Don’t hang your head in shame just yet. There are many outdoor adventures to be had away from the beach that will impress your followers even more than a wetsuit selfie (hands up if you’ve seen too many of them this year). We’ve delved into our travel diaries to pull out our top three ‘Surf Free’ things to do in Cornwall.
The Minack Theatre – Porthcurno
This is a place like no other. Perched on the rugged cliffs of West Cornwall, this amphitheatre offers stunning ocean views and the opportunity to experience the magic of live performance under the stars.
The Minack might look as if it’s been there forever. But it’s actually less than a hundred years old.
The theatre’s story begins in 1931, when Minack’s ‘master builder’ Rowena Cade got involved with an open-air production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was such a success that Rowena offered the use of her cliff garden for a production of The Tempest the following summer. The only issue was the garden was at the top of 90-foot drop and knee deep in gorse.
Rowena and her helpers worked with hand tools (and the occasional stick of dynamite) to shape the theatre as it is today. Most of the structures were created from concrete mixed with sand from the beach, which Rowena herself carried up the cliff in sacks.
Over 200 live performances are staged at Minack every year, including plays, musicals, opera, music and children’s events. You’ll need to book well in advance because, understandably, tickets go fast.
Cornwall Fishing Adventures – Falmouth
It’s 1926. Two young boys are walking through the churchyard in Manwan Woods. Suddenly, they hear hissing noises. Unnerved, they look around them, trying to catch sight of the source in the shady light. With a chaotic rustling of feathers and piercing screech, a ginormous bird with glowing red eyes launched itself at them, attempting to pick them up in its talons. The boys run and take cover, trembling in fear after their meeting with what victims of later encounters describe as ‘an Owlman’.
Unfortunately for you, you need to walk in the boys’ footsteps to reach what is arguably one of the most picturesque fishing spots in Cornwall. Reach it in one piece and you’ll be rewarded with a vast, beautiful seascape - and not another soul in sight.
Your guide, Justin, has been fishing all his life. His love of angling has evolved over time and he's passionate about sharing the magic of the Cornish waters. He’s also brilliant company. So whether you land a fish or not, you’ll have an incredible time doing it.
Should you be lucky enough to catch something big enough to eat, Justin’s smoker is on-hand for you to cook and eat your prize within minutes. As repeat customers, we can say - hands on hearts - no trip to Cornwall would be complete unless we’ve fished with Justin. Owlmen and all.
Wild gin workshop with Cornish Wild Food – Wherever the ingredients are
Matt Vernon is an expert foraging instructor and wild chef. During the workshop he’ll teach you all about unusual forgotten ingredients and flavours to create a gin that is unique to you.
Your first stop is to learn how to identify foraged ingredients, the habitats in which they’re found and tips on how you can bring the wild foraged ingredients into your kitchen at home. We suggest you take a pen and paper to write notes - foraging is surprisingly addictive and you’ll almost definitely want to recreate the experience closer to home.
Ingredients gathered, you’ll take a step back in time and rediscover how 'bathtub gin' was made in the 1920s. Starting with a plain base spirit, you’ll infuse it with juniper berries to create a basic gin. Then, drawing on wild and wonderful flavours such as rose, fennel, sorrel, meadowsweet, rock samphire, sea arrowgrass, Alexanders seeds, hogweed seeds, pine…and many more, your recipe will slowly build to create an inimitable flavour.
Once you’ve achieved a blend that suits your individual taste, you’ll of course be able to enjoy the fruits of your labour with lashings of tonic water.