The 50 Best: Cornwall - Having fun in and out of the sun

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
Wednesday's total eclipse will last a mere two minutes. Which will leave visitors plenty of time to explore all the other things Cornwall has to offer. So Nikki Spencer asked the experts where to watch the eclipse - and where to eat, swim and generally have fun once it's all over







This week's 50 Best was compiled with the help of: Teresa Timms, PR manager for the Cornwall Tourist Board; Mike Maguire, who is chairman of the Food in Cornwall Association, and who runs the award-winning Trengilly Wartha Inn between Falmouth and Helston (1999 Good Pub Guide's Pub of the Year); Martin Hunt, manager of Adventureline Walking Holidays (01209 820847), which offers guided walks around Cornwall; and Chris Davis, author of The Good Beach Guide.

NOTE: All telephone numbers, opening times etc were correct at the time of going to press, but readers are strongly advised to confirm availability before setting out



"An excellent location for viewing the eclipse," says Teresa Timms, "and a unique opportunity to hear the dawn chorus performed by some of the world's rarest and most exotic birds." Staff aren't sure how the residents of this wildlife sanctuary, which includes everything from otters to farm animals, will react to the eclipse, but experience elsewhere suggests that the owls will start to hoot while the insects go quiet followed by birds bursting into song.

Where & when: Hayle, near St Ives (01736 753365); daily from 10am, 11 Aug from 9am; shop and cafe will close at 10.30am for an hour on 11 Aug.

How much: adults pounds 5.99, children pounds 3.99.



Billed as "cutting edge, sensual and fun", this music festival, featuring James, the Levellers, Kula Shaker (above), Leftfield, Groove Armada and many others, kicks off today and runs to 14 Aug. The festival includes two through-the-night gigs, one tonight and one beginning on the eve of the eclipse. At 8.45am on 11 Aug, the London Community Gospel Choir will herald the big event itself.

Where & when: Goonhilly Downs, near Lizard (0870 1252959); today to 14 Aug.

How much: pounds 125 for the week; pounds 79 for three days; pounds 49 for the weekend (all prices include camping).



This popular surfing beach, with its sandy dunes to the east and cliffs to the west, is a favourite with Chris Davis. Described as a more peaceful and private area than some of the bigger beaches in the vicinity, Mawgan Porth nevertheless offers the convenience of a nearby beach cafe, toilets, some shops and a pub. This very fine sandy beach is also situated on the North Cornwall Coastal Path, which offers some pretty spectacular views of the coastline.

Where: Mawgan Porth, just off the B3276 north from Newquay (Newquay Tourist Information: 01637 871345); pay-and-display parking.



"A cracking inn with wonderful views across Mount's Bay, including St Michael's Mount in the distance," enthuses Mike Maguire, who praises the "great menu" and "excellent service". Accommodation at the inn comprises a couple of rooms, and there's a restaurant section with some tables outside, although Mike warns it can get "a bit chilly" in the evening.

Where & when: Halzephron Inn, Gunwalloe, Helston (01326 240406); daily (including 11 Aug), food 12noon-2pm and 6.30pm-9.30pm (till 9pm Sun and throughout winter).

How much: about pounds 20 for three courses.



From the little hamlet of Treen on Cornwall's north coast (not to be confused with Treen on the south coast), take the footpath across the fields to Gurnard's Head, where, according to Martin Hunt, "a sweeping view of quintessential Cornish coast will open up before you". From here, you can see miles out to sea as well as inland to the Penwith Moors. Martin adds that "good food and refreshments" are available at the Gurnard's Head Hotel.

Where & when: Gurnard's Head Hotel, Treen, Zennor, St Ives (01736 796928); daily 12noon-9.30pm in summer.

How much: starters from pounds 4.50, main courses around pounds 8.



This cliff-top, open-air theatre is hosting a special eclipse play on Wednesday, with the dramatic event happening right in the middle of the performance. Called Where's Merlin?, the play is based on the mythical concept that Merlin will reappear before the end of the millennium. Doors open at 8.45am, and the show starts at 10am. For the rest of the week, the theatre will be showing The Itch.

Where & when: Minack Theatre, near Porthcurno, near Penzance (01736 810694); open all year.

How much: adults pounds 7.50/pounds 6.50, children half-price.



Perfect if the weather doesn't come up to scratch, and a good place to cool off if it does. There are a total of five galleries right on the seafront, and Teresa Timms particularly likes the fact that there is even a dedicated "parking area" for surfboards! The current exhibition, which runs until 31 Oct, is "As Dark as Light", and features eclipse-related works by Yuko Shiraishi, Gia Edzveradze and Garry Fabian Miller.

Where & when: Tate Gallery, St Ives (01736 796226); daily 10.30am-5.30pm (from 3pm on 11 Aug).

How much: adults pounds 3.90, concs pounds 2.30, under-18s free.



Gorran Haven, near Mevagissy, is a safe, clean beach for children, according to Chris Davis. It's also good for rock-pooling, sailing, snorkelling and surfing, as it has areas zoned off for water sports. What's more, the Cornish coastal path crosses the beach here, so it's also a good place for walking (see No 40). Facilities at Gorran Haven include toilets, cafes and restaurants, plus there is a pay-and-display car park signposted as you enter the village. The beach is also the location for occasional gig (lightweight rowing-boat) racing.

Where: Gorran Haven, south from Mevagissy, near St Austell (St Austell Tourist Information: 01726 76333).



"Friendly, efficient service, a relaxed open bar area with a glass terrace overlooking the sea, and fine gardens that run down to the water" make this hotel a favourite with Mike Maguire. The restaurant by the side of the sun lounge offers a range of interesting dishes - at the time of writing, plans were being finalised for a special eclipse menu.

Where & when: Old Coastguard Hotel, Mousehole, near Penzance (01736 731222); daily from 12pm, food 12noon-2.30pm and 6pm-9.30pm.

How much: around pounds 22.50 for three courses.



From Lizard village, Martin Hunt recommends heading west to picturesque Kynance Cove: "a great place for swimming, with clear, turquoise waters". The area's comprehensive network of footpaths provides plenty of wonderful walks. To the south lies Lizard Point lighthouse and Bass Point - "stunning spots to wander around" - while to the east are Church Cove and Cadgwith Cove. "Enchanting places of thatched cottages with charming walks nearby," Martin adds.

Where: Kynance Cove, west off the A3083 north from Lizard (Helston Tourist Information: 01326 565431).



This "beautiful 13th-century thatched inn,", according to Teresa Timms, is the perfect place to view the eclipse while enjoying a pint of the St Austell Brewery's special eclipse beer, Daylight Robbery. Situated on Restronguet creek, Pandora Inn will be offering a special brunch on Wednesday from 10am until 12noon, except between 10.45am-11.30am, when staff will be joining customers outside to watch the eclipse.

Where & when: Pandora Inn, Restronguet, near Mylor, near Falmouth (01326 372678); brunch from 10am on eclipse day; bar meals (pounds 2.50-pounds 8) served from 12noon.

How much: brunch pounds 25, Daylight Robbery pounds 1.95 a pint.



One of the largest seal sanctuaries in Europe, this place rescues and returns more than 30 seals to the wild each year. In addition to a well- equipped "seal hospital", there are spacious outdoor pools, including an underwater observatory, plus donkeys, ponies and goats. The sanctuary, which opened in the 1950s, also offers help to sea lions. Animal feeding times are scheduled throughout the day, while visitors can fill up in the cafe or at the barbecue before heading off on a nature trail.

Where & when: National Seal Sanctuary, Gweek, near Falmouth (01326 221361); daily 9am-5.30pm (last entry 4.30pm). How much: adults pounds 5.95, under-4s free, under-15s pounds 3.95, OAP/students pounds 4.50.



There are two distinct beaches here, Bude and Sandy Mouth, but at low tide they join to provide one extensive strand. At the Bude end, the sands are backed by beach huts, shops and extensive parking facilities. Much of the surrounding grassy land is owned by the National Trust, which also runs a cafe at Sandy Mouth. Popular with swimmers and surfers, the beach is also a haven for walkers, with the North Cornwall Heritage Coast and Countryside Service offering a programme of guided walks through the area in the summer.

Where: off the A39, onto the A3072 to Bude town (Bude Visitors Centre, 01288 354240, stocks free leaflets on wildlife, walking, cycling, etc).



There is no restaurant here but one of the loveliest river views (of the Helford estuary) in Cornwall, according to Mike Maguire. He recommends visiting the Duchy of Cornwall Oyster Farm, where, every morning, "you can walk in and buy the freshest native oysters, which they will open for you". To go with them, Mike suggests picking up a bottle of Chablis or something similar from one of the nearby wine suppliers (he runs one of them) and bringing your own picnic.

Where & when: Duchy of Cornwall Oyster Farm, Port Navas Quay, near Falmouth (01326 340210); Mon-Sat, approx 8am-1pm.

How much: native oysters 60p each, Pacific oysters 40p, mussels pounds 5 a gallon (about 7lbs).



This tiny hamlet and former smugglers' haunt offers superb walks both east and west, according to Martin Hunt. To the west lies Cudden Point with "the finest views of St Michael's Mount". Just beyond, Stackhouse Cove, home to a family of grey Atlantic seals, was made famous by the discovery of rare seaweeds by Lord Stackhouse back in the 19th century; at low tide in Prussia Cove, you can still see the wheel tracks hewn in the slate from the carts used for hauling seaweed and smuggling. The cove is also home to the Prussia Cove Ensemble, which gives concerts every summer.

Where: signposted from the A349 at Kenneggy (Penzance Tourist Information: 01736 362207).



Cornwall's megalithic sites have long been held to have astronomical properties, according to Teresa Timms, who predicts that dedicated sun and moon worshippers (and those who simply want to view the eclipse from a special place) will be heading for ancient stone circles such as the Hurlers, on Bodmin Moor, and Trethevy Quiot, near St Cleer. Legend has it that the Hurlers, a triple stone circle, were formed when people were turned to stone for dancing on a Sunday, although that doesn't account for the fact that they date back to 250BC. For those in need of sustenance after their visit, there is a tea room in nearby Minions.

Where: off the A38 to Minions (Bodmin Tourist Information: 01208 76616); Minions tea room (01579 363056), daily 9.30am-7pm.



The Mineral Tramways are a network of cycle trails along the original tramways used for transporting tin from local mines. Teresa Timms likes the fact that there are not too many hills! There are two routes, one of eight miles and a rougher, bumpier ride of 18 miles. If you have your own bike, start at the Mineral Tramways Discovery Centre in Redruth (which stocks route maps for use in conjuction with Ordnance Survey maps).

Where & when: bikes from Bissoe Tramways Cycle Hire, Old Conns Works, Blissoe, Truro (01872 870341), daily 8.30am-6pm; Mineral Tramways Discovery Centre, Old Cowlin's Mill, Penhallick, Carn Brea, Redruth (01209 613978), Sun-Fri 10am-1pm and 1.30pm-4pm. How much: daily bike hire pounds 7 for adults, children pounds 4, tandems pounds 17.50.



A favourite haunt of the late Sir John Betjeman, this wide sandy beach backed by sand dunes and the picturesque St Enedoc golf course is ideal for bathing, according to Chris Davis, who also recommends the excellent, gentle walks along the cliffs to the villages of Polzeath (a favourite haunt of surfers) and Rock (beloved of sailors). Across the Camel estuary, Martin Hunt recommends a seven-mile walk from Trevone to Padstow and back (see No 50). There is ample parking next to the beach, plus well-kept toilets and a cafe that is open in the holiday season.

Where: off the Polzeath-to-Rock road (Polzeath Tourist Information: 01208 862488).



Mike Maguire highly recommends Cornwall's only Michelin-starred restaurant, Pennypots, run by Kevin Viner who was recently voted chefs' Chef of the Year! A bright and airy place, on the outskirts of Falmouth, the restaurant serves dishes such as fillet of beef with wild mushrooms, as well as at least three fresh fish options daily, such as steamed fillet of hake. Downstairs is Ocean's Beach Bar and Grill, which serves fresh fish, steaks and pizzas.

Where & when: Pennypots Restaurant, Maenporth Beach, near Falmouth (01326 250251), open all week for the eclipse, but generally Tue-Sat 7pm-late; Ocean's open daily 12am-10.30pm (but closed tomorrow). How much: Pennypots pounds 28 for two courses, pounds 33.50 for three.



A little north of Newquay lies "a wonderful bay known as Bedruthan Steps", according to Martin Hunt, who recommends parking at the National Trust's Carnewas car park (with a shop, toilets and refreshments) and walking down the steep steps to the beach below. "If you go down an hour or so before low water, then you have two or three hours of safe explorations of the great sea caves and wonderful little coves, but always be wary of the tides and currents - this is not a place for swimming. Another great walk is Park Head, just along the cliffs to the north.

Where: on the road to Mawgan Porth (National Trust shop: 01637 860563).



Teresa Timms can think of no better way to see the eclipse than with champagne at the castle on St Michael's Mount, at the centre of totality. The 200 guests will enjoy a champagne breakfast and a guided tour of the National Trust castle with the St Aubyn family, resident here for more than 300 years. To get to the castle, either walk across the causeway or, if the tide is in, take a ferry ride (adults 80p, children half price).

Where & when: St Michael's Mount, Marazion (01736 710507) daily 10.30am- 4.45pm except on Wed for the eclipse, when it opens to the public at 2pm. The special guests may cross over after the tide recedes at 9.30am. How much: pounds 100 per head, a few tickets still available at time of writing; at other times, adults pounds 4.40, children pounds 2.20.



To discover the "fascinating combination of social, industrial and artistic heritage of Cornwall's fishing industry", Teresa Timms recommends a visit to the award-winning Pilchard Works. It's a working museum, so you can watch the men filleting and packing salt-pressed pilchards ready for dispatch to Italy, where they are still much in demand. While you are in Newlyn, you can also visit the fish market (Mon-Sat from 8am), although members of the public can't buy produce.

Where & when: the Pilchard Works, Tolcarne, Newlyn (01736 332112); Mon- Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-2pm.

How much: adults pounds 2.95, children pounds 2.20.



Once known for pilchard fishing, Porthpean is now popular with families seeking a safe, sheltered beach where they can explore rockpools as well as swim. Adventurous folk with their own boats could join in the racing at Porthpean Sailing Club, every Wednesday evening at 7pm, including eclipse night, and twice on Sundays. Access is via a short road and then a steep ramp leading from the large, privately owned car park, or via the coastal footpath, which runs from Black Head to the west and the Georgian port of Charlestown to the east.

Where: off the A390 at Porthpean turning (St Austell Tourist Information: 01726 76333); Porthpean Sailing Club (01726 66266).



In fine weather, Mike Maguire recommends an al fresco lunch here on the terrace overlooking St Mawes harbour, though its location means that tables will be in high demand on Wednesday. The lunch and evening brasserie menu offers elaborate pub snacks such as "ciabatta beef" and lots of local fresh fish. They also offer a table d'hote menu in the evening in the restaurant, which is mainly for hotel guests but takes bookings from non- residents (8.30pm-9.15pm).

Where & when: 1 Tredenham Rd, Harbourside, St Mawes, near Truro (01326 270771); Thur-Mon lunch 12noon-3pm, dinner 5.30pm-8.30pm.

How much: brasserie main courses pounds 8-pounds 9, table d'hote menu pounds 26.50 per head.



A little south of Land's End is the small, unspoilt hamlet of Porthgwarra, which has a car park and an excellent cafe. Martin Hunt suggests walking from here around Gwennap Head, whose great granite cliffs are blooming with heather and gorse. You can see Atlantic grey seals lying on the rocks at low tide off Carn Guthensbras, as well as dolphins and basking sharks. From here, stunning walks lead west towards Land's End or east towards the Minack Theatre (see No 6). And take binoculars, as this area is, according to Martin, "an ornithologists' paradise".

Where: off the B3315, single track most of the way (Penzance Tourist Information: 01736 362207).



For a "spooky backdrop" to the eclipse, Teresa Timms suggests the earth's largest satellite telephone-and-television transmitting-and-receiving station, situated on Goonhilly Downs on the Lizard peninsular. Limited- edition eclipse tickets include entry, brunch and a guided tour. There will also be an astronomer on hand to answer all those eclipse-related questions.

Where & when: Goonhilly Downs, near Helston (01872 325400); daily 10am- 6pm, last admission 5pm; extended to 9am-9pm, last admission 8pm, for the eclipse week.

How much: limited-edition eclipse tickets pounds 10, usual entry pounds 4 adults, pounds 2.50 children.



Cornwall may not be the first place you'd expect to find a vineyard and award-winning wine, but Camel Valley has won numerous prizes for its red, white and sparkling vintages. Tours end on the vinery terrace, where owner and former RAF fighter pilot Bob Lindo conducts a tasting (with soft drinks for children). Camel Valley is open on the afternoon of 11 Aug for anyone wishing to toast the eclipse.

Where & when: Nanstallon, near Bodmin (01208 77959); Mon-Fri 2pm-5pm, 11 Aug 2pm-6pm.

How much: tours and tasting, adults pounds 2, children pounds 1; this Wed, 5pm tour and tasting pounds 3.



Located just the other side of the Tamar from Plymouth this tranquil sandy/rocky beach is popular with surfers and has fantastic rock pools at low tide, according to Chris Davis. It is also on the coastal path, so it's a good place to explore. Portwrinkle is signposted from Torpoint, and there is parking for 30-50 cars. plus toilets and a cafe.

Where: take the B3247 off the A374 (Looe Tourist Information: 01503 262072).



This small bistro tucked away behind the cathedral serves richly flavoured food that's popular with Mike Maguire. He says that chef Glen Elie's background in top restaurants (he worked with Albert Roux at Le Gavroche) really shows, yet prices are "staggeringly low for such good quality". The restaurant, which has been open for just over a year, is well known for its fish, particularly its bouillabaise, and dishes such as pan-fried cod with mushroom- and-leek risotto and rosemary-butter sauce. There are just 11 tables, so booking is advisable.

Where & when: 5 Old Bridge St, Truro (01872 261005); Mon-Sat lunch 12noon- 2pm, Tues-Sat dinner 7pm-9.30pm.

How much: lunch about pounds 12.50 a head, dinner pounds 16.



Reached via a maze of lanes, Martin Hunt says this little village exemplifies what everyone imagines a Cornish waterside village should be: "Pretty thatched cottages, rose-covered and with sub-tropical vegetation all around - this is a gem of a place." From the car park, you should let your feet take you back in time to Frenchman's Creek, where Daphne du Maurier found the inspiration for her famous novel. A little foot ferry will take you across the Helford River, or walk along the river bank to Dennis Head. Martin also recommends a locally made Roskilly's ice cream.

Where: take the B293 from Helston, then follow signs to Helford (Helston Tourist Information: 01326 565431).



Teresa Timms suggests viewing the eclipse from the spectacular location of Watergate Bay on the north Cornwall coast, which is famous for its superb surfing beach. Visit the recently opened Beach Hut, which has an art deco cocktail lounge. "Spend totality sipping a strawberry daiquiri on the veranda - eat your heart out, Miami Beach!" says Teresa. With two- and-a-half miles of golden sand, Watergate Bay is also a great place to fly kites, and the headlands have fantastic rock pools with a wealth of marine life.

Where & when: on the north Cornwall coast road between Newquay and Padstow. The Beach Hut is on the sand (01637 860877); daily 9am-9.45pm.

How much: parking costs pounds 2 a day; Beach Hut three-course meal approx pounds 15.



This enchanted 26-acre garden running down to a private beach is guaranteed to keep all members of the family happy, according to Teresa Timms. Very different from the typical British garden, this one is sub-tropical, and includes 18ft-high giant rhubarb. There are six different trails to follow, suitable for different ages, as well as a cafe, with large outdoor seating area, a shop and large plant sales area. You can even bring your bathers and a picnic, and spend all day on the beach.

Where & when: Mawnan Smith, near Falmouth (01326 250448); daily 10.30am- 5pm.

How much: adults pounds 3.50, children pounds 1.20.



This wide sandy beach backed by large dunes is popular for surfing and swimming. There aren't that many facilities on the beach other than toilets, but there are a few shops, including a surf shop, in the nearby village of Constantine. At St Merryn, two miles away, there are a few pubs and places to eat, although for more choice you need to head to Padstow.

Where: off the B3276 from St Merryn, about four miles from Padstow; beach parking is pounds 1 a day (Padstow Tourist Information: 01841 533449).



The chef here is Anne Long, described by Mike Maguire as "the doyenne of Cornish kitchens". He adores this beautifully decorated old restaurant high above Redruth, which serves up modern English food such as roast cod fillet on parsley mashed potato, and lamb fillet cooked in puff pastry parcels with redcurrant-and-green-pepper sauce. On 11 Aug, they will be offering a coffee-and-croissant breakfast from 8am, followed by a champagne brunch after the event (pounds 25).

Where & when: Carnkie, near Redruth (01209 215181) Wed-Sat 7pm-9.30pm, Sun 12noon-2pm. How much: Wed-Sat pounds 25 for three courses, Sun pounds 14.50 for four courses.



A dramatic valley scarred by tin and copper mines leads to the gorgeous cove of Chapel Porth and many circular walks, according to Martin Hunt. He suggests sampling a "hedgehog" clotted cream ice-cream from Rob's cafe in the National Trust car park, before strolling along the sands, exploring the caves, or trekking along the cliffs to the Towanroath Engine House. St Agnes was famous for the quality of its tin: "walk along the cliffs past St Agnes Head and on to Trevaunance Cove, and you'll see much evidence of what once made Cornwall famous throughout the world," says Martin.

Where: one mile south of St Agnes (St Agnes Tourist Information: 01872 554150).



If you want to see the eclipse first, then head for Land's End, suggests Teresa Timms. As well as dramatic views, it offers a whole host of visitor attractions that explain why this area is so special, including a multi- media show, The Last Labyrinth, and Air Sea Rescue, which is the nearest you can get to going on a lifeboat without leaving dry land. There is also Greeb Farm, a 200-year-old crofters' farm, which is popular with children. On the night of the eclipse there will be a firework show at dusk.

Where & when: Land's End Visitor Centre (01736 871501); daily 10am-5pm. How much: car park pounds 3 per day (pounds 5 on 11 Aug); tickets covering all attractions cost pounds 2 adults, pounds 1 children, pounds 7 (pounds 3.50 per child).



Teresa Timms suggests taking one of the daily cruises on the River Fal and Helford River. The same company also runs the regular ferry service from Falmouth to the yachting paradise of St Mawes, where you can walk up to St Mawes Castle, King Henry VIII's most decorative fort, which is expected to be a popular viewing place for the eclipse (01326 270526)

Where & when: ferries to St Mawes 15 and 45 minutes past the hour; cruise boats leave from Prince of Wales Pier, Market St, Falmouth (01326 313201); cruises twice a day, approx 11am and 2.30pm.

How much: cruises from pounds 5.50, half-price for children; ferry costs pounds 4.30, half-price for children, under-5s free.



This beautiful long, narrow, sandy inlet is popular with families as well as surfers. There are good rock pools as well as a geological trail. The South West Coastal Footpath traverses the beach so it is also a good starting point for walks (see No 50). There are toilets and a cafe on the beach, and in Trevone there is a post office, small store and pub, plus a number of hotels. The beach, which has recently won a clean beach award, is a good place to swim, although Chris Davis does warn against doing this on the north side because the cliffs here are unsafe. The beach is easily accessible by car.

Where: take the B3276 Newquay to Padstow Road and follow signs for Trevone (Padstow Tourist Information: 01841 533449).



"A delightful conservatory restaurant" is how Mike Maguire describes Manor Cottage, which he adds is reasonably priced with good friendly service. This small restaurant (it seats 20) is open only from Thursday to Saturday but they will open specially for groups of 10 people or more. Everything is home cooked using local produce. They offer a table d'hote menu of three courses, including dishes such as wild mushroom risotto with a parsley pesto and fillet of John Dory with ratatouille and tomato butter. Manor Cottage also has five rooms.

Where & when: Tresillian, nr Truro (01872 520212); Thur-Sat.

How much: pounds 23 per person for three courses; pounds 50 per night for double room.



Marti Hunt suggests you park at Gorran Haven (see No 8), south of Mevagissey, then walk round the coast past Macnease Point to The Dodman, where a 114m- high headland gives sweeping views of the English Channel. Return to Gorran via the earthworks that once protected a tribe of Cornishmen from Celtic marauders, or carry on to Hemmick Beach and Caerhays with its fine castle. Take a good Ordnance Survey map. Martin also recommends a visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan, nearby.

Where & when: about two miles south of Mevagissey. Lost Gardens of Heligan (01726 844157); open daily 10am-6pm, last ticket 4.30pm. (Mevagissy Tourist Information 01726 842266). How much: Lost Gardens pounds 5 adults, pounds 4.50 OAPs, pounds 2.50 under-15s.



You don't have to be attending the festival to sample what the Lizard has to offer. Teresa Timms recommends England's most southerly point as a great place to view the big event. The area has some of Cornwall's most spectacular coastline and after the eclipse Teresa suggests calling in to Anne Muller's Pasty Shop in Lizard village, reputedly the best Cornish pasties money can buy. To find out more about the area you can visit the Lizard Countryside Centre (01326 221661) which is based at Trelowarren House at Mawgan-in-Meneage, where they have maps and guide books.

Where: south Cornwall (Helston Tourist Information: 01326 565431).



"A great family day out" is how Teresa Timms sums up this massive site, which not only houses the largest collection of shire horses in the country, plus a host of animals from pygmy goats to pot bellied pigs, but also a huge theme park. Situated in woodland around six lakes the rides include a "death" slide, a 3D maze and numerous water rides, as well as a huge children's indoor play area for rainy days.

Where & when: Shires Family Adventure, Park, Nr Wadebridge (01841 540276); daily (including 11 Aug) 10am-5pm.

How much: adults pounds 5.95, children pounds 3.95, OAPs pounds 4.95 (includes all rides).



The fact that these two sandy and sheltered beaches are in an area of outstanding natural beauty says it all. This is part of a National Nature Reserve and you will find numerous rare plants and migrating birds. Kennack Sands is also one of the best places in the south west to see basking sharks and occasionally dolphins. Everyone will appreciate the wonderfully coloured rocks with their fascinating swirls and patterns. There is also an off-shore reef that is exposed at low tide and is full of rock pools. Toilets and a tearoom are available on the beach.

Where: from Helston take the A3083 to the Lizard and then follow signs (Helston Tourist Information: 01326 565431).

How much: charges for parking.



Off the coast of Penzance, the Scilly Isles are not particularly good for viewing the eclipse, but, according to Mike Maguire, are the best spot for a slice of lemon poppy- seed cake or an ice-cream sundae. "The cakes at Covean Cottage are superlative," he enthuses, and if you are staying on the island, you could also try their take-away pizzas.

Where & when: Covean Cottage, St Agnes, Isles of Scilly (01720 422620). You can get to the Islands by boat (01345 105555) or helicopter (01736 363871) from Penzance.

How much: cream teas pounds 4.



Pronouced "foy", Fowey is "one of those neat little towns where boats come and go, and you can while away the hours contemplating the sea," says Martin Hunt. Or you could take the lovely Hall Walk from across the Bodinnick Ferry around Pont Pill, where Daphne du Maurier once rowed herself to her wedding at the church at Lanteglos. From here, continue to the pretty little village of Polruan either by way of the creekside path or over the stunning cliffs at Lantic Bay (tougher!). Either way you return to Fowey via a little passenger ferry from Polruan.

Where: take the A390 from Liskeard, then turn off onto the A3082 to Fowey (Fowey Tourist Information: 01726 833616).



This dramatically named cliff top will be spectacular viewing position for the eclipse, but Teresa Timms says if you do go there make sure you're in position before the hours of darkness - the sheer vertical drop into the Atlantic and the treacherous cliffs make it a dangerous proposition otherwise. (It's known as Cornwall's Beachy Head and is a popular spot for suicides.)

Where: Hell's Mouth is signposted from the B3306 between Hayle and Portreath. Park at the National Trust car park, and take care! (Hayle Tourist Information: 01736 754399.)



This award-winning Georgian house and Grade II-listed gardens are a great place to spend a few hours, according to Teresa Timms. The house is still owned and lived in by the Molesworth St Aubyn family, and children and dogs are welcome. There is an imaginative children's play area and numerous birds and animals about the place; as well as the owners' two dogs, there are peacocks and guineafowl. There is a small licensed tearoom. Pencarrow will be open on eclipse day, although about 15 minutes later than usual.

Where & when: Washaway, near Bodmin (01208 841369); gardens open daily; house Sun-Thur 11am-5pm.

How much: gardens pounds 2, children free; house pounds 4.50, children pounds 2.



St Ives Bay comprises a necklace of golden beaches, bordered by the picturesque fishing town of St Ives to the west and fringed by the dunes of Hayle to the east. It has something to offer everyone, whether you like swimming or surfing, fishing or exploring. Of the six beaches, Chris Davis singles out Porthmeor. Here you can find those traditional seafront activities of mini-golf and bowls - plus it is just a few minutes to a more modern addition to the area, the Tate Gallery (see No 7).

Where: in front of the Tate Gallery (St Ives Tourist Information 01736 796297).



Mike Maguire has no qualms about mentioning his own establishment, as other people seem to think pretty highly of it too - it's the 1999 Good Pub Guide's Pub of the Year. In a pretty location close to the Helford River and Gweek Seal Sanctuary it offers a good bar menu as well as meals in its more sedate restaurant. There is an esoteric wine list, offering about 20 different wines by the glass, a non-smoking family area plus a garden for al fresco eating.

Where & when: Constantine, nr Falmouth (01326 340332); daily 11am-3pm and 6.30pm-11pm; for eclipse week 11am-11pm. How much: restaurant pounds 20 for two courses, pounds 25 for three; bar snacks from pounds 2.50.



Martin Hunt recommends a seven-mile circuit from Trevone via Crugmeer Farm (across fields) to Padstow, a bustling town now famous as the home of Rick Stein's seafood restaurant (above), then along the beautiful Camel Estuary out to Steeper Point and along the stunning cliffs back to Trevone. "The camel estuary is wonderful for walking," enthuses Martin, "and the cliffs between Stepper Point and Trevone are truly dramatic, with great formation, blow-holes and wonderful bird life."

Where: B3276 from Padstow (Padstow Tourist Information on 01841 533449).