Holidaymakers heading to Cornwall in June will arguably be in the safest place in the world. Not because of stringent COVID-19 measures – although they are still likely to be in place, to some extent – but because the popular seaside resort is scheduled to host the G7 summit.
Announcing the venue, prime minister Boris Johnson described Cornwall as the “perfect location for such a crucial summit”. It is also the perfect location for a wedding anniversary getaway, but many couples might prefer to wait until the discussions on climate change, COVID-19 and global debt have concluded, and Biden, Merkel et al have returned home.
If not, and you and your partner are willing to run the gamut of security perimeters (including in the lead-up to the summit) and ubiquitous bodyguard entourages, Cornall – especially the main summit venue, Carbis Bay (near St Ives) – is one of England’s most picturesque summer seaside resorts.
Welcoming the decision, Visit Cornwall chief executive Malcolm Bell said the summit would “not only showcase the beauty of Cornwall but give us the opportunity to communicate our heritage, culture and the connections… The G7 leaders’ summit will focus the world’s press and TV on this very special place.”
Kim Conchie, CEO of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, added that people should not be surprised Cornwall had been chosen, as it has “exactly the sort of economy that the world is going to be interested in as the 21st century moves into full gear after COVID… floating offshore wind, our digital businesses, our premium food and drink businesses (which are) produced ethically and with a huge interest in provenance”.
He also said there was a “need to make sure the love is spread” around the UK and “make sure people in Bude and Saltash are as proud of the fact this event is coming… as people in St Ives and Falmouth”.
For those who want to enjoy the “love” in situ, Cornwall offers a wonderfully diverse away of landscapes and attractions for tourists. Popularly known as the “Cornish Riviera”, the ceremonial county is located in a rugged setting on England’s south-western tip – culminating in Land’s End. It extends over a peninsula that includes wild moorland, sandy beaches (with excellent surfing waves), quaint harbour villages, sheer cliffs and charming seaside resorts – complemented by a temperate oceanic climate.
Eleven stretches of Cornwall’s coastline, together with Bodmin Moor, are officially protected as an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” – covering one-quarter of the county’s total area.
What to Do
Newquay’s Fistral Beach is the hub of surfing in Cornwall, while St Ives combines golden-sand beaches and pure light with a rich artistic heritage. This includes the contemporary Tate St Ives art museum and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, which is set in the modernist artist’s former home.
The Minack Theatre is an open-air amphitheatre carved into the cliff-side, with Atlantic waves lapping below and everything from Shakespeare to Gilbert and Sullivan performed on stage.
Exotic plants and animals thrive in Cornwall’s mild climate, and visitors can admire them in verdant splendour at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, the Park Paradise wildlife sanctuary and the tropical biomes of Eden Project, including rainforests, mangrove swamps and treetop gardens.
For a truly authentic celebration of Cornish culture, you could try to plan your visit around 5 March, coinciding with the St Pirans Day parade held in towns throughout Cornwall. If that’s not possible, the county’s only city, Truro, has a fascinating programme of events throughout the year.
If more active pursuits are more your thing, Cornwall offers the opportunity to kayak along hidden creeks, coasteer into sea caves or camp in the woods.
The legends of King Arthur were born in North Cornwall, so for some mythical inspiration (and a touch of mystical romance for your wedding anniversary) you could head to the eerie Tintagel Castle, continue to the site of his final battle at Slaughterbridge, visit the mediaeval market town of Camelford (linked to Camelot) and finish your epic journey at Dozmary Pool, where King Arthur’s sword “Excalibur” is reputed to lie.
Even many foreign travellers will be familiar with the famous Cornish pasty. Enjoying “Protected Geographical Indication” status in Europe, it is filled with beef, sliced or diced potato, swede (or turnip) and onion, then seasoned with salt and pepper and baked.
But that is just the start of your culinary journey… Cornish cream teas (with jam) are almost as famous, and the area’s coastal setting and fishing traditions make it a haven for seafood.
Local produce can be sampled at food and drink festivals throughout the year, and at a diverse range of restaurants, cafés, tea rooms and pubs (including Jamaica Inn, pictured above). From haute cuisine at a celebrity chef’s establishment to classic country “fayre” in a Cornish inn… or home-reared, home-grown and locally sourced produce for breakfast if you are staying at a farmhouse. Visitors can also visit a great selection of vineyards, breweries and shops.
Cornwall has excellent transport connections with other parts of the UK and continental Europe. High-speed train services run frequently from London Paddington station, there are direct trains from Bath and Bristol, and rail services operate from the Midlands, north of England and Scotland. The journey from London is under five hours, by train or car.
Cornwall Airport Newquay services flights from London Gatwick, Manchester, Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Doncaster-Sheffield, Edinburgh, London Stansted and Newcastle, as well as Dublin (Ireland), Alicante (Spain) and Frankfurt-Hahn and Dusseldorf (Germany).
The closest port to Cornwall is Plymouth, across the River Tamar; and there are ferry services from Roscoff (France) and Santander (Spain) into Plymouth, plus additional services from France and Spain into Portsmouth and Poole.
Once in Cornwall, much of the county can be explored comfortably on foot, including a 300-mile (480-kilometre) section of the South West Coast Path walking and hiking route.
Where to Stay
Cornwall offers accommodation options for all tastes and budgets. Couples can celebrate their wedding anniversary in elegant style at one of the seaside resort’s boutique hotels or luxurious cottages (such as Three Mile Beach, pictured above) – or even a glamping site for a more al fresco experience during the warmer months.
Otherwise, there is an excellent range of B&Bs, self-catering accommodation, holiday parks, hostels and campsites – either near the sea with its bustling holiday vibe or inland for a more tranquil stay.
Official Summit Business
The summit is due to be held from 11 to 13 June. The G7 countries are the UK, US, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada, while leaders from Australia, India, South Korea and the EU are also expected to attend as guests.
Delegates will be staying at Tregenna Castle Resort, which overlooks St Ives, and other locations; and the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth will host international media.
The previous two UK-hosted meetings were at Gleneagles, Perth and Kinross (2005), and Lough Erne, Co Fermanagh (2013).
In an official statement, the UK government said the choice of Cornwall “will mean the eyes of the world are on the beautiful, historic and innovative region… The region is already a powerhouse for green innovation, providing an ideal setting for a summit focused on building back better from the coronavirus pandemic.”
Photos supplied by Visit Cornwall (Matt Jessop, Luke Hayes, Adam Gibbard, Ian Kingsnorth and Toby Strong) and Visit Britain. Main featured image: Matt Jessop.