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Cornwall out of season – there’s no such thing!


Malcolm Bassett-Smith finally lets it slip out… it’s a secret he has kept to himself for many years, but the truth is – Cornwall without tourists is fabulous!


I fully expect to be fixed to the Cornish equivalent of a gibbet for saying this, as it’s the one thing Cornish folk have kept to themselves since time began.  Cornwall between September and March is stunning on every level.


Weatherwise it can rain, but usually less than most other parts of the UK, but mixed in with that rain is the brightest sunshine you can imagine warming the lush green moors and fields of this extreme corner of England.  And the temperature is usually a few degrees warmer than that experienced throughout the rest of England.


And we have lots of A’s here –


Attractions – you name it and we’ve got it, from smugglers’ pubs, to romantic harbours, to nature parks, to wildlife, to Biopods (Eden Project), to whale watching, to shark fishing, to museums (on that odd wet day), to castles and fortresses, to the cleanest, deserted beaches you could ever dream of and to a million places to let the family dogs run wild.


Amusements – we’ve got these as well!  Theme parks (although please don’t expect anything on the scale of Disney), freaky parks where you find pixies and other strange things, cliff-hugging theatres, (semi) working mines, more surfing than you thought ever existed, boat trips and flying lessons.  It’s worth noting here that more and more attractions are offering free re-entry with your tickets, over the space of a week (in some cases all season) which is a massive plus if you are tripping out on a budget and you have a car full of children to keep happy.  Check the web sites of potential attractions in advance of setting off.


Children tend to rediscover the more gentle ways of having fun, from football and sand castles on the beach, scrambling around on the rock pools seeking out shrimps and crabs, swinging from tree branches and seeking out squirrels and otters in the nature parks – all the things that don’t require batteries and remain fond memories for the rest of their lives.  Don’t bother try counting their smiles – your calculator will simply run out of battery life!


Accommodation – Cornwall boasts a wide and varying range from the cosiest B&B with roaring log fires through the complete range to the top-notch spa hotels where you can be pampered like a princess and treated like a king.  And, of course being in Cornwall without millions of tourists means you are not fighting for service or attention anywhere and the rates can be rather attractive, especially if you do a bit of haggling in advance, because believe me there is always tons of capacity out of season.


Being ‘out of season’ means the holiday parks are pretty much all closed, so no being stuck behind caravans or RVs for hours on end.  And here’s a top tip: there are a huge number of deals to be done with holiday homes.  Regardless as to what the operators and booking agents may tell you on the phone – there are thousands lying empty out of season and in the main they command the best locations!


You will find you don’t have to be clever here in Cornwall, just open a map, close your eyes and stick a pin in it.  It’s pretty much guaranteed you will come up with a hidden gem which you haven’t visited before, somewhere with history, culture, fun and frolicking, animals to stroke, fish to catch and beer or cider to drink.  There is Cornish wine as well if you are posh and if your drink of choice comes from a china cup, then yes there is Cornish tea and what could possibly be better than a cream tea to back it up.


The biggest plus is that getting around the county is so easy compared to summer, no queues to get to the best spots, although on weekends you may still have to look hard for the parking spaces if you stick to the mega popular places such as St Ives, the Lizard and Newquay.  But in the main it is a joy to get around Cornwall.  Unlike so many holidays there is no excuse for doing the same thing twice if you don’t want to as Cornwall offers something new and exciting around every corner.


Your options in terms of travel are quite open.  There are flights into Newquay (Intergalactic) Airport with flybe from several points in the UK, but as schedules change it is as well checking on what flights are operating on their web site well in advance (www.flybe.com).


If you are a train enthusiast there are frequent services operated by First Great Western (www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk) from Paddington Station (stopping at Reading and Bristol) that serve all the major towns between Exeter and Penzance.  And, of course, there is the family car.  If you are using your car beware when using the satnav.  Mine does point me down some pretty narrow lanes, so make sure your settings favour the larger roads.


And if you discover where I live, I might just treat you to a proper pasty, a pint of Tribute and some tales of dark doings with them Wreckers, Smugglers and Revenue men!




•Shop around for rail prices and book as well in advance as possible, www.thetrainline.com  

•For flights in and out of Newquay go to www.flybe.com

•For information on Cornwall go to www.visitcornwall.com

•The Cornish name for Cornwall is Kernow

•Cornishmen are proud to display the flag of St Piran on their cars and houses

•You know you have reached Cornwall when you hear the locals talking funny




 Malcolm Bassett-Smith


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