The Greener Guide to Seeing Cornwall More Sustainably

Eden Project is one of the UK's most stunning eco-attractions
Eden Project is one of the UK's most stunning eco-attractions | © Michael Willis / Alamy
Photo of Emma Sparks
7 September 2021

Blue Flag beaches, landmark environmental sites and glorious gardens point the way to tread-lightly stays in England’s South West.

Unworldly gardens, scenic clifftop trails and over 300 outstanding beaches converge in Cornwall to make it one of England’s best-loved green corners. Pair that natural splendour with the South West’s eco-friendly hotel scene and long-established culinary links, and you have a fine recipe for a sustainable UK holiday. Pack your recyclable bucket and spade for the best ways to go green in Cornwall, including stays at places bookable on Culture Trip.

Eden Project

© Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
If anywhere is going to increase your respect for the natural world, it’s the Eden Project. Sure, the otherworldly domes are cool, but the real magic of this landmark sustainable site – founded by Sir Tim Smit on the scarred remains of an old clay pit – is all Mother Nature. Traverse jungle-shrouded bridges in search of waterfalls in the Rainforest Biome, or explore wildflower meadows in the sculpture-dotted outdoor garden, marvelling at our ability to restore biodiversity when we put our minds to it. In keeping with the project’s mission, there’s a sunflower-shaped solar roof, toilets are flushed with rainwater, and food waste from the cafes is turned into fertiliser.

The Sanctuary Cornwall

The Sanctuary Cornwall_b_265273676
The Sanctuary Cornwall | Courtesy of The Sanctuary Cornwall /

Like the thought of off-grid living? Be inspired with a stay at this zero-carbon eco-retreat, set in mixed pasture and woodland on the Fowey Estuary. The solar-powered bed and breakfast is energy-efficient (thanks to LED lights, triple glazing and wool insulation) and strives to put nature first, with an earthen roof and minimal landscaping of the 12-acre (5ha) grounds. It’s proof that sustainability can be stylish, with four river-view rooms featuring Weaver Green blankets and rugs made from recycled plastic, plus a kitchen stocked with charity shop crockery. Cycling and walking routes are encouraged, and outdoor activities are on the doorstep.

Long Rock Beach, Penzance

Natural Feature
Mounts bay looking towards Long Rock and Penzance. Cornwall
EC6FM3 Mounts bay looking towards Long Rock and Penzance. Cornwall | © Ian Goodrick / Alamy

Penzance prides itself as the UK’s first “plastic-free” town, and is home to a concertedly eco-conscious population. Join one of the regular beach cleans along this stretch of sand, or simply grab a bag and do your own, as you follow the coast towards the turret-topped tidal island of St Michael’s Mount. At low tide, you can even walk over to it, and explore its subtropical gardens and castle.

The Cornish Vegan

Restaurant, Vegan, $$$

Think veganism, think rabbit food? This Truro cafe will change your mind. They specialise in meat- and dairy-free comfort food – exemplified by the Canadian poutine with cashew cheese and moreish vegan gravy – as well as excellent plant-based cakes. On sunny days, you can’t beat an afternoon on the whitewashed Mediterranean-style patio with a pint of Cornish IPA and a portion of “f’sh” (cider-battered banana blossom) and chips.

Greenbank Hotel

Greenbank Hotel
Courtesy of the Greenbank Hotel / Expedia

Eco credentials are worth the effort for the staff of the Greenbank. The team at Falmouth’s oldest hotel have been working hard to improve their recycling methods, lower their water consumption and save energy – so you can focus on chilling out on the terrace and enjoying spectacular views of Falmouth Harbour. They also host a biannual beach clean in collaboration with Surfers Against Sewage, which guests are welcome to join.

Lost Gardens of Heligan

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall, UK. A gardener at work among the vegetables in the kitchen garden
© Alex Ramsay / Alamy Stock Photo
Left to ruin after World War I until 1990, this 200-acre (81ha) estate has been lovingly restored by Tim Smit and John Willis (a descendant of the original estate-owning Tremayne family). Today there is plenty to explore, including ancient woodlands, camellia-filled gardens and the UK’s only jungle. Oodles of organic fruit and veg are grown on-site for the public cafe, which is good news if you’re trying to follow a light-touch local diet: at Heligan the produce travels only 157yd (143m) from plot to pot. Green-fingered guests can also buy heritage Heligan seeds in the gift shop.

Perranporth Beach

Natural Feature
Holidaymakers on the wide long sandy beach at Perranporth Cornwall, England, GB, UK, EU, Europe
D29JR5 Holidaymakers on the wide long sandy beach at Perranporth Cornwall, England, GB, UK, EU, Europe | © eye35.pix / Alamy
Cornwall has no shortage of outstanding beaches, with some more crowded than others (try them out of season if you can). Perranporth has a broad, three-mile (5km) stretch of sand suited for everyone from dog walkers and rock-pooling toddlers to wannabe surfers. For a real back-to-nature journey, walk to the beach from Newquay – a distance of 12 miles (20km) – along the scenery-studded South West Coast Path.

St Michael’s Resort

Courtesy of St Michael’s Hotel and Spa / Expedia

St Michael’s is a large seaside resort, but they’ve paid attention to little details in order to keep things green. Beyond the usual nudge to skip the daily fresh towels, there’s a display promoting sustainable things to do in Falmouth and beyond, while the fish served in the restaurant is also sustainably sourced (plant-based diners are well catered for, too). Blue Flag-bearing Gyllyngvase Beach – recommended by the Foundation for Environmental Education for its water quality and safety – is just across the road, ideal for a sunset dip.

Inspired by green-minded Cornwall? Discover the area’s best things to see and do, its most beautiful towns and the other places you have to catch sight of while you’re there. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the county, we’ve got you covered. The best places to stay near the Eden Project, as well as the best hotels in Penzance and in St Ives are all bookable on Culture Trip.

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