The ancient duchy of Cornwall is located in the far southwestern corner of England. Like Calabria in Italy, Cornwall is, for reasons that are obvious if you consult a map, sometimes referred to as “the Toe.” Situated far from any of the British commercial centers, Cornwall has turned its remoteness into an advantage for visitors by emphasizing its unique culture, spectacular landscape, and mild climate as a soothing alternative to the hustle and bustle of Glasgow, Manchester, or London.
Cornwall is one of the most fascinating holiday destinations in England. It has a close connection to its medieval past, and it is strongly associated with the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table — although you should be forewarned that the very existence of Arthur is hotly debated by historians. According to some sources, Tintagel Castle on the northern coast of Cornwall is the location of Arthur’s conception (but not his birth). Merlin’s Cave is also located very close to Tintagel Castle.
Whether Arthur was real or not, the picturesque traces of medieval life are not in dispute. Reached by traveling through some of Cornwall’s most beautiful countryside, Land’s End very well named, as it truly represents the end of British land in the area. Lanyon Quoit is a very interesting dolmen, or portal tomb, that is only a 10-minute drive from Penzance.
As is true everywhere, the natural grandeur of the region has given way somewhat to modern amusements, but the breathtaking vista of the sea crashing against the craggy rocks remains unparalleled. If you are interested in taking a holiday in Cornwall, a fine place to find accommodations is Sykes Cottags, which has dozens of self-catering cottages available in lovely locales such as Tintagel, Porth, St. Keverne, Newlyn, Helston, Gwithian, Tregony, and Mevagissey. If you want a really special place to stay, consider Mousehole, a lovely Cornish fishing village. Sennen is at the far western tip of the peninsula and the location of an interesting parish church called St Sennen’s Church.
Fans of Gilbert and Sullivan regularly flock to Penzance, location of their most famous operetta The Pirates of Penzance. St. Michael’s Mount is a tidal island very close to the shore – it may remind you a little bit of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The Isles of Scilly are an archipelago located about 30 miles off the western tip of mainland Cornwall. (It has very good transportation links to the mainland.) Its unusual location makes it an extremely good site for birdwatching, particularly vagrant American passerines.
If you love ice cream, you should make a point of visiting Roskilly’s, location of what some argue is the best ice cream in Britain. Witness the creation of delicious ice cream “from cow to cone,” starting with the twice-daily milking the 94-strong herd of Jersey cows responsible for the creamy milk that makes the ice cream so delectable. Try flavors like Blackcurrant Cheesecake or Chocolate Brownie and Marshmallow. There’s really few better ways to savour your holiday in Cornwall, one of the sunniest areas of the UK, then with a delicious ice cream sundae on the beach!
Cornish, or “Kernowek,” is a Brythonic language that is also part of the “insular Celtic” family. Welsh, Cornish, and Breton are very closely related. The progress of the language is very interesting – unlike Welsh, which still is a vibrant language with many speakers, Cornish very nearly died out in the 19th century. In fact, during the 19th century it became a serious academic pursuit to identify the “last speaker of Cornish.” In the 20th century the language became the subject of a serious revival – in the 1980s BBC Radio Cornwall began dedicating short segments to Cornish, and in 2010 UNESCO announced that its classification of Cornish as “extinct” was no longer accurate.