Cornish Towns

Listed¬†are some of Cornwall’s significant towns (and city!) with a few facts to get you started.

St Austell lies in the centre of scenic St Austell Bay; a market and mining town that owes its growth to the china clay industry and is now the largest conurbation in Devon and Cornwall.

Truro is called after Tri-veru which means three rivers and is the centre for administration, commerce and tourism in Cornwall. Located at the head of the River Fal, Truro Cathedral with its three spires defines the city.

Penzance is Cornwall’s most westerly town positioned on the south facing shores of Mounts Bay giving it a mild and temperate climate. The gateway to unique landscape of West Penwith.

Bodmin was once the county town of Cornwall and the county’s religious centre. Today Bodmin is a busy market town serving the surrounding rural villages.

Lostwithiel – now known as the antiques capital of Cornwall, Lostwithiel was once a major port, situated at the navigable head of the River Fowey and was the county’s capital during the 14th Century. A lovely medieval bridge in the centre was the original river crossing.

Launceston is often called the ‘gateway to Cornwall’, being situated just over a mile west of the River Tamar and Launceston Castle, built just after the Norman Conquest, which dominates the skyline, once protected the route into Cornwall.

Hayle has been an important port and copper smelting and heavy engineering created a boom town. Hayle is also reknown for its scenic location, its 4 mile long sandy beach backed by the Towans and Hayle Estuary – a huge nature reserve and sanctuary for thousands of birds from all over the world.

Redruth became a boom town in the 18th Century from tin and copper mining, and along with Camborne holds the status of being a World Heritage Site. A bronze scuplture of a Cornish miner stands in the main street as a reminder of the town’s rich mining heritage.

St Ives, with its narrow streets is a lovely seaside town with sandy beaches, a sheltered harbour and renowned for its many artists including the potter Bernard Leach and scuptor Barbara Hepworth. The Tate Modern overlooks Porthmeor Beach where the work from many local artists can be viewed.

Falmouth has a fascinating maritime heritage, with the natural harbour one of the largest and most picturesque in the world. University College Falmouth is one of the UK’s leading specialist arts institutions.

Helston is a bustling market town with a mix of Georgian and Victorian architecture. Famous for the annual Flora Day when dancers weave in and and out of shops, homes and gardens creating a carnival atmosphere.

Padstow – At the mouth of the River Camel, Padstow is a sheltered unspoilt port used for fishing, sailing and boating and a popular holiday resort with the annual ‘Obby ‘Oss festival drawing in huge numbers of visitors and locals to the town.

Fowey lies in An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the west bank of River Fowey. The natural harbour is used by all types of shipping from sailing dinghies to huge ships. Daphne Du Maurier spent most of her life in this lovely area and a festival is held each year in her honour.
Mevagissey – A pretty fishing village with a labyrinth of winding lanes crammed with gift shops, pubs and eating houses.

Newquay is famous for its incredible range of beaches, surfing, nightlife and stunning coastal walks.

Mousehole is a tiny fishing village with cottages built from the local Lamorna Granite huddled around the harbour. Once a fishing port, it is now mostly pleasurecraft that use the harbour.

St Agnes was one of the many Cornish settlements that grew around the tin and copper mining industries and there are several engine houses in this area including Wheal Coates set on the cliff edge. Lovely cliff walks and beaches surround this village.

Perranporth – Named after St Piran, the patron saint of Cornwall, Perranporth is a popular holiday resort with a large sandy beach backed by dunes where St Piran’s oratory lies.

Picturesque Looe lies on both sides of the deep inlet of the River Looe, joined by a bridge which was built in 1853. A small fishing fleet still fish from here.

Polperro grew as a result of the pilchard industry and many of the cottages have ground floor store rooms once used for the day’s catch. Polperro was a smuggling capital where contraband would leave from here, some heading across Bodmin Moor en route to London.

Callington – A small ancient market town famous for its Honey Fair and Mural Trail. Kit Hill Country Park nearby is a wonderful nature reserve with fantastic views of the Tamar Valley.

Tregony was once a busy port when the River Fal was navigable to here. The river has silted up due to tin streaming and china clay processing upstream. Tegony has plenty of charm with its wide Fore Street, unusual clock tower and 17th Century Almshouses.

St Columb Major – The game of hurling a Silver Ball is played here at Shrovetide involving two teams of several hundred people who attempt to carry a silver ball made of applewood to goals set 2 miles apart.

Tintagel is associated with the legends of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table . Tintagel Castle sitting high on the cliffs is said to be the birthplace of King Arthur.

Boscastle is a picturesque village with a medieval harbour hidden in a steep sided wooded valley and home to the Museum of Witchcraft, the world’s largest collection of witchcraft related artefacts.

Camelford – An ancient town situated on the River Camel and the Atlantic Highway, the A39 , on the edge of Bodmin Moor. Prominent buildings include the Town Hall built in 1806 which was originally a market house.

Camborne is famous for its links with Camborne School of Mines and the part it played in mining engineering. Visit for local trails and information about this fascinating town.

Port Isaac was a busy coastal port from the Middle Ages to the mid 19th Century trading in stone, coal and timber. Port Isaac is now a popular tourist spot due to its picturesque setting and has been used as a set for TV and film including Doc Martin.