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Folklore and Fairytales: Enchanting Places To Visit in Devon and Cornwall

port isaac cornwall

In the deep southwest reaches of the British Isles, Devon and Cornwall offer an exceptional journey into history and myth. These regions are not just beautiful with their dramatic coastlines, sandy beaches, and lush forests; they are also steeped in legendary stories.

It’s a place where every corner promises a new discovery, perfect for those who appreciate the richness of culture and the thrill of uncovering hidden gems.

From the haunting allure of Dartmoor to the Arthurian legends of Tintagel, each corner of these lands holds a story, waiting to be uncovered by those who dare to venture beyond the known.

St. Ives 

St. Ives is a picturesque seaside town in Cornwall, renowned for its radiant light and stunning coastal scenery that has inspired artists for generations. The town is a vibrant hub for the arts, home to the Tate St. Ives, the Barbara Hepworth Museum, and numerous galleries showcasing local and international artists. 

Its cobbled streets, bustling with cafes and boutiques, lead down to beautiful beaches where turquoise waters meet golden sands. St. Ives is not just an artist’s paradise but also a haven for surfers and beachgoers seeking the idyllic coastal experience.

Clovelly

clovelly england

Clovelly is a unique, cliffside fishing village in Devon, renowned for its historic, traffic-free cobbled streets and quaint cottages. This privately owned village has preserved its traditional charm and character, offering visitors a glimpse into a bygone era. 

Donkeys and sledges are the primary means of transport, navigating the steep, winding paths that lead down to the ancient harbor. Visiting Clovelly is like stepping back in time, with its timeless beauty, heritage, and tranquility offering a peaceful retreat from the modern world.

Porthcurno

porthcurno cornwall

Nestled in the westernmost coves of Cornwall, Porthcurno is famous for its beautiful beach, encircled by high cliffs and soft, white sands that have made it a favorite among locals and travelers alike.

Beyond its natural allure, Porthcurno holds a significant place in history as a key hub of international telecommunication. The Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, located in the valley, chronicles the fascinating story of underwater cables that connected Britain to the rest of the world, marking Porthcurno as an unlikely epicenter of global communication. 

The Minack Theatre, an open-air amphitheater carved into the granite cliff overlooking the sea, offers a unique cultural experience, with performances set against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean.

Dartmoor National Park

dartmoor national park england

Dartmoor National Park is a landscape of stunning contrasts in the heart of Devon where the serene beauty of ancient woodlands and the rugged grandeur of granite tors captivate the imagination.

This vast expanse of moorland, one of the last great wildernesses in England, is steeped in history, myths, and legends, from the mysterious stone circles to tales of the supernatural. Dartmoor’s natural beauty is not just a haven for hikers, climbers, and nature lovers but also serves as an inspiration for artists, writers, and poets, drawn to its wild, untamed spirit.

One such place, Wistman’s Wood, with its gnarled, moss-covered oaks, is reputed to be a gathering place for druids and a haven for supernatural creatures. Venturing through this woodland, visitors often speak of an inexplicable sense of otherworldliness, as if stepping into a storybook.

Tintagel Castle

tintagel castle england

Perched on Cornwall’s rugged coastline, Tintagel Castle is steeped in the legends of King Arthur. Said to be the birthplace of this iconic figure, the ruins evoke a powerful sense of history and myth.

Crossing the dramatic new footbridge to reach the island, one can almost hear the echoes of Arthurian knights and envision Merlin in his cave below the fortress, casting spells and guiding the fate of Britain. The blend of historical ruins and mythological significance makes Tintagel a must-visit for those enchanted by the tales of chivalry and magic.

—> Read More: Top 10 Most Visited Places in England

Boscastle

boscastle cornwall

Just a stone’s throw from Tintagel lies Boscastle, a picturesque village where folklore seems embedded in the very fabric of the place. The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, one of the world’s largest collections of witchcraft-related artifacts, offers a deep dive into the arcane. 

The village’s natural harbor, surrounded by steep hillsides, adds to the mystical ambiance, with local legends of witches and spirits that have long called this place home.

St Michael’s Mount

st michaels mount cornwall

St Michael’s Mount, a tidal island located just off the coast of Marazion in Cornwall, is a historic gem and a place of great legend. Atop the island stands a medieval church and castle, accessible by foot across a causeway at low tide. 

The island is shrouded in myths, including stories of giants and visions of the archangel Michael, hence the name. It’s said that the mount was once home to a miraculous apparition of St Michael, who appeared to fishermen on the island. 

Today, St Michael’s Mount is not only a monument to human history and architecture but also a living legend, inviting visitors to explore its ancient halls, discover its storied past, and enjoy stunning views of the Cornish coastline.

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Torquay and Cockington Village

cockington england

Torquay, a town on Devon’s English Riviera, is famed for its sandy beaches, palm-lined promenade, and lively harbor. It’s also known as the birthplace of the legendary mystery writer Agatha Christie, adding a literary layer to its coastal charm. 

Nearby, the historic village of Cockington appears as though time has stood still, with its thatched cottages, medieval church, and manor house set amidst a country park. Cockington Court, at the heart of the village, is a creative hub, hosting studios for artists and craftsmen.

The village and its surrounding country park offer peaceful walks through woods and gardens, making it a perfect retreat from the bustle of Torquay.

—> Read More: 9 ‘Must-See’ Historic Towns In Southern England

Lands End

lands end cornwall

Land’s End, officially the most westerly point of mainland England, is a place of rugged cliffs, wild ocean views, and mythical tales. This is a landscape that feels like the edge of the world, where the Atlantic Ocean stretches out into infinity.

The area is steeped in legends, including tales of mermaids and the mythical lost land of Lyonesse, said to lie submerged off its coast. Walking the windswept paths of Land’s End, visitors are treated to breathtaking vistas and a sense of standing at the boundary between the known world and the realms of legend and myth.

Port Isaac

port isaac cornwall
 

Port Isaac is a charming fishing village along Cornwall’s rugged north coast with narrow winding streets, whitewashed cottages, and a picturesque harbor that has been a backdrop to famous films and television series, including “Doc Martin.”

This historic village, with its thriving fishing community, retains an authentic charm and provides insights into Cornwall’s maritime heritage. Exploring Port Isaac gives a glimpse into the daily lives of its inhabitants, past and present, and the enduring spirit of Cornish coastal communities.

Exeter

exeter cathedral

Exeter serves as the historic county town of Devon, which elegantly weaves centuries-old tradition and modern life. Dominated by the striking Exeter Cathedral, with its intricate Gothic architecture and ancient library, the city stands as a beacon of historical and cultural wealth.

The remnants of its Roman walls and the unique Underground Passages offer a fascinating journey into the past, while the bustling quayside reflects Exeter’s longstanding relationship with commerce and leisure, set against the scenic River Exe.

The Royal Albert Memorial Museum serves as a custodian of Devon’s heritage, while the city’s calendar brims with festivals that celebrate an array of arts, from music to literature. The University of Exeter injects a youthful vitality, fostering a lively atmosphere that complements the city’s historic charm.

Ilfracombe

ilfracombe england

Ilfracombe is a seaside resort in North Devon with a difference, offering rugged cliffs, tranquil beaches, and a bustling harbor that’s home to artist Damien Hirst’s striking sculpture, “Verity.”

This town combines natural beauty with a quirky artistic atmosphere, making it a fascinating place for those who enjoy the blend of coastal scenery and contemporary art. 

The Tunnels Beaches offer a unique Victorian bathing experience, while the harbor and surrounding countryside provide ample opportunities for walks and exploration.

Lanhydrock House

lanhydrock house cornwall

Near the town of Bodmin lies Lanhydrock House, a magnificent late Victorian country house with extensive servants’ quarters, gardens, and a wooded estate. Managed by the National Trust, the great home provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the aristocracy and their servants in the 19th century.

The house, with its preserved kitchens, nurseries, and lavish family rooms, offers an immersive journey into the past, while the surrounding gardens and estate trails invite exploration of the natural beauty of Cornwall.

Lanhydrock’s combination of history, architecture, and landscape makes it a must-visit for those interested in England’s cultural heritage.

Truro

truro england

Truro, the only official city in Cornwall, boasts an impressive gothic cathedral that dominates the skyline, a lively center for arts, culture, and shopping, and a rich history reflected in its Georgian architecture.

As Cornwall’s administrative heart, Truro serves as a cultural hub, with the Royal Cornwall Museum providing insights into the region’s archaeological and social history.

The city’s cobbled streets, vibrant markets, and annual festivals, such as the Truro City of Lights, make it a lively spot for visitors seeking both the charm of a small town and the vibrancy of city life.

And That’s A Wrap!

In conclusion, the enchanting regions of Devon and Cornwall serve as a portal to a past rich with myth and legend, where every landscape seems touched by magic.

Devon and Cornwall are not merely destinations; they are experiences laden with the promise of discovery and ancient mysteries waiting to be uncovered. For those drawn to the beauty of nature and the thrill of legends, a visit to these southwestern shores of England is truly an unforgettable adventure.

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Jack Baumann

President of Guidester

Jack Baumann has lived and traveled throughout Europe for over 15 years, creating Guidester in 2014. Over the years Guidester has developed into a unique travel concierge and tour company helping travelers make the most of their trip to Europe.

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