Exploring the countryside one step at a time
Cornwall is a land in which history and unsullied beauty, in which wildlife and a sub-tropical climate, in which vertiginous cliff and rolling moorland combine to dazzle the eye. The quality of the air, too, is something special. It comes, unadulterated, from Biscay and from the Atlantic; and it was the rare quality of the light which, at the turn of the century, drew leading artists to Newlyn and St. Ives.
Around Bodmin Moor and in west Penwith, primeval rocks thrust out of the springy turf to create the likes of Roughtor and Brown Willy; and almost anywhere you turn your gaze you'll see field patterns and stone walling unchanged since the Middle Ages. You'll find, too, stone monoliths as old as time and parish churches dedicated to unfamiliar Celtic saints, crouching low to escape the cutting edge of winter storms.
Much of Cornwall's countryside is designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with large stretches of Heritage Coast, and Country Parks at Tehidy, Kit Hill, Mount Edgcumbe and Seaton Valley. The Countryside Service organises guided walks and events to help you enjoy Cornwall's special environment, and there are exciting initiatives such as Project Explore, based at Looe. There are also walks and cycle paths around lakes and reservoirs such as Siblyback and Stithians.
If you prefer to blaze your own trail, then head seawards; you'll recognise the Coastal Footpath when you see it. Waymarked by Acorn signposts, it straggles from one end of Cornwall to the other - climbing over rugged cliffs whose grandeur tongue-tied Sir John Betjeman, and meandering through sheltered coves where even the Atlantic is placated. Inland, you're never far from local footpaths; retracing the Mineral Tramways which linked the tin and copper mines to the coast, or following in the footsteps of early Christians along the Saints' Way, crossing Cornwall from north to south. More recently the Clay Trails have opened up areas of mid Cornwall.
Cornwall's climate is such that you'll see daffodils for the London market thick in the fields in January and February, and you'll be enchanted by carpets of early thrift and sea-campion along the coast path. The palm trees come free of charge. And if, on occasions, you thought you saw a banana tree, you weren't dreaming!
Austles Ford Walk, Altarnun 3 miles
Covington Walk, Fowey 1 mile
Gribbin Head Walk, Fowey 4 miles
Goss Moor Multi-use Trail 7 miles
Moorland Walk, Camelford 8 miles
The Bodmin Way (Cardinham - Lanivet) 20 miles
Siblyback Lake Country Park 3 miles
Stithians Lake Country Park 5 miles
Tamar Lakes Country Park 3 miles
The Camelford Way 8 miles
The Caradon Trail 17 miles
The Coastal Footpath 272 miles
The Copper Trail 60 miles
The Inny Valleys Walk, Altarnun 6.5 miles
The Lyhner Valley Walk, Altarnun 5 miles
The North Cornwall Trail 40 miles
The Saints' Way 30 miles
The Smugglers' Way 37 miles
The Tinners Way 18 miles
The Tredaule Walk, Altarnun 1.5 miles
The Two Valleys Walk, St. Neot 6 miles
The Watermill Walk, Camelford 8 miles
Three Churches Walk, Camelford 4 miles
Cycling in Cornwall The Cornish Way The Clay Trails
Sports in Cornwall Horse Riding in Cornwall Youth Hostels in Cornwall