Facts about Cornwall Hero Shot - a romantic historic church with a coastal location near St Ives

13 Fun Facts About Cornwall 

Discover the most fascinating facts about Cornwall, from its unique legends and language to its vibrant arts and culinary scenes. 

Cornwall is a great UK destination, celebrated for its beautiful beaches and rugged landscapes steeped in history, charming towns, and diverse plant and marine life. It’s also one of the best places in the country for surfing, diving, and enjoying fresh seafood. 

Having visited Cornwall multiple times, I am always amazed by the variety of landscapes in such a compact area. The region may be small by international standards, but it offers a surprising diversity of scenery across its peninsula. 

Without further ado, here are some of my favourite facts about Cornwall. Know of any other cool tidbits? Share them in the comments below. 

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Please note, I only recommend products and services that I know and love. Read full Privacy Policy here. 

Fun Facts About Cornwall

In this article, I’ll share a variety of facts about Cornwall, covering everything from its unique geographic features and famous legends to its gastronomic delights. 

It Has Its Own Language

One of the most fascinating facts about Cornwall is that this area has its own ancient language, Cornish or Kernewek. This language belongs to the Brythonic group of the Celtic family, closely related to Welsh and Breton, the Celtic language spoken in Brittany, France. 

Though Cornish has been spoken for thousands of years, it was eventually displaced by English and went extinct in the late 18th century, with the death of the last native speaker, Dolly Pentreath of Mousehole. 

However, the 20th century saw a revival of Cornish. Today, it is taught in some local schools, and many people speak it as their second language. As a result, Cornish has been reclassified from ‘extinct’ to ‘critically endangered.’ 

I don’t know how long languages like Cornish can survive, as many of them eventually disappear due to limited usage. However, it’s a pleasure to see how much pride the locals take in their heritage that this language ultimately represents.  

Parts of Cornwall Boast a Sub-tropical Micro-climate

Cornwall enjoys a mild climate, influenced heavily by its surrounding seas. While it is generally warmer than the rest of the UK, the region does experience its share of rain and strong winds. 

Some parts of Cornwall, however, benefit from sub-tropical microclimates. For instance, the southeast coast, including areas like the Roseland Peninsula and Penzance, enjoys a climate that is even milder than the rest of Cornwall. 

Thanks to these mild conditions, these areas support a rich variety of plant life not typically found elsewhere in the country. You can explore this lush flora by visiting stunning local gardens such as the Lost Gardens of Heligan and Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens in Penzance. 

The Birthplace of Cornish Pasty

Although you can now find this baked shortcrust pastry with delicious fillings across the UK, it is traditionally a Cornish specialty. 

Variations of pasties with different fillings have been part of the UK’s culinary history since the Middle Ages. In the 17th century they became particularly popular among Cornish tin miners who needed an easy and filling meal to sustain them through their gruelling work. 

Prepared by miners’ wives, these pasties contained potato, onion, swede, and a bit of beef, all cooked in a rich gravy. The turnover-shaped pastry provided a sturdy casing for the meal, making it perfect for taking down into the mines. 

Today, the traditional Cornish pasty typically contains more beef than its historical counterparts. Modern variations also include fillings like cheese and onion, chicken and leek, seafood, and lamb, among others. 

A Coastline with Over 400 Beaches

Sennen Beach in Cornwall
Sennen Beach

Cornwall boasts a stunning and varied coastline that stretches for nearly 700 kilometres, punctuated by hundreds of beaches. In fact, the county is home to over 400 beaches, ranging from secluded coves to expansive stretches of sand framed by rugged cliffs. 

The character of the beaches varies significantly across Cornwall. The north coast, exposed to the Atlantic, features rugged and windswept shores, while the south coast offers more sheltered and secluded bays. 

Exploring all of Cornwall’s beaches could take a lifetime. My personal favourites so far include Sennen Beach in the southwest and the dramatic Watergate Bay on the northern coast. 

Home to Britain’s Most South-westerly Point

Coastal scenery around Land's End
Coastal scenery around Land’s End

Cornwall is home to the unique geographic landmark of Land’s End, the most south-westerly point in Britain. It’s an easy spot to visit if you’re staying in Penzance or St Ives. 

Land’s End hosts a tourist-oriented complex complete with a hotel, souvenir shops, and various entertainment options. A famous signpost here offers a popular photo opportunity, although there is a fee to take pictures with it. 

If the commercial aspect isn’t appealing, you can easily escape to the surrounding natural beauty. The clifftop walking trails provide a superb way to explore the area’s stunning coastline. 

Its Landscapes are Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Cornwall’s landscapes are celebrated not only for their natural beauty but also for their historical significance. Many areas across the county form part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Recognised as the largest industrial heritage site in the UK, this designation highlights the pivotal role that copper and tin mining played in the Industrial Revolution and the global mining industry. At its peak, the region supplied two-thirds of the world’s copper. 

Today, visitors can explore ten sites across Cornwall, including miners’ settlements, engine houses, and old mines, all integrated into the unique Cornish landscape. 

For more information about this site, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Convention website

Birthplace of King Arthur

Cornwall is steeped in folklore, and one of the most iconic tales associated with the county is the legend of King Arthur. Several sites in the region are linked to this legendary king. 

According to legend, Arthur was born at Tintagel Castle, situated on Cornwall’s rugged north coast. Today, visitors can explore the dramatic ruins of the castle, which are managed by English Heritage. 

Nearby, in the village of Slaughterbridge, lies The Arthurian Centre in The Vale of Avalon. Here, you can delve deeper into Arthurian legends. The centre is located near a sixth-century stone that allegedly marks the site of Arthur’s final battle. 

While the historical existence of King Arthur remains uncertain, the tales of his exploits lend an added layer of mystery to Cornwall’s ancient landscapes and sites. 

Vibrant Arts Scene

The view of the sea from Tate St Ives
The view of the sea from Tate St Ives

Cornwall has long been a magnet for artists, writers, and other creatives, which is reflected in the region’s wealth of art galleries, museums, and theatres. 

The picturesque seaside town of St Ives is particularly famous for its vibrant arts scene. It hosts Tate St Ives, an elegant art deco building on the waterfront that showcases both historic and contemporary artists. 

St Ives is also home to the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, located in the artist’s former studio, and the historic Leach Pottery, renowned worldwide. For those interested in creating art themselves, the St Ives School of Painting offers workshops. 

Additionally, many towns and villages across Cornwall feature small galleries that showcase local artists. These galleries are perfect for finding a unique souvenir from the region. 

Home to Third Deepest Natural Harbour in the World

The quaint town of Falmouth, located on the southern coast of Cornwall, is home to a picturesque natural harbour. 

At 34 metres deep, it ranks as the third deepest in the world, surpassed only by Sydney Harbour in Australia and the Port of Mahón in Minorca, Spain. 

Given its depth, it’s no surprise that the harbour has become a destination for those who love sailing. Numerous sailing events, including Falmouth Sailing Week, are hosted here. 

Foodie Haven

The seas around Cornwall are home to rich marine life, making the county an ideal destination for sumptuous seafood. Many restaurants have capitalised on this abundance, turning the region into a hotspot for foodies. 

One of the most well-known chefs in the area is Rick Stein, who operates multiple eateries in Padstow, a village on the northern coast. I personally visited his St Petroc’s Bistro and loved the blend of local seafood with French cuisine, all set within cosy interiors. 

There is more to Cornwall’s foodie scene than Rick Sten though. The county boasts four Michelin-starred restaurants, with many others recognised in the Michelin guide. Yet, not all great dining spots are found in the guide. 

Another classic Cornish experience is enjoying a fish & chips by the sea. If you find yourself in Penzance, don’t miss Fraser’s on the town’s promenade, known for its award-winning fish & chips. 

UK’s Main Surfing Destination

Cornwall is the best surfing destination in the UK, offering the most consistent waves year-round. While it may not be world-class by international standards, it still boasts great surfing conditions with many beaches ideal for beginners. 

Despite the chilly waters, even in summer, surfing’s popularity has soared in recent years. 

Newquay, on the northern coast, is a surfing hotspot, home to Fistral Beach—one of the area’s most famous surfing beaches. The town also hosts the Boardmasters Open, a surfing competition that draws significant local and international talent. 

I took a surfing lesson at Watergate Bay, a short drive from Newquay, which is well-suited for both newbies and seasoned surfers. Other popular surf spots include Bude on the north coast, Porthmeor in St Ives, and Sennen near Land’s End. 

Diverse Marine Life

Cornwall’s seas are home to a rich and diverse array of marine life, from plants to mega-fauna. The species that inhabit the area or pass through during migration include dolphins, porpoises, seals, whales, sharks, and various seabirds. 

One of the best ways to encounter this marine life is by going on a diving or snorkelling trip. Several diving centres are scattered across the region, including Cornish Diving in Falmouth and Viewpoint Diving in St Austell. For those interested in snorkelling, Cornwall Adventures offers organised trips. 

If you prefer to stay dry, you can still explore the marine environment. Coast, operating out of Penzance and Hayle, offers boat trips that showcase stunning coastal landmarks and local wildlife.  

Alternatively, the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay provides a detailed look at Cornwall’s unique marine ecosystem on dry land. 

Popular Backdrop for Film and TV Productions

Cornwall’s stunning landscapes and local tales have featured in numerous films and television productions. 

Recent popular TV shows set in the area include BBC’s ‘Poldark,’ based on the novels by Cornish author William Graham, and ‘Doc Martin.’ The show that I quite like, ‘Beyond Paradise’, is technically set in Devon, but it was actually filmed in Cornwall. 

Cornwall has also served as a backdrop for big international films such as ‘About Time’ and ‘World War Z.’ The prequel to the ‘Game of Thrones’ saga, ‘House of the Dragon’ filmed some of its first season’s scenes at St Michael’s Mount. 

For fans wanting to explore these iconic locations, there are organised tours available for shows like ‘Poldark’ and ‘Doc Martin.’ Many filming locations are also easily accessible for independent visits. 

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it—just a few of the interesting facts about Cornwall. I hope these have inspired you to discover this fascinating part of the UK for yourself. 

If you’re curious about what else this county has to offer, check out this guide to the best things to do in Cornwall.  

I also recommend visiting Penzance during your trip; it’s an excellent base for exploring some of the best beaches and sites in the southwest of Cornwall. 

Would you like to discover fun facts about other parts of the UK? Check out these facts about Lake District and this article on what London is famous for.

FAQs: Facts About Cornwall

Is Cornwall famous for anything?

Yes, Cornwall is famous for its stunning coastal scenery and numerous beaches, making it a highly popular holiday destination. The region is also celebrated for its sumptuous seafood, vibrant surfing culture, and spirited arts scene, all of which further enhance its appeal to travellers. 

What is the nicest part of Cornwall?

There are so many nice parts of Cornwall, it’s hard to choose just one. So far, my personal top picks are St Ives and Penzance. While Penzance is more of a working town, it serves as an excellent base for exploring the many fantastic sites this part of Cornwall has to offer. 

Enjoyed these fascinating facts about Cornwall? Bookmark or pin it for later. 

Facts about Cornwall Pinterest Pin

Related Reads: the UK

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *