“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” So said the famous Alfred Wainwright. But then again, when you’re trudging along the South West Coast Path in a storm, needing windscreen wipers on your eyeballs to see Cornwall in all its wet and rainy glory, one thinks there might be better things to do than go outside to face the weather. And thankfully, here in our damp and glorious county, there are plenty of more enjoyable activities and places to go on rainy days.
Out of over 100 wet-weather experiences, here are our top ten things to do in Cornwall on a rainy day.
Surely the best way to avoid the rain is to step into the shoes of a miner and burrow underground? Much of Cornwall’s mining territory has become a designated World Heritage Site, and at Geevor you can don a hard hat for a guided tour deep into the county’s astonishing mining history and landscape. Little has changed from the day the mine closed in 1990, and many of the guides are miners who can share personal insights and experiences of working underground.
Tell me more: geevor.com
Beyond the damp shelter of the ancient woodland lining the Loveny Valley on the edge of Bodmin Moor, another place to shelter underground is inside the awe-inspiring Carnglaze Caverns. History and adventure are firmly undercover here, as you tunnel 1500 metres into the hillside and 60 metres below ground level, to discover three huge caverns and a stunning subterranean lake. At the end of a self-guided underground tour unearthing the ingenuity behind this former slate mine, don’t forget to snap a memorable photograph with a backdrop of the magical emerald waters.
Tell me more: carnglaze.com
The world’s largest indoor rainforest and Cornwall’s megastar attraction, the Eden Project needs little introduction. Set in a disused china clay quarry outside St Austell, its giant geodesic domes bursting with Mediterranean and tropical foliage really are the ultimate rainy day attraction. Art, performance and storytelling are all woven into the experience, and you can also discover an array of activities and educational exhibits in The Core. Fuel up on finger-licking seasonal treats, then travel back up from the quarry in the tractor train, and it’s dynamic, dry hair day out out all round.
Tell me more: edenproject.com
Did you know that the remote hamlet of Porthcurno is where the seeds of modern communication were sewn? Follow quiz trails and interactive exhibits through the fascinating Museum of Global Communications to find out how this tiny valley in West Cornwall became host to the past, present and future of worldwide communications. Footsteps from Porthcurno beach, you can also dash out onto the pearly sands between rain showers, and also make sure you visit the nearby Minack Theatre.
Tell me more: pkporthcurno.com
At one of Cornwall’s most popular rainy-day attractions, you can experience oceanic adventures while keeping your feet on dry land: Take the helm of a model sailing boat, checkout the underwater gallery, step foot on Skull Island and find out if the pirates of the 18th century were dashing, daring heroes or bloodthirsty, callous cut-throats. In the heart of Falmouth – home to the world’s third deepest harbour – there’s no better place to experience Cornwall’s maritime heritage while sheltering from the rain.
Tell me more: nmmc.co.uk
From the execution pit to the cells, find out what life was like behind bars in years gone by. Both educational and eerie, this fascinating granite jail, built by the prisoners themselves, stands as testament to Cornwall’s penal life. Follow a tour through six levels of this historical building, experiencing the sights, sounds and even the smells of life in jail. If you’re brave enough to enter one of Cornwall’s most haunted buildings after dark, book a ghost tour or a seat for a scary movie night.
Tell me more: www.bodminjail.org
Our favourite way to start this rainy day outing is onboard the scenic train ride from St Erth to St Ives. Trundling along the estuary and seafront you can soak up the sublime sea views and magical light that’s inspired the many artists who’ve flocked here since the early 19th century. Once you disembark in town, dodge the showers as you hotfoot over to the Tate St Ives for a twirl around three floors of contemporary art exhibitions including works associated with Cornwall and the coastal environment. Stay dry with hands-on creative activities for the whole family and take in the breathtaking coastal vistas undercover in the rooftop café.
Tell me more: tate.org.uk/visit/tate-st-ives
You don’t have to get wet – or even dip a toe in the ocean – to come face-to-face with Cornwall’s marine life at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay. Encounter the likes of sea cucumbers, spider crabs and sea turtles, in displays that take you from the craggy Cornish shores to exotic coral reefs. You can watch the giant octopus at feeding time and learn more about the sea creatures through informative talks, but the highlight is the underwater tunnel where you can eyeball stingrays, reef sharks and all sorts of colourful fish.
Tell me more: bluereefaquarium.co.uk/newquay/
If you don’t fancy braving the Atlantic waves in the rain, don a wetsuit in the heated changing rooms at Retallack Resort, and learn to surf on Cornwall’s only Flowrider. Get to grips with riding the simulated wave by swooshing down the face on a bodyboard, before progressing to a stand-up board and practising your surfing skills. A fantastic family activity whatever the weather, you can surf year-round and even hit the waves by night under floodlight.
Tell me more: retallackcornwall.com/things-to-do/watersports/flowrider/
When it’s tipping it down, one of the best places to be is in the ocean – especially in a county famous for surfing and world-class waves. Join the pros at the UK’s surfing capital of Fistral Beach where the Surf Sanctuary offer heated changing rooms and surfing lessons for all ages, or head out of town and learn to be king of the waves with KingSurf in Mawgan Porth. Closer to Padstow, instructors at Harlyn Surf School will be keen to teach you the art of wave-riding, whatever the weather. After all, you’re going to get your hair wet anyway and a wetsuit is probably the warmest and most suitable attire for rainy weather.
Tell me more: harlynsurfschool.co.uk/surf-school/surf-lessons/
Whether you fancy hitting the surf or keeping your toes firmly on dry land, North Cornwall is the perfect base for Cornwall’s array of wet-weather attractions. Check out our range of holiday cottages in and around Padstow and make the most of Cornwall come rain or shine.
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