Updated: Dec 5, 2020
Simon Reeve is best known for his hard-hitting travel journalism in far-flung destinations. With international travel curtailed he, like many of us, stayed at home and headed to Cornwall. With stories of poverty, over-tourism, wildlife conservation and sustainable farming the two-part series showed a side of Cornwall that few are aware of or see on their trips to the South-West.
One of our goals at Natural Britain is to ensure all of our experiences are sustainable not just for the environment but for the communities we visit. We asked our Cornwall’s Hidden Gems host, Yvette, to tell us how her tour goes beyond the main tourist areas, visits locals and visits about conservation projects.
Most people who visit Cornwall tend to think we have beaches and not much else but Cornwall’s Hidden Gems shows visitors that we have a whole lot more – all from a local’s perspective! Tourism, of course, plays a vital part in the economy of the South-West and we support local business on tours and show an insight into the life of a local in the South West.
There is a thriving artist community in the county. Thanks to the magnificent light we have, countless artists have found inspiration here. We visit the little known gem Tremenhere Sculpture Gardens– with far-reaching views to St Michael’s Mount. The fabulous little privately owned garden also has one of the best ‘kitchens’ around offering a great place for a light lunch which we find time to enjoy.
Conservation in action
One of the fabulous highlights of the tour is the little known valley of Nanquidno – home to one of the conservation projects here on the coast. The life of a coastal farmer – a theme of the morning’s tour introduces our visitors to the breeding projects of the choughs – the bird that symbolises Cornwall.
On the verge of extinction a few years ago with just two pairs left, they are now successfully thriving on the cliffs here in West Cornwall thanks to projects like these. Some years ago, Adrian was contacted by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and asked to be part of this project and ‘famously’ said that “you’d never get the choughs back in a month of Sundays!” But thanks to creating a natural habitat for the birds – a bit like a crow with a red beak! – they are now back in this area in large numbers and Adrian proudly points them out to us when we get close to the cliffs.
Cattle & Orchids
Coastal farming is quite a brutal way of life and like all farmers these days, they have to diversify to make a living and we get an insight into life as we listen to Adrian, a local farmer passionate about conserving the heritage of this part of the coast.
One of the projects, partly funded by Cornwall Wildlife Trust is to introduce the Longhorn Cattle to the cliffs – who feel right at home in this incredible rough terrain. Impossible to grow crops on the land, the only way to sustain an income is to breed cattle. To qualify for the funding, Adrian and his wife Sarah, had to show they have more than 100 types of flora in one square metre. Who’d have thought there was so much variety in such a small space!
We even have wild orchids growing here! Sarah also has diversified the farm into a soap and candle workshop supplying local B&B’s and gift shops with her exquisite natural soaps. We’re also lucky enough to get to enjoy some of Sarah’s homemade Cornish hevva cake.
Support local communities
We enjoy a Heritage Walk of the famous fishing village of Mousehole. Learning about the history from one of Mousehole’s infamous locals who gives us an insight into what it was like growing up in the village as the daughter of the lifeboat crew – a vital part of such a fishing and seafaring community.
What we do on this tour is support the small businesses - it is so important to local communities. We stay in a privately owned boutique-style hotel. We buy our supplies for our picnic lunch from local butchers and bakers. This tour really shows the hidden gems….. the best places to photograph at the best time of day at the best vantage point. And all done from a local’s perspective!
Cornwall's Hidden Gems is available in February, March and April. These quieter cooler months are a time to explore the culture and heritage of Kernow and support tourism businesses outside of their main season.
Check availability and book click here.
"Cornwall with Simon Reeve" is available on BBC iPlayer