One of Cornwall's most historic towns, Bodmin sits tranquily right in the heart of the county. Steeped in history, the town has a renowned past; once the start point for the Cornish Rebellion in 1497, when thousands of Cornishmen marched to London, Richard IV was proclaimed in Bodmin and yet another rebellion had its roots there 50 years later.
The town is altogether more laid-back now, though echoes of the past are there for all to see. You can visit ghostly Bodmin Jail, take part in a case at Bodmin Shire Courtroom (you really can!) or visit St Petroc church, the largest church in the County.
Closeby is breathtaking Bodmin Moor, where you can hunt for the eerie Beast of Bodmin or visit the famous Jamaica Inn. Cardinham Woods are closeby and very popular with families, where you will find walking and cycling trails as well as an adventure park for the children.
The Bodmin Railway is a brilliant attraction for any visitors to the area where you can watch and ride the 13 miles of line on beautifully restored steam trains and locomotives. See the Bodmin and Wenford Railway website for more information.
A holiday cottage in Bodmin provides a fantastic central base to discover Cornwall from.
Enjoy the nostalgic experience of the Bodmin & Wenford railway! Travel back in time through 13 miles of picturesque Cornish countryside that harks back to a 1950s branch line. Most journeys are powered by steam locomotives however some diesels operate on the line too. Trains run between Bodmin General and Bodmin Parkway.
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The marvelously named Dragon Leisure Centre in Bodmin is home to a 25-metre indoor swimming pool and learner pool consisting of six lanes, catering to kids, and their parents who may want to have a little time to themselves. There’s also a flume, and a spectator friendly area on poolside, as well as lots of opportunities to join one of the structured activities or just pop along for a casual swim.
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A spectacular, late Victorian country house, garden and wooded estate, Lanhydrock has the vibe of a wealthy but unpretentious family home with a delightful history to learn about on your visit. The National Trust property was devastated by fire in 1881 and was then refurbished in the latest modern style of the time. It’s a beautiful example of upstairs/downstairs living with the division between the servants’ quarters and family accommodation evident as you wander from the elegant dining room to the bedrooms, nurseries and kitchens. The house has a restaurant, café and tea room to relax in, guided walks, workshops and activities, so you can visit and get stuck in or simply enjoy the location as you wish.
When the ‘Black Prince’ was given newly created title of Duke of Cornwall in 1337, this large estate and castle came with it along with the manor of Restormel, its parkland and the town of Lostwithiel. He visited the castle twice, but we can take the time get to know it a little better, along with its Wall Walk and stone staircases, and imagine castle life bustling about as you go. The area is brimming with flowers and wildlife, and the bailey and keep or base court of the castle are a delight, standing proud on a natural high point in the middle of a circular ditch and bank. The site is open throughout the year, with prices starting at £4 for adults and £2.40 for children, if you’re not an English Heritage member.
In a Georgian building on Fore Street, that was once the Corn Exchange, Lostwithiel Museum has also been a school room, a butchers, a magistrate’s court and the town jail in its time. These days, things are a little less dramatic but no less interesting, housing the Guildhall, which is used for meetings of Lostwithiel Town Council, above the museum. Showcasing the town’s local history with a number of displays including local ceramics, agricultural tools, wartime memorabilia, medals and minerals, it’s a charming introduction to the area and a charitable organization to visit when you’re in this pretty little town in Cornwall.
Set in the pretty village of Blisland this is a traditional pub serving a wide selection of well kept real ales, ciders and lagers and proper pub food. The pub has won CAMRA's National Pub of the Year award in the past, and is famous for its friendly welcome and for being a 'proper pub'.
The Blisland Inn, Blisland, Cornwall PL30 4JF (T: 07093 302828)
One of the oldest pubs in Cornwall, The Crown is full of charm and period features including low beamed ceilings and fireplaces. Today it is well known for its award winning locally produced food accompanied by a good selection of wines, ales and ciders.
The Crown Inn, Lanlivery, Bodmin PL30 5BT (T: 01208 872707)
A pretty Cornish pub in the village of Egloshayle, just outside Wadebridge. Inside you’ll find an amazing collection of clocks as well as lots of cosy corners to sit, and in warmer months a real highlight is the fabulous garden full of flowers.
Earl of St Vincent Egloshayle Village, Wadebridge PL27 6HT (T: 01208 814807)
A sheltered beach on the north Cornwall coast, Port Gaverne Beach is in a narrow cove just east of Port Isaac. It’s comprised of sand and shingle with lots of rock pools to explore at low tide. In the summer months it can get quite busy given the popularity of the location and its suitability for families. Surrounding walks along the cliff path are delightful and at high tide the beach is favoured by divers. There’s also a slipway and it’s sometimes used to launch boats because of the easy access from the road. Thanks to it proximity to Port Isaac half a mile away facilities and restaurants are nearby, and the beach welcomes dogs all year round. You can also park in the village although there is limited road parking by the beach itself.
Since the arrival of Doc Martin on the small screen, Port Isaac has soared in popularity, and the pretty little village with the historic harbour, which also serves as the beach, has become instantly recognisable. Still an active fishing village with crab pots scattered about, the sand stretches between twin piers at low tide and has a small stream and lots of rock pools to explore, so it’s ideal for children. Dogs are allowed on the beach all year round, and as it’s at the centre of the village there’s easy access to shops and all facilities including public toilets. The car park for the town is a 10-minute walk away, and while there are a couple of parking spaces on the beach itself, just make sure you park above the high water mark, or keep an eagle eye on the tide!
A rocky beach in a narrow, sheltered cove, Port Quin Beach is close to Port Isaac, and is only accessible at low tide. Its rugged landscape is beautiful to see, but its location means that it’s largely popular with seasoned walkers and those looking to go snorkeling and kayaking. Unspoiled and peaceful, it reveals a treasure trove of rock pools when the tide is out, and the nearby village is largely deserted, having once had thriving fishing and mining industries. Today both the cove and the village are owned by the National Trust and there is a car park courtesy of them in Port Quin. Dogs are banned between Easter and October, and there aren’t any facilities nearby – it’s all about enjoying the peace and quiet.
In the heart of Polruan, Back Beach is not short of facilities and nearby shops and restaurants. A pretty little beach that’s popular with families, it has beautiful views across the river to Fowey and is a lovely place to watch the world go by with all the boats pottering along in front of you. It’s predominantly a sand beach, leading to a sheltered section of the river, so it’s good for swimming, but there aren’t any lifeguards around. The only complication for access is that it’s very difficult to park in the village, and it’s a considerable walk down the steep hill from the car park at St Saviours, or a ferry ride across the river from Fowey. Therefore, it’s best to combine a visit with a day exploring the village itself to make the most of it.
Best known as a surf beach, Tregardock Beach is only accessible by footpath, which offers beautiful views of the water and Port Isaac as you head down. It is quite a stroll and the terrain is bumpy, so it’s not an ideal beach to visit with children. The path can also get quite muddy, so keep an eye on the weather. There’s a seasonal ban on dogs from Easter to September, and there aren’t any facilities in the immediate vicinity of the beach. When the tide goes out, several small beaches become one long stretch of sand, and there’s a waterfall cascading down the cliffs at the back of the beach as well as caves to explore, so it really is a little paradise hidden in the landscape. Because it’s not easy to access, it’s usually quiet at this beach, but parking along the roadside near the farm at Treligga is very limited, so it’s a good idea to head over as early as possible and make sure you don’t get cut off at high tide.