire company. We recommend visiting Ocean High based on Marazion Beach, to reach the island in style with a truly unique view. 

As a much-loved attraction, St Michael’s Mount can get very busy so we suggest planning ahead and booking in advance.

Where to stay nearby: Ednovean House, Perranuthnoe

Bodmin Moor, North Cornwall

As one of Cornwall’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Bodmin Moor is known for its sweeping grassland, heather and grazing wildlife. A trip to Bodmin Moor is truly captivating, and it’s no surprise it's inspired writers, artists and poets alike.

With plenty of places worth visiting across the moors, including Siblyback Lake, Rough Tor and Golitha Falls, one of our favourite stop-offs is The Cheesewring at Minions. Perfect for a autumnal walk, park at The Huerlers Car Park and follow the path across the moorland to find The Cheesewring, a striking rock formation on top of the hill. Explore the granite rock towers and climb up high to capture photographs of the local moorland ponies grazing below.  

Bedruthan Steps, North Cornwall

Just as special at high and low tide, Bedruthan Steps is a beautiful stretch of coastline just north of Mawgan Porth. Ideal for wintery walks, take to the coast path from Carnewas and peer down at the magnificent rock ‘stepping stones’ on the bay as the cool air whips up the ocean.

As with a lot of Cornwall, the time of day, the weather and size of the waves can have a dramatic impact on the shot you come away with. If you’re staying in the area, it’s worth popping back a few times to see how the coastline changes. Or enjoy a longer walk along the clifftops into Mawgan Porth for pretty views over the golden sands while surfers head out to sea.

Where to stay nearby: Prennek House, Mawgan Porth

St Ives, West Cornwall

Left: St Ives Harbour. Right: The Island.

One of our most-loved towns in West Cornwall, St Ives radiates charm from every corner. As with many Cornish villages, hidden treasures can be found amongst the winding streets. As you wander through, snap photos of the little cottages, independent coffee vendors and bobbing boats in the harbour. Little ones will love borrowing the camera to take photographs through the harbour wall, before choosing their favourite flavour of ice cream from one of the waterside parlours.

Or escape the buzz of the town and take a slow walk up to The Island – not really an island at all, but a grassy peninsula with a 15th century chapel looking out to sea. Take a seat at the lookout point and savour calming views over St Ives Bay, Porthmeor Beach and Godrevy Lighthouse. For an unforgettable end to a Cornish holiday, stroll up in early evening to capture a true ‘wish you were here’ snapshot as the sky turns pink and the day draws to a close.

Where to stay nearby: Shun Lee, St Ives

Visit our Instagram page for more inspiration ahead of your next South West staycation. 

Bethany Walton alt Walton profile image

Posted by Bethany Walton

Beth can usually be found on a Cornish beach or enjoying a swim in the sea. She has great insight about where to visit across the county, plus plenty of recommendations for finding the best Cornish ice cream.

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