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Our wild guide to Cornwall

With its well-known coastline, foodie spots and abundance of wildlife, glamping in Cornwall is understandably popular, but there are still hidden coves, secret beaches and innovative, creative start-up businesses to be found and enjoyed on a few days away. We've put together some of our favourite ways to spend a great day or half day, depending on how long you can paddle board/eat tacos for. String a few together to make a great glamping weekend or pick out a beach, walk or dinner spot to round out your plans.

Waterfalls, boats and beach dining

Where: Golithia, Looe, Polkerris

How long: Full day

Best for: Wild life lovers

If you’re approaching Cornwall from the east, as most of us are, then Golitha Falls is a great place to stop and get a first taste of the area’s natural beauty. Park at Draynes Bridge and make the quarter-mile walk through ancient woodland to the series of tumbling cascades. After a walk in the woods, head down to Looe, half an hour away, and see if you can catch the boat to Looe Island. Ferries take 20 minutes, run for a few hours either side of high tide and give you a couple of hours to explore the tiny scrap of rock, which is a nature reserve home to many bird species and a colony of “hook-nosed sea pigs”, more kindly known as grey seals.

Once you’re back on the mainland, head west to swim at Polkerris Cove, just the other side of Fowey. Voted one of the UK’s best wild swimming spots by The Times, it’s a great place for a dip and means you’re perfectly placed for dinner at Sam’s. The cool seafood bar is right on the sand, making the perfect end to your day in and on the water.

Coasteering and cafes

Where: Port Issac and Wadebridge

How long: half day

Best for: Adventurers

Spend the morning in the beautiful fishing town of Port Issac then head to neighbouring Port Gaverne where Cornish Rock Tors can take you leaping off cliffs, kayaking into hidden coves or bobbing across the waves on stand up paddle board and it’s definitely best to be sober for any of those. Their various activities launch from Port Isaac, where you could find plenty of places to eat, but that would mean missing the chance to sample something fresh and fabulous at Strong Adolfo’s near Wadebridge. The café/deli serves fine local food with flair in a casual, scenic setting.

Trails, crags and gin

Where: Bedruthan and Trevibben

How long: Half day

Best for: Explorers

Set out from Porthcothan, on a hike along the South West Coast Path that drops you down among the towering rocks of Bedruthan Steps. You have to watch the tide carefully, but the lone scraps of broken cliff you can thread your way between on the beach makes this one of the most awe-inspiring places to visit in Cornwall. The path continues west, but if you head back, you’ll be in time to take a tasting tour tasting tour at Tarquin’s Gin Distillery. At the small-scale producer you can sample the pure flavour of Cornwall, refined and crafted by passionate artisans.

Surf and tacos

Where: Polzeath How long: Half day Best for: Surfers and beach lovers

Sometimes, the best days are the simplest ones, so here's a pretty straightforward itinerary made up entirely of two of the most popular things to do in Cornwall. Ride the waves off one of the many beaches around Polzeath, choosing anything from beginner-friendly Polzeath itself to Greenaway’s serious reef break. If the timing is right, nip round to Baby Bay at mid/low tide and catch a last few before heading to the little truck at the top of the beach and putting away a few delicious tacos, courtesy of the Taco Boys.

Natural pools, clifftop walks and human ingenuity

Where: Porthtowan, Wheal Kitty

How long: Full day

Best for: People who love to find a hidden gem

This day, that shows the breadth of what holidays in Cornwall can offer, opens with a refreshing plunge into Porthtowan tidal pool - a scenic and safe(ish) place to get in the sea, if you're ok with the rather sheer downhill approach. From there you can get up onto the cliff path and ramble for miles in either direction. Head for St Agnes and you’ll end up in the creative hub known as Wheal Kitty Workshops, the home of Finisterre, Surfers Against Sewage and a host of others. Finish the day with a meal at the superb Schooners, looking out over the water of Trevaunance Cove in St Agnes. They serve breakfast too, so you could do this whole day backwards, except the cliff path, definitely do that forwards.

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