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The most westerly tip of mainland Britain is an exhilarating base for an outdoorsy holiday, offering land lovers and watersports fans a huge range of activities to choose from...

1821 surfers polzeath beach cornwall credit david hughes

The county of Cornwall has serious credentials when it comes to adventure – the UK’s first surfers took to the waves at Holywell Bay in Newquay in the late twenties, and the Olympic hero Ben Ainslie was raised in Falmouth. But as well as exploiting the impressive 300-mile coastline, which wraps around the county, there’s a lot going inland too. Mountain Boarding, also known as all terrain boarding or off road skateboarding, is an increasingly popular thing to do and Cornwall is top destination, thanks to its grassy hills, gentle woodland, undulating moorland. Less of an adrenaline fix, but equally as challenging, are the hikes in an around the rocky tors of Bodmin Moor, or along the cliff tops on the South West Coast Path.

Sea kayak off cornwall coast CREDIT

Cycling in Cornwall

With a wide variety of trails for all ages and abilities Cornwall is a great place to get the wheels turning. The Minerals Tramways Project brings together 31-km of restored tramway and railway routes used to transport copper and tin ore from Cornish mines, to the county’s ports. The Coast to Coast route starts in the north at Portreath and finishes at Devoran harbour south of Truro, and is suitable for families. National Cycle Routes 3 and 32 also wheel around the lanes and trails of Cornwall ( Serious off road riders should be redirected to the Poldice Valley where the downhill tracks skirt the detritus of the disused mines.

Surfing in Cornwall

Arguable the country’s Mecca for surfing, Cornwall offers surfers break after break, after break. Popular locations are Watergate Bay, just north of Newquay, where surfing is just one of the activites on the CV of the Extreme Academy ( Closer to town Fistral Beach (, the self-proclaimed “Surf Capital of the West”, is one of Newquay’s town beaches and regularly hosts pro’ competitions, including the UK Pro Surf Tour. For lessons contact Fistral Beach Surf School ( Polzeath is another north coast hot spot. On the south coast try Whitsand Bay.
surfers Polzeath beach cornwall CREDIT David Hughes

Watersports in Cornwall

If you fancy paddling out around the hidden coves and sheltered bays of the Cornish coast you could take to a sit-on kayak. These super stable kayaks are easy to use and steer and perfect for novices. Sea Kayaking Cornwall ( operates from Falmouth and offers half day guided tours of the area.  If windsurfing is more your thing you can opt to stay on the coast (try Daymer Bay, arguably one of the best windsurfing spots in the country), or head inland to Siblyback Lake on Bodmin Moor near Liskeard. The Outdoor + Active centre offers windsurfing, sailing and kayaking tuition and hire ( Kite surfers head to Gwithian Beach, on the north coast near Hayle.Thumbnail Kite surfer cornwall beach CREDIT Andrew Lever 

Sailing in Cornwall

From the Camel estuary to Falmouth harbour the opportunities for sailing in Cornwall are amongst some of the best in Europe. Aspiring Ben Ainslie’s can learn from the age of eight at Falmouth School of Sailing (, whilst more advanced sailors can try their hand at racing at Stithians Country Park (

Mountain Boarding in Cornwall

One of the more alternative ways to spend your time in Cornwall is to try your hand at Mountain Boarding, or off road skating boarding. Created by frustrated snowboarders, fed up of waiting for the snow to start falling, a mountain board is an over-sized skateboard with fat, chunky tyres. The Ivyleaf Mountainboard centre, near Bude ( will help you master the art of this extreme sport, which takes advantage of Cornwall’s undulating hills and abundant off-road terrain.

Hiking and walking in Cornwall

From short walks a couple of miles long, to challenging multi-day hikes it’s easy to lace up your boots and head out for a hike here. The Cornish section of the South West Coast Path National Trail ( is around 300-miles long. A short, family-friendly, section is the 6.3-mile route from Mullion Cove to Lizard Village at Cornwall’s southerly tip, where you’re likely to seals and even basking sharks. Refuel at the lovely Kyance Café ( picturesque Kyance Cove. The wild and desolate Bodmin Moor is a great place for walkers to explore. Much of the rough moorland has Open Access status, which allows walkers to wander freely without sticking to paths. The 36-mile Smugglers’ Way, from Boscastle to Looe, is a challenging route that crosses the heart of the moor taking in historic landmarks like Jamaica Inn (

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