A Guide to Cornwall

Have you ever carried a backpack so long that you forgot how heavy it was until you took it off? That's what my trip to Cornwall felt like – taking off a really heavy backpack. Six hours of driving in Bank Holiday traffic took us across the little British Isle from Surrey to the coziest stone cottage in Mousehole, Cornwall – a place where proverbial backpacks come off. We turned in for the night and as I sank into the cottage's big white bed, I felt so deeply happy. A kind of happy conceived by early autumn air and sea breeze and oceanside villages and cottages with clawfoot bathtubs. I felt like a cloud – floaty and buoyant and pleased as punch to have the ocean nearby. My theory: one need not be in an ocean to float; one need only be near an ocean.

The adventure began in quaint, cobblestoned Truro where we intended to stop only to pop into an American friend's new deli. The town's friendly people and happy flags and endless alleys of shops quickly beguiled us and we threw out our afternoon plans for a few more hours in Truro. We ducked into chic boutiques, vintage stores, and more than a few coffee shops before grabbing an asparagus risotto at Swell. Truro was friendly and pleasantly bustling and spangled in rainbow banners.

We scooted down to St. Ives in time to sit on a hill and watch the sun sink behind the animated little toy town below us. After making our way down to the harbor (peering into every closed shop and gallery along the way), we popped into Fudge Kyst for a slab of Cornish fudge. We ambled down on the water's edge and tried to name the rowboats that bobbed in the harbor. A wedding party burst from a nearby chapel and we were #blessed enough to witness a barricade of bridesmaids blocking the bride as she changed from her white dress into a flannel shirt and shorts. Then, of course, the bride made her way (barefoot) to the nearest pub with her groom in tow. A little clique of pub-goers gathered in the street for an impromptu Cornish folk sing-along, which provided the soundtrack for the greatest plate of fish and chips on this planet.

St. Michael's Mount is a curious place – sometimes accessible only by foot, sometimes only by boat. We checked the tide schedules and made an low-tide, early morning trek across the drained seafloor to the little green island. St. Michael's Mount is home to a castle and it's accompanying village, where we spent hours exploring the gardens and ancient buildings. We climbed a stony turret and soaked in the expanse of the Atlantic, the sea and sky only marginally different in their shades of steely grey.

We wound our little red car around Cornwall's craggy coast and arrived at the stunning Kynance Cove, which I may consider the most unmissable sight in Cornwall. The narrow rock path from the parking lot twists down a hillside, then drops into a sage green cove, dotted with perfect climbing rocks. We claimed a spot on an especially nice rock and spent the afternoon reading and napping. The rising tide eventually forced our exit, like dinner guests who overstayed their welcome. On our way back to Mousehole we swung by the Minack Theatre, an outdoor theatre with a sweeping view of the turquoise ocean. There was nothing playing at the theatre that particular evening, so we took advantage of the free parking and climbed down to beautiful, chilly Porthcurno Beach.

Apparently dinner reservations get snatched up quickly in Mousehole's three restaurants (we had our hearts set on the Michelin-recommended 2 Fore Street but were laughed out the door), so our spectacular trip closed somewhat unceremoniously in a nondescript pub next to the harbor. The burgers were just okay, but I was happy nonetheless. Cornwall was a feast in itself.

Other noteworthy Cornwall spots:

Land's End | Eden Project | Penzance | Tintagel Castle