The Cornwall Hotel’s guide to visiting and exploring Cornwall on a friendly budget
A Cornish holiday needn’t be expensive. There’s a great variety of days out in Cornwall that will cost you little more than a bite to eat and the car park charge.
Here are some of our favourite free things to do around St Austell & Cornwall.
Head to the beach
One of Cornwall’s main attractions is free – its wonderful collection of beaches and coves. Swimming, exploring, or simply lying on the sand with a book, the coast is the perfect place to spend your holiday without spending your savings.
It’s even possible to have a free day on a Cornish beach with the kids, too. Rockpooling is a great way to spend a day, even off-season. All you need is grippy footwear and a container to (temporarily) put your discoveries in for closer inspection. Beachcomb for shells and sea-glass for rainy-day craft projects, or try pebble art on the sand.
Keeping it clean
Share your love for the shore by joining in with an organised beach clean. Surfers Against Sewage organise regular sessions in Cornwall. As well as making a difference to Cornwall’s environment and wildlife, you’ll get a great sense of camaraderie with like-minded people.
296* miles of coastal path
Glance up from the sands, and whichever beach you’re on, you’re bound to see walkers striding out along the cliff paths. The South West Coast Path runs from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset, and is 630 miles in total; and almost 300 of those miles are in Cornwall. That’s pretty ambitious for a weekend’s walking, so choose a stretch of path that appeals to you and set off along the coast. The Path’s website recommends walks based on certain criteria (location, dogs, kids, pubs…).
*This varies depending on what you’re reading!
A walk in the woods
Or, you can head inland, and enjoy some forest bathing. Welcomingly shady on warm days, and providing shelter on rainy ones, a woodland walk is a real pleasure at any time of year.
Kings Woods are close to The Cornwall, in the Pentewen Valley. This mixed woodland is home to varied local flora and fauna, and is easy to walk through. Try some of the pretty paths through Tehidy Woods near Redruth (which has Cornwall’s cheekiest squirrels), or spend an afternoon at the Forestry Commission woods at Cardinham. If you fancy a change from walking, there’s also a 12-mile bike trail at Cardinham – and speaking of which…
On your bike
There are some great cycle trails in Cornwall. The best-known is the Camel Trail, which is on the site of an old railway line between Padstow and Wenford Bridge. The whole trail is 18 miles long, and passes through some beautiful scenery along the estuary. It’s also largely flat. Closer to The Cornwall, Pentewen Valley Trail also uses a former railway route, is pretty level, and leads you to the beach.
This is technically only a “free thing” if you’ve brought your own bikes. If not, you can hire bicycles and cycling equipment from Pentewen Valley Cycle Hire near The Cornwall; and even with a hire fee, it’s still a reasonable cost for a whole day’s fun.
Cornish history and heritage
If you want to learn more about Cornish heritage and culture, there are plenty of ways you can do this free-of-charge. Falmouth Art Gallery takes you through the county’s long relationship with artists, as well as holding exhibitions and activities for families. You can discover Cornwall’s mining legacy at Heartlands in Pool. There’s a free permanent exhibition, an events programme, and a first-rate adventure playground. It does a good pasty, too…
Delve deeper into Cornwall’s history by visiting some of the Duchy’s ancient monuments; and there’s an Iron Age hillfort near Porthpean beach. There’s a cluster of ancient sites in West Cornwall, including the fascinating settlement at Carn Euny near Penzance.
While you’re in the west, there is a charge to see the castle or gardens at St Michael’s Mount; however you can walk across the causeway and explore the harbour without needing to pay. Check the causeway times first, or pay a small fee for the ferry boat.
If you have National Trust membership, you’ll get your money’s worth in Cornwall. English Heritage members also have plenty to see including Pendennis Castle and Tintagel Castle.
To find out more about fun free days out in Cornwall, have a chat with the team at The Cornwall – we’ve got plenty of tips to help you make the most of your Cornish holiday. If you have any recommendations yourself on the best places to visit on a budget we’d love to know!