Landscapes, Heritage & History

Landscapes, Heritage & History

Take a trip around Cornwall and you’ll discover a richly diverse landscape.

The natural environment is as spectacular as it is important. Cornwall has twelve Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty often accessed by the stunning South West Coast Path. Bodmin Moor is a wild landscape with prehistoric remains and great walking trails. Cornwall also has a deep Celtic history and a history deeply influenced by the sea. There is Cornwall’s contribution to the Industrial Revolution, now recognized through areas which have World Heritage Site status, with engine houses, museums and recreational trails. There are Celtic crosses, holy wells, Bronze age standing stones, legends, and quiet villages bearing ancient names.

Cornwall: a beautifully varied landscape with a rich culture surrounded by truly amazing coastline.

Landscapes and Bodmin Moor

Bodmin Moor

Cornwall’s landscapes are as inspiring as the seascapes. Patchwork fields all around; lush river valleys; and, just minutes away from Higher Menadew is Cornwall’s unspoilt wilderness: Bodmin Moor.

Bodmin Moor is a dramatic, mysterious landscape best explored at a leisurely pace. Stroll through wild heathland, rich woodland and steep river valleys, scale Cornwall’s highest peak of Brown Willey, or wander by the river Fowey at Golitha Falls. Investigate ancient settlements, the pre-historic stone circle of the Hurlers or seek out the Cheesewring. Visit some of the moorland villages – a favourite of ours is Blisland where the award winning village inn serves super real ales! Or simply enjoy the peace and tranquillity.

Lostwithiel, nestling in the Fowey valley, is the historic capital of Cornwall and encapsulates Cornwall's social, military and commercial history. The magnificent Restormel Castle is nearby. Amongst the wonderful old buildings, and Tudor bridge, there are now many antique shops to browse through.

Nearby, the beautiful Luxulyan Valley has the Treffry viaduct. There are National Trust and other Country Houses to enjoy many with gardens.

Historic Houses

There are National Trust and other country houses to enjoy with unique architecture, unrivalled interiors and décor, many with glorious gardens and grounds.

Lanhydrock House near Bodmin

Castles in Cornwall - some nearby, some slightly further

Restormel Castle, Lostwithiel, Cornwall

  • Restormel Castle, Lostwithiel
    One of the best preserved Motte-and-Bailey castles in Cornwall. Huge circular keep and walk around the battlements. A fortified hilltop since the time of the Norman Conquest. English Heritage site.
  • St Mawes Castle, St Mawes
    Perfectly preserved coastal fortress built by Henry VIII. In partnership with its twin, Pendennis, it guards the entrance of the Fal Estuary. Three circular bastians were formidable defences but now stands in a tropical garden. English Heritage site.
  • Pendennis Castle, Falmouth.
    Pendennis Castle was built in the middle of the 16th century by Henry VIII to protect the Fal Estuary. Immaculately preserved with fantastic views. Sight and sound Tudor gun deck display, underground magazines and WW2 defences. Events during the summer. English Heritage site.
  • Tintagel Castle, Tintagel
    Amazing cliff top location making the steep steps worth the climb! Famous ruins of medieval castle and Celtic settlement. Long been associated with King Arthur; Merlin’s Sea Cave is located below the Castle. English Heritage site.
  • Launceston Castle, Launceston 
    Castle set on the high motte (mound) of a stronghold built soon after the Norman Conquest to control the main route into Cornwall. English Heritage site.
  • St Michael’s Mount, Penzance
    Enchanting medieval castle and church perched upon a rocky island. National Trust.

Mining Heritage

Cornwall has an outstanding mining heritage and, certain areas of Cornwall and west Devon, have designated World Heritage Site status. These areas represent the most important surviving buildings and landscapes created by the copper and tin mining industry from 1700-1914. Luxulyan Valley and Charlestown, both close to Higher Menadew, are included.

Towanroath Tin Mine, St Agnes, Cornwall

The Luxulyan Valley is a place of breathtaking natural beauty, with thickly wooded terrain and steep granite slopes surrounding the fast-flowing River Par and contains an extraordinary concentration of early 19th century industrial remains and the impressive Treffry Viaduct.

Charlestown is not only one of Cornwall’s most unspoilt fishing villages and a beautiful harbour it is also the best preserved china-clay and copper ore port of its period anywhere in the world. Spring water from Higher Menadew once flowed along man made “leats” to Charlestown.

Other Mining World Heritage sites include:

  • Geevor Tin Mine, St Just. 
    Largest mining history site in Britain with an underground tour into Wheal Mexico, where Cornish miners toiled more than 200 years ago. Set in beautiful coastal scenery. Museum and heritage centre.
  • Poldark Mine, Helston.
    Something for all the family: museum, heritage centre, gardens, indoor and outdoor amusements.
  • Levant Mine, St Just.
    Includes the oldest beam engine in Cornwall fully restored and driven by steam. Underground tours.
  • Heartlands, Pool.
    The UK’s first cultural activity centre with gardens, adventure playgrounds and World Heritage Site exhibitions. Free entry.

The Cornish Mining World Heritage Site has full details.

The China Clay Museum at Wheal Martyn brings the fascinating industrial heritage of St Austell Bay and of china clay extraction in Cornwall alive on tours of the workings, old and new. Museum with audiovisual displays, children’s play area and nature trail.

Maritime Heritage

Not surprisingly, with so much coast, Cornwall has a fascinating maritime heritage:

Charlestown Harbour near St Austell in Cornwall

  • Charlestown Shipwreck and Heritage Centre, Near St Austell. 
    Charlestown was developed in the 18th century as a working port. There are more than a quarter of a million shipwrecks around the coasts of Britain and a sample of these illustrated in photography and salvaged cargo. 200 years of fishing, migration and smuggling; sea rescue, old tunnels, audiovisual theatre, 1st and 2nd World War exhibits, diving and largest shipwreck artefact collection in Britain.
  • National Maritime Museum, Falmouth.
    Celebrates the county’s seafaring heritage through its extensive exhibitions of boats, oceanography, surfing and the underwater world. Three floors in twelve impressive galleries. Audio, visual and interactive displays throughout the award winning building. Informative and value for money. Regarded by The Times as a “must see”.

Celtic History, Myths and Legend

Tintagel Castle

Cornwall was first settled by hunter-gathers in around 10,000BC – the mid Stone Age. It is during the Bronze Age that the early Cornish created most of the ancient stones that are found though out the county such as:

  • Rumps Cliff Castle, Polzeath - Crumbling Iron Age fortifications. The Rumps is the most stunning example, in the county, for both its visible formation and staggering location.
  • The Tristan Stone, Fowey - Representing a time when Christianity flooded the Cornish culture, inscribed stones such as this one began to spring up from around 450AD.
  • The Hurlers, Minions - One of Cornwall's most important prehistoric sites, the Hurlers is a series of stone circles standing high on Bodmin Moor.
  • Men-an-Tol, Morvah - Penwith is an area riddled with prehistoric evidence, from stone circles, settlements, inscribed rocks, and this famous holed stone that is thought to possess healing powers.
Cornwall has abundant myths and legend:
  • King Arthur really is legendary. Tintagel Castle is the legendary birthplace of King Arthur. Dozmary pool on Bodmin Moor was lake into which Excalibur was thrown. Trevethy Quoit is known as King Arthurs Quiot. The unique chapel on the summit of Roche Rock features in Tristan and Isolde myth. Legends of Camelot, Isle of Avalon, the Round Table, Knights, battles, quest for the Holy Grail, Merlin and much more.
  • Tales of Giants. St Michael’s Mount is said to be built by one.
  • Cornish Saints. Fact and legend.
  • Cornish pixies and even mermaids!!