Cornwall Road Trip 101

north cornwall

Cornwall is a roadtrippers dream. With hidden gems nestled along both coastlines and its wild moorland, the only way to truly experience - is with a Cornwall road trip.

There are some fantastic campsites, ample accommodation options and plenty of companies offering campervan hire in Cornwall. So, whatever your budget, you can hit all the best places to visit to Cornwall road trip in style.

Pack your bags, fill up the tank and get ready to hit the road on your very own Cornish adventure.

North Cornwall

Whether you’re a pro-surfer or just fancy trying your luck with a bodyboard, Cornwall’s northern coast is a haven for anyone looking to ride the waves. Bude, Widemouth Bay, Newquay and Hale’s 3 miles of sand (to name just a few) all offer world class waves to test your skills as well as board rentals and surf lesson shops. If surfing isn’t your thing, the swimming, hiking and fabulous pubs will keep you well entertained. Most beaches have great parking facilities so simply pitch up, change into your swimming gear and race into the sea.

The fishing town of Padstow makes a great pit-stop, home to both the start and end of The Camel Trail and a famously foodie destination. While for some modern culture - stop off in St Ives and visit the Tate Art Gallery. If you fancy something significantly less modern - make sure you visit Tintagel, the legendary home of King Arthur! Explore the ancient castle, hike along the cliff edge or trek down to the secluded bay before heading back to indulge at one of the many medieval themed restaurants.

Finally, no Cornwall road trip is complete until you reach Land’s End, the very tip of Cornwall, union of the Atlantic Ocean and the English Channel and the westernmost tip of the country. Aside from the geographical significance, it’s worth reaching Land’s End just to enjoy Sennen Cove. A picturesque little village overlooking one of Cornwall’s most beautiful beaches.

Best North Cornwall Campsites

Widemouth Bay Caravan park boasts a great location, within striking distance of Bude (10-minute drive) and Tintagel (30-minute drive) and walking distance from Widemouth Bay. Despite exuding a real middle-of-the-countryside vibe, the site has a fantastic bar, café and internet access and a summer entertainment program, as well as all the campsite essentials.

For a campsite with a view, you can’t beat Beacon Cottage Farm Holidays. The buzzing city of Newquay is just 30 minutes’ drive away, but the campsite is the epitome of peace and quiet, right in the heart of the Cornish countryside. Situated on a heritage coast, in an area of natural beauty and with the South West Coastal path literally passing by the gate. You overlook the stunning bay of Chapel Porth Beach (a 10-minute walk from the site) and have the picturesque town of St Agnes just 1.5 miles away.

South Cornwall

The North may rule the surf, but the South Coast beaches win the beauty contest. Prepare to take far too many photos as you drive along Cornwall’s Southern edge. Just one example is the exquisite Porthgwarra beach, a tiny secluded cove surrounded by cliffs. Another is Pedn Vounder beach, a stunning bay that looks almost Caribbean on sunny days and is perfect for swimming. Drive from inlet to inlet and discover your own secret gems, you might even get a beach to yourself!

Take a tour of the South Coast’s idyllic seaside towns. Mousehole harbour town is particularly charming, coming complete with a local legend about a cat (and her fisherman friend). St Austell is larger, and a great base, with some fantastic local pubs and its own award-winning brewery.

Make sure you include Marazion and St Michaels Mount. Marazion has its’ own stunning beach and history, it’s Cornwall’s oldest town, while also serving as the gateway to Cornwall’s most famous island. You can reach St Michaels Mount by boat or wait for the tide to recede and trek across the medieval cobbled causeway to explore the islands’ castle, gardens, village and harbour.

The South boasts plenty of historical and modern culture too. The Charlestown Shipwreck & Heritage Center, The lost Gardens of Heligan and the famous Eden Project are all worth stopping for. Particularly special is the Minack Theatre, a world-famous open-air theatre boasting a vibrant program ranging from modern writers to the works of Shakespeare.

Best South Cornwall Campsites

Seaview Gorran Haven has it all. Close to St Austell with its famous brewery and just a 10-minute drive from the Lost Gardens of Heligan, it boasts all the mod-cons including an outdoor pool, football pitch, onsite shops and café. Another spot for camping in Cornwall near a beach, you’ve got a stunning bay within walking distance and the fully serviced campsite includes a toilet block, electricity points and camper’s kitchen.

Another gem in a fantastic location is Bone Valley Holiday Park. The site’s only 30 minutes from the Minack Theatre, 15 minutes from Mousehole and 10 minutes from Marazion and St Michaels Mount. The site sits in a pretty valley with a stream running through and provides electrical hook-ups as well as a kitchen and laundry room. The village of Heamoor is just a short stroll away with its’ pubs, shops and a decent fish and chippy.

Central Cornwall

Sandwiched between North and South coast is Cornwall’s unique wilderness, Bodmin Moor. Dotted with tin mines and infused with mythology the untamed landscape offers genuine adventure for the avid road- trippers.  Buy a copy of the Jamaican Inn and trace the roads past the smuggler landmarks that punctuate the rolling hills. Alternatively, pick up a map of all the best hiking trails and roam the hills in search of a pub lunch.

Central Cornwall has some gorgeous country estates open to the public, many serving cream tea in garden cafés. Take a tour of the Poldark Tin-mine, yes THAT Poldark tin mine from television fame. Or, if you’re looking to get spooked, take on the nighttime tour of Bodmin Jail (not for the faint-hearted).

Best Central Cornwall Campsites

Cornish for “Farm on the Hill’, Gwel-an-nans is a campsite that epitomises rural Cornish life. A working farm is sitting right on the South-Western edge of Bodmin Moor; you’re perfectly located to visit Bodmin jail (15-minute drive), Lanhydrock House (10-minute drive), or the Eden Project (a half hour drive). There are toilets, a wet room and electrical hookups but the campsite is basic, giving you a real feel of the Cornish wilderness.

Some of the UK’s best campsites are in Cornwall, and slightly further South and a little more modern, Calloose Camping and Holiday Park offers snazzy facilities, an onsite shop and a fully serviced campsite. You’re just a 20-minute drive from Poldark mine and neither coast is far away. As part of a holiday park, there’s always plenty going on.

Wild Camping Cornwall

Road-trips and camping make an awesome combo. Nothing quite says “FREEDOM” like the open road and the freedom to just rock up somewhere and spend the night. Cornish campsites are fantastic, but there’s a unique joy to Wild Camping.

It is entirely legal to wild camp on public land during your Cornwall road trip as long as you don’t create an obstacle to passers-by or leave litter at your campsite. It can be tricky to recognise public land, although there are signs. If you stumble onto private land, you are technically trespassing. While some landlords won’t mind, some will so take care.

Renting a camper is now more affordable than a hotel thanks to Yescapa, so why not book your dream camper hire, find a spot with a stunning view, pop on the kettle (or uncork something stronger) and wait for that awesome Cornish sunset!

Joseph T

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