Cornwall sits on England’s southwestern tip and encompasses wild moorland and gorgeous countryside. It is world-renowned for its hundreds of sandy beaches, making it a surfing haven and leading as one of the UK’s favoured holiday destinations.
So, we decided to head there for a long weekend to check it out for ourselves and see what photography in Cornwall is all about!
Firstly, we must state that a weekend is just not long enough. Cornwall has so many sights you will want to visit that even with the most structured itineraries, you will struggle to fit even half of it in.
If you can spend a week or two, you may get to dip your toes into the warm, welcoming seas of the natural beauty spots and begin to fall in love with this unique destination.
Where to stay?
We stayed in Helston, which is not far from the very End of the land, also known very suitably as Lands’ End.
We chose a little Air B and B, which, whilst more compact than a larger apartment, had everything we needed, was extremely reasonably priced, and was in the perfect location for us to explore the sights we had come to see. Plus there is a lantern light so you can lay in bed and watch the stars, what more do we need to say!?
The link for where we stayed is here:
What to do?
We arrived in Cornwall late Friday night and only had two days to pack as much as we could into our itinerary, and we have to say, we felt we did pretty well. Whilst there was so much to see and do, it certainly had us not wanting to leave and ever since, desperate to return!
Sunrise at the stunning Godrevy Lighthouse
We were up early and would love to say we bounced out of bed, our guidebook in hand, but quite frankly, that is never the case. Nevertheless, we were brimming with anticipation as we drove through the dark streets on our way to our first destination!
Standing approximately 300 metres off Godrevy Head and built-in 1859, it marks a dangerous reef off St Ives called the stones, a hazard to shipping for centuries.
During the first half of the 19th century, there was an increase in ships along the north coast of Cornwall.
St Ives flourished as a fishing station, but the Stones, lying dangerously across the natural path of this traffic, claimed many victims. Sadly, on 30 November 1854, a steamer was wrecked with the loss of all passengers and crew.
It was then that plans to erect a lighthouse would commence marking the hazard, and it was built and erected in 1859.
Now? You wouldn’t know the tragic past the stones have tied to its name as the land surrounding it was dotted with colourful flowers and swaying grass whilst the waters, even at 5.30 am, were swimming with surfers!
For some reason, we are intrigued by lighthouses and have been to four in just six weeks! They always look so stunning standing proud next to the ocean.
- Godrevy is a national trust property and so if you are a member, bring your card.
- Whilst we headed there with the lighthouse in mind, many flocks there to enjoy the beautiful golden beaches or explore the coastline on the many walks and marked footpaths.
- There are 3 National Trust car parks on the approach, so there is plenty of space, but it does get busy as the day draws on, so our advice is to get there early!
For more information: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/godrevy-cornwall
Try using the rocks to make an interesting foreground for a portrait size image. Also, be careful with your exposure as the sun will shine brightly on the side of the lighthouse compared to the rest of the scene.
Spend the afternoon at the local Seal sanctuary
We are both obsessed with animals and spent a good chunk of our time touring North Wales, heading to spots where there are usual seal sightings. So, when we read about the local seal sanctuary & rescue centre and some of the fantastic works for these gorgeous animals, we decided to spend a few hours there!
The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is a sanctuary for injured seal pups and is owned by The SEA LIFE Trust and based on the Helford River next to the village of Gweek.
The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is a charity that rescues and rehabilitates grey seal pups from around the Cornish coastline. Each season the Sanctuary rehabilitates over 70 rescued seal pups for various reasons, from malnourishment to being separated from their mum.
The Sanctuary is also home to fun-loving sea lions, playful penguins, and paddock animals.
We loved that we were spending our time supporting a cause that is so worthwhile but also managed to get up, close and personal with so many of these elusive creatures!
The highlight for me was being sat watching the baby seals play with each other in the Nursey, and they are animals so full of curiosity and character that as they stared straight at me for minutes on End, I couldn’t help feeling they knew that they were safe.
We prebooked tickets and paid £15.50 per person, which whilst the park isn’t huge, we felt the price was worthwhile since we knew it supported such a worthwhile cause.
You can book your tickets here: https://sealsanctuary.sealifetrust.org/en/
- You need to book online, or at least you did when we visited so, please check on their website. We had a time slot also booked and arrived in plenty of time.
- A snack stall sells doughnuts, sandwiches, and cakes and an ice cream vendor towards the entrance if you want to treat yourself.
- Dogs can accompany you on your visit if they stay on a lead.
Watch the sun go down at Botallack Mines
Perched up high and clinging on dramatically to the exposed cliffs of what’s known as the ‘tin coast’ and part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage site, Botallack Mines and the famed Crown Engine Houses are adjourned in history and just waiting to be discovered.
Worked from 1815-1914 and produced 22000 tons of copper and almost 15000 tons of tin; the mines were renovated between 1984 and 2006. They have been part of the UNESCO World Heritage site ever since and are also famous for being chosen as the filming location for the BBC series Poldark.
Honestly, this alone made us want to explore since we fell in love with the series! But the location is even more stunning than the TV would have you believe.
Row upon row of wildflowers in May, if you head there for a clear evening to watch the sunset, you will no doubt be blown away by the scene that unfolds before you. The soft light shining on the Crown’s Engine Houses as the sun went down was probably one of our favourite sunset spots to date!
There is a National Trust car park near The Count House with just a short walk to views in all directions.
Worth a visit and one not to be missed!
- It’s a National Trust area, so bring change for your parking
- Wear some decent shoes for walking; you are up and down quite a bit exploring, but it’s so worth it!
- Try and head there for sunset; the sun setting over the sea is just magical.
Great images can be had throughout the golden hour and due to its position on the coast, it is one of the few places that catch the last golden rays of the setting sun.
Sunrise at St Michael’s Mount
St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall is more intriguing than we first realised when heading there for sunrise on a warm summer’s morning. It has so much history, and so many stories, and yet, whilst ignorant of them all, we still admired its beauty and enjoyed taking photographs.
Watching the odd person peacefully kayak by and experiencing the tide drawing in on us as the path and causeway slowly disappeared from view.
We arrived at the car park at 5 am intending to get some sunrise photographs of the magical mount (who said photography was easy!), and whilst it was early, it was tranquil and peaceful. We had the location pretty much to ourselves.
The island is a civil parish and is linked to the town of Marazion by a beautiful causeway made of granite setts, passable between mid-tide and low tide.
When we arrived, the tide was already in a fairway. So we were unable to make it across as it was too early for the boats to be running, but fear not, if you do visit during more civilised hours and not the 4.30 am starts we constantly endure, then you can get a boat across to explore and even spend a day there.
Crowned by a medieval church and castle that has been home to the St Aubyn family since 1650, the island is managed by the National Trust to safeguard its future for generations to come.
Whilst we did not venture onto the island, it looks like a stunning and unique place to spend the day and, certainly for us, a reason to return!
If you want to visit the island, you must book tickets online, and if the tide is in, you will need to secure the boat across. You can enjoy the walk along the beautiful causeway if the tide is out.
You can find more information and tickets for St Michaels Mount here: https://www.stmichaelsmount.co.uk/book-tickets
- Do check tide times as this will determine how much of the path leading across you can see or access, and if, like us, you want to take photographs, then you may want more or less of the path on display.
- A pay and display car park is extremely close to the seafront, which charges roughly £1 an hour up to £12 for 24 hours.
- Many people were kayaking, even at 5 am, so it looks like a great spot to make your way around the island if you want a slightly different experience.
The tide plays a big part in the photography here. When the tide is in the walkway is completely covered. If this happens to you (as it did to us) you can use a nearby harbour to create a leading line.
Breakfast at “Nautibutice” in Porthleven
After spending the morning capturing St. Michaels Mount in Cornwall, we had built up an appetite and went in search of food, something that we tend to find ourselves doing an awful lot.
A couple of friends had recommended Porthleven as a lovely fishing port and town, and since it was just 15 minutes drive from Marazion, we headed there for breakfast.
Whilst quiet at 8 am, people were paddleboarding past and even jumping in for a quick dip in the cold waters below before they sat down to breakfast! We quickly discovered Nauti but Ice, which had seating indoors and out and seemed to have a varied and delightful breakfast menu with lots of vegetarian and vegan options and views across the port. It was one of those places where you just felt “like you were on holiday.”
The menu was fantastic and one of the best veggie breakfasts we have had; the service was with a smile, and their selection of ice creams was to die for.
A trip to Cornwall is not complete without casting your eyes over the legendary Kynance Cove, and it is every bit as beautiful (if not more so) as the photographs and videos dictate!
A tidal beach famed for its gorgeous sandy beach and turquoise blue waters, Kynance Cove attracts tourists in the hundreds, so get there early!
Given it is one of the most photographed locations in Cornwall, we had to check it out and try and get some captures ourselves and whilst later in the morning, and it did not disappoint. Some gorgeous spots to set up your camera are a short 10-minute walk away from the car park and not too strenuous although vertigo-inducing at times, and if you are anything like me, you will not want to be near the edges! But the views are worth every dizzy, nausea-inducing moment. (Slight dramatics there…)
If you are not too enthralled by photography, then you can head down to the sandy beach and set up camp or explore the coves or many rock pools.
Lizard point, another famous landmark in Cornwall, can be reached by foot as it’s just a short(ish) 45 minutes along the coastal path.
- Another gem of a location owned by the National Trust, there is plenty of parking, although this can soon change in peak times, meaning you may have to park in the next car park along, which is roughly a 40-minute walk.
- Arrive early as always to get the best spots for photography but also to secure your place on the beach if you are looking to spend the day there
- The beach is dog friendly in winter but like most beaches in Cornwall has a seasonal ban, so ensure you check the dates.
- There is a café which serves cakes, snacks, and hot drinks if you don’t fancy taking your picnic.
You can find exciting rocks all around Kynance Cove. Be sure to explore other parts instead of focusing on the main attraction.
Sunset at Land’s End
Lands End is a world-famous landmark located at the westernmost point of Cornwall and mainland England, and it is the End of the land.
Whilst I had been here before a fair few years ago, Steffan had not, so he wanted to experience it for himself and try and capture it on his camera in all of its glory.
For us, it was underwhelming. It was more of a tourist resort than a natural landmark, and whilst we should have expected this given its fame, we were not quite prepared for the theme park / retail outlet vibes Lands End has so brilliantly created.
However, in its defence, we did visit on a bank holiday weekend in the summer, so it was probably a lot to do with the time of year and the crowds, and so we would potentially go back in quieter months.
So, what can you expect from Lands End?
A vast car park – if you are heading there in peak times, book your parking spot online – yes, it gets that busy.
The “resort” has a small shopping village with retail outlets selling souvenirs, snacks and clothing and has attractions such as 4D film showings and even a small farm.
If you want a photograph with the iconic sign, you will need to queue up and pay £10 for a picture with the sign, which outrages some visitors, but given that you are contributing to the area’s upkeep, it’s not all bad.
Lands’ End did do well with vegan options, which was a pleasant surprise, vegan ice cream, and vegan pasties, which we thoroughly enjoyed whilst sitting on a rock enjoying the views!
Overall, we are glad we experienced Lands End, but I think it wasn’t our favourite spot but certainly, one to tick off our bucket list!
- Book your parking spot online if you are visiting during peak times
- If you want to beat the crowds, maybe make it an early visit since sunset does seem to draw in the masses
There are again some interesting rocks on the coastline that could make a good image or if you are lucky you may see a passing sailboat as the sun goes down
So that was our packed weekend Itinerary in Cornwall, and whilst we did not even scratch the surface, we fell in love with the Cornish coast, the tasty pastries and stunning views all the same, and cannot wait to return!
To check out how to spend a weekend in beautiful Pembrokeshire, click here