You wouldn’t think that there was anywhere left in the UK which is undiscovered and unspoilt but there are these hidden locations, you just have to know where to look. With foreign travel looking altogether less attractive for the time being, this could be the time to re-visit holiday destinations that you have not been to for years or discover fresh destinations for the first time and, they could be right under your nose here in the UK.
Cornwall needs no introduction as a holiday destination and is a place which feels the full effect of the tourist trade, not somewhere you might imagine where there are undiscovered locations. But, there are still plenty of secret spots and genuine discoveries well off the beaten track and some right in front of you in plain sight in this fascinating and magical county. So take your pick, whether you are keen to explore the legend and myths of this ancient, seafaring nation, appreciate Mother Nature’s finest work or commune with Celtic ancestors, here is a selection of Cornwall’s finest hidden gems.
Nanjizal Beach – Nanjizal is located near Porthcurno a beautiful and very well known location in the parish of Sennen a stone’s throw from Land’s End but Nanjizal has no direct road access which defeats everyone other than the most enthusiastic explorer. Access is on foot via the Cornish coastal path. Nanjizal is thought by many to be the finest beach on the Penwith peninsula and yet it is often deserted. There are some remarkable stone sculptures including the Diamond Horse and the Song of the Sea or Zawn Peggy, a stunning 100metre narrow and natural arch and even a freshwater waterfall. This pretty boulder-strewn cove with golden sand is just like the land that time forgot.
St. Nectan’s Glen – near Tintagel and hidden in Trevethy Woods, this beautiful location is around a mile long and set on both banks of the Trevillet River. There are not one but three waterfalls and a stunning woodland walk. Not to be missed is St. Necten’s Kieve waterfall which has a 60-foot fall cascading down into a beautiful valley. The waters are believed to have healing powers and it is almost impossible not be drawn into this belief when you visit the paradisiacal place.
Loe Bar and Loe Pool – the largest natural freshwater lake in Cornwall and situated on the peaceful and hidden Penrose estate near Helston. Walk down one side of the pool which takes you in front of the house to the sand bar which separates you from the sea. Walk along the bar with the pool on one side and the sea on the other and then follow the paths back inland along the other side of the pool, a walk of about eight miles in total. The house is private but the surrounds are managed by the National Trust. Despite it’s proximity to the pretty and well-known fishing harbour at Porthleven, the walks are peaceful with a huge variety of terrain and wildlife and remain undisturbed even in the summer. Dogs are always welcome even on the Bar because the beach is not a swimming beach perhaps why it is so peaceful. Loe Bar is a mystical place with a powerful and at times threatening atmosphere. Local legend says that the pool claims a life every seven years.
Pengersick Castle at Praa Sands – supposedly not only one of the most haunted places in Cornwall but in Europe with countless sightings of apparitions and ghosts. It’s no surprise as history reveals that the notorious Pengersick family after which the castle was named were a murderous bunch with smuggling connections and there was a tunnel which went from the west end of the beach at Praa straight to the castle. The castle is, in fact, a fortified Tudor manor chock full of history and atmosphere. Be sure to visit on a gloomy day when the sea mist is rolling in.
Halliggye Fogou – an underground tunnel located on the Trelowarren estate near Helston in south-west Cornwall, this is not just any old underground tunnel. The tunnel dates back to the fourth or fifth century BC and was thought to have been used as ritual shrines or even burial chambers. These prehistoric tunnels were constructed by digging a trench, lining the walls with granite blocks and then putting a roof on made of huge stone slabs. Combine your trip with a visit to estate and take a walk on the wild side with 1,000 acres of wildlife filled woodland where you can just lose yourself.
Admiral Benbow – a pub in Penzance so hardly a secret but this is a real old smuggler’s pub in Chapel Street. Home to the ‘Benbow Brandy Men’, Admiral Benbow is also the literary home of Jim Hawkins from ‘Treasure Island’ by Robert Louis Stevenson. A narrow tunnel only discovered in the last twenty years runs from underneath the pub kitchen down the hill to the harbour and was the run for 18th and 19th-century smugglers. The Benbow is pure sea salt and Cornish legend yet remains tucked away in a side street in Penzance.
Whatever your Cornwall, whether you are on the trail of smugglers or longing for remote and truly beautiful scenery or just fascinated by the history and legend of Cornwall, there is a holiday cottage to match your plans. Pick a hidden granite cottage tucked away above a remote cove and tread in the footsteps of Cornish smugglers. If the iconic scenery is your reason to visit then you will be spoilt for choice with so many beautifully located cottages and houses, it will be hard to settle on just one.
Cornwall is a compact county which means whatever your plans and wherever you choose to stay, you are never far from either coastline or the beautiful lush hidden inland valleys. Even in 2020, it is still possible to find a spot far away from the madding crowd.