Penzance

Penzance UK
Penzance UK

Penzance may be best known for its position in a popular Gilbert and Sullivan opera. However, this historic seafaring town 300 miles southwest of London has been drawing visitors for centuries. Its location, nestled in a sheltered bay, offers some of Britain’s best beaches, including cliffs, coves, and an enchanting tidal island. Its temperate climate provides fascinating gardens containing sub-tropical plants and trees. It’s far western location along England’s southern coastline makes it a transportation hub for flights and ferries to the nearby Isles of Scilly. With a history ranging from Christian and Celtic to Cromwell, Penzance is one of England’s most fascinating destinations.

Penzance Harbour

Penzance Harbour
Penzance Harbour

The heartbeat of Penzance is its harbor, the first anchorage one encounters along the English Channel from the Atlantic Ocean. While sea-based trading has declined since the height of Penzance Harbor, the area still provides transportation and recreation to the city. The harbor is the departure point for ferries to the nearby Isles of Scilly. Penzance Harbor also offers the only promenade in Cornwall. It begins at Quay Street, the oldest street in Penzance, and extending all the way to the neighboring town of Newlyn. Since 1935, the harbor has offered the Jubilee Bathing Pool, a pool open to the air and fed by water from the sea.

Penzance Beaches

Penzance Beaches
Penzance Beaches

A major draw to Penzance and surrounding West Cornwall is the area’s beaches. A recent cleaning program has made these some of the cleanest beaches in England. These pristine shores offer beachcombing as well as excellent water sports. Newlyn Tolcarne offers a breakwater, making it popular for surfing and bodyboarding, especially after large storms. Wherrytown Beach, between Penzance and Newlyn, is more laid back, offering safe swimming and a promenade with cafes and other shopping. Eastern Green along the coast of Mount Bay offers a very gentle slope, making it very safe for swimming.

Penzance Castle & Land’s End

Penzance Castle & Land’s End
Penzance Castle & Land’s End

Situated southeast of Penzance, 400 yards off the coast of Mount Bay, is a tidal island called St. Michael’s Mount, sometimes referred to as Penzance Castle. This majestic island is cut off from the mainland each day when the causeway is covered by the high tide. Legend claims that a church was built on the island’s summit after Michael the Archangel appeared to local fisherman in the fifth century. Since then, the island has been home to an abbey and a fortress. Today, the medieval castle gracing the top of the island belongs to the St. Aubyn family, who still occupy its walls. Visitors to the island are welcome to stroll the castle and the surrounding small village of this enchanting island.  Another fascinating day trip from Penzance is Land’s End, the most westerly point of England’s mainland. Located only eight miles southwest of Penzance, the views of this landmark on the Penwith Peninsula offer stunning cliff and ocean views.

Penzance Hotels & Lodging

Penzance Hotels & Lodging
Penzance Hotels & Lodging

Penzance offers several hotels, including the popular Hotel Penzance (pictured), five minutes from the train station. However, Penzance prides itself on excellent bed and breakfast lodging options, such as the Treventon Guest House and the Chy-An-Mor. There is also a plethora of vacation rental houses to choose from, as well as caravan and camping parks throughout Cornwall.

Top image: Tim Green aka atoach (flickr)

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