Cornwall LivingIssue #138

Come outside

From ocean expeditions to tree-top explorations, the opportunities for outdoor adventure in Cornwall are endless.

Having been lucky enough to be born and raised here in Cornwall, every peek of the sun through the clouds meant time spent outside, in the outdoor playground that is our beautiful county. As a child, days spent by the sea felt commonplace; splashing around in the salty surf with siblings and friends; riding my first surfboard into shore while Dad pushed from behind; finding my balance without my stabilisers on one of the many cycle trails that weave through the countryside and around the coast. The opportunities were endless, and today I can fondly say that this certainly hasn’t changed, along with my regard that every sunny day is one to be spent outside.

Cornwall is dotted with local businesses and charities who have made it their mission to prove that there is nothing better than being outdoors with your friends and family, and one such charity is the Children’s Sailing Trust (CST). With a determination to create accessible and affordable watersports and sailing opportunities for young people in Cornwall, there is a wonderful understanding here that physical and mental health are intrinsically linked. Physically, sailing and paddlesports can help strengthen core muscles and improve balance, coordination, and flexibility while improving cardiovascular fitness. Just as important is the mental well-being and freedom that getting out on the water provides, reducing levels of stress and anxiety.

The CST team are very aware that learning new skills and achieving personal goals can help to build self-esteem and self-confidence, vital attributes that can have a positive impact on overall well-being and attitude, which can be difficult to come across in a life spent indoors. One delighted local teacher shares their thoughts on a visit to CST in 2022: “It has been a wonderful experience for our students, improving their mental and physical heath, learning about themselves and each other and achieving more than they thought they could, improving self-esteem and confidence.”

With locations on both the Helford River and Trevassack lake, the charity also runs something called CST Experiences – commercial courses and sessions for groups, individuals and families. With every swim, sail and SUP session you purchase, you’ll be helping the Children’s Sailing Trust’s work to create opportunities for kids to get out on the water who wouldn’t otherwise get the chance!

Over in Kessel Quarry, a once successful granite quarry now flooded with spring water, lies another of Cornwall’s hidden outdoor activity centres. In some ways, Kernow Adventure Park feels more like a nature reserve than an activity centre, nestled within a breathtaking 21-acre site just outside of Falmouth, but there is no shortage of fun to be had here. The calmest of crystal-waters makes for a perfect open-water swim, whether a leisurely float or as part of a training schedule. Or, why not explore the lake by paddle board, gliding over the glassy water at your leisure? Watch out for dragonflies flitting across the water’s surface and as you explore you may well see the strange shapes of submerged trees peer up from the depths.

The E-boats are another fun activity, charged and ready to propel you on a voyage around the lake, but the main attraction is hands down the Aquapark. The chance to jump, splash and slide your way around an impressive inflatable floating obstacle course isn’t something to be passed up, and with room for up to 40 people why not bring everyone you know for an hour of waterpark fun?

For something a little more fast paced, the Monster Slip and Slide needs little introduction. Just four minutes away from the stunning beaches of Widemouth Bay in Bude, here you’re faced with no less than 360 feet of rad summer fun, open seven days a week. Hop into a ring or launch off on a super-fast body board and soar down to the bottom in uninhibited glee, a feeling some of us have long forgotten!

To go one step further into adrenaline-fuelled territory, Hangloose Adventure Eden is the next level when it comes to outdoor fun in Cornwall. Based in the incredible surroundings of the Eden Project in St Austell (a wonderful day out in itself), Hangloose invites you to push your boundaries and take it to the limit with an incredible range of activities. Why not introduce the kids to scaling the walls of the outdoor climbing centre rather than the walls of the house? Or, step it up from the swings at the park and drop 15 metres over the Cornish cliffs on the giant adrenaline swing for anyone aged eight and up?

Embark on an action-packed journey through the tree tops on the Skytrek aerial adventure course, or throw yourself off an eight-metre platform to free fall onto the biggest air bag you’ll ever see. For the bravest of the brave, the Skywire zipwire will have you zooming at 60mph over the unbeatable views of Eden’s biomes, with a feeling as close as you can get to flying – a memory you can share with a loved one to last a lifetime.

As well as an incredible collection of outdoor activity centres, Cornwall comes with its own naturally occurring adventure parks, the most obvious being the shining Cornish coastline. Studded with life-guarded and Blue Flag beaches, there’s nothing quite like heading to your favourite stretch of sand, wetsuit on and surfboard under arm for an afternoon well spent in the surf with likeminded swell seekers. If you’re looking to get kitted out for your own salt-water adventure, look no further than Hayle’s Down The Line Surf Shop, home to everything you could possibly need.

As an adult, I now know that Cornwall had doted on me as a child, and I was spoilt for choice with the incredible outdoor playground that it provided everyone who called this place home, whether that be for a week, a month, or a lifetime. Like many Cornish folk, I can happily admit that I have held a fond appreciation for these shining shores since childhood, and this summer I’m determined to get outside and make the most of it, as should you!