Coast’s Choice: Cornwall

We’ve reached the south west corner of the UK on our Coast’s Choice journey and this week we’ll be looking at places to visit in Cornwall.

As the county is a popular holiday destination, you may be familiar with many of its attractions already – The Eden Project, Falmouth, St. Michael’s Mount and Tintagel Castle to name a few – so we’ve picked five days out that you may not have thought of before.

Bodmin Jail

Although originally built for King George III in 1779, the imposing building that stands on the edge of Bodmin moor today was constructed by prisoners in the 1850s using 20,000 tons of granite from the nearby Cuckoo Quarry.

Bodmil Jail was a functioning prison until the early 1920s, although one of its most important roles came during the Second World War when it housed the Doomsday Book and important state papers.

The jail was the site of more than 60 executions between 1735 and 1909, and its ‘long drop’ and gallows were restored in 2005 to make it the only working execution pit in the UK. The execution pit, jail grounds and artefacts room are free of charge to look around, while in-depth tours of the jail – including access to an exhibition of its history spread over six floors – are available for £6.50 for adults and £4.50 for children.

Brave visitors can conjure up the spirits of convicts past with an overnight ghost walk or enjoy a paranormal dining experience in Bodmin Jail’s celebrated restaurant. Normal service is also available for lunch and dinner!

The jail is open all year round from 10.00am – dusk, the restaurant serves food from midday until 9.00pm. Click here to find out more.

Nearest caravan site: 2 miles

Charlestown Shipwreck & Heritage Centre

Surrounded by the English Channel and the Celtic Sea, Cornwall has seen many a ship wrecked on its coastline. The Charlestown Centre has spent 50 years bringing together some of the most intriguing artefacts washed up on the county’s shores in a truly unique collection of historical objects.

The museum features exhibits from over 150 shipwrecks along with information on Cornwall’s maritime history. It also features one of the UK’s largest underwater diving equipment displays.

In 2012, Charlestown will host an exhibition to mark 100 years of RMS Titanic’s sinking, re-telling its fascinating story including objects associated with the doomed liner.

Outdoor attractions include a German armoured dress diving suit used in the 1920s and a 37ft Oakley Class Royal Naval Lifeboat, last stationed at Scarborough. There is also a viewing gallery over the harbour. More information is available via the Centre’s official website.

Charlestown Shipwreck & Heritage Centre is open from 1st March – 31st October, 10am – 5.00pm. Admission costs £5.95 for adults and children under 10 years old get in free when accompanied by a full paying adult.

Nearest caravan site: 2.3 miles

Jubilee Pool

For the first half of the 20th century, British holidaymakers flocked to the coast in their thousands when the summer sunshine showed its face. This outdoor swimming pool takes today’s visitors back to those glory days with its art deco appearance and family atmosphere.

Built in 1935 to mark King George V’s Silver Jubilee, the outdoor lido measures 100 x 73 metres – making it one of the largest of its kind in the country. It has become a site of architectural importance to the local community and offers visitors the chance to relax in the setting of the idyllic Penzance coastline.

Open between the end of May and early September, the Jubilee Pool also features a shallow splash pool for children. A family day ticket for two adults and up to three children costs £14.00 – visit the website to find out more.

Nearest caravan site: 1.1 miles

Port Isaac

In times gone by it was a busy coast portal, welcoming fishermen and importing loads of stone, coal, pottery and timber. Today, however, Port Isaac is most famous as the location of popular ITV drama Doc Martin, starring Martin Clunes.

There are many things to see and do in Port Isaac, including fishing trips, coastal walks through the village and surrounding areas, not to mention hunting out the spots made famous by the television show. If you save your visit until spring 2013 you may even spy the cast in action!

Those of you visiting on a Friday during the summer might be lucky enough to watch a performance by Fisherman’s Friends, a group of singers whose sea shanties are so entrancing that they signed a million pound record deal in 2010. Fisherman’s Friends perform on The Platt in the old harbour from 8.00pm.

The Port Isaac website contains more information on attractions in the local area.

Nearest caravan site: 4.9 miles

St. Austell Brewery

One for the grown ups! St. Austell Brewery is an independent family-owned firm that has been brewing beer and real ale in Cornwall for more than 250 years. There are 169 St. Austell Brewery pubs, inns and hotels around the county, however the hub of all brewing activity is the best place to visit if you’re a fan of the amber nectar.

You can find out about the company’s brewing heritage at the interactive museum, before seeing how production works today with a behind-the-scenes factory tour – with free samples from its range, which includes celebrated bottled and cask ales such as Tribute, Proper Job, Smugglers, Admirals Ale, Clouded Yellow, HSD, Dartmoor Best Bitter, Trelawny and Black Prince. Soft drinks are on offer for those who draw the short straw! Tours are popular so it is advisable to book in advance.

When you’ve learned about brewery’s history and manufacturing, you can relax and enjoy the fruits of its labour at The Hicks Bar, which also serves snacks and light lunches.

St. Austell Brewery is open Monday-Saturday, plus Sundays during August. Tickets cost £8.00 per adult and £5.00 per child. Click here to visit the website. []

Nearest caravan site: 3.2 miles

No matter your UK holiday destination this year, Coast can ensure your caravan is protected in the event of damage, loss or theft with our specialist touring caravan insurance. To find out how competitive our rates are, give Coast’s friendly sales team a call on Freephone 0800 614 849 or get an instant online quotation.