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Favourite peninsula out in the west

Costa Rica

It has long been our best loved peninsula. Now the ancient duchy is officially voted the nation's favourite holiday destination, in the latest British Travel Awards. GHD checked out his best loved haunts on moor and shore, and caught up with Cornwall's latest attractions, from the world's biggest greenhouse and the Rip Van Winkle garden, to a table set by Britain's favourite chef.

Surf’s Up

Welcome to the two coast county, all joined up by a 326-mile Coastal Path. On the south, pretty fishing villages and sheltered creeks. On the north, endless sands and rugged cliffs plummeting into the Atlantic. And some of the best surf this side of Hawaii.
We liked the family beach at Perranporth, wandering its immense spaces at low tide. But for the busiest buzz , head for the stretch between St. Ives and Polzeath. If you are new to surfboarding. there are umpteen places to hire boards and wet suits, and book lessons - www.surfsupsurfschool.com; www.harlynsurf.co.uk; www.reefsurfschool.com. The music festivals and beach parties are an optional extra. The Extreme Academy offers more adrenaline sports (www.extremeacademy.co.uk), including traction kiting and mountain boarding. Travel is easy, more flights to Newquay, and a direct train from London from June Urban surfers in need of a quick getaway, try www.bigfriday.com.

Eden Project

There was toil and grime in Cornwall, and this is an amazing way to repair it. The Eden project showcases the planet''s plant diversity in the world''s largest greenhouse, the now iconic bulbous biomes (the biggest could hold the Tower of London) on a landscape despoiled by china clay mining. Now it''s bursting with 5,000 species from many climatic zones. Eden is educating and communicating on the environmental issues of the day, in an engaging, involving,humorous way. And now it does music too - hosting one of the Live 8 gigs in 2005 was its big break. This summer (2007) Keane, Basement Jaxx, Muse and Moby Rock are on the bill. One bank holiday we queued for hours in our car, and never made it.. So choose your time. (The nearest train station the station is Par, a short taxi trip away.) Adults £14, kids £5. www.edenproject.com,

Pastie paradise

Pasties? You can buy Cornwall''s famous fast food on any big railway station. Go west to join the fresh food revolution. Since last summer Jamie Oliver''s Fifteen has been one of the hottest bookings in the county. In the restaurant overlooking Watergate Bay he is training local disadvantaged youngsters for careers in creative cooking. What do you say to Deli Farm coppa, gooey burrata, blood oranges & funky leaves (one of six courses at £50 per person.) They also do breakfast (no booking) - the Fifteen fry up is £9.50. (www.fifteencornwall.co.uk) But it was Rick Stein who first put Cornwall on the good food map, tapping into the abundance of fresh produce from the land, and the catch from fishing boats putting out daily from 49 ports. Make your choice in Padstow from his Seafood Restaurant (his top table), St. Petroc''s Bistro, Rick Stein''s Café and Stein''s Fish & Chips (www.rickstein.com).

Slumbering gardens awake

For 80 years they slumbered, The Lost Gardens of Heligan. after the men who tended them set off to war in 1914. Many never returned. Then, in true fairytale spirit,
Tim Smit hacked through the 1000 acre thicket near Mevagissey, behinning one of gardening''s most famous restoration projects. (And it''s not over yet). Among the prize old specimens are a fabulous collection of rhododendrons and camellias, ornate flower and vegetable gardens, a wild area filled with Jurassic Park tree ferns, and old lakes fed by a ram pump. Don''t miss Europe''s only pineapple pit, warmed by rotting manure. In Horsemoor Hide, they show images of Heligan wildlife on high-tech screens. www.heligan.com
See also www.gardensofcornwall.com. Other star wet day attractions include, the National Maritime Museum, Falmouth; The Tate, St. Ives; the Blue Reef Aquarium, Newquay, and the National Lobster Hatchery on Padstow quayside.

Magic at the utter end

There is magic at the utter end of England, and I''m not talking Lands End.
Just beyond Penzance is the Minack Theatre, probably the
only venue in the world where you might see dolphins at play just beyond Prospero''s right shoulder in a Shakespeare''s Tempest. The late Rowena Cade made her open air theatre from a natural amphitheatre carved into Porthcurno''s cliffs, hauling wood from the beach herself to complete the building. If actors miss their footing, it is a straight drop into the sea.
They keep a strong tradition for the Bard: this summer''s programme includes The Tempest and Twelfth Night, as well as HMS. Pinafore. But book early, because they sell out quickly.
(www.minack.com.) If you can''t get in, try Sterts Theatre (www.sterts.co.uk): bring your own cushion and picnic to sit under a canvas roof on Bodmin Moor.

Duchy Original

Cornwall is a destination in its own right, so do Devon some other time.
But it''s a long way from most places, and driving can be a pain, so here''s the answer. Catch a train to Penzance (the Night Sleeper from Paddington, if you are really spoiling yourselves) and book into the Hotel Penzance If you want to make a week of it, add on the Bedruthan Steps Hotel, or the Budock Vean Hotel, on the tranquil Helford River. There are buses all over, and fabulous railway branch lines. Book a window table and dine with a beach view at PorthMinster cafe, St Ives (coconut poached red mullet, fresh figs with Parma ham) or at the clifftop restaurant Lewinnick Lodge at Newquay. Current crop of prize winning pubs include Hewas Inn at Sticker the Golden Lion Inn, Stithians Lake, ands the Fox & Hounds, Comford, .

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