Family travel snap: hiking the Cornish Coast

In this month's family travel snap, features editor for Lonely Planet Magazine Orla Thomas is exploring the Cornish coast in England.

Kids Blog - orla
We made it! Orla and her boys in Cornwall © Orla Thomas

What’s the story behind this photo?

Taken on a windy walk along the Cornish coast, this photo shows me with my sons Freddie (7), Henry (5) and Edward (1) somewhere between Sennen and Land’s End. Undulating over spongy heath, there’s plenty to see on this path – from wildflowers, butterflies and seabirds to the occasional seal, dolphin or basking shark.

This particular journey was one of highs and lows, much like family life itself. We were all intrigued by the shipwreck washed up in a rocky inlet, but no-one will remember Henry’s cliff-top baby-wipe bath (administered after he face-planted into a muddy puddle) with equal fondness.

This picture is evidence of the changeability of children’s moods, and the value of persistence in the face of adversity. There had been a fair bit of whinging on the ascent, but the boys were jubilant to have managed the walk alongside their somewhat older cousins. The Cornish climate is similarly capricious – here we are clad in waterproofs and bobble hats, while the next day was spent in swimwear on a gloriously warm and sunny beach.

Kids’ perspective:

Freddie: The shipwreck – it was cool seeing a ship snapped in half. It made me think of a storm but the sign said actually the ship got wrecked because the captain fell unconscious.

Henry: I liked the Iron Age castle. It was all high up and windy.

Orla’s tips for visiting Cornwall with kids:

1) Cape Cornwall is appealing walking territory for children – halfway up the short, steep ascent is a coast guard station, which offers a friendly reception to curious visitors.
2) The open-air Minack Theatre is cut into the cliffs, offering ample drama even if you don’t catch one of their child-focused productions.  
3) Skip the busy narrow lanes of St Ives and head straight for Porthmeor Beach instead, where you’ll find both the newly-renovated Tate St Ives and the lovely Porthmeor Beach Café (book one of the heated booths for all-weather alfresco dining).

Where’s next on your family travel bucket list?

This summer we’ll be taking the ferry to northern Spain and staying in an Asturias agroturismo. We’ll explore the region’s relatively uncrowded beaches and tackle some more challenging walks in the Picos de Europa mountain range.

Lastly, complete the sentence:

When we shut the front door ready to go and travel as a family, we always make sure we have...

…plenty of audiobooks loaded onto an iPhone – invaluable for fostering a spirit of adventure and passing the time on long car journeys.  

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