As October half term rolls around, Cornwall becomes a hub of endless fun and activities for the whole family to enjoy.
With its picturesque landscapes and captivating history, it's the perfect destination for a memorable autumn break. From exploring the great outdoors to engaging in creative workshops, Cornwall offers a myriad of attractions catering to every taste and interest. Check out best Halloween events in Cornwall too!
If you're a nature enthusiast, Cornwall's gardens and wildlife attractions are simply a must-visit. For the little ones, getting spooky for Halloween adds an element of thrill and excitement.
Meanwhile, adventure-seekers will have a fantastic time surfing and coasteering when the waves and weather can be wild. With charming towns and beautiful beaches welcoming you to, don't forget to dive into Cornwall's rich maritime heritage as well.
1. Exploring the Coastal Paths
Cornwall's coastal paths boast awe-inspiring vistas, with dramatic cliff faces and idyllic views of the sea. Autumn's mild climate provides the ideal opportunity for a picturesque stroll along the South West Coast Path.
Take a leisurely walk and discover secluded coves and sandy beaches, perfect for a brisk autumn hike or even a picnic if the weather is favourable. The crashing waves and striking cliffs create a sense of adventure in the crisp October air.
The South West Coast Path from Morwenstow to Bude (one of my favourite 'local to me' hikes) offers a picturesque hiking experience along the stunning North Cornish coastline.
This 10-mile section of the SWCP begins at Morwenstow, a charming village steeped in history and renowned for its historic church, once home to the celebrated poet and eccentric figure, Reverend R.S. Hawker.
The path winds along dramatic cliffs, past Hawkers Hut, revealing hidden coves and sandy beaches (like Sandymouth), finishing in Bude, my hometown, where you can take a refreshing dip in the sea pool at Summerleaze Beach.
2. Bodmin Moor
Bodmin Moor offers a fantastic opportunity for walking, exploring, and star gazing. In this expansive moorland, you can witness breathtaking views, spot wild ponies, and discover fascinating historical sites. Remember to bring your camera as the autumn colours create a truly picturesque landscape.
Park at the base of Roughtor and take the 30-40 minute hike to the summit! On a clear day, you can see for miles!
3. Surfing Lessons
Cornwall's beaches are known for their impressive waves, perfect for both experienced surfers and beginners. Numerous surf schools in towns like Newquay, Bude, and St. Ives offer lessons to help you catch your first wave, throughout the October half-term break. In fact, in October, the water will be at its warmest!
4. Cycling the Camel Trail
Pedal along the Camel Trail, a popular cycle route offering picturesque views of the Cornish countryside. The mostly flat path is suitable for all ages and abilities.
It follows the path of the disused railway line that once connected the towns of Bodmin, Wadebridge, and Padstow. Today, the Camel Trail is a designated multi-use trail that offers a scenic journey through the beautiful Cornish countryside.
The trail gets its name from the River Camel, which it runs alongside for much of its length. As you cycle along the trail, you'll be treated to picturesque views of the river, lush greenery, and charming landscapes.
There are three main routes you can cycle on the Camel Trail:
- Bodmin to Wadebridge: This section stretches for approximately 5.5 miles and takes you from Bodmin, a historic town with a rich heritage, to Wadebridge, a bustling market town. Along the way, you'll pass through delightful countryside and enjoy peaceful views of the River Camel.
- Wadebridge to Padstow: From Wadebridge, you can continue your cycling adventure for about 5 miles to reach the quaint fishing town of Padstow. This part of the trail is particularly scenic, as it takes you through beautiful estuary views and the picturesque Padstow Harbour.
- Bodmin to Wenfordbridge: In addition to the main routes, there's an optional extension that takes you further inland, from Bodmin to Wenfordbridge. This part of the trail is less frequented and offers a peaceful ride through woodlands and nature reserves.
The Camel Trail is well-maintained, mostly flat, and suitable for cyclists of all ages and abilities. It's an excellent family-friendly activity, and bike hire facilities are available in all three towns along the route. You can choose to cycle the entire trail or opt for shorter sections, tailoring your journey to your preferences and fitness level.
5. Animal Encounters at Newquay Zoo
Newquay Zoo is a wonderful family-friendly attraction located in the seaside town of Newquay, Cornwall.
As you explore the zoo's well-designed enclosures, you'll come face to face with endangered species, exotic creatures, and even some local wildlife. From playful meerkats and majestic lions to adorable red pandas and curious lemurs, Newquay Zoo's collection is both educational and entertaining.
The zoo is committed to conservation and actively participates in various global initiatives to protect vulnerable wildlife. With interactive exhibits, daily talks, and feeding sessions, Newquay Zoo provides a memorable and immersive experience that leaves visitors with a greater appreciation for the natural world and the importance of wildlife conservation efforts.
6. Discover Tintagel Castle
Perched dramatically on the rugged cliffs of the North Cornwall coast, this ancient castle offers a captivating experience filled with myth, legend, and breathtaking views.
As you wander through the ruins and explore the remnants of the medieval castle, you'll be transported back in time and immersed in the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, which are deeply connected to the site's folklore.
The dramatic coastal scenery and the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean add to the magical ambiance of Tintagel Castle, creating a truly unforgettable visit (don't forget to check out the waterfall too).
While the weather in October can be changeable, the castle's rugged beauty remains constant, making it a perfect destination for families, history enthusiasts, and anyone seeking a memorable adventure during the autumn half term. Don't forget to wear sturdy footwear though!
7. Journey through Poldark Country
Poldark country refers to the scenic filming locations featured in the popular British television series "Poldark," which is based on the novels by Winston Graham. The series showcases the rugged and beautiful landscapes of Cornwall, UK, where the story is set.
Many of the iconic scenes in "Poldark" were filmed in various locations throughout Cornwall, showcasing the region's stunning coastline, historic mining sites, and picturesque countryside. Some of the key filming locations include:
- Botallack Mine: Located on the west coast of Cornwall near St Just, Botallack Mine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and served as the exterior for the Poldark family mine, Wheal Leisure.
- Porthgwarra Cove: This secluded cove on the south coast of Cornwall features in numerous scenes and is known for its stunning turquoise waters and scenic cliffs.
- Charlestown: The historic tall ships docked here provide a perfect backdrop for the maritime scenes.
- Bodmin Moor: The rugged and atmospheric Bodmin Moor in central Cornwall was used for various outdoor scenes, representing the wild and untamed landscapes of Poldark country.
- Holywell Bay: This beautiful beach on the north coast of Cornwall featured in several dramatic scenes throughout the series, capturing the untamed beauty of the Cornish coast.
- Church Cove at Gunwalloe: This serene location in West Cornwall was used for the iconic shipwreck scene in the series.
8. Visit the Maritime Museum in Falmouth
The National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, Cornwall, is a fascinating museum that celebrates the rich maritime history of the United Kingdom. The museum is located in a beautiful waterfront building and features a vast collection of maritime artifacts, including boats, paintings, maps, and other historical objects.
One of the highlights of the museum is its collection of boats, which includes everything from small fishing boats to large ocean-going vessels. Visitors can explore the boats and learn about their history and significance to the maritime industry.
The museum also has a large collection of paintings and other artwork that showcases the beauty and power of the sea. There are also interactive exhibits that allow visitors to experience what it's like to be on a boat in rough seas or to navigate through a busy harbor.
9. Explore the Mining Heritage at Geevor Tin Mine
Situated near the picturesque village of Pendeen on the rugged coastline, Geevor Tin Mine offers a fascinating glimpse into the region's mining heritage.
The mine was operational from the late 18th century until 1990 and was one of the last remaining mines in the area. Today, Geevor Tin Mine is a museum and heritage site that provides visitors with an insight into the mining industry that was once so important to the region.
Visitors can explore the mine's underground tunnels and see the equipment and machinery used by miners in the past. The museum also features exhibits that detail the history of the mine and the lives of the miners who worked there. Visitors can learn about the mining process, from the extraction of the tin ore to the processing and refining of the metal.
In addition to the mine itself, Geevor Tin Mine also has a visitor center, where visitors can learn about the history of the mining industry in Cornwall. There is also a café and a gift shop on-site, where visitors can relax and purchase souvenirs.
10. Attend a Cornish Cooking Class
Join a cooking class and learn how to prepare traditional Cornish cuisine. From Cornish pasties to cream teas, it's a culinary adventure you won't want to miss.
11. Visit a Cornish Cider Farm
Experience the flavours of locally brewed ciders at Healeys Cornish cyder farm near Truro. Take a guided tour, learn about the brewing process, and of course, taste the delightful end product.
12. Seafood Feast in Padstow
Indulge in a seafood feast at one of the many top-class restaurants in Padstow, known for its fresh and tasty seafood cuisine.
Prawn on the Lawn, situated along Duke Street, is a popular choice for locals and visitors alike, seeking the freshest seafood and innovative culinary creations.
The restaurant's concept originated from a successful fishmonger and seafood bar in London, and it has brought its winning formula to Padstow. Prawn on the Lawn focuses on serving sustainably sourced seafood, ensuring that each dish celebrates the finest catches from Cornwall's abundant waters.
From fresh oysters and succulent scallops to mouthwatering sashimi and ceviche, the offerings are diverse and reflective of the season's best catches.
13. Halloween at The Eden Project
Join the locals in celebrating Halloween at the Eden Project, with Halloween story-telling sessions and interactive performances engaging the audience and bringing the magic of Halloween to life.
Families can participate in various Halloween-themed activities, such as pumpkin carving workshops and arts and crafts sessions, adding to the festive spirit.
New for 2023 is the brand new Nature's Playground, a spectacular new natural adventure play area in the Outdoor Gardens, brimming with imaginative, sensory play.
14. Cornish Seal Sanctuary
The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is a haven of compassion and conservation, located in Gweek near Helston.
This sanctuary is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and protection of seals in need. It provides a safe haven for injured, sick, and orphaned seals, offering them a chance to heal and recover in a nurturing environment.
Visitors to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary have the unique opportunity to observe these incredible marine mammals up close, witnessing their journey towards recovery and learning about the importance of marine conservation.
The sanctuary's team of dedicated experts and volunteers work tirelessly to ensure the well-being of the seals, educating the public about the threats facing marine wildlife and promoting responsible actions to protect our oceans.
A visit to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary is not only a heartwarming experience but also an inspiring reminder of the critical role we play in safeguarding the future of these magnificent creatures and their ocean habitats.
15. The Lost Gardens of Heligan
Let your imagination run wild in the enchanting Lost Gardens of Heligan near St Austell.
Once a forgotten estate, these magnificent gardens have been lovingly restored to their former glory, providing visitors with a remarkable journey through time and nature.
Exploring the Lost Gardens of Heligan is like stepping into a living masterpiece, with an array of beautifully landscaped gardens, ancient woodlands, and lush greenery to behold.
Highlights of the gardens include the Jungle, a tropical paradise filled with exotic plants, and the Victorian Productive Gardens, where you can witness traditional horticultural practices.
16. Ghost Walk at Bodmin Jail
Travel with your Paranormal guides through the dark walk and original prison buildings, get insight into other-worldly residents, and discover what goes bump in the night at one of the UK’s most haunted sites.
The Ghost Walk celebrates the rich heritage of Bodmin, the formidable moorland that surrounds it, and the spine-chilling events that still echo through the belly of Bodmin Jail.
Relax and Unwind
17. Enjoy a Spa Day
Pamper yourself at one of the many wellness retreats in Cornwall during October half term. From sea-view spas to countryside wellness retreats, there's no shortage of places to relax and rejuvenate.
18. Sunset Beach Walk
One of the best places for a sunset beach walk in October in Cornwall is Fistral Beach in Newquay.
Fistral Beach is renowned for its stunning sunsets, and the cooler autumn weather creates a magical and tranquil atmosphere during this time of year.
As the sun sets over the Atlantic Ocean, the sky is painted with hues of orange, pink, and purple, creating a breathtaking backdrop for your stroll along the sandy shoreline. The beach is spacious, allowing plenty of room to find a peaceful spot to watch the sun dip below the horizon.
19. Visit the Tate St. Ives
The Tate St Ives is an iconic art gallery located in the picturesque coastal town of St Ives. It's part of the Tate network of galleries and is dedicated to modern and contemporary art, with a particular emphasis on works by artists associated with St Ives and Cornwall.
The gallery boasts a diverse collection of art from the 20th century to the present day, showcasing a wide range of artistic styles and mediums. Visitors can explore an impressive selection of paintings, sculptures, photographs, and multimedia installations, providing a unique insight into the artistic heritage of the region and its global influence.
The Tate St Ives building itself is an architectural marvel, designed to blend harmoniously with the stunning coastal landscape. Its large windows offer breathtaking views of Porthmeor Beach and the Atlantic Ocean, creating an inspiring backdrop for the artworks on display.
20. Book Reading in Fowey
Enjoy a quiet afternoon with a good book at one of Fowey's cosy cafes, a perfect relaxation spot for literary enthusiasts.
21. Wild Swimming at Goldiggin Quarry
For the brave at heart, wild swimming at Cornwall's most secluded spot (Goldiggins Quarry) offers a unique experience. The clear, cold waters are invigorating and the surroundings are beautiful.
22. Cardinham Woods
Immerse yourself in the enchanting woodland of Cardinham Woods, near Bodmin. Wander through a network of trails, suitable for all abilities, and enjoy the autumnal colours as the leaves change.
You might also come across some intriguing wildlife, such as roe deer and various bird species. This is an ideal location for families, with accessible paths, a fantastic cafe (try the warm cheese scone with cream cheese and chutney!), as well as several picnic areas.
Travel Tips and Accessibility
October half term is a brilliant time to visit Cornwall, as you'll find many visitor attractions and activities still open and accessible. The autumn months bring crisp air and colourful landscape, making it a lovely time to explore.
With fewer crowds than in the summer months, you can feel at ease while visiting attractions and landmarks. Don't forget to sign up for local newsletters to stay informed about the latest happenings and things to do in Cornwall.
Frequently Asked Questions
The weather in Cornwall during the October half term can be quite pleasant, with mild temperatures and a mix of sunny and cloudy days. However, there is a chance of rain, so it's a good idea to bring appropriate clothing and check the weather forecast before heading out.
Most National Trust sites in Cornwall remain open during the October half term, offering visitors beautiful gardens, historic buildings, and picturesque walks. It's best to check the National Trust website for up-to-date information on the sites and their opening hours.
Certainly! Cornwall has a range of indoor attractions perfect for families during bad weather. You can visit museums, indoor play centers, art galleries, and aquariums, such as the National Maritime Museum, the Blue Reef Aquarium, or the Kidzworld Adventure Play.
Yes, Cornwall's beaches are still worth visiting in October half term. While the weather might be cooler, the stunning coastal scenery and dramatic landscapes remain as captivating as ever. Some beaches offer sheltered coves and beachfront cafes, making them perfect for bracing walks and cozy views.
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