A Cornish Autumn: Some of Cornwall's Best Kept Autumnal Secrets

At home in Cornwall hurrying autumn skies

Leave Bray Hill barren, Stepper jutting bare,

And hold the moon above the sea-wet sand.

The very last of late September dies

In frosty silence and the hills declare

How vast the sky is, looked at from the land.

From ‘Back from Australia’ by John Betjeman


The crowds of sightseeing tourists throbbing through Cornish towns and villages have dissipated. The frantic busyness of summer gives way to a slower, gentler pace of living. Grass on the heaths and moors pales and silvers and the trees turn gold and russet. The light softens, the sky no longer a giddy cerulean but a more grown-up cornflower blue. And the seas mirror this kinder hue, seeming deeper and more mysterious than before. When the sky darkens and the wind blows the waves in white capped troughs we remember writers like Du Maurier and Betjeman and feel the wild magic that inspired them. This is the season cherished by poets and artists - and by those with poetry and art in their hearts.


Some might say that autumn is the time when visitors have the chance to experience the real Cornwall, the one that isn’t putting on its best face for the outside world, the one that isn’t obscured by a surge of holiday makers and the endless, insistent noise of the throng. They might be right. What we would say is that Cornwall has a great deal to offer the discerning visitor in autumn that isn’t available at any other time of year.


For lovers of the ‘golden hour’, (that time when the low slung sun slants across sea and land bathing everything in a hazy glow), you have the chance to drink it in twice a day without getting up at four in the morning, or going hungry until nine pm just to be sure seeing that magical light.


In the hours between, you can feel as though you have the place to yourself. No sad rows of closed shops and shuttered cafes remind you of the lost summer, however. These days, Cornwall stays open ‘out of season’ for residents and visitors alike. All that you will miss in autumn are the queues and the harried expressions of the staff!

Find Your Autumn Art


Gardens, Parks and family attractions generally stay open too. And our best food festivals also take place during this season.


We know we said that the crowds thin out after August but there are a few exceptions. The Cornish Food Festival in Truro (September 28th – 30th) draws around 40,000 people every year such is the popularity of this national favourite among food festivals. The Boscastle Food, Arts & Crafts Festival also draws a crowd. This year, it will be showcasing ten of Cornwall’s finest chefs between October 6th and 7th. And the justly famous, (and well attended), Falmouth Oyster Festival (October 11th – 14th), opens the oyster season with a profusion of stalls offering the sweet Cornish oyster, seafood, wine and local delicacies.


The beaches on our 400 miles of coastline, where finding a spot to lay your towel was so recently an obstacle race, are all but empty from September on. They are as lovely as always and sea bathing can actually be more enjoyable in September and October. This is thanks to two important - and little known – facts. Firstly, the best of our weather tends to fall on either side of the summer. But even if the temperature on the sands isn’t conducive to sunbathing, the sea temperature will be the warmest of the year!


Finally, of course, we are still here, still open and still well worth a visit!