A tonic for... a craving for seafood and English sun
We try the surf at Polzeath, adopt a seal in Gweek and test the sand in the Scilly Isles in the first of a series focusing on fun things to do in each of England's counties. Read on to find out more about Cornwall...
Perfect 10 things to do in Cornwall
Britain's national platter doesn't get much tastier than at Rick Stein's joint in Padstow. Go and perch your bottom somewhere outside and spill tartare sauce all over your shirt as you watch the fishermen's boats bobbing to and fro in the harbour. There's also a Rick Stein patisserie, a Rick Stein seafood eaterie and a Rick Stein Inn, should you crave more wanton Stienery.
Though it was built in the 1930s this is the closest thing to a Greek amphitheatre in Britain, hosting al fresco plays, opera and musicals from May to September. Should you get bored during the show, there's always the thrilling natural backdrop of Pothcurno Bay to enjoy. More information: Minack theatre
Geevor was one of the largest of the Cornish tin mines. At one time in the mid 19th Century there were over 50,000 workers grafting away in 340 mines across the region. Here, you can witness the mining process in the aptly-named Hard Rock Museum, located on the granite bluffs of the Penwith Peninsula. More information: Geevor tin mine
Gweek Seal Sanctuary is a rehabilitation centre for injured seals rescued from Cornish waters, as well as otters, ponies and goats. You can adopt your own seal pup and get free seasonal membership so you can check up on its progress whenever you like. All in all, a cute day out for the family in the picturesque Helford Estuary.
Newquay may hog all the limelight, but north up the coast little Polzeath has all the rollers and breakers, the golden stretches of sand and the surf schools without the hustle. Nearby Daymer Bay is also a big hit with the windsurfing posse. All you need is a surfboard, a wetsuit and a decent tent.
See if you add to the 60-plus sightings of the mythical beast said to roam Bodmin Moor. In the meantime pause for breath at the Hurlers, three Bronze Age stone circles, climb a 1375-ft sugarloaf peak called Brown Willy, and stoop for a revitalizing splash at Dozmary Pool, where the Lady of the Lake is said to have guarded Excalibur.
A former quarry it may be, but the Eden Project's 160 foot deep crater harbours arguably the country's most impressive botanical display, with citrus and cacti from the Med, teak and mahogany from the Tropics and other brilliantly imaginative displays of flora from across the globe housed in huge bio-domes just four miles from St Austell. More information: Eden Project
Find time to view the best of modern British art- as well as nice views of Porthmeor Beach- at Tate St Ives, before exploring local artist Barbara Hepworth's intriguing Sculpture Garden. Then check out the latest brush strokes in the many shops and galleries dotting St Ives' cobbled streets.
The current castle at Tintagel only dates back to Norman times, but a little stroll among the ruins on this wind-bashed cliff-top and the legend of Arthur will come to life. Suitably overcome by Arthurian notions of chivalry and romance, you can then go and purchase an Excalibur replica in one of Tintagel's many souvenir stores- crammed full of agreeable kitsch.
The hundred-strong Scilly Isles are famed for some amazing rock formations and beaches, as well as their colourful blankets of wild flowers. You can reach the little port of St Mary's via daily boat trips from Penzance's South Pier. Or make a dramatic arrival in Tresco, with a helicopter ride from Penzance heliport.