From a tourism perspective, Cornwall may be known for its sun-soaked summer coastline, but if you really want to get under the skin of the area, visit once the clocks have changed and the nights draw in.
Cornwall in winter is a wild but wonderful place – many visitors have gone home and you’re likely to get sweeping beaches and clifftop views all to yourself. There’s likely to be a stronger sense of community in local villages and a lot more space for discovering the county’s creative side.
Wrap up warm and walk some of the South West Coast Path – it has a whole different kind of blustery beauty in autumn and winter, when waves lash the cliffs and you may spot seals lolling on the rocks below. Feeling brave? Don a wetsuit for a surf lesson (the waves are more consistent – and much quieter – in Cornwall in winter), or go for a quick dip in one of the best Cornish wild swimming spots before warming up by a pub fire.
Winter is also a great time to explore Cornwall’s creative and cultural hubs. Local art galleries, pottery studios and museums are perfect boltholes on rainy days. Leach Pottery in St Ives was first founded in the 1920s and was one of the sparks that lit the fire of the St Ives arts scene. The pottery is now a charity and a hub for local potters and students, including exhibitions and classes. If you want to take a slice of Cornwall’s art scene home with you, visit the Roundhouse and Capstan Gallery in Sennen. The roundhouse once housed a huge, man-powered capstan wheel that helped winch boats up from the ocean – now it’s full of locally made and designed pottery, sculpture and paintings.
No art lover can miss a trip to the famous Tate St Ives for a wander round the inside exhibitions and then a stroll in the beautifully curated Barbara Hepworth sculpture garden. Or learn about Cornwall’s rich relationship with the sea at Falmouth’s National Maritime Museum, perfect for families an fascinated by the mysteries of the deep. Lovers of the weird and wonderful will find their dream museum tucked away in the fishing village of Boscastle. The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic is home to a fascinating history of the occult, and displays cover everything from medieval Cornish enchantresses to sorcery in vintage Hollywood.
If you’re really feeling the chill, you could transport yourself to a warmer climate by exploring the Eden Project, where heated tropical biomes are home to jungle plants and hundreds of butterflies. Or brave the weather to visit one of Cornwall’s cultural gems – the spectacular Minack Theatre sits between the cliffs at Porthcurno and is still open to visitors in the winter months.
Visit this article from Newquay Airport for more ideas of things to see and places to head during the colder months in Cornwall.