England has diversity and nature to boast of—especially in the South West. It is the largest in size of the nine regions in the country, sporting a total of 23.800 km2 of space, and none of it is wasted. The area caters for all tastes and preferences, and may even have a few surprises in store.
From seaside towns over moorland to beaches, visiting the South West offers diversity and plenty of options for discovering some of the most beautiful surroundings in the world—and here’s the five places that you should definitely not miss out on.
Pedn Vounder Beach
The supple sand meets crystal clear water in a mesmerising embrace as tall granite cliffs stand watch over the scene. Such a sight is a staple at Pedn Vounder beach in Cornwall. The hike to reach the sands is well worth it, and a dip in the water is the perfect reward. Once you have broken eye contact with the slick, gentle waves and the sandy expanse, you can walk to Porthcurno Cove to the east. Here sits Logan Rock—a 70-ton rectangular granite block that can be tipped by one person.
Cornish rather than English, pedn, pronounced ‘pednee,’ means head or end, and vounder means lane. The beach is known to locals simply as ‘pednee,’ and is a popular spot for relaxation and swimming in summer, frequented by both nearby residents and international visitors.
An unofficial naturist beach, a visit to Pedn Vounder is sure to bring out your free, natural side. Whether an experienced naturist, a newcomer or someone with no interest in the activity, the acceptance and informality of the beach is a welcome escape to the rush of everyday life.
Step into a time machine and marvel at some of the oldest history in England. The Roman baths and the Bath cathedral are within close proximity to each other, and will bring you through a beautiful history lesson.
Having seen the baths and the cathedral, it’s time to explore all of the little streets in the town. Not only a good way of escaping the crowds, the winding alleys each have their own personalities, and are eager to introduce themselves to you.
Bring that special someone, or get spiralled into what could be a Jane Austen novel. The incredibly beautiful houses, shops and streets are the reason why Bath is commonly known as the most romantic town in England, and you will no doubt be enchanted by the atmosphere.
The largest city in the South West has moved from heavy industry to a knot of culture and creativity. Exploring the streets and the neighbourhoods, you will find an abundance of community-run cafes, art collectives and music venues, and an air of alternative thinking and youth.
Bristol’s iconic suspension bridge and the SS Great Britain, Brunel’s steamship, both make for excellent cultural anchor points. As for newer and more changing sights go, Bristol is thought to be the hometown of Banksy, the famous street artist, and his murals are on display in several locations around the city.
The food, the art, the people and the attitude are your first points of contact with the unique nature of Bristol, and they bring you on a journey to recognising the creative, unconventional ways. Dive into a world of new tastes and expressions, and take away a refreshed view of the busy stereotype surrounding big English cities.
Once the fishing port of Towan Blistra, the new quay built in the fifteenth century turned the city into a hub of import and export. In the heyday of tin and copper mining, Newquay imported coal and exported mined ore.
In more recent times, the city has become well-known for its annual Boardmasters surfing championship at Fistral Beach, which attracts competitors from all over the world. While the surfing championship is held once a year, the spectacular coastal scenery and opportunities to surf are available all summer, and if you don’t shy away from cold, all year.
Primarily a resort town nowadays, Newquay has more to offer in terms of relaxation, experiences and water sports than in terms of British heritage and culture. It is a perfect destination for when you want to explore your abilities without the pressure of a sightseeing-packed itinerary.
Dartmoor National Park
Lush, wooded valleys set Dartmoor National Park apart from the classically wet and bleak moorlands. The most southern national park in the country hosts the only two mountains of the south, both of them serving as popular summits for visitors. Hikers share the trails with the native ponies, and exploring the area offers as diverse a scene of castles, gorges and ancient woods.
For the adventurous, Dartmoor National Park is a heaven of activities such as horse-back riding, tree climbing and cycling. Multiple outfitters reside in the area, offering tours and experiences on all levels and for all ages.
Equally historical and exciting, Dartmoor is a balanced concoction of old and new. The moorlands and valleys stand as though frozen in time, and yet they invite a youthful spirit through their potential for discovery. A visit to Dartmoor pauses time in a way that only sweeping landscapes can, but invites an adventurous outlook nonetheless.
When to go
The south-west of England is a treasure trove of culture, adventure and wonders. Getting around is easy by bus or train, and exploring will leave you immersed in the English ways and diversity.
While it does not always, as the movies show, rain in England, the weather and temperature are unpredictable, and the best time to visit is in summer between the months of May and September, when it is at its most stable and enjoyable. At this time of year, the trees and flowers are blooming and the streets and countryside come alive with people.
The largest region in England has a lot to offer, and these are just five of the amazing places to be discovered. Get in touch with nature, and open your eyes to the quaint, offbeat tracks and idiosyncrasies of English culture. Taking your time to explore is a must, and whether you enjoy beaches, adventure or history, the south-west is sure to show you some of the most beautiful places in the world.