Difference between revisions of "Cornwall"
Revision as of 13:08, 9 February 2012
Cornwall (Cornish: Kernow)  is a Duchy in the extreme south west of the UK and includes the Isles of Scilly. Lying westwards beyond the River Tamar border with its nearest neighbour Devon, Cornwall is one of the more isolated parts of the United Kingdom but is one of the most popular with travellers and holiday-makers. Its relatively warm climate, long coastline, amazing scenery, and diverse Celtic heritage (combined with tales of smuggling and pirates!) go only part of the way to explaining its appeal. Cornwall is increasingly becoming a popular destination for those interested in cultural tourism due to its long association with visual and written arts, and enormous wealth of archaeology. Its mining heritage has recently been recognised by the United Nations (UNESCO). Cornwall has always been fiercely proud of its Celtic identity, and for many residents their Cornish identity supersedes their Englishness or Britishness.
Cities, towns and villages
The modern English name of the Duchy is thought to be derived from its old Celtic name, Kernou, or the Horn, from its projecting promontories; that it was latinized to Cornovia or Cornubia; that when the Saxons gave the name of Wealas (foreigners) to the Britons, they distinguished those who had retired into Kernou or Cornubia, by the name of Cornu-wealas; and their country was thus called Cornuwall or Cornwall . Cornwall is called Kernow in the Cornish language and many signs have Cornish language descriptions on them. However, everybody in Cornwall speaks English as their first language. The Cornish language is recognised internationally and has government funding, a thriving community of speakers and publishers and is making a successful come back, with the number of fluent speakers now increasing, being in the thousands.
Recent polls place Cornish identity amongst young people at around 40% regarding themselves as Cornish rather than English, with calls for a Cornish assembley or government by some. These fanatics might take offense to being called English, though most will take it in good jest.
A common, somewhat derogatory term for tourists is emmet, a Cornish Dialect word from Old English meaning ant (you do tend to swarm everywhere). The Cornish word for ant is actually murrian. Be aware of locals recommending "Porthemmet Beach" - it simply means 'tourist beach', and it doesn't exist.
The Cornish have several patron saints rather than those recognised in other parts of the United Kingdom (Andrew, George, David etc) but the pre-eminent one is Saint Piran whose flag, black with a white cross, can be seen all across the Duchy and flown from not only private homes but also Government and public buildings as well as in most towns. Saint Piran's Day is widely celebrated on March 5th, not only in Cornwall but amongst the Cornish diaspora across the globe.
The stereotype of the Cornish as 'inbred' and 'backward' is a misconception and if repeated to a local is likely to cause embrassement and offence (and perhaps a smack). Cornwall is generally quite ethnically homogenous in comparison to most areas of the UK, and then Cornish people tend to hold onto traditional morals and lifestyles. They are also slightly more conservative than the UK as a whole and very patriotic. Cornwall has a strong Protestant heritage, where Methodism is the main denomination. Nearly every village has atleast one Methodist church: some small villages have more than one Methodist church and no church from any other denomination. It's common to be driving along a backroad and find a Methodist church in the middle of nowhere, with no houses or settlements in the vacinity or in a tiny hamlet of a couple houses, but it still holds regular Sunday services with good attendance.
Cornwall was a contributor to the industrial revolution, famous particularly for its tin-mining and has produced major writers, artists, scientists and musicians to current times. The Cornish are extremely proud of their history and heritage pre-dating the arrival of the English Anglo-Saxons in Britain, and many Cornish people are loyal to their Duchy. You may even see some Cornish people wearing kilts and playing Cornish pipes at cultural and other gatherings and Cornwall is recognised as a separate nation by many international organisations. One such popular organisation is Gorsedh Kernow, aimed at promoting Cornish culture and festivals such as Gorsedd.
Cornwall has a small but developing lesbian and gay community. Flamboyancy showed by men, may rise some eyebrows (or frowns) but for the most part is accepted. There is an annual Pride event in Truro.
Regular trains run on the main line from London Paddington (12 daily to Plymouth, 3 hours, 8 daily all the way through Cornwall to Penzance, 5 hours) Bristol, Birmingham etc. to Plymouth, Truro and Penzance. There are also a few branch lines, the most useful linking St Ives to the main line at St Erth, from Truro to Falmouth via Perranwell and Penryn, and from Newquay to Par. There is also an overnight sleeper train which runs Sun-Fri nights to/from London Paddington and Penzance.
Train from London take about 3 hr 20 min to Plymouth, and 5 hr 30 min to Penzance.
Cornwall can be accessed by road via the A30 which starts at the end of the M5 at Exeter. Cornwall can also be accessed from the A38, crossing the Tamar River at Plymouth via the Tamar Bridge. From London it's a 5-6 hour drive. On Saturdays in July & August and Easter bank holiday weekend roads can be busy, although a new 7-mile stretch of dual-carriageway at Goss Moor near Bodmin has helped to alleviate many of the long tail backs.
Newquay airport (NQY) is the main airport for Cornwall which has the following services:
There is also Penzance Airport, which operates a helipad in addition to plane flights.
Cornwall is served well by National Express coach services from London Victoria coach station (9 hours, 3 daily) and other parts of the UK (Edinburgh - Glasgow - Penzance, 18 hours, 1 daily).
Megabus  also run a daily service (8 hours) from London Victoria through to Penzance stopping off at a few major towns in Cornwall. With ticket prices from £1 this is a very cheap option, the coaches are relatively comfortable, but expect them to be pretty much full.
Virgin Trains  and First Great Western  operate regular train services between the main centres of population, the latter company also serving a number of outlying towns via branch lines. For train times and fares visit National Rail Enquiries .
Everybody in Cornwall speaks the English language as their native tongue. Centuries ago people in the Duchy were monolingual in Cornish, a Brythonic language, which is closely related to Breton and Welsh. It survived as a first-language tongue until the 19th century. Dolly Pentreath of Mousehole, who died in 1777, was the last person thought to have been monolingual in Cornish. The publication of Henry Jenner's "Handbook of the Cornish Language" in 1904 caused a resurgence of interest in the Cornish language, and it is now increasingly used. Several thousand Cornish people speak the language fluently, and several young people have grown up bilingual in both Cornish and English. Increasing areas of Cornwall have bi-lingual road signs in both English and Cornish and there is a full time language staff at Cornwall Council.
Cornwall boasts a large number of attractions for the traveller, many lying outside of cities and towns amidst the Cornish landscape:
National Trust Properties
National Trust Gardens
Cornwall has become recently famous for its Michelin starred seafood resturants, with Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein opening swanky resturants in the county/country. Cornwall arguably has the most distinct and finest cuisine of all Britian, and a number of regional specialities, such as:
Vegetarian food is easy to find in Cornwall - even in tiny towns with just one pub there is frequently a meatless option.
Cornwall has three main breweries which are available to drink in most pubs in Cornwall:
Cornwall is also well known for its production of mead wine (Honey Wine). Because of its climate Cornwall also has a number of vineyards.
Note these festivals tend to not be public holidays and not all are celebrated fully across the Duchy.
Cornwall boast a large range of tourist accommodation, ranging from 5 star luxury hotels to B&Bs, guest houses and hostels. There is also a large number of serviced holiday cottages that can be rented from anything from a long weekend to upwards of a month.
There are Tourist Information Centres (TICs) in most major towns. Theses are normally run by the local council and can check latest availability on the day to save having to phone round a number of B&Bs and guest houses. Note that they are unbiased and won't express an opinion on accommodations, more than giving its tourist board rating and facilities.
Visitors to Cornwall should at all times be aware of the unpredictable and dangerous nature of some of the tides and currents around the Cornish coast and seek advice from local lifeguards before swimming or surfing. It should also be noted that there is a small chance of getting great white or tiger sharks off the south coast, but don't let this worry you as they are very very rarely seen, and there have been no known attacks.
Be very alert when driving at night as some roads, especially the A39 in North Cornwall, contain sudden hairpin bends that are deceptively sharp and are not illuminated by street lighting. There is also a risk of running over nocturnal wildlife. Use your headlights' full beam where possible and err on the side of caution.
Newquay in the summer attracts tens of thousands of tourists, and with that inevitably comes increased crime during the months of June, July and August. Particularly assault and muggings occur, usually at night and often down on some of Newquay's many beaches.
Crime rates are mostly low in Cornwall, but there are some impoverished areas of some towns where crime is more common. Occasionally, outsiders can attract attention in local pubs, but this is no worse than in other areas of the country.