English Heritage in Cornwall
Places to visit in Cornwall
A magical day out with its wonderful location. Set high on the rugged North Cornwall coast, it offers dramatic views, fascinating ruins and a stunning beach café.
St Mawes Castle
Among the best-preserved of Henry VIII’s coastal artillery fortresses, and the most elaborately decorated of them all.
Set in Falmouth, it is one of the finest fortresses built by Henry VIII. It has seen action in many conflicts and was one of the last royalist strongholds to fall during the English Civil War.
Set high up, it dominates the surrounding landscape. Dating back to just after the Norman Conquest, unusual in that during rebuilding, one tower was constructed with the remains of the older.
Chysauster Ancient Village
Where the houses line a ‘village street’ and each had an open central courtyard surrounded by a number of thatched rooms.
Great 13th-century circular shell-keep of Restormel, still encloses the principal rooms of the castle in remarkably good condition, standing on an earlier Norman mound surrounded by a deep dry ditch.
St Breock Downs Monolith
Originally 5 metres (16 feet) high and weighing some 16.75 tonnes, this is Cornwall’s largest and heaviest prehistoric monolith. It stands on the summit of St Breock Downs, offering wonderful views.
Roofed and walled in stone, this complex of passages is the largest and best-preserved of several mysterious underground tunnels associated with Cornish Iron Age settlements.
St Catherine’s Castle
One of a pair of small artillery forts built by Henry VIII in the 1530s to defend Fowey Harbour, consisting of two storeys with gun ports at ground level.
A well-preserved and impressive Neolithic ‘dolmen’ burial chamber which stands 2.7 metres (8.9 ft) high. There are five standing stones, surmounted by a huge capstone.
English Heritage – it pays to be honest (about your age)
I never thought that I would be happy to reach 60 and always thought that I would lie about my age, but last month I joined English Heritage and when I found that my husband and I could save £26 by admitting to our ages – no contest!
We can now visit hundreds of English Heritage properties and when we visited Cornwall recently we managed several castles and a monolith. We based ourselves at Watergate Bay which is just foodie heaven – we treated ourselves to breakfast at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant and then set off to visit Pendennis Castle near Falmouth. You need about 2 – 3 hours there to do it justice. There was plenty to see and the views over the Fal estuary were stunning.
After a reviving cuppa at the tea room, we took the passenger ferry from Falmouth across to St Mawes castle, it was quite a walk but the weather was glorious. St Mawes castle also dates back to Henry VIII’s days but we had had enough history lessons for the day, so we sat in the gardens for a while before setting off to get back on the ferry to Falmouth. There’s something about a ferry ride in the warm sun; it somehow seems such an adventure and reminiscent of childhood days.
The next day we decided to go north so we first went to Wadebridge to visit St Breock Downs monolith and that is one impressive lump of rock! We clambered up to take photos from the summit of the Downs and back down again (no time to hang around) as we had another castle to visit nearby, just 13 miles to Tintagel.
This is the legendary birthplace of King Arthur and really is a magical place. We were really getting our money’s worth from our EH membership as we went to Merlin’s cave and across to the island, before finding the tea room. When in Cornwall, you have to try the local crab sandwiches and a traditional cream tea, but we really deserved them.
On the last day of our stay, we simply relaxed by wandering from Watergate Bay to Newquay along the cliff top path. It’s only a couple of miles with as much fresh air, wild flowers and sea birds that you could wish for. There is so much to see and do in Cornwall, we will be back.
Guest Blogger: Lynda George