Cornwall Life discovers a strong community spirit, great walks and a growing arts scene, just a few highlights of the ancient market town.


AMANDA GOUGH discovers a strong community spirit, great walks and a growing arts scene, just a few highlights of this ancient market town

in south-east Cornwall is known for its Mural Trail and Honey Fair each October and it is the first town in Cornwall you arrive at after leaving Devon and crossing New Bridge, dating from the 15th century.

This was the main route into Cornwall until 1859 when the Tamar Bridge, spanning the Tamar River between Saltash and Plymouth, became the main road into Cornwall. With Kitt Hill on the skyline and part of the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Callington has a long history of mining, and its industrial heritage is still retained as part of the landscape.

What the locals say

Rose Brown has lived in Callington for nine years, just a five-minute walk from her popular takeaway shop, The Lunchbox. Rose cooks all her own food from scratch using fresh local produce. Popular with local residents in Callington and surrounding towns people can buy fresh sandwiches and healthy home-cooked food. Rose says that Callington is a lovely little town and a nice place to live. Everybody knows everybody else and people always wave hello as they walk past the shop window.

Liz Clayton lives in Pensilva, halfway between Callington and Liskeard, and has been a market trader at Callington market since its inception about 10 years ago. Lizs Clayton Crafts are her own designs of quilted pictures and cushions. Liz says that Callington is a very friendly town, you always bump into a friendly face, and Callington market is a great social event.

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1 Art and culture

The council are concerned that people have to commute to Plymouth and surrounding towns for the arts and entertainment, so has aspirations for Callington to become a top arts venue for south-east Cornwall. The town has its own amateur dramatics society and a wonderful theatre called Prim-Raf, which has been around for over 50 years. People from the surrounding towns and villages participate in this drama group, putting on plays throughout the year. CAVe Callington Arts Venue was established by the Callington Council last year and now has its own independent committee. CAVe has a full arts programme including free monthly films for kids to dance classes and adult music events.

2 Great walks

Callington is surrounded by wonderful walking spots. One of the most popular is Kitt Hill to the north east, with its impressive panoramic views from the top including Callington itself, and wonderful historic walks down every side of the hill to the bottom. Another popular route is to the nearby neighbouring village of Kelly Bray to the north, originally an 18th-century junction of moorland leading to Holmbush mine. Another favourite with locals is the woodland path along Haye Lane to the west, and the picturesque circuit of Frogwell and Newbridge to the south west (look for the impressive Cadson Bury Iron Age hill fort, cared for by the National Trust).

3 Honey fair

Callington is the only town in Cornwall that still retains a traditional Honey Fair, becoming one of the biggest street fairs in Cornwall. The Honey Fair is held in October every year . It stopped during the Second World War but was revived in 1978 by local man John Trevithick, and is now run by the Callington Lions. Hundreds of people visit Callington every year to enjoy the Fair.

4 Community spirit

Everyone I spoke to says Callington is a friendly place to live. Annual events like the Carnival Day always draw a large crowd. Many people have lived in the town all or most of their lives and a lot of the shops have an individual character and have been trading for generations. There is a fantastic Mural Trail that guides the visitor through the town. The murals are painted by different groups of both professional and amateur artists within the community, and depict old and modern scenes of Callington.

5 Development

There has been considerable change and development in Callington in the past few years, which looks likely to continue, with expansion and development of facilities improving the quality of life in the town. There are a number of projects being developed in Callington, including the new town hall and the development of the playground. Callington also has a free car park on Saltash Road, but there is also concern that too much change will alter the character of the town.

6 Central location

Callington is on the crossroads of two main A roads in south-east Cornwall that go straight through the town: the A390 from Tavistock and Gunnislake to Liskeard and the A388 from Saltash to Launceston and Bude. Callington is well served by several bus routes and there are bus links to Gunnislake railway station. Some shopkeepers along Fore Street feel that people often drive straight through Callington without realising that there is a road full of original shops just to the left of the main road.

7 History

Callington was originally a Saxon settlement that boomed as a mining town in the 15th century and is steeped in history. St Marys Church, clearly visible from all areas of the town, was built during this period and can be found at the end of Fore Street. A small building next to the church, called the Old Clink, was erected in 1850 and was originally a parish vestry room where constables would detain petty criminals.


From Plymouth take the A388 direct to Callington. From Truro take the A390 that leads through St Austell, Lostwithiel, Liskeard and on to Callington.