You don’t have to journey far from either coast in Cornwall to get away from the crowds and into a land seldom touched by tourism. This is where you will find quiet villages, rich farmland, historic market towns and Cornwall’s only city, Truro.
Mid Cornwall, and the A30 corridor, is home to a number of larger towns, Bodmin in the east, down to Redruth and Camborne in the west. Cornwall’s only city, Truro, lies a short distance south of the main road and is central to all other towns and villages. Bodmin was, until Truro developed, the County town of Cornwall and many fine buildings including the county court and jail can still be viewed. The jail is now a deluxe hotel and visitor attraction, whilst the town also has what was Cornwall’s largest church until Truro Cathedral was built late in the 1800s.
It was with the building of the Cathedral, and later the County Hall and courts that Truro became the administrative centre of Cornwall. Today it is a compact city with a pleasant shopping centre full of independent shops alongside some major stores. It has a popular theatre, a cinema and plenty of open space including Victoria Park with its bandstand. The city sits at the head of the Truro River which flows into the Fal offering access to many miles of waterways for those with boats.
The two towns of Redruth and Camborne both grew up due to the industrialisation of Cornwall in the 1800s, especially the mining industry. A fierce rivalry developed between the two towns that lasts to this day. Many of the grand buildings from the mid 1800s survive in both towns, as do some of the engine houses of the mines. At Heartlands, between the two towns, you can explore the areas heritage and there are two National Trust owned engine houses close by that can also be visited.
Those seeking more information about Cornwall’s history, whether inland or on the coast, should visit Kresen Kernow, Cornwall records office, now based in a purpose built building at the bottom of Redruth.
Not all of Cornwall is pretty. North of St Austell, the clay area is still an industrial landscape of working pits, extracting white China clay from the ground and creating vast spoil tips alongside. The clay villages are more akin to the Welsh mining valleys than the Cornish coastline, and much of the area is out of bounds to the public. However, those wanting to discover more about this part of Cornwall should head for Wheal Martyn Museum, a great place to learn about this industry, as well as being an enjoyable area to walk around, especially in the spring when the site is full of wild flowers. The other attraction associated with this landscape is the Eden Project, built in the remains of a former clay pit, though you would hardly believe it as you wander around this verdant wonderland.
Traveling down the A30, you cross Goss Moor, once known as the ‘biggest carpark’ in Cornwall when traffic jams took place most weekends. Today the road has been diverted away from the trouble spots, but lovers of wildlife and wilderness can now follow the route of the old road, on foot or by bike, and explore one of Cornwall’s finest heathlands.
Nearby, the village of Roche may not feature in many tour guides, but visitors shouldn’t miss the remains of the medieval chapel perched on top of a rocky outcrop behind the football pitch. According to legend, a hermit once lived there having contracted leprosy, another tale tells of the dead steward of Lanhydrock, Tregeagle, hiding from the Devil there. Whatever the truth is, the ruin is as fine as anything you will see on the coast.
Attractions near the A30
With the A30 offering easy access up and down Cornwall, it’s ideal for visiting some of the best attractions in the area. Bodmin has a great selection, from the spooky jail to the Cornwall’s own science museum, the small but perfect Discovering 42 . There’s also Lanhydrock and Pencarrow close by, if you are a fan of gardens and large fancy houses. And if you enjoy the high life, why not visit Camel Valley Vineyard for a taste of the finer things in life?
Goss Moor and Helman Tor are two areas that reward a visit if you are into walking and bird watching, but if you prefer something more exotic, the Eden Project is only 10 minutes’ drive away from the A30. The same can be said of Lappa Valley, hidden in countryside south-west of Newquay, this family favourite provides enough to do for a whole days visit.
As you head down towards Redruth and Camborne, it’s all about our industrial heritage. The King Edward Mine is a good place to start to discover what went on, or pop into Heartlands where there’s much more than mining heritage. Just north of the A30, Cornwall Gold includes Tolgus Tin, where minerals were once processed. The attraction now includes plenty of other things to do for all ages including a popular café. Finally, before you head into the far west, take some time to explore Tehidy Woods, a sylvan buffer between the rocky spine of Cornwall and the windswept north coast.
Truro, the UK’s most Southerly city, is a vibrant destination offering shopping, culture and impressive architecture right in the heart of Cornwall.
Centre stage is Truro Cathedral with its impressive gothic towers dominating the skyline. In its shadow, a warren of compact streets are home to an impressive array of independent traders alongside well known high street names. From boutiques to bookshops and designer interiors to delicatessens, this great little city offers a unique shopping experience. The café culture is pretty impressive too, with hip coffee houses, artisan ice creameries and cocktail bars dotted across the centre.
With a year-long events programme, weekly food markets and several art galleries, Truro offers a different side of Cornwall, away from the coast.
Where to stay
Why not stay a little longer and explore everything this captivating region has to offer? From quaint guest houses and charming cottages, to unique campsites and city chic hotels, find your perfect stay.
Things to do
Plan your next adventure and find things to do in this region. Think retail therapy, peaceful walks, captivating history, and delicious food. Find out more about what you can get up to on your next visit.
Often, and quite literally, bypassed, mid Cornwall is overlooked by visitors who are understandably seeking coastal charms. Next time, however, pull over, stop for a while and allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised by the pastoral beauty of this underrated area… There's still plenty of pretty villages, lots of heritage, tucked away attractions and Cornwall's only city, Truro.
Of course! The city is famous for its ancient, cobbled and narrow streets with a range of stunning architecture featuring Gothic and Georgian styles. Central to the city centre is the Victorian Cathedral whilst all around it are a selection of independent shops, cafe's and restaurants.
With a recently refurbished theatre, cinema and loads of lovely pubs, Truro is a great place to spend a night or two, with the added bonus that it's no distance to drive to a beach during the day, either of the north or south coast.
Redruth is a lovely town with some great independent shops, cafes and cinema/theatre. Its former life as one of Cornwall's major industrial towns means there's plenty of heritage to be seen in and around the town.
Positioned just off the A30 makes Redruth a great centrally located base with easy access to the beaches on the north and south coast of Cornwall, and St Ives is only half an hour away by road, or you could jump on the train and avoid the hassle of parking!
The A30 runs down through the centre of Cornwall, leaving the M5 at Exeter. It enters Cornwall at Launceston, crosses Bodmin Moor and passes Bodmin. Once past there roads branch off to St Austell and Newquay and a little further on, Truro.
At the present time (June 2023) work is still on-going to dual a long stretch of the A30 heading west towards Redruth and Camborne. This will hopefully do away with summer traffic jams as you head towards the far west, St Ives and Penzance.
The A30 continues past Penzance all the way to Lands's End.
Leaving Exeter, the other major road into Cornwall is the A38. This crosses the Tamar Bridge at Plymouth and serves the towns and villages of south-east Cornwall before terminating at Bodmin where it joins the A30.
Coming down the North Coast, the A39 (also known as the Atlantic Highway) is good for access to Bude, Wadebridge and Padstow, and all the lovely north coast beaches. It continues onto Truro and eventually Falmouth.
The A390 is the main road serving St Austell, running from Tavistock in Devon, across the Tamar at Gunnislake and onto Liskeard. From St Austell it continues down to Truro.
Running north. and adjacent to the Devon/Cornwall border, the A388 runs from Saltash up to Launceston.
The A94 runs from Falmouth to Penzance via Helston where the A3083 runs down to Lizard Point.
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