The best things to do in Cornwall in the Autumn

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With Autumn officially starting around the beginning of the third week of September it can be one of the best times to visit Cornwall. Although the kids have gone back to school, and along with them the bulk of the summer hordes, the weather can be just as good. To me this is the ideal time to get out and explore Cornwall and maybe enjoy a few highlights all by yourself.

Here are ten great reasons why autumn might quite possibly be the best time to visit Cornwall...

  • Foodie festivals

    Falmouth Oyster Festival
    Falmouth Oyster Festival

    Whilst there are food events year round in Cornwall it seems that the biggest and best are in the autumn. I couldn't tell you the exact reason for this although I suspect it is a mixture of the run up to Christmas along with it being the right time of year for certain seasonal produce and harvest time.

    Heading the list are the long running favourite, the Falmouth Oyster Festival along with the Great Cornish Food Festival held in Truro's city centre.

    There are other food festivals on during the summer, for example the Newlyn Fish Festival is held on August bank holiday. Whilst this is a great day out the crowds are not for the faint-hearted. On the other hand the autumn food festivals are a much more relaxing experience of pottering between food stands and watching cookery demos.

  • Surfing

    First Big Swell of the Autumn - Porthleven
    First Big Swell of the Autumn

    Everybody knows that summer is for surfing, right?! Well, actually no. In theory the Cornish summer brings with it wall-to-wall blue skies and a constant supply of small, but perfectly formed waves.
    Unfortunately the only one of these you can rely on is the consistently small surf. There are always a few good days in the summer but if you want the very best Cornish waves then try any time but summer.

    Whilst spring is a great time for surf the water is cold. In autumn you get pretty much the same quality, long range swells but the water is about 5 C warmer. Also you have the bonus of there not being ninety people all trying to catch the same wave.

  • Best beaches to yourself

    Constantine Bay beach
    Constantine Bay

    It's amazing the difference a week can make. If you rocked up at, for example, Perranporth beach in mid August you might well have trouble finding somewhere to but your towel.

    Turn up at the same beach in late September, and whilst you might not have it to yourself, you will certainly have room to swing a proverbial cat - or whatever else you brought to the beach!

    Choose one of Cornwall's lesser known beaches and you may well find you have the beach to yourselves. And even if you are not lucky enough to be experiencing one of our legendary Indian summers the sea temperature will still be the warmest it gets.

  • You can walk down Fore Street in St Ives

    St Ives
    St Ives

    Like me, you might not be a fan of having to squeeze your way through the throbbing holiday throngs as they aimlessly bob along, randomly pointing at things.
    This could describe many of Cornwall's prettiest towns and villages; not just St Ives but Polperro, Port Isaac or Padstow for example

    Fast forward to autumn and things will have quietened down somewhat. However, you won't be faced with rows of closed shops and cafes as the tumbleweed blows down the street, like it used to be mid-winter. Cornwall has moved with the times and now caters for the out of season visitor.

  • Storm Watching

    North coast storm
    Storm on the North Coast

    Whilst winter inevitably brings with it at least one big old storm, the same is generally true of Autumn. This is the time of year when I've seen some of Cornwall's most impressive storms.

    October in particular is often a good month for storm-watching. In fact it was mid October that the mighty "Great Storm of 1987" hit with hurricane force 12 winds. This was also the time of year when the first of the massive 2013/ 2014 storms hit and Porthleven made it onto the cover of half the national newspapers.

    I expect this is a known meteorological phenomena and is caused by something like cooling air and warm water in the Caribbean (I just made that up!). Whatever the reason it can be pretty spectacular, but also dangerous, so please take the safety advice on my storm-watching page seriously.

  • Gardens & woodland walks

    Autumn woodland walks
    Autumn woodland walks

    Cornwall is well known for its gardens and most people would think of visiting during the spring. Whilst you might catch a carpet of bluebells or camelias in bloom that is only a small part of nature's yearly show. Autumn arguably rivals spiring with its dazzling display of reds and golds. This is the perfect time of year to get on your wellies and head out for some woodland walks. Mid October to mid-November are the best times to catch the autumn colours.

    But it isn't just the leaves turning golden. With Cornwall's extra mild climate it is this time of year that the sheltered gardens of the south coast show their sub-tropical credentials. In the likes of Trebah and Glendurgan Southern hemisphere plants burst into flower whilst banana trees and giant rhubarb reach their full size.

  • Cheaper holidays!

    Cheap holidays

    Often referred to as shoulder season the autumn is quite possibly the best time of year to holiday in Cornwall. Not only have the crowds thinned and the damp cold Cornish winter hasn't kicked in yet, but prices are going to be significantly cheaper for the majority of places to stay.

    If that wasn't enough there is also every probability that availability won't be an issue and you can stay where you want. This is special offer and free upgrade season; come in the autumn and you'll be able to have the sea view you could only have dreamt of a month before.

  • Photography

    Penzance Lighthouse and the Mount
    Penzance Lighthouse and the Mount

    As an occasional landscape photographer I have come to realise that light is everything. A low sun lighting up the view with golds and oranges can transform an otherwise average photo into a definite "keeper". One of the great things about autumn is you don't have to get up at 4 am to catch this "golden hour". And think of the positives about the evenings drawing in; you can capture a stunning sunset and still be home for dinner.

    There is also the matter of the subject of your photographs. With autumn comes a much more dynamic landscape with ever changing weather and nature in flux. The rivers flow faster, the woods put on their autumn colours and the sea can explode into action. Oh, and you might just manage to get a photo of one of Cornwall's many fantastic sights without some slurping an ice cream walking straight through your shot!

  • It might be an Indian summer

    Late summer sky
    Late summer sky

    Looking out of the window at the moment summer seems like a distant memory as the winter perma-drizzle sets in. But it isn't always the case. In fact it seems more often than not there is at least one prediction of an Indian summer.

    Whilst this might be wishful thinking at the end of a less than stellar summer it does actually happen from time to time. Even if it doesn't there's still every chance the weather will be as good, or better than the summer. You see, it is a little known fact that the best weather in Cornwall tends to be either side of the summer.