Positioning yourself within Cornwall’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty isn’t difficult. The reason being that this AONB – one of the most breathtaking in the UK – covers approximately 27% of the entire county. Hence, wherever you base yourself for your Cornish Holidays, you’ll never be far from the region’s most beautiful natural assets.
That said, there are certain towns and villages within Cornwall’s AONB that should perhaps be prioritised by anyone taking a short trip to the region. So for anyone planning a late-summer or early-autumn trip to England’s majestic southwest, the following AONB highlights come highly recommended:
South Coast – Eastern AONB
Running from Par all the way to Looe, the Eastern section of the Cornwall AONB is perhaps best enjoyed from an idyllic base in Fowey. A beautiful place to spend a weekend or for an extended stay, Fowey has a rich and colourful history of fishing and smuggling. The town boasts a labyrinth of quiet cobbled streets to explore, along with its iconic harbour and towering turrets.
The surrounding scenery is no less than spectacular, and perhaps most majestic of all during the autumn. Embarking on an organised boat trip out into the estuary comes highly recommended, as does taking the opportunity to indulge in as much of the local seafood as you can squeeze into your visit.
Bodmin Moor AONB
Covering an area of around 200sq/km, the Bodmin Moor AONB is by far the largest in the region. It’s also the most rugged and unspoilt, making for memorable hikes and outdoor adventures for all ages and activity levels. From ancient oak trees to prehistoric settlements, the Bodmin Moor AONB feels a million miles removed from the busier modern towns of Cornwall.
If you’re lucky enough with the weather during your trip, a walk to the top of Brown Willy – the highest point in the region at 420 metres – comes highly recommended. The views out to sea and across the surrounding countryside are both breathtaking, complemented by the rare and unusual plant-life and wildlife you’ll encounter along the way.
Tamar Valley AONB
Straddling the border between Devon and Cornwall in quite majestic fashion, the Tamar Valley is home to some of the most striking, romantic scenery in the region. It’s also one of the most important sanctuaries for local wildlife – the perfect place to spot little egrets, avocets and so much more besides. Rather than just crossing the river on your way to and from Cornwall, why not take the time to explore the AONB by boat? Or if you prefer, the scenic Tamar Valley Line railway?
This now-quiet and idyllic stretch of river used to be home to more than 100 mines – the remnants of which are still visible here and there. The rich history and heritage of the Tamar Valley AONB can be explored by way of guided tours, or simply with a day or two’s self-guided exploration. Whichever direction you take, you’ll be surrounded by some of the most stunning scenery to be found anywhere in the UK.
South Coast – Central AONB
Last but not least, the often-overlooked charms and treasures of the Roseland Peninsula encapsulate all that’s magnificent about Cornwall’s AONB. This enchanting AONB stretches all the way from the coastline as far inland as the outskirts of Truro, incorporating countless quaint villages and towns along the way. St Austell and Penryn representing just two highlights along the way, along with the dramatic coastline around Nare Head, Dodman Point and Black Head.
Much of this AONB becomes somewhat crowded with visitors during the summer months, with things get significantly more tranquil throughout the autumn. As the climate here tends to be noticeably more pleasant than anywhere else in the UK, there’s still plenty of sunshine to enjoy into September and October. This also happens to be a time when much of the surrounding countryside is at its most beautiful. Book yourself an enchanting stay in a classic Cornish cottage and you’re guaranteed the memorable break of a lifetime.
Once again, it’s worth remembering that more than a quarter of the entire county is covered by Cornwall’s official AONB. Known far and wide as one of the most attractive and enjoyable counties in the country for short breaks and extended stays, Cornwall makes for the ideal staycation.