Summer has drawn to a close but forget the sofa and box-set, we’ve got loads of ideas for hiking, biking and exploring Cornwall during the golden days of autumn.
We’ll let you into a secret. When the leaves start changing colour we utter a quiet cheer! We love summer but it’s not without its challenges; school holidays spent avoiding the rain showers, an influx of guests making the most of your Cornish address, the long queue for a table at your favourite restaurant…
BUT we are always determined that autumn doesn’t mean retreating inside. Far from it, autumn in Cornwall is probably our favourite time of year to be out and active, making the most of the coastline, woodlands, moors and historic estates. From mountain bike trails to coastal hikes, craggy hills to hidden valleys, the Cornish landscape is one big playground for the outdoor enthusiast.
So, dust off your hiking boots and pump up those bike tyres – here is our guide to exploring the riches on your doorstep this season.
Step 1 – Invest In A National Trust Membership
The National Trust is one of our favourite institutions and there’s no shortage of venues to visit during autumn in Cornwall. Over the last few years, we’ve been impressed at how the National Trust has truly combined it’s beautiful historic locations with family-based activities to attract generation after generation.
For £6 a month for an individual pass or £10.50 a month for a family of 4 membership, it’s a worthwhile investment and gives you a great incentive to explore new places. Plus, at the end of most windswept walks you’ll find a cosy cafe – always a good thing in our opinion!
Here are our recommend National Trust spots for autumn adventures:
Lanhydrock House & Gardens
The Victorian house and landscaped gardens are open for the public to explore from 11.00 am until 5.30pm daily. Once home to the Agar-Robartes family, it’s a piece of local heritage that firmly reminds us of history and how much the world has changed. The formal gardens are great but during autumn you’re most likely to find us rambling in the woods, enjoying the changing colours of the season.
St Michael’s Mount
The stunning St Michael’s Mount is the imposing island that you can’t fail to miss when you reach Mounts Bay near Penzance. The miles of golden beaches sweep across the bay and allow access by foot to the Mount from Marazion and is popular with locals and tourists throughout the year. You’re bound to be in awe of the amazing local scenery!
Similarly to Lanhydrock, the Trelissick Estate comprises of swathes of grass parkland, a neo-classical House built in 1837 and beautiful gardens. The key difference is the views of the River Fal from several points around the estate. The wider estate offers fabulous riverside walks and jogs, much of which are sheltered and therefore good for wet weather excursions.
What We Love about the National Trust……
Expansive parklands, beautifully landscaped gardens, cycle trails, walking trails, stunning scenery, fresh air, history, preservation and architecture – and cafes with great cakes! There is something for all ages to enjoy at every property, and all for just a few pounds a month with an annual membership.
Find out more about our favourite National Trust properties and the benefits of a membership.
Step 2 – Dust Off The Hiking Boots
Walking is the perfect way to stay fit and active during autumn in Cornwall. It’s not too strenuous and the fresh air is the perfect remedy for low energy levels as the days get shorter. Plus no major investment required; all you need is a decent pair of hiking boots and a couple of pounds for car parks!
If you want to set yourself a challenge why not complete the entire Cornish coast path, doing a section each week? If that sounds too great an undertaking there is The Saints Way, stretching from Padstow on the North Coast to Fowey on the South Coast (27 miles).
Here’s some of our favourite routes which can be completed in a day:
Rock Beach to Polzeath
This is roughly a 10 mile round trip alongside the Camel Estuary and out towards the stunning North Coast. You can park in Rock’s newly reconstructed car park and enjoy the walk through the sand dunes with lovely views across to Padstow. As the estuary mouth widens and reaches the sea, you will notice the imposing Brea Hill in the distance. For the less energetic, you can enjoy the coastal path around the base of the hill but if possible we highly recommend that bit of extra effort to climb to the top, where you will be rewarded with the most stunning views across the estuary.
Colliford Lake to Jamaica Inn
The magic of Bodmin Moor surrounds you at Colliford Lake, home to one of Cornwall’s largest reservoirs set in amongst the rugged moorland. With an ample car park located just 4 miles from Bodmin, you can enjoy a circular walk around the lake, taking in the far-reaching views of Bodmin Moor’s many tors.
Portreath to Gwithian
Not for the faint-hearted, this 12 mile round trip is a demanding walk along the cliff tops of the Heritage Coast’s rugged paths. There are hill’s aplenty but you will be rewarded with some truly amazing views of North West Cornwall. We recommend parking on the hill on the west side of the village of Portreath. There are no parking restrictions and from here you can descend onto the beach where you will join the coastal path.
What we love about walking in Cornwall…
There’s no doubt that Cornwall is a walkers paradise with routes suitable for all fitness and energy levels. Walking in Cornwall also means great views; you’ll always want to climb the highest hill or reach the next bend with an inspiring view to reward you!
Read more about our favourite walks in and around Cornwall.
Step 3 – On your bike!
Cornwall is a great place to swap your legs for two wheels and autumn often delivers great conditions for riding. Cyclists of every standard will find something to get their teeth into, whether you’re pottering along with the kids in tow or embarking on an epic back-country adventure.
We’ve listed a couple of our favourite spots for trail riding here, all of which offer plenty of scope for progressing if you’re looking to develop your fitness levels over the coming months.
Cardinham Woods, Bodmin
There’s three specially designed cycle trails at Cardinham for those of any ability. The routes take you through the deepest depths of these stunning pine tree woods, eventually looping back to the main car park hub. Whether you’ve got your own bike or you need to take advantage of the hired bike facilities, a visit to Cardinham is sure to get the adrenaline pumping.
The Camel Trail, Bodmin to Padstow
This 15 mile route from the moors to the coast allows you to relax and enjoy the great scenery thanks to the largely flat clay trail, which was a railway branch line up until the 1980’s. From the edge of Bodmin Moor the trail takes you through the beautiful Camel Valley (home to a famous vineyard, where you can stop and sample the wines) and on to the Camel Estuary, arriving in Wadebridge where you can enjoy a well-earned break and wander around the shops.
Pentewan Valley, St Austell
Roughly 5 miles long, Pentewan Valley trail runs from the edge of St Austell towards Pentewan Beach near Mevagissey. The flat trails are suitable for cyclists and walkers and follow the River Vinnick, which is better known as White River due to its pale appearance. It’s actually a demonstration of St Austell’s clay pit heritage – the water is often coloured white due to the excess clay deposits!
What we love about cycling in Cornwall…
The routes above are all achievable even if you’re not a regular cyclist, and you’re guaranteed to end the day on a high, having got the adrenaline pumping whilst enjoying stunning scenery! Cycling is also a great way of discovering more of Cornwall’s history, as many routes have evolved out of the industrial past.
Find out more about our favourite cycling routes in and around Cornwall.
We hope you enjoyed this article, and if you want to read more, do check out our other article categories.