While the crowds head west to all the same ol’ places, we highly recommend leaving the beaten track to enjoy the lesser discovered gems of East Cornwall. Here’s a very sturdy list of things to do while you’re in the area for the festival, by our friends at Visit Cornwall.
This often forgotten corner of Cornwall is a hidden gem that shouldn’t be missed. It encompasses a number of villages including Cawsand, Kingsand, St Germans, Millbrook and more. Much of it is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with magnificent scenery and spectacular walks, both coastal and along wide estuaries. Kingsand and Cawsand are twinned villages with outstanding views of Plymouth Sound and a rich smuggling history. As you wander the narrow streets, passing charming colour-washed cottages, you will understand how it was easy to hide illicit goods here in the past.
Much of the Rame Peninsula is part of the Mount Edgcumbe Country Park. Here you will find not only open parkland and ancient woodland, but also formal gardens awash with colour from spring to autumn. Another fine house and garden can be found at Port Eliot in St Germans. Once one of the main religious centres in Cornwall, the estate now plays host to Port Eliot Festival in July each year – as you’ll know!
The historical port and coastal town of Looe keeps visitors entertained with a great selection of shops and eating places in the town plus a main beach just right for kids of all ages to relax on. Looe is still a working fishing port and visitors can take fishing trips out themselves, either in search of mackerel or into deeper waters for conger eels or sharks. Children will be just as happy catching crabs from the long harbour wall – a great way to keep the little ones entertained.
A few miles along the coast from Looe you can step back in time when you visit the untouched fishing village of Polperro. It is an artist’s paradise with breathtaking views of both land and sea as you wander around the little harbour, tucked away beneath steep sided hills. A hotbed of smuggling in the 1700’s, there’s now a museum telling you all about the village’s dodgy past.
Walking in South East Cornwall
The best way to explore South East Cornwall is to put your boots on and go for a walk. Over 25 miles of the South West Coast Path run through the area with popular stretches linking Looe and Polperro and out around Rame Head and Whitsand Bay. To the west, the small village of Polruan, opposite Fowey, offers walks along the coast to Lantic Bay, one of Cornwalls finest, but also inaccessible beaches.
To the north of the area, Bodmin Moor offers wilderness-like terrain, with historical sites dating back 6000 years and remains of Cornwall’s industrial heritage, now given World Heritage status.
You can discover more of the region each year by taking part in the South East Cornwall Walking Festival in September. Here you can join local guides who know the area inside out and will take you to places even the locals don’t know!
The Great Gardens of Cornwall
Choose from a number of stately homes and landscaped parks that you can see in the area, including the aforementioned Mount Edgcumbe and Port Eliot. There’s also Antony House and Garden an 18th century mansion with a fine collection of paintings. The fantastic grounds including the formal gardens and the woodland garden can also be seen during your visit. You may recognise parts of the gardens as they were previously used as a location in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland film. Also in the area you can find Cotehele House and Gardens upriver from Saltash. The classic Medieval house and the formally planted terraces sit high above the river with the Vallley Garden leading down to paths that take you to the historical quayside and mill. The other National Trust house in the area is Lanhydrock, to the west of the region. Here wooded grounds slope down to the Fowey River at Respryn Bridge, offering wonderful walks, especially in the spring when the bluebells carpet the ground.
Away from the crowds
Above are the main places to visit in the area, but there are also historic market towns such as Liskeard and Callington, Saltash where IK Brunel’s railway bridge crosses the Tamar river (in Port Eliot’s backyard, by the way!). Pretty creekside villages, like St Germans and Lerryn. Medieval churches, country pubs and even an outdoor theatre at Sterts on the edge of Bodmin Moor.
So, visit the Rame Peninsula and you won’t be disappointed.