With over 400 miles of coastline, there is so much to see and do, so a road trip is definitely the best way to experience it all!
Whether it's exploring and sightseeing you want your itinerary to be full with, or surfing at all the best beaches and breaks - we'll cover it all in this blog post to make your Cornwall road trip incredible and perfect for you!
And, of course, we'll give you all the best cliff top spots end your days watching the sun go with the very best views over the sea to make your Cornwall road trip even more unforgettable!
Here is an epic North Cornwall road trip itinerary, including all the must visit places and a bunch of hidden gems as well!
About The Itinerary!
Our epic North Cornwall road trip itinerary will take you from Bude to Padstow, Newquay, St Agnes, St Ives and even down into West Cornwall to Land's End... It's not exactly North Cornwall but (trust us) you won't want to miss it!
So, as you can probably imagine, there's going to be a lot to see and do along the way. We've designed our road trip itinerary to be a bit of a 'choose your own adventure' so you can tailor it to you and make it your own. In doing so, your road trip can absolutely be done in a week, but if you don't want to leave quite as much out, then it could quite easily be a 2 week road trip as well!
In honesty, we should probably warn you about the narrow country lanes around Cornwall - especially so when the roads get busier throughout the Summer months! So, with that in mind, we would recommend planning your visit for the Autumn or Spring time, but avoiding school holidays of course!
Still, when driving off the A roads, you'll want to drive at a reasonable speed because you never know what's coming right around the corner! You can also expect to have to pull in and let people pass, and others will have to do the same for you, so give them a smile and a wave when they do... and remember that it’ll all be well worth it when you arrive at one of the many beautiful beaches or cliff top spots! Now, let’s hit the road!
PART ONE - North Devon & Bude
Okay, okay..... This epic North Cornwall road trip itinerary might surprise you here by doing something you might find sacrilegious... That's right - it actually starts off in DEVON!
The thing is, more often than not, those that drive down to Cornwall will end up on the A30, but we've got a much more scenic route to suggest, with even more must-visit locations that you're sure to want to stop at along the way!
The road that we want to recommend you take is the A39 - otherwise known as The Atlantic Highway! For this route, you'll likely want to leave the M5 for the A361 via Tiverton and on towards Barnstaple. You might already be tempted for some surfing at the ever popular North Devon beaches of Saunton, Croyde and Woolacombe at this point, but don't worry - they'll be plenty of surf spots to come!
So, where should you stop ???
Starting the drive out of Barnstaple on the A39, the first place to stretch your legs might be Bucks Mills - with access to walks through jungle and along the wild coastline, as well as a long rocky beach and even a waterfall cascading down from the cliff.
Following on from Bucks Mills could quite easily be the most charming little fishing village you're ever going to visit - Clovelly. But, as well as finding a quaint way of life from a time gone by, you'll have more scenes of the wild stretch of coastline and even another waterfall (albeit a little less impressive than the former). The village itself is in fact all privately owned and requires an admission fee of £7.95 per adult at the time of writing.
Two miles around the corner from Clovelly or a mile walk from Brownsham National Trust carpark is the jaw dropping natural landmark, Blackchurch Rock. A striking subject and must-see feature for any landscape photographer's shot list, Blackchurch Rock has earned it's place as a truly iconic sight to be seen on the Hartland Heritage Coast. In the Spring time, the woodland walk from Brownsham carpark to Mouthmill Beach (where you'll find Blackchurch Rock) is home to a stunning blanket of bluebells.
Before continuing on to Cornwall, a few more places offering dramatic cliffs and rugged coastal scenes are Hartland Point and it's lighthouse, Hartland Quay and Speke's Mill Waterfall about a one mile walk away, and finally Welcombe Mouth Beach.
Arriving in Bude you'll find a number of stunning, sandy beaches, an amazing tidal pool on Summerleaze and a bunch of great spots to watch the sunset such as the breakwater.
Bude is likely where you'll be best to spend the night, with lots of campsites and B&Bs in the area, and a bunch of overnight park up spots. If you don't feel like staying in the town, the Widemouth Bay is on the more wilder side with a couple more options for overnight parking. Check out the list below!
Overnight park up spots near Bude:
Summerleaze Crescent, Bude - toilets at Summerleaze long-stay carpark
Breakwater Road, Bude - toilets at Crescent long-stay carpark with tourist information
Crooklets Beach, Bude - £5 at Rosie's Cafe, toilets in council carpark
Council Carpark, Widemouth Bay - toilets and outdoor shower, but no camping
Lay-by between Widemouth & Millook - no facilities, toilets at Widemouth Bay
Lay-by off the A39 before Bude - 50.859099, -4.498308
Lay-by off the A39 after Bude - 50.816448, -4.527767
Lay-by near Widemouth Bay - 50.784251, -4.558240
Things to do from North Devon to Bude, in summary:
Bucks Mills Waterfall
Hartland Point Lighthouse
Hartland Quay Beach
Welcombe Mouth Beach
Bude Tidal Pool
Bude Breakwater Walk
Our Top Picks:
In the day time:
Clovelly Village and coastal walk to Blackchurch Rock. 2 miles / 1 hour one way
In the day time:
Hartland Quay coastal walk to Hartland Point Lighthouse. 3 miles / 1.5 hours one way
In the day time / evening:
Bude Sea Pool, Summerleaze Beach, Crooklets Beach or Widemouth Bay
In the evening:
Sunset at Bude Breakwater or the above beaches
PART TWO - Bude to Tintagel
Heading away from Bude and just past Widemouth Bay, head up the winding road via Millook Haven and the village of Dizzard for an extraordinarily scenic drive to Crackington Haven. Be warned though, it can be extremely steep and narrow in places, so perhaps not for the faint of heart!
Both Millook Haven and Crackington Haven are quiet little beaches and could definitely be considered some of Cornwall's hidden gems. Crackington Haven has a fairly small carpark and a few places that offer food, whilst Millook Haven is even more off-the-beaten-track with access via the coastal path from the aforementioned lay-by that offers overnight camping and coastal views.
Continuing down the coast, the stunning harbour town of Boscastle is sat within a natural inlet - best viewed from the coastal path above! The town is also home to The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, which will be loved by Harry Potter fans!
Close to Boscastle is an amazing walk through ancient woodland that follows alongside a lovely little stream leading up to St Nectan's Glen and one of the most amazing waterfalls you've ever seen! The are two car parks just off the main road that takes you towards Tintagel - one of which is free (I believe) whilst the other costs £3. To see the waterfall, there's an admission fee of £5.95 per adult, and there's a cute outside cafe as well.
The next spot down the coast is the town of Tintagel, where you'll find the rumoured birth place of King Arthur and the supposed home of Merlin - Tintagel Castle. The castle ruins remain atop an island which became accessible in 2019 by footbridge 57 metres above sea level. The medieval and mythical site is managed by English Heritage, with an admission fee of £14.50 per adult.
Finally, you could end the day at Trebarwith Strand, just the other side of Tintagel. The beach here is a favourite of ours and one that's unlike any other, and is a great choice for watching the sunset. There's some great spots for watching the sunset from the coastal path on the right hand side of the beach or simply from the pub on the left hand side of the beach.
Tintagel is likely where you'll be best to spend the night, with lots of campsites and B&Bs in the area. There are also a couple of overnight park up spots in the area. Check out the list below!
Overnight park up spots near Tintagel:
King Arthurs Arms Carpark - £4, toilets at long-stay council carpark with visitor centre
Carpark near King Arthurs Cafe - £3.50, toilets at long-stay council carpark with visitor centre
Top things to do from Bude to Tintagel, in summary:
Driving via Dizzard from Widemouth Bay to Crackington Haven
Crackington Haven and Millook Haven Beaches
St Nectan's Glen Waterfall
Trebarwith Strand Beach
Our Top Picks:
In the day time option 1:
Boscastle & surrounding coastal walks.
In the day time option 2:
St Nectan's Glen Waterfall
In the day time option 3:
In the evening:
Sunset at Trebarwith Strand
PART THREE - Tintagel to Padstow
There's definitely plenty to do on your way from Tintagel to Padstow! Of course, this list should probably start with a mention of Trebarwith Strand again, which you'll probably pass on your way out of Tintagel. Here, you could enjoy the beach or a breathtaking coastal walk if you didn't do so the day before.
Your next stop on the road trip could be the harbour town of Port Isaac, which is otherwise known as Port Wenn to Doc Martin fans and a short walk round to Port Gaverne. Fisherman's Friends often sing at Port Isaac in the evenings as well.
The popular surfing beach, Polzeath, is just a short way further down the coast and an incredible coastal walk to The Rumps is nearby.
After Polzeath, the next beach along is Daymer Bay. From here, you can walk across the sand dunes to Rock, with unbeatable views of the Camel Estuary and a visit to St Enodoc Church on the way as well. Alternati