Cornwall is a study in contrasts. It is charming and quaint, yet rugged and isolated. Located in the westernmost point of the United Kingdom, Cornwall is a peninsula that offers rocky cliffs overlooking the sea on its northern side and golden sand beaches that are loved by tourists on the south.
Pirates and smugglers called Cornwall home in the days of yore. Surrounded by water, except for the boundary with Devonshire, Cornwall’s beaches were perfect for such activities, eventually leading to a romanticization of these activities in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, “The Pirates of Penzance”.
Cornwall also has a fairy tale quality about it. The children’s story, “Jack and the Beanstalk”, takes place here. The legendary King Arthur of Camelot fame supposedly was born in Tintagel Castle. Pixies or fairies are popular even today among Cornish folk.
St. Ives, once a sleepy fishing village north of Penzance, today is known as a popular holiday resort and haven for artists. St. Ives makes a good day trip from Penzance for visitors pressed for time. The village is filled with narrow cobblestone streets dotted with artists’ studios.
St. Michael Mount, the Cornish counterpart of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, sits on a tidal island 400 yards off the coast. This means folks who visit this landmark need to time their visit carefully, since the causeway to the island is open only from mid-tide to low water. The castle may have been a monastery a thousand years ago.