Cornwall, England

Jason R. Matheson
8 min readOct 8, 2023


The sea is always near in Britain, this is an island nation after all. We drove to the extreme southwest of England into the county of Cornwall until the motorway could go no further. We were on a narrow peninsula surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean.

The landscape was dramatic. A sharp contrast of gentle English hills, green pastures and sturdy stone houses framed by jagged sea cliffs, crusty fishing villages and the relentless rolling waves of the sea.

The old street posts marking our path through the narrow, hedge-lined lanes of Cornwall bore the marks of struggle against this harsh environment. And yet, we found warm pubs inviting us in for a pint.

The 16th century Miners Arms in the secluded enclave of Mithian was just minutes from our small Airbnb house. Entering the ancient pub was like stepping back in time with its low ceilings and petrified beams.

We were also just minutes from the cove at St. Agnes along Cornwall’s north shore. Somewhere out over the horizon was Ireland and far beyond that, America.

At low tide, a wide sand beach emerged, framed by jagged cliffs and small houses clinging to the surrounding hills. Cornish folks, taking advantage of the sunny weather, romped with their ever-present dogs along the shore. The English do love their dogs.

We drove to the very end of Britain, aptly named Land’s End. A sign post indicated New York was just over 3,000 miles to the west. Unfathomable that centuries ago, explorers and pilgrims departed these familiar shores for the complete unknown of the new world far over the horizon.

Land’s End was unsurprisingly touristy so we took a quick glance around and then headed back up the peninsula.

The next day, we explored the south shore of Cornwall beginning with the fishing village of Mevagissey. Its tight harbor protected local fishing boats and tiny rowboats which looked more suitable for a pond rather than the open sea. Yeah, we’re gonna need a bigger boat!

The sun was out again this day and we joined locals along the harbor front. A small chippy cart won our business and we enjoyed fresh fish and chips under the watchful eye of hungry seagulls. A sign warned us they were vicious and not to feed.

A few minutes up the coast brought us to the quiet harbor at Charlestown. It was really a narrow inlet but over the centuries, ships had safely docked here to load and unload supplies. Tales of Barbary pirates kidnapping local fishermen and carting them back to Africa swirled in this area.

Surprisingly, the harbors in Cornwall did not smell of the sea. Perhaps the stiff breeze never allowed the salty air to stagnate. We ducked into a cozy local pub, the Crown Inn in Lanlivery, to enjoy a pint near a warm fire.

Exploring on up the north coast, we enjoyed a scenic lunch at a farmhouse cafe in Boscastle. We entered through a market surrounded by fresh produce from the Cornish countryside. Lucky to secure a table at the busy cafe, we were rewarded with a selection of delicious quiche and desserts.

British hikers following coastal paths filled outdoor tables, enjoying a lunch break paired with incredible views of the sea.

In the nearby valley, the sturdy fishing village of Boscastle occupied a narrow inlet framed by a walled harbor first constructed in the 1500s.

A freak rainstorm coinciding with high tide nearly washed the village into the sea in 2004. Miraculously, no one drowned although it took years for the area to recover. Today, visitors walked along the peaceful inlet enjoying their ice cream.

On our drive out of Cornwall, we pulled off the motorway and plunged down another narrow hedge-framed lane to visit ancient St Swithin’s. The church stood in a wooded hollow, apparently untouched by modern times.

This parish church miraculously escaped the restoring clutches of the Victorians, prompting Sir John Betjeman to famously call it the ‘least spoilt church in Cornwall’.

Despite a history dating back a thousand years, St. Swithin’s was empty and free for us to explore completely on our own. The west wall featured a painting portraying the sacrifice of Isaac which had just emerged back into the light after being plastered over during the Reformation.

At the front of the church, the chancel was paved with Barnstaple encaustic tiles which dated from the 1400s. It was surrounded by clear glass windows which survived the Victorian fashion of stained-glass replacement. Medieval wooden benches decorated with carved biblical motifs lined the interior.

Six bells hung in the tower. The earliest four were cast in 1751. Records showed that the same team of bell-ringers who rang to celebrate George III’s accession to the throne in 1760 also rang at his Jubilee 50 years later, and three of them lived long enough to ring and George IV’s accession in 1820!

We were reminded time in England was often marked by royal reigns.

Our final stop was actually just over the county border from Cornwall into Devon. Hartland Quay was precariously situated on a stony point surrounded by jagged coastline. A map on the wall of our lunch pub marked the numerous ships which came to grief at this spot.

I hiked down to the beach while mom explored the view from high above. I was intrigued by the rocky washouts and caves which undoubtedly housed pirates and fortunate souls who washed up on land from shipwrecks here over the centuries.

We were fortunate to be blessed with warm and sunny weather to explore beautiful Cornwall, a most scenic corner of Britain.


Thanks for coming along on the trip. If you have questions or suggestions, tweet @JasonRMatheson. Missed an entry? Click here.



Jason R. Matheson

I prefer to travel slow. Enjoy history, design, architecture, cars, sports digital. Auburn alum, Sooner born.