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Travel & Holidays in later life


Loding lobsters for export from NewquayCornwall is almost an island broken off from England by the River Tamar. On the A38 toll bridge across the Tamar at Plymouth, drivers enter Cornwall free, but pay to get out. 

Cornishmen are famed for their independence. They have remnants of their own language, a set of Celtic saints to themselves, ancient traditions of King Arthur and his knights, and mysterious dolmens and menhirs from a megalithic past. 

The pounding Atlantic rollers have shaped the north coast into magnificent rocky headlands, sandy coves and beaches. 

The southern coast is less rugged, with more sheltered coves and charming fishing villages. The locals protect themselves from car invasion with double yellow lines everywhere, one-way signs, and obligatory parking at village outskirts. 


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If you want a tropical or Mediterranean climate in mid-winter, visit the Eden Project near St Austell. The millennium spectacular has converted a china clay pit into a landscaped
paradise, aimed at encouraging sustainable development.

daily except Christmas.

The 35-acre site is all on one level, with no stairs or lifts. Wheelchairs available on a first-come, first-served basis.

In spring and autumn, many coach tours to Cornish resorts feature special low tariffs for pensioners.

If you want economy and open-air living, the region can offer plentiful caravan sites. Like in the South of France, camp-sites pull far more business than hotels. But thousands of guest houses provide a warm-hearted Cornish welcome.

Food to sample: Cornish crab and other seafood; pasties; saffron cake and buns; clotted cream; fudge.

More information and to order brochures, visit www.cornishlight.


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In peak summer, the queue for Land's End can start miles away. For more energetic visitors, it's worth parking at the little beach of Sennen Cove and walking a mile along the cliffs for super views of the Land's End crags. 

The dramatic coastline at Land's EndFrom there you can go on a magnificent hike along the Cornish Coast Path towards Logan Rock - 5 or 6 strenuous miles. The 65-ton balancing rock moves when pushed, but takes some finding among the massive rocks that once were used as an Iron Age fort. 

A top tourist attraction is the dramatic ruin of Tintagel Castle, perched on a steep 270-ft headland with the sea forming a natural moat. 

The local tourist industry makes the most of the King Arthur legends. Restaurant tables are round. King Arthur's Castle Hotel has an Excalibar. 

In an area famous for pretty villages Port Isaac is outstanding. It's a tiny village with black and white cottages leaning against each other along narrow one-in-five streets. Lobster pots and rusty anchors decorate the harbour. 

Outside the peak months, there is bonus delight in Cornwall. You get extra enjoyment from touring in October. Many cosy hotels and guest-houses stay open all winter. Or you can start thinking about next April or May. Tariffs are lower, and you can travel casually as a butterfly without booking up months ahead.

Stopping off anywhere that happens to take your fancy, you'll find that all grades of hotel have accommodation to spare. You can easily find bed and breakfast at wayside farm houses.

In a typical off-peak month, we strolled along empty beaches with binoculars and watched the oyster-catchers, turnstones and cormorants - all undisturbed by the summertime flocks of holidaymakers.

We visited four-star beauty spots without parking problems. We experienced none of the peak-season traffic snarls through the bottleneck towns and resorts, and rarely met another vehicle along the one-in-four lanes that led down to secluded coves.

Cornwall is normally several degrees warmer than elsewhere in Britain, thanks to the Gulf Stream. Hence the success of Cornwall in spreading the holiday season. For people entitled to a "second" holiday, or with a few spare days for a long weekend, the friendly climate is a big attraction. 

North Cornwall's largest resort is Newquay, with several miles of superb white beaches. Those handiest to the town centre, nearest to the little harbour, are sheltered by steep cliffs. In this major surfing centre, there are Malibu surf boards and wet suits for hire. Fistral Beach, to the west, is backed by a golf course. 

Another popular Cornish resort is St. Ives - fishing village, artist colony and holiday playground. Miles of gorgeous sandy beaches are top-rated by bucket-and-spade customers. The shallow harbour makes a sheltered lagoon for kids in puff-up boats. 

Along the waterfront, the entertainment saloons and souvenir and fast-food shops are cheerful rather than garish. Genuine fishermen mend their nets. Brightly painted fishing and pleasure boats are set against a background of white sands and pie-dish hillsides. 

Visiting a museum in Polperro, in a former pilchard packing factoryOn the southern coast, the top day-trip resort is Polperro. If you have never been to Polperro, you have probably seen its picture many times on chocolate boxes and calendars. 

The streets are barred to incoming motor traffic, except for residents with special permits. Flowers drip from every window, wall and railing of the whitewashed houses, and horse-bus drivers pose for photos. 

Schedule several hours, to pick your way from the car parks above the town, down to the fishing-boat harbour below. 

With a camera, your progress will be slowed by the need to photograph every picturesque corner. On summer afternoons, when the coach tours pour in, you need to queue for photos at each favoured angle. 

There are plentiful souvenir stores, and ample chances to eat fudge, home-made ices and Cornish teas with clotted cream. At the harbour, fishermen offer freshly-caught mackerel or suggest a boat-ride. 

In high summer, the best crowd-dodging tip is to arrive before 10 a.m., or after 5.30 p.m. The same advice applies to almost all other scenic highlights. It's worth re-arranging your daily itinerary, to avoid the main stream of tourist traffic. 

it's easy to find small coves that offer escape from the crowdsEven in the honeypot areas at peak times, it's possible to escape the crowds by doing a few minutes' leg-work. 

The main streets can seem like conveyor belts, with holidaymakers shoulder to shoulder. But side lanes can be totally peaceful. Hike a few hundred yards along a cliff path, and you can picnic in complete seclusion. 


Quick jump to other West Country destinations

BATH - weekend in Jane Austen territory

CORNWALL - NORTH for beaches, cliffs & legends

DARTMOOR - Freedom to roam and explore

DAWLISH - Pioneer railway age resort

EXETER/EXMOUTH - Tour base for South Devon

ILFRACOMBE & NORTH DEVON - The Heritage coast

LYNTON & LYNMOUTH - Devon's Siamese-twin resorts

SIDMOUTH - Devon's Regency gem

SOMERSET - Choosing a farm cottage for a walking holiday

UP THE OTTER IN DEVON - A winter cottage haven


Books to read - click on the links below

"The Rough Guide to Devon and Cornwall"  - Robert Andrews - Packed with accommodation recommendations, especially in the lower-cost sector.

"AA 50 Walks in Cornwall" by Des Hanningan - An ideal slim pocket volume for the walking enthusiast. 

"A History of Cornwall" by F.E. Halliday - Useful reading for those who like to understand the historical background.



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