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Cornwall is many things to many people. It’s a spectacular coastline, with miles of jagged clifftops and secret coves. It’s a busy harbour, where fishing boats buzz in and out with a fresh catch for lunch or dinner. It’s a surfers’ paradise, with the ultimate wave delivering you to the beach where families build castles of golden sand. It’s the end of the land and the beginning of a relaxing break. It’s the Eden Project and the Tate and a wealth of culture. It’s a delicious pasty and a cream tea with a view.
For a family holiday in the UK it’s hard to beat Cornwall. You can choose your own corner to explore; wandering through traditional villages, and winding around pretty bays. Or you can seek out some organised adventure. Thousands of attractions offer an adrenalin rush or a gentle wind down, depending on what you want. We’ve put our heads together and come up with a few suggestions.
Cornwall family holiday highlights
The aptly named Adrenalin Quarry near Liskeard has a huge zip wire, the UK’s largest swing, and Britain’s only blob. Wondering what a blob is? Wonder no more; it’s a water-based human catapult. You will need a willing friend for this daring feat. You climb up a floating tower and jump onto an inflatable ring, shooting your friend up into the air and down into the water. Enough adrenalin for you? If not, you can top up by flying 490 metres at speeds of up to 40mph on the zip line across a flooded quarry. Young and old can have a go; last year several old ladies threw themselves off, while the youngest person to do the zip was four.
Glendurgan Garden near Falmouth is best known for its beautiful laurel maze, planted in 1833 and curled into the shape of a serpent. Your children will love to lose you in this maze! Once you are reunited you can follow the winding path down to a spectacular bay in the village of Durgan and track back up to the tea shop. The attraction began life as a private garden before being given to the National Trust in 1962 and the exotic shrubs and flowers include massive rhubarb and even more giant tulip trees. It’s in the spring that it really comes to life, as the sun and temperate climate coax out the magnolias and vast carpets of bluebells.
The Monkey Sanctuary
Are you wild about wildlife? Then you’ll enjoy The Monkey Sanctuary near Looe. It’s home to a large group of rescued monkeys. A day out here offers talks with keepers about their work and the opportunity to see up to 37 woolly monkeys monkey-about in a replica of their normal habitat. You can also watch life go on in a bat cave with the help of a CCTV camera. The Monkey Sanctuary also has a children’s play room, gift shop, activity room and tree top café.
The Camel Trail
Stretching 17 miles along a historic, disused railway line and calling at Wadebridge, Padstow and Bodmin, The Camel Trail is the ultimate bike ride for all the family. Kids are safe as they pedal themselves along the flat, traffic-free trail. The views of the Camel Estuary are lovely and on a hot day there’s plenty of shade in the woodlands. You’ll find plenty of other families so be sure at least one of your bikes has a bell. If you don’t have bikes you can hire them in any of the above towns. There are plenty of places to stop and have a picnic, so if you can fit the hamper in your handlebar bag, you’re sorted.
Geevor Tin Mine
Geevor was the last operating tin mine in Cornwall and it offers a rare chance to see our heritage as it was and understand the past. You don’t even have to work at engaging the kids; it’s all done for you by an ex-miner with a headlamp and a wealth of stories. The children will love the thrill of descending underground and they’ll be able to check out the old lockers which remain exactly as they were the day the mine closed. And when the tour is finished you can all head to the café with one of the best views around. Cornish cream tea anyone?