Five Natural Wonders of Cornwall
The landscape of Cornwall is so varied, from long sandy beaches to rocky coves, from rugged moorland to wooded valleys. We all have our favourite bit, and it would be impossible to choose just one, even five of the best ‘Natural Wonders’, but we have tried…
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Australia has the Twelve Apostles, Orkney has the Old Man of Hoy, here in Cornwall we have Bedruthan Steps. Coastal erosion has created the sea stacks and they are linked to the legend of the giant Bedruthan, who used the stacks as stepping stones.
The five main stacks all have a name, from north to south they are Queen Bess, Samaritan Island, Redcove Island, Pendarves Island, and Carnewas Island. Sadly, at the present time access to the beach is unavailable due to rock falls making the stairway unsafe, but visitors can still walk along the cliff top and get superb views of the stacks, but do be careful and don’t go to near the edge.
A different type of ‘stack’ can be found on Bodmin Moor, one created over millions of years by the wind and the rain. You will find similar rock formations on many hills and tors in Cornwall, but nowhere are they as epic in shape as the one to the north of Minions.
Perched on the edge of a quarry, The Cheesewring takes its name from the process used to create cider by pressing bags of apples, also known as cheeses. In Victorian times it was a popular destination for outings, with old photographs showing groups of people standing on top of the stack, something only skilled rock climbers who should attempt to do.
Six main rivers and countless streams flow out to sea between Pendennis Point and St Antony Head in an area known as the Carrick Roads. Falmouth is said to have one of the largest, deepest harbours in the World, and the tide flows inland over 12 miles as far as Truro and Tresillian. At one time both of these places would have been important ports, but over the years the rivers have silted up and they are now only reachable on high tides.
Most of the rivers flowing inland are flanked by ancient woodland, growing on step sided banks. Here and there small communities have sprung up, many now very desirable places to live with yacht marinas and riverside pubs, but in other parts the magic and solitude still remains, a tranquil mixture of greenery and water.
The best way of exploring the river and estuary is on an Enterprise Boats tour.
Situated in a broad flat, valley basin in the centre of Cornwall, many people drive across it on the A30 not even realizing what a special area it is. Containing areas of both dry and wet heathland, mire, fen and open water, it provides a diverse mix of wildlife habitats, home to some of Cornwall rarest species.
29 species of butterfly have been recorded at the reserve, including the marsh fritillary, plus 18 species of dragonflies and damselflies. Dormice can be found here and otters are nocturnal visitors, as are roe deer, which can be seen at dawn and dusk as they venture out to graze. With over 70 species of birds nesting on the site as well, it really is one of Cornwall’s top natural wonders.
You can explore the area by bike or on foot on the Goss Moor Trail.
The most southerly part of mainland Britain is also one of the most interesting geologically. The rocks that make up the peninsula are totally different to those found in other parts of Cornwall and have more in common with the highlands and islands of Scotland. This creates a landscape rich in flora and fauna and a stunning coastline of rocky islands and caves. At Lizard Point you can look out onto rocks formed 200 million years before the ones you are standing on, which themselves are 350 million years old and were once part of the ocean’s floor.
Popular beauty spots such as Kynance Cove and the Lizard Point itself attract large numbers of visitors, but venture inland onto Goonhilly Downs and the stunning heathland provides an opportunity to enjoy nature at its very best, you may even spot the rare Cornish heather. It occurs virtually nowhere else in the UK but thrives here.
Most of Cornwall's wonderful coast and countryside is classed as Area's of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) to find out more about them.
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