The departure of one million visitors means Autumn is time for the Cornish to take back their county again, while those of you who are holidaying here can savour the colours and mild temperature and enjoy the attractions more easily. No more having to plan when you travel and avoiding using a motorway on changeover days or worrying about finding a car parking space. Many of the beaches also relax their dog restrictions once the summer is over too.
Our local attractions of the Lost Garden of Heligan, which you can walk to from Mevagissey, and The Eden Project still buzz with activities, but try exploring further afield. Trebah Garden at Mawnan Smith has a lovely walk through tropical gardens to a tiny beach. Dramatic rolling waves on North Cornwall beaches make a change from South Cornwall’s calmer waters. Fantastic if you are keen on surfing or fancy strolling along Watergate Bay, with breakfast at The Beach Hut or lunch at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant, where tomorrow’s chefs are trained.
Lovely St Ives also has a swathe of golden beach, but it is most famous for its artistic heritage. Only about an hour away in Autumn, it is still vital to check websites before visiting. We turned up at Tate St Ives once anticipating fisherman painter Alfred Wallis, only to find an obscure Japanese artist on show. Not the celebration of Cornwall’s culture we were hoping for. Opening times for many places may also have been changed, as illustrated by Tate St Ives being closed until Spring with around town art tours substituted.
Just down the road from Tate St Ives, The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is still very much open though. While in an intimate setting at her former home and studio, it is a world class collection of her work with a fascinating history of her life and tragic end. Like so many museums today, it is also family friendly with a Hepworth Family Activity Trail, a great idea which means today’s children have a happier introduction to the art world than those of us with memories of being dragged around galleries.
Throughout Cornwall there is a fantastic collection of museums, including Helston Museum on social history – they also welcome dogs – The National Maritime Museum at Falmouth and The Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro. They all work hard to provide interesting exhibitions and interactive events that make a first time visit fun and a return visit worthwhile. So no excuse for sad faces if the weather turns and beach time is not an option. Although they do say in Cornwall there is every type of weather every day and as the county with the longest coastline, there will be a beach near wherever you have a day trip.
Cornwall is also increasingly famous for its artisan food and drink producers and the Cornish Winter Fair in Wadebridge on Saturday 19th November is a great family day out. Taste samples at the array of foodie stalls and either treat yourself or start your Christmas shopping at the craft stalls stocked by talented artists of all types. There are plenty of farm animals, including the prime stock show, and you can have a go at milking a (mock) cow or grooming a pony. Entry is free, so you can go for as long or as short a time as suits you without feeling you have to get your money’s worth.
Every budget can be catered for at this time too for those who want to experience the creations of Cornwall’s exceptional chefs. It is easier to get reservations and there are special menus which explore seasonal produce and are very good value for money. In Padstow, Rick Stein’s St Petroc Bistro has three course charity lunches for £12.50, while Michelin starred Paul Ainsworth at No 6 has three course lunches for £26. Fans of Nathan Outlaw should sign up to his Grub Club on line before visiting his Port Isaac Fish Kitchen to find out about special offers and get ten per cent off meals.
Autumn really is a fabulous time here: truly accessible in every way.