As world leaders descend on Carbis Bay in Cornwall for the G7 summit, we realise there will be more on their minds than a post-lockdown weekend away.
But though the local beaches and a spot of surfing probably won’t be high on the agenda for the likes of US President Joe Biden French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as they meet to discuss the globe’s biggest problems (yes, there are quite a few), it does seem a bit of a shame – Cornwall is such a fantastic place.
So here’s how they could spend any quieter moments during the summit, whether they are culture vultures or unlikely beach bums…
The tourist trail
Let’s start with the must-sees that should top every visitor’s to do list.
With climate change high on the agenda, the Eden Project might prove a suitably green destination for Biden and co., its famous biodomes housing thousands of plants both exotic and ordinary. The tropical rainforest biome should enthral all seven world leaders, though the neighbouring Mediterranean forest biome may be more familiar to some.
The island of St Michael’s Mount might provide a little piece of home for Emmanuel Macron at least – a Cornish counterpart to Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy. Both islands are accessible from the mainland depending on the tide, and sport conical mounds topped with medieval abbeys.
And should they have time to visit Land’s End, there are stunning panoramas, as the Cornish cliffs give way to unbroken ocean that stretches all the way back to the homelands of Biden and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
If Cornwall is known for one thing, it’s coastal scenery, and even the busiest head of state must like to be beside the seaside once in a while.
They may not host the world’s warmest beaches, but Cornwall’s shorelines compensate with plenty of sand and an abundance of rugged beauty. Porthcurno Beach is well-known for postcard-perfect vistas and Caribbean-blue waters, while Gyllyngvase Beach near Falmouth is a go-to for swimming.
Best in show is probably Kynance Cove, a gloriously evocative mix of moss-covered rock formations, pure-white sand, and green-tinted sea.
The entire county is ringed by the South West Coast Path, a walking trail that runs directly through Carbis Bay, and is the country’s longest footpath totalling more than 1,000 kilometres. The path, beloved by ramblers, snakes along the shoreline, around headland, cove and cliff.
Cornwall is also the jumping off point for trips to the Scilly Isles – a temperate archipelago a little way off Porthcurno, that boasts one of Britain’s finest tropical gardens.
Sometimes called the gem in Cornwall’s crown (at least by its tour guides), the cobbled streets of St Ives punch culturally well above their weight, and are barely a stone’s throw from the G7 summit. The St Ives branch of the Tate Gallery opened in 1993 – a major coup for the town – close to the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.
The classic seaside town of Padstow – a fishing port with a typically picturesque waterfront – is synonymous with seafood dinners, thanks in part to the celebrity chef and restaurateur Rick Stein. He opened his first eatery by the harbour in the 1970s, and still runs four venues in the town.
Famously pretty Penzance is thankfully pirate-free, but it has a little bit of almost everything else, from Victorian manor houses to ancient stone circles, and an art deco lido that’s the largest of its kind in Britain. Nearby fishing village Mousehole was described by poet Dylan Thomas as ‘the loveliest village in England’, and retains its rustic, stone chimney-charm.
Though we can’t imagine the leaders shredding too many waves, Cornwall is also known for its superb surfing scene. Check out Polzeath Beach, Porthtowan Beach, and Fistral Beach near Newquay