11 of the best picnic spots in Cornwall

The head of the Helford River, Cornwall. Photo credit: Ian Wool, Getty Images/iStockphoto

The head of the Helford River, Cornwall. Photo credit: Ian Wool, Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Pack your blanket and wicker basket as we’re going on a picnic! We pick eleven top spots for picnicking, walking, paddling, sandcastle building and more in Cornwall.

Make sure to follow all government guidelines, such as staying local and practising social distancing, to minimise the spread of coronavirus. Some locations mentioned may be currently closed but will re-open to the public shortly.

1. Gwithian Beach, near Hayle

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If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of St Ives but you would still like to enjoy its beauty from afar, take a picnic to Gwithian Beach. Just across St Ives Bay and a stone's throw from Godrevy lighthouse, the beach is perfect for spending the afternoon snacking on sandwiches and watching the surfers catch some waves. There's ample parking so you won't have too far to carry your wicker basket, and there are sand dunes and lots of rock pools to explore too.

2. 10 Acre Wood, Polmoria

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Famed for its bluebells, 10 Acre Wood is the perfect setting for a fun family day out. This semi-natural ancient woodland has been lovingly restored to its former glory and a woodland activity area is great for keeping the kids entertained post-picnic. Visitors can follow the Polmoria River under the magnificent oak and holly trees before finding just-the-right picnic spot for sandwiches and a spot of al fresco cream tea.

3. Watergate Bay, Newquay

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With two miles of golden sands to discover, you can rest assured that nobody is going to plonk their picnic blanket down too close to yours. There are lots of watersports activities going on at the beach to help you work up an appetite; from kite surfing and bodyboarding to kayaking and more. Afterwards, dry off and spend the rest of the afternoon grazing with a picnic and enjoying the scenery.

4. Helford River

The picturesque Helford River is the perfect place to stop by on a warm day to enjoy a homemade picnic. Afterwards, why not visit Glendurgan Gardens and/or Trebah Gardens (from 29th March) for a stroll through a sub-tropical paradise and discover the flourishing flora and fauna and beautiful wildlife that can be found here.

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5. Perranporth Beach

Despite its renowned reputation for being busy, the further you move down Perranporth beach, it becomes less of a patchwork quilt of picnic blankets and much more tranquil. So don't miss out on the turquoise sea and sandy beaches - perfect for building sandcastles. After an afternoon spent picnicking, you can walk off the calories with a two-mile jolly along the coastal path to Ligger Point (so long as the tide is out of course).

6. Trewithen Gardens, near Truro

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Trewithen House is a private and historic estate surrounded by stunning spring gardens. The house itself is closed but the garden has now opened for the spring and summer and has plenty of ancient trees, rare shrubs and one of the longest lawns in Cornwall. Sit by the 20th-century romantic magnolia fountain and enjoy some homemade treats.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, all visitors must book tickets in advance of visiting the Gardens.

7. Carbis Bay, St Ives

With its soft white sands, gentle tides and sheltered location, Carbis Bay is a very popular yet peaceful beach along the Cornish coast. There are picture-perfect views over to nearby St Ives and Gwithian Beach, and when the tide is out you can reach Porthkidney Beach (just make sure you have plenty of time to get back before the tide comes in). Beat the post-lunch slump with the steep walk up the hill from the beach - the scenery is well-worth the huff and puff.

8. Golitha Falls, Lanreath

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Discover the wooded valley at Golitha Falls with a long walk, spotting the magnificent floral displays along the way. Situated at the end of the valley is the picturesque River Fowey, the perfect place to stop and tuck into a picnic. See if you can spot the otters at the waterfall which passes through Draynes and Treverbyn Bridge.

9. Harlyn Bay

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For a family-friendly afternoon, Harlyn Bay is a hidden gem found along the North coast of Cornwall and only a short drive from the popular seaside town of Padstow. It is dog-friendly throughout the year, so you can bring your four-legged friends along to the picnic. Find a nice spot for your deck chairs, put up the windbreak and enjoy lunch whilst the children play in the freshwater stream and rock pools of Harlyn Bay.

10. Mount Edgcumbe, Cremyll

Mount Edgcumbe is open daily and free of charge all year. A Grade I-listed country park of 865 acres, it has many miles of traffic-free paths ideal for children, plus an elegant mansion and formal gardens surrounded by extensive woods that are home to bluebells. The views across Plymouth Sound, the Hamoaze and Cawsand Bay can be enjoyed from the grounds whilst you tuck into a picnic.

11. The Lost Gardens of Heligan, near Mevagissey

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Heligan is one of the most mysterious estates in England. Lost to the brambles of time since the outbreak of WW1, this sleeping beauty was re-awakened in 1990 to become Europe's largest garden restoration project. Today, Heligan's 200 acres are a paradise for the explorer and garden romantic. There are several picnic areas here for a post-exploration feast.

This article was updated by Martha Griffiths in July 2021.