Say hello to South Cornwall: discover the county's quieter coastlinePosted by Sophie Hesp on Updated on
Your guide to South Cornwall
Often referred to as Cornwall’s forgotten corner, the county’s south coast has plenty to explore. Navigate the South West Coast Path to spot dolphins and seals in the sparkling blue waters below, or head to one of the many historic fishing towns and stroll through a labyrinth of streets that weave out to scenic harbours. Fall in love with somewhere new ahead of your next seaside getaway, with inspiration from some of our favourite south coast gems.
Flanked by two steep hills, the lesser-known coastal village of Downderry is as picturesque as its neighbours. Set between Seaton and Portwrinkle, much of its architecture is perched above the lapping tides, offering views of the shingled sands below. Its sheltered bay is the perfect place for the whole family. At low tide, a host of rock pools are exposed and lying not far from the shoreline hidden under the kelp bed, the wreck of the ‘gypsy’ is waiting to be explored by snorkelling fans.
A walker’s paradise, Downderry occupies a central spot between popular neighbouring towns and villages, all of which can be accessed via the coast path. Full of hidden gems, explore the not so well-known Cornish Celtic Way, a long-distance walking route that joins bridleways and back roads to connect walkers to quieter spots. After days exploring, delve in to the village's small but mighty food scene. There are a host of beachfront pubs perfect for enjoying a sundowner, as well as fine dining options at popular tapas restaurant Bewsheas by the Beach.
Where to stay nearby: A unique hideaway, Amar sits above the sparkling shores of Downderry Beach. Beautifully decorated using a colour palette of sea blues and greens, relax from every room as you immerse yourself in coastal life. Complete with a hot tub, pizza oven and games room there are plenty of ways to unwind at this home.
Kingsand and Cawsand
© Baz Richardson via Flickr (left)
Step back in time as you course through the narrow streets and quaint cottages of the twinned villages, Kingsand and Cawsand. Once divided by a county line, Kingsand rejoined Cornwall in 1844 and since then, the two have occupied an envious location, lapped by the waters of the Plymouth Sound.
Once a popular haunt of smugglers, Kingsand Bay is a popular anchorage with boaters. Backed by a distinctive clock tower, launch your paddleboards in the summer from the shore, or alternatively, sit back and relax as you admire shimmering views of the neighbouring bay, Jennycliff. In the evening, explore the pastel-painted 17th century streets of Cawsand. Home to independent shops, restaurants, and pubs, watch the boats anchoring in the bay from this sister village.
© Baz Richardson via Flickr (right)
Flanked by rolling hills and separated by jagged bedrock, the secluded twin coves of Talland Bay are ideal locations for swimming, rock pooling and fishing. The smaller, less sandy Rotterdam Beach is home to the popular Smugglers Rest café, serving a selection of barbeque foods from the smoker which are perfect for a post-swim dinner. With sand at both high and low tide, little ones will love exploring a wealth of rock pools at Talland Sands to discover its inhabitants.
Occupying 865 acres of the Rame Peninsula, Mount Edgcumbe is one of four designated country parks in Cornwall. Surrounded by unspoilt gardens and sprawling woodlands, this Grade I listed landscape incorporates the South West Coast Path, making it easier to explore this part of the county. Dotted with Grade II listed structures, move through layers of gardening history dating back to the 16th century before taking to the house to explore its rich Tudor past.
A recent addition to the park, trek through the grounds with alpacas for a truly unforgettable experience. The walks have been designed for families and last approximately two hours. Alternatively, indulge in a traditional Cornish cream tea at The Orangery Garden Café, placed in the blooming formal gardens.
Nestled at the end of the Roseland Peninsula, this charming fishing village is rich in maritime history. Encompassed by water and rolling fields, St Mawes faces south across the Fal Estuary, making it the ideal destination to relax and enjoy the sea air. Take a boat tour along the estuary and enjoy endless access to small creeks, perfect for picnics. For day trips to Falmouth, board the St Mawes Ferry that runs throughout the year. As you pass the impressive castle of Pendennis, spot dolphins, basking sharks, and seals on occasion, before you make your way into the town’s working docks.
Where to stay nearby: Perched above the Harbour, Cornerways provides the perfect base for exploring the local area. Complete with four beautifully designed bedrooms, a dog-friendly garden and a balcony set high above the ocean, al fresco lunches and sunset-watching await.
© Mike Dales via Flickr (right)
Just south of Looe, this idyllic fishing village has retained much of its original charm, giving its visitors a sense that they have stepped back in time. With its collection of ancient, white-washed fisherman’s cottages and narrow, winding streets, Polperro is still a working fishing port today. Park at the top of the village and take the shuttle down to Lansallos Street for a day of browsing shops full of paintings, pottery, and souvenirs. In the evening, head to the heart of the town for a well-deserved pint of local cider at The Crumplehorn Inn, complete with a restored water mill.
© Adrian Davy via Flickr
Part of Edgcumbe House and owned jointly by Cornwall County and Plymouth City Councils, navigate the wild, windswept beauty of Rame Head. Surmounted by the medieval Saint Michael’s chapel and punctuated by sandy beaches, this headland is perfect for dolphin-spotting, as well as spying cormorants and kestrels. Enjoy panoramic views across Whitsand Bay and Plymouth Sound from this incredible lookout, a perfect stop-off on the South West Coast Path. A popular place to rest, refuel at The Old Bakery and enjoy a well-deserved coffee and pastry.
Running from Portwrinkle in the west to Rame Head in the east, the beaches of Whitsand Bay are never crowded. Framed by dramatic cliffs, this three-mile stretch of golden sands are popular with both walkers and surfers. Accessible via steep and winding paths, there are many coves to choose from to escape the crowds and truly switch off. Lying low on the cliffs, Tregantle Fort occupies an area surrounded by verdant vegetation, overlooking the bay below. Built in 1865 to defend Plymouth, the fort is still used today for Royal Marine training purposes and is a unique feature on this rugged coastline.
One of Cornwall’s lesser known treasures, Gorran Haven is a pretty fishing village that sits two miles south of Mevagissey. Its sheltered bay and calm waters make it a great spot for kayaking and paddle boarding in the quieter months. While taking to the South West Coast Path will reward you with endless sea views and an abundance of cliff-top wildflowers. A handful of gardens and country houses surround Gorran Haven, including Caerhays Castle and The Lost Gardens of Heligan. Both provide peaceful settings to enjoy a wander through the wildflowers as the colours of spring emerge.
© Ben Maffin (left) Kim Haddon via Flickr (right)
Loved by locals for its turquoise waters and mesmerising sunsets, Polkerris is a small village with a sandy south-west facing beach that’s ideal for families. With a local pub, café and seafood restaurant, Polkerris has plenty of options for keen foodies, while its watersports scene continues to grow. For those visiting Cornwall in early May, the swim, run and stand-up paddle board triathlon is not to be missed.
Open to both individual and relay entries, the event features a bracing 750 metre sea swim, a 1.5km paddle towards Gribbin Head and a final dash along the coast path towards the beach, welcoming challengers of all abilities. If you’re more tempted by a day on dry land, Polkerris is perfectly placed to explore surroundings areas like nearby Menabilly and Fowey.
Easter marks the beginning of a new season in Looe, with boat trips running from the thriving harbour town out to the peaceful Looe Island, just a mile off the coast. Climb aboard and embark on a two hour guided tour with Cornwall Wildlife Trust, admiring the island’s beaches and local ruins as you explore. Take a picnic to enjoy in the springtime sun and explore the ruins of Smugglar’s Cottage, Island House and Jetty Cottage on a quintessentially Cornish day out, before returning to Looe for a walk on the beach or a dip in the sea.
Looe is lovely for an evening wander; weave the narrow streets in search of the freshest local seafood or pop into one of the town’s many restaurants to wine and dine.
An unspoilt section of Cornwall’s south coast, Charlestown’s sailing ships and charming Georgian character make it a beautiful haven to while away an afternoon. Situated in the civil parish of St Austell Bay, the port’s appearance on the BBC’s Poldark has seen it grow in recent years, though for many, it remains largely undiscovered.
Charlestown enjoys plenty of bars, restaurants and gift shops, as well as breath-taking views out to sea from its striking harbour wall. The nearby Eden Project is well worth a visit during spring, where it holds a number of workshops and exhibitions to honour the season. Channel your inspiration from Eden’s picturesque surroundings into a three day botanical illustration course from 29th March, or take advantage of free entry on Mother’s Day for a springtime treat.
Home to picture-perfect locations including St Mawes, Portscatho and Gerrans, the beautiful Roseland Peninsula is a sweeping stretch of Cornwall’s south coast dotted with footpaths, woodland and hidden beaches. Perfect for a springtime stroll and with regular passenger ferries to and from Falmouth, the Roseland is well linked to some of Cornwall’s most iconic locations.
For those visiting the area this spring, the Roseland Festival promises a week bursting with fantastic local events, from wine tastings and pottery workshops to live music and guided walks. From the 22nd April to 5th May, the festival is set to take place in various locations across the peninsula, from chapels and quaysides to studios and pubs – the perfect way to experience the south coast this spring. Only 15 minutes away in nearby Gorran Haven, fall in love with Beachcombers and while away blissful balmy evenings by the sea.
Click here to view all our properties in South Cornwall. Including Amar and Cornerways, browse their full image galleries and book your stay online for 2024. For personalised holiday recommendations, get in touch with our Concierge team on 01208 895 570.
Image credits: Baz Richardson via Flickr | Mike Dales via Flickr | Adrian Davy via Flickr | Ben Maffin via Flickr | Kim Haddon via Flickr | All other images are our own.