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If you’re looking for something to do in Cornwall, then visiting some of the county’s National Trust sites is a great option. There are so many great National Trust places in Cornwall, from picturesque coastal walks to ostentatious estates.
Cornwall boasts dozens of National Trust properties of all different varieties. Many of them are related to Cornwall’s mining heritage, while even more take you along the stunning coast. Even me, a proud avoider of all outdoor activity, will happily take a walk along the gorgeous Cornish coast.
Since living in Cornwall, we’ve tried to visit as many of Cornwall’s National Trust properties as possible. Here’s my guide to them.
One thing – you might be wondering why there’s no beaches on this list. I know, I know – how can you talk about Cornwall without mentioning the beaches? Well, since there are so many National Trust beaches in Cornwall, that will be a separate post. So hang tight!
Guide to visiting National Trust places in Cornwall
The National Trust is one of my favourite things about England, and I was so thrilled to be gifted a membership when I first arrived. I think it’s one of the best ways to check out many of the historic and natural sights all around England.
For those who aren’t familiar, the National Trust is a not-for-profit organisation in the UK that maintains hundreds of properties around the country. Often, these properties have been donated by rich families who don’t have the funds to maintain the properties themselves.
Costs of visiting National Trust places in Cornwall
Some of the National Trust properties in Cornwall are free to visit – mainly the coastal walks and woodlands. There is usually a car park nearby, which generally costs about £3 if you are not a member. If you don’t park in that car park, it’s totally free to visit!
Most properties, such as the houses and gardens, do cost money to visit. The entry fee can vary from around £5 – £15 pounds, depending on the property. Of course, if you have a National Trust membership, it’s totally free to visit and to park as many times as you want.
An annual membership for the National Trust is currently £120 for a couple, £72 for an adult, £36 for a young adult (18 – 25 years) and £10 for children (0 – 17). If you’re super enthusiastic about the National Trust (no judgement here!) you can even become a life member for about £2,100 for a couple.
Visiting from overseas and hoping to check out a few of these Cornwall national trust properties? There’s a great option! You can get a type of temporary membership (called a Touring Pass) for either 7 days (£33 single/£58 couple) or 14 days (£38 single/£69 couple).
It will allow you entry to nearly all of the National Trust properties in the UK – and all of the ones on my list. You have to buy the pass online, and then pick it up from a designated National Trust property. In Cornwall, that’s Cotehele, Lanhydrock, St Michael’s Mount, Tintagel Old Post Office, Trelissick or Trengwainton Garden.
Bringing your pets to National Trust properties
Most of the National Trust properties are dog-friendly, and taking your dog for a walk around the grounds of a “Nat Trust” property is pretty much a national past time in Britain.
Generally speaking, dogs (except service animals) aren’t allowed inside National Trust houses, but you are most welcome to take them around the grounds and into the cafes.
National Trust Places in Cornwall
You’ll find dozens of National Trust properties in Cornwall. This is not quite an exhaustive list, but I’ve done my best to include as many as I can!
National Trust houses in Cornwall
My personal favourite is visiting National Trust houses in Cornwall. I love snooping on how the ultra-rich would have lived back in the day, and admiring the opulence. Luckily, there are quite a few beautiful estates in Cornwall.
Probably Cornwall’s most impressive house – and almost certainly the most lavish National Trust house in Cornwall – is Lanhydrock Estate.
Parts of this incredible mansion date back to the 17th century, when it was bought by the Robartes family. The Robartes family were everyday people who managed to become amongst Cornwall’s most wealthy residents thanks to their mining and loan sharking.
Unfortunately, the estate was plagued with personal tragedies and there were few heirs to take over the expansive home and gardens. In particular, a fire in 1881 nearly destroyed the entire property, while the last Robartes heir died in the 1950s. This is one of the reasons why the property was left to the care of the National Trust.
Today, more than 50 rooms in the home are open to view, and look almost like the family could come back at any moment. It’s left in perfect Victorian fashion!
As well as the house itself, there are over 400 acres of gardens and walking trails. The garden is absolutely beautiful, with so many bright and gorgeous trees and flowers. You can even rent a bicycle to explore the grounds!
There’s also a cafe and a secondhand bookshop on the grounds, too.
Cotehele is another one of the best National Trust homes in Cornwall. The beautiful Tudor mansion also offers a mill, quay and play-house, making it an interesting place to learn more about life in Cornwall at the time.
Much of the home dates back to the 15th century, although the exact date that it was built is not known. Sir Richard Edgcumbe is believed to have began building the home, and it was eventually handed to the National Trust by the Edgcumbe family some 600 years later.
Today, it’s an amazing sight that’s well deserving of its Grade I heritage listing.
One of the oldest areas of the home is the beautiful Chapel, so make sure you take a look at that while you’re at the estate. There are also many amazing paintings and tapestries inside the house.
The estate is incredibly beautiful, with over 1300 acres of land to explore. Part of the garden is beautifully landscaped with lots of bright and fragrant flowers like daffodils and magnolias.
I absolutely adore the incredibly beautiful setting at Trelissick House. While the house itself is a little on the “modest” side (by aristocrat standards, anyway), the setting is exceptional.
The first thing you notice as you approach the house is the beautiful U-shaped cove. It is so beautifully blue against the lush green garden, and I could sit and stare at it for hours!
There’s also a wider garden, that looks like it could be from a tropical country, rather than the backyard of a National Trust home in Cornwall! It’s definitely a delight to wander through the amazing garden and take in the beautiful views.
The house itself is also well presented, telling the story of those who live there. One of the most interesting characters is Ida Copeland MP, who successfully stood for parliament against far-right candidates just before World War II.
It’s definitely one of my favourite National Trust properties in Cornwall.
If you’re looking for a National Trust property near Newquay, then the Tudor manor of Trerice is a great choice.
Trerice House is one of the most historic properties in Cornwall, and was once in the hands of one of the county’s most powerful families – the Arundell family. They held the home from around the 14th Century, until the mid 1700s. The house itself, however, was actually built even before that.
Some of the features of the home date back from before the 15th century, including a beautiful stained glass window in the chapel.
Eventually, the owners of the Trerice estate fell into hardship and nearly all of the land was sold off to pay debts of the family. Nonetheless, the home fell into disrepair and was eventually given to the National Trust.
Although the garden is modest in size, it’s very beautiful – especially in the springtime.
Antony House is a more unusual National Trust property in Cornwall, because the family who owned it actually still live in the home.
The history of the Carew family dates back hundreds of years in Cornwall, and the home is filled with treasures that they have collected since the 14th century. The house itself was built in the 1700s.
As the family still live in the home, it has a “lived in” vibe which can be a bit lacking in some other National Trust properties. It’s a bit odd (but interesting) to see paintings on the walls of relations of the current inhabitants!
It also has the huge claim to fame as being the setting for the live action remake of Beauty and the Beast – so you know it is going to be impressive (and very romantic).
Antony House has a huge, beautiful garden with thousands of flowers including tulips. If you want to find out more about the gorgeous gardens, there are daily tours of the garden. You can check the website for more details.
National Trust gardens in Cornwall
There are many beautiful gardens in Cornwall that are under the care of the National Trust. They’re totally outdoors (kind of to be expected), so you’ll probably want to make a trip while the weather is good! They’re especially beautiful in Spring, when they are full of beautiful flowers.
Technically, Godolphin does also have a house attached, but it is only open one day a month (the rest of the time it’s a holiday house that can be rented) – so I’m relegating it to the “garden” list!
The Godolphin were another family that made their money through tin mining in Cornwall. Through this, they built a beautiful home and garden that was eventually given to the National Trust in the mid-20th century.
Although you can’t usually go inside the house, you can admire it from the outside. There’s also a beautiful medieval garden that is open from March to October every year.
The real highlight of the property is the 600 acres of trails and woodland which are filled with beautiful and colourful flowers like magnolia and bluebells. The wider estate is open every day, from dawn to dusk.
If you’re looking for a picturesque garden by the sea, you’ll love Glendurgan Gardens. It’s not enormous and the main path is bitumised, so it’s a very accessible garden.
The garden is centred around three valleys. The unique layout of the gardens means that tropical plants and flowers can grow, making it quite a unique garden in Cornwall.
The National Trust garden in Cornwall is also unique because it backs onto a tiny village called Durgan as well as a small rocky beach. Near the beach, there’s a small teahouse that does tea, coffee and ice cream (cash only).
The garden itself is very beautiful with amazing colours and smells, and there’s also a Victorian maze as a special feature. There’s frequent tours of the garden, if you’d like to find out more about it, and the family who created it.
Another smaller National Trust garden in Cornwall is Trengwainton, near Penzance. This garden features about 30 acres of beautiful grounds.
The garden was taken on by the National Trust because of the significance of the unique plant species it contains. Many of them are sourced from far away places such as Myanmar and India.
I’m no garden enthusiast myself, but I can certainly appreciate the beauty! It’s the perfect spot for a laidback picnic.
This garden does a really great job of being accessible to everyone, from those who just want to smell the roses, as well as those who want to know a lot more about the species in the garden.
There’s also a tea room if you’d rather buy your lunch rather than bring it!
National Trust coves and coastal walks in Cornwall
Cornwall’s coast is absolutely spectacular, so it’s no wonder that there are plenty of coastal walks and lookouts under the care of the National Trust. Don’t forget to bring your camera to snap some pics of the amazing views!
World’s End gets a lot of attention as Cornwall’s most famous peninsula, but I actually think Lizard Point is way prettier. Plus, it has better cafes, and it’s the most southerly point in the UK!
There is an easy coastal walk around the Lizard, as well as longer walks that takes you to other villages along the coast.
The views along the way are absolutely spectacular – think jagged, dramatic cliffs and rocky outlets. This causes the waves to crash spectacularly against the cliff-face.
There’s also a memorial to the old lifeboat that operated from the area and managed to save the lives of hundreds. Looking out at the water and the jagged cliff and rocks under the sea, it’s not hard to see why so many boats ended up wrecked not far from shore.
Kynance Cove is one of the prettiest coves in Cornwall, and one of my favourite National Trust sites in Cornwall. In fact, you can walk from Lizard Point to Kynance Cove for a beautiful walk.
The cove is famous because it has incredibly clear blue water as well as white sand. Although the beach is small, it’s very picturesque – and I can see why it is so popular in the summertime!
Note that the beach is only accessible during low tide – in high tide, it’s nearly entirely covered by the ocean.
There is a car park near the cove, which is free for members and can be used by others at a cost. Access to the actual cove is free for everyone.
Note that during March to October, there is a dog ban between 7am and 7pm. So, if you want to visit Kynance Cove with your pup, you’ll want to go early or late!
Another picturesque spot to take in the beautiful views of the Cornish coast is Cudden Point near Penzance.
You cannot drive up to Cudden Point so you need to walk about half an hour to get to the point. The terrain is a little bit rocky, so you’ll want to wear good shoes to make sure you get there comfortably!
The interesting thing about this view is that while it is naturally beautiful, you can also see some remnants of human settlement in the area. If you’re a photographer, you can get some beautiful shots of the crumbling buildings next to the wild sea.
If you’re lucky, you might even see some ponies grazing nearby!
Another of Cornwall’s prettiest coves is Poldhu – it’s sentimental to me because I stayed in Poldhu Cottage at Glebe Hall during my stay in Cornwall.
This picturesque cove offers a large, sandy beach which gets really popular in summer. The name translates to “black pool”, which is kind of ironic, as the water is actually very blue!
There is a cafe at the site, so you can enjoy a cuppa while overlooking the sea.
The beach is popular with swimmers and surfers. Between May and September, lifeguards are on duty – and you can even take some surf lessons for £25 per lesson. Even if the weather is not good enough for swimming, it’s still a very pretty spot to sit and enjoy.
Gunwalloe Beach and Church Cove
When I first laid eyes on Gunwalloe Beach, I was absolutely amazed! In fact, I had to eat all of my insults about English beaches… this one is super beautiful.
The only problem is, you can’t actually swim there – it’s just too tidal and dangerous. That’s why I’m including Gunwalloe Beach in this list, rather than on the “beaches” one that’s coming!
Nonetheless, it’s such a huge swathe of beach that you can easily enjoy yourself on the sand instead.
Plus, just a bit down from Gunwalloe Beach you’ll find Church Cove, one of the most beautiful spots in all of Cornwall. Here, you’ll find the stunning Church of Winwalloe, nestled right near the cove.
Gunwalloe is another beach with a dog ban between 7am and 7pm from Easter Sunday to November each year.
Porthcurno is one of my favourite villages in Cornwall, and a place I’d definitely recommend that everyone visit!
The village boasts two great attractions: the Telegraph Museum (my favourite museum in Cornwall) and the Minnack Open Air theatre, a truly spectacular sight.
It’s also home to Porthcurno Cove, which is exquisitely beautiful. You can take a path down from the Minnack Theatre, or drive up to the National Trust carpark (free for members, non-members must pay).
Although the beach isn’t sandy, it is still very beautiful with small white shells. It’s really spectacular to see, and definitely a must visit if you’re venturing to Porthcurno.
Other National Trust places in Cornwall
Cornwall also has a few unique National Trust properties that don’t fit nicely into the above categories. Nonetheless, they’re some of the most beautiful National Trust properties in Cornwall, and well worth visiting!
St Michael’s Mount
Mont St Michel in Northern France is one of the world’s great wonders – but did you know that Cornwall also has its own version?
Just like the French one, it is a walled village built on an island out to sea. Also like Normandy’s version, during low tide you can actually walk to it, while in high tide it is nearly entirely cut off from the mainland.
In the middle of the island, purchased overlooking the mainland, there is an impressive and beautiful castle. It was built in the 17th Century, and members of the St Aubyn family still live there. Entrance into the castle is free for National Trust members, or £10.50 for other adults.
If you’re fascinated by the Mount, you’re certainly not alone – even Queen Elizabeth II paid a visit in 2013!
As well as the castle, there are several other picturesque buildings to explore, with some dating back to the 12th century. St Michael is a perfectly functioning village – just a little out to sea!
Levant Mine and Beam Engine
The Levant Mine and Beam Engine is situated along the “tin coast”, a seven mile strip of coast that has been particularly significant for industry in Cornwall.
This National Trust mine in Cornwall is particularly beautiful owing to its coastal location. Although it’s undeniable that these old mines damaged the Cornish landscape, you have to admit that they do add a certain drama to the coast.
Sadly, there’s also a bit of tragedy at this site, as 31 men lost their lives here in a terrible accident in the early 20th century.
If you want to go into the mine, you have to be on a guided tour. This is well worth it, as you’ll also learn about the history of the mine and more generally the industry in Cornwall.
Another highlight of this National Trust site is that it has some very unique birds living nearby. In particular, it is one of the few habitats for “choughs”, a type of bird so rare that I’d never heard of them! The National Trust is doing a great job to try to nurture the population back after a steep decline in the 20th century.
Yet another mine in Cornwall is the Botallack site, which is also along the tin coast. Like Levant, part of what makes this mine so beautiful is how it clings to the coast, overlooking the sea.
Once upon a time it was one of the richest mines in Cornwall, producing tin, copper and arsenic (yes, arsenic!).
There’s not a huge amount to actually do at this site, so it’s more the kind of place to just go and soak in the views. If you’re a photographer, you’re sure to also love capturing the amazing landscape.
There is a count house workshop, which would have served as the mine’s office. Today, it houses various antiques and artefacts relating to the mine.
There’s also a cafe which is open daily and does drinks, cakes and light meals.
East Pool Mine
Cornwall’s mining heritage is obvious all over the beautiful landscape, and the National Trust’s East Pool Mine is one of the best places to learn more about this industry and its great significance to Cornwall.
The East Pool Mine opened in 1784, when mining (along with fishing) was the lifeblood of the Cornish economy. There were hundreds of metres of tunnels, filled with miners looking for copper and other precious materials.
While many of the mines dried up, the East Pool Mine continued to be in operation until the mid 20th century when it was finally turned off for good.
Today, it is one of the best examples of a preserved mine. It’s amazing to go inside and find out more about what life must have been like for Cornish miners (spoiler alert: hard!).
As well as the mine itself and boiler room, this National Trust site in Cornwall also has lots of records and artefacts that relate to mining and how it shaped the county.
The East Pool Mine is open from March to October each year.
Tintagel Old Post Office
This is one of the cheapest National Trust sites in Cornwall, and also one of my absolute favourites! It’s so picturesque, you struggle to believe that it’s even real!
With its crooked roof and ultra-low ceilings (complete with wooden beams), it looks like it could be something out of a Brother’s Grimm Fairytale.
Instead, it is an old Medieval Post Office that was built in the 14th century. Inside, you’ll find a small collection of antiques and other items related to the post office.
Outside, there is a pretty garden which a nice peaceful spot and especially beautiful in the spring.
Just a few minutes from Tintagel Old Post Office, you’ll find Tintagel Castle, the alleged birthplace of King Arthur (unfortunately, not a National Trust site!).
Cornwall is full of many beautiful little villages, but I have to say that Boscastle is one of my absolute favourites. It’s so incredible picturesque, and there’s even a Witchcraft Museum!
The National Trust managed a small but beautiful harbour which is just down the road from the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic.
There are some lovely walks around the harbour, and also a National Trust-run cafe and giftshop overlooking the harbour. It’s a super pretty spot, and I’d definitely recommend dropping in after seeing the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic!