Casting off the shackles of Sleet Street, former journalist Emily Barr lived every city-slicker’s dream of ditching the tube for a towel on the beach in Cornwall.
Ever the source of many an artist’s muse, Cornwall helped Emily unlock her creativity and sent her on to scribe twelve wonderful books – many of which take place in our corner of the world.
In a recent interview with VisitCornwall the author of celebrated novel ‘The Sleeper’ gave her insider guide to the sights and spectacles of Cornwall – something we thought well worth sharing.
Emily Barr’s Insider Guide
What do you love about most Cornwall? The light. It’s different here from the way it is elsewhere in the country. Particularly on a sunny winter’s afternoon, being in Cornwall can be magical.
Must see sight? St Michael’s Mount off the coast of Marazion. How often do you get to walk at low tide to an offshore island? Not only that, but the castle contains a room called the ‘Chevy Chase room’.
Must do experience? The ferry between Falmouth and St Mawes. A straight line between the two places goes directly across the water, and the ferry service does the journey in 20 minutes. Travelling across the water with the wind in your hair and a castle at either end of the journey is breathtaking and very good for the soul.
Most people don’t know but… If you’re travelling between Falmouth and St Mawes on the ferry, although the ferries stop running at around 6pm, you can use your return ticket on the water taxi, and so enjoy a night out and go back across the water at whatever time you like.
Good value tourist ticket you can buy? The National Maritime Museum, in Falmouth: as tickets are valid for a year, you can go back with children every time it’s raining, and they love playing in the lifeboat and standing at the top of the observatory tower.
Souvenir you must take home? Armfuls of Cornish-set books, from one of the wonderful independent bookshops, eg the Falmouth Bookseller.
Local delicacies to try? Sit in the Waterfront pub in Falmouth with chips from Harbour Lights and a drink of something local. Life feels good.
Local tipple? Cornish sparkling wine – surprisingly impressive!
Best viewing spot? The Hub in St Ives, upstairs by the harbour. Sit back, enjoy a lengthy lunch, and look out at the sun reflecting off the water.
Best place to explore on your own? Anywhere that involves a walk along the coast path – ideally a stretch with a pub at the end of it.
Best place to see with a guide? I have never seen anywhere in Cornwall with a guide, but I would like an expert to show me the ancient monuments in West Penwith, and to tell me all about them.
The best place for shopping? I love Penzance, with its mixture of independent shops, budget shops, and lovely pubs. There are not as many chains as you get in town centres elsewhere, and I am constantly diverted into odd-looking places with windows crammed with interesting things.
Where is a must-visit which will keep the kids entertained? Sennen. The beach is wonderful and has life guards, there is a lovely café, and you can walk the mile to Land’s End along the coastal path, avoiding the parking charges, and let the children loose in the brilliant playground.
Anything else? The sleeper train that runs between Penzance and Paddington makes the 300 mile journey a joy. If you pay the extra for a cabin.
Emily Barr, has three children and now lives in Falmouth, Cornwall. Once a journalist for The Guardian, she has now followed her dreams and written 12 fantastic books, her latest being ‘The Sleeper’ set in both Cornwall and London.