Seven all-important things no one tells you before you go to Cornwall

There are now more property searches for Cornwall than there are for London. The G7 leaders will meet in Carbis Bay, near St Ives, in early June – the most interesting invasion of Cornwall since the Spanish landed in Mousehole, Newlyn and Penzance in 1595, set fires and sailed away. But there is more to Cornwall than you see on the the ‘slow’ documentaries and TV shows that have become rife in recent years. Whether you are thinking about a move, or are Joe Biden and thinking what to pack – here are things you should know.


Transport and logistics

Carbis Bay, which is due to host the G7 summit in JuneCredit: Leon Neal/Getty

If you want to visit Porthcurno, the most beautiful beach in the west, take the A30. If you take the road from Zennor, you will be held up by cows. Cows don’t care about your meeting.

Cows like to stand in the road and contemplate the horizon. If you take the road from St Buryan and meet a caravan, you will not make your meeting either. Please learn how to use a passing place; no matter the urgency, resist the desire to park in one.

In Carbis Bay, it is best to use the St Erth park and ride. Seriously. Don’t think of driving to St Michael’s Mount.

It’s a tidal island. (The sea moves here. This is called a TIDE). You will have to stay overnight or return on the amphibious truck, which is not as good at the amphibious Lotus Esprit in The Spy Who Loved Me, which was fictional.

Swim between the flags. A rip tide doesn’t care if you’re president of the French Republic. Don’t walk the cliffs in flip-flops.

You might break your ankle and have to be carried off the cliff on a stretcher. I did. (I got morphine too but if you are a delegate to the G7 you can probably get your own). Don’t chase an inflatable dolphin out to sea.

You will drown. Don’t use a jet ski. People will hate you.

Don’t sail to the Isles of Scilly without an experienced boatman. The Western Rocks wrecked four warships in 1707 and they will again. Rocks are patient.


Language and literature

Don’t call Cornwall “England” or the Cornish “English”. Don’t call it a county. Call it a duchy.

Don’t attempt to speak Cornish. No one will understand you. Learn the meaning of “D’reckly” (Directly).

It means “later”, and you are powerless over how much later that will be. Do not say: “I would love to stay in a holiday home next time”. The desire to own holiday homes has priced the Cornish out of much of their own duchy.

Say: “I would love to stay in a hotel next time. Or a caravan park. Or a tent.

Or a cave. Do you know any nice caves?” (See also: TIDES). Many “Cornish” novels are written by people from elsewhere: Virginia Woolf was born in Kensington and Daphne du Maurier was born in Camden, which is probably why she doesn’t understand wrecking.

Winston Graham, the creator of Poldark, is from Manchester. (Poldark isn’t real). Do not let this put you off. Amanda Craig’s The Golden Rule is set in Cornwall.

It’s it’s a state-of-the-nation novel about Cornwall and that’s an excellent thing.

3. Food and drink

Pasties must be bought from Aunty May’s in Newlyn, not Ginsters, which is based in Callington, which is almost in Devon. Fudge should be bought from the Fudge Box or Roly’s Fudge Pantry in St Ives.

Buy vegetables from the strange lorry that parks on the A30 near Marazion that also sells sculptures in wood. When eating scones, put the jam on first and then the cream. When you cross the Tamar to Devon, reverse this.

Don’t screw up or it will remain in the archives of The Cornishman until time dies. Buy your fish off the boats in St Ives, or Newlyn. Don’t complain if the fishing boats wake you at dawn.

Again, TIDES.

4. Animals

The Cornish love dogs and will respond better to a politician with a dog who is in charge of him. In June, Boris Johnson should bring Dilyn, the attractive mutt. (Please bag and bin though, or that is all that people will remember).

Chickens are kept as pets. Seagulls will eat your fudge and ice-cream. Seals are bigger than you think.

The basking sharks off Porthcurno won’t hurt you. The great white shark sighting in 2018 probably wasn’t a great white shark. That isn’t a bijou submarine in St Ives harbour. It’s a dolphin.

Give it some space.

5. Culture

Educating Rita at The Minack Theatre in 2020Credit: Lynn Batten

Dress for climate change in a rain mac and flip-flops (but please remember CLIFF). If sent to the Minack Theatre take a blanket.

It’s cold when the sun sets. See an opera, not a play. It’s hard to hear a play on a Cornish cliff but you can still hear amateur opera.

When allowed, visit the Penlee House Gallery in Penzance to view the Newlyn School of Artists. Everyone goes to the Tate in St Ives, but Penlee House is superior.

6. Politics


In the General Election the Liberal Democrat candidate didn’t defend Europe.

The Conservative candidate, who won, went to the count in a Christmas jumper.



Please bring some with you if you can.