South East Coast of Cornwall
Scattered with scenic fishing villages, lush river valleys and exotic gardens, South East Cornwall's slower sense of pace is reflected by its lulling landscapes and chilled-out atmosphere, making it a top choice for anyone wishing to explore and unwind.
Its magnetic mix of offerings presents something for everyone. From medieval ports like Looe and Polperro to cliffside villages such as Portwrinkle and world-renowned attractions such as Eden Project and Lost Gardens of Heligan, South East Cornwall is steeped in natural beauty and history. Where can we go for a relaxing day out by the sea?
There's a spectacular host of seaside delights dotted along the southern coast.
The stunning twin town of Looe sits astride the river, presenting an enchanted waterland. Whether you settle on the sheltered, family favourite of East Looe Beach or venture westward for the quieter West Looe, or Hannafore Beach, both sides of the estuary offer beautiful beachside venues for all.
Heading west toward Polperro and past Porthallow, you'll encounter the exquisite (and dog-friendly) Talland Bay Beach, while onward still, Polperro will spoil you with smugglers coves, a tidal sea pool and small sandy beach.
Further toward Fowey's famous harbour you'll find a string of stunning seascapes including the wonderfully remote Lantic and Lantivet Bays, and ancient fishing village of Polruan.
At the far southeastern edge of Cornwall's coastline, Portwrinkle signifies the start of the three-mile stretch of golden sands to Rame Head that is, Whitsand Bay. With a lifeguard service and year-round dog access, it is an especially popular option for families, though the paths to the beach are fairly steep.
Portwrinkle itself is home to a harbour and two beaches: Portwrinkle Beach is a popular family destination, while neighbouring Finnygook Beach is a surfers' hangout.
Other beaches near Portwrinkle include the uber pretty, Plaidy Beach and magnificent, Millendreath, along with Seaton and Downderry Beach, which both allow dogs but don't provide lifeguard cover. What about walking in South East Cornwall?
From the jaw-droppingly dramatic, Dodman Point to softly sweeping Lansallos, this section of the South West Coast Path takes in some spellbindingly scenic sights.
Roam South East Cornwall's unique nature reserve surrounding Kilminorth Woods in nearby Looe's interior, or follow the coastal path west toward Talland Bay passing the medieval remains of Lamanna Chapel.
The benefit of the area's myriad of lanes, footpaths and walkways is that you can set your own itinerary and agenda to suit, whether you wish to sightsee along the seaside or venture into the hinterland's hidden greenery.
Other top tracks to consider are along Porthluney Cove (not forgetting to schedule a stop off at Caerhayes Castle), Millendreath and the Monkey Sanctuary (definitely one for the kids), and the gradual ascent to absorb the awe-inspired sea views at the summit of Struddicks. What are the main visitor attractions
Replete with remnants of Cornwall's industrial past, a striking series of natural and manmade attractions unveil the county's rich heritage, one of the most high profile and prolific being the former clay-pits-turned-ecological-phenomenon that is, the Eden Project.
Located near St Austell, the iconic cluster of biomes are home to a hugely diverse range of paradisiacal plant-life along with various artworks, sculptures, events arena and living theatre, where a constantly changing schedule of hands-on activities and exhibitions can be found.
Another incredible Eden esque offering is the sprawling 200-acre sensation of the Lost Gardens of Heligan, where a wealth of the world's botanicals are in breathtaking bloom, from giant palms and banana plantations in the 'Jungle' to glasshouse fruits in the Victorian Productive Gardens. Whether you find yourself amongst woodland or wetland, there's huge scope to sit and admire, engage and explore, and shop and eat to your heart's captivated content. What about other places of interest?
Boasting 150 years in the brewing industry, St Austell Brewery just over the border in Mid Cornwall shares its story through its enticing Visitor Centre. Home to an interactive museum, Victorian Brewery, Hicks Bar and licensed Brewery Shop and Warehouse, visitors can learn about and sample their lip-smacking range of award-winning beers, ciders, lagers and spirits.
Alternatively, The Rail Ale Trail is a train tour from Liskeard of Looe Valley's superb selection of real ales giving you the opportunity to follow the wooded East Looe River while encountering the best rural pubs and top tasting pints en route.
Outdoor activities can be enjoyed throughout the county's countryside core across Bodmin Moor, which includes walking and hiking, cycling, horse riding and inland watersports at Siblyback Lake.
Carnglaze Caverns near Liskeard is a former slate-mine-turned-tourist-attraction offering visitors (and their dogs) the chance to explore its crystalline underground lake and surrounds while discovering its incredible industrial roots.
In addition, the woodland walk passes the terrace garden, quarry wood, walled garden and panoramic zenith over nearby St Neot, throwing up a range of spaces to sit, picnic and explore another example of Cornwall's fascinating heritage.
You can also experience one of Cornwall's distinct mining landscapes that forms part of its renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site at Luxulyan Valley and Charlestown. Take in the Treffry Viaduct, canals, leats and tramways and gather further insight at the local area centre at Wheal Martyn, which houses interactive displays and artefacts amongst 26 acres of idyllic woodland walks.
Visitors can leave the land for an excursion on sea to Looe Island's (otherwise known as St George's Island) marine nature reserve to mingle with a variety of habitats and wildlife and learn about the range of environmental work being undertaken at this stunning offshore haven.
Experience complete escapism just a mile offshore at this oceanic hideout with its total lack of roads, traffic and shops. Instead, it presents a miniature world of adventure and relaxation where you can discover woodland walks and caves alongside safe swimming spots courtesy of two beaches and a natural swimming pool.
And with countryside bolt-holes like Boconnoc House, family attractions such as Tamar Valley Donkey Park and more gorgeous gardens at Trebah and Mt Edgcumbe also in the mix, holidays in South East Cornwall are an incredibly hot prospect.