Four have fun in Cornwall

We explore Cornwall from end to Land's End


Penzance is not the most obvious place to find a Jewish cemetery, so I was delighted - and more than a little intrigued - to visit a beautifully kept burial ground on a family holiday to Cornwall.

Jews initially came to Penzance from Germany and Holland, with the first synagogue in the area built in 1768. It isn't surprising that the orthodox community soon wanted its own burial ground too.

The small, enclosed Georgian cemetery is Grade II listed and although it is privately owned, it is possible to arrange tours. Gravestones are not the usual fare we serve up to our children when on holiday but our Jewish heritage is important to us, and our morning with excellent guide Keith Pearce was fascinating.

The cemetery itself is behind a locked door: you'd probably just walk on past if you didn't know it was there. Inside, however, there are rows of graves. The very earliest have lost their headstones and are unmarked but 49 are identifiable, the earliest being Solomon Zalman, dating from 1823.

The cemetery was situated in the Parish of St John, and being on church property has helped to protect it. In fact, as Mr Pearce told us, its location has been "its saving grace" and local people have helped look after it over the years.

Getting there

A week's stay in a Villa Gallery (with accommodation for four) at The Valley, Cornwall costs £1,770.
Tours of Penzance Jewish Cemetery can be arranged through Penlee House. or call 01736 363625.
For more information on what there is to do in the area, visit the tourist board at

It's a moving place, especially when looking at the graves of the children buried there, and also rather special because it has its own Bet Tehorah or cleansing house.

However, we didn't choose our week's holiday to Cornwall purely for an injection of Jewish history. Instead we went for all the things you hope to get from family trips - culture, relaxation, a beach or two, fun and delicious food. Fortunately, we found all of the above, and the sun even shone - some of the time.

We stayed in The Valley, a grouping of modern cottages around 10 minutes' drive from Truro, Cornwall's only city. This was a great choice as it meant we could happily self-cater and enjoy the facilities on-site, including table tennis, tennis, squash, a play area for the kids and both an indoor and outdoor swimming pool.

The Villa Gallery, where we stayed, gave us two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and living area and an extra room with a large freezer and washing machine. I was very impressed by the space and also the setting (it's very green and remarkably quiet when you think how many kids are on-site).

At the top of our wishlist of places to visit in Cornwall was the Eden Project, even though we weren't sure exactly what it was! This unique place is home to the largest indoor rainforest in the world (where it can get very hot) and was extremely busy, but fascinating.

Our only slight complaint was that my 14-year-old daughter, who is very interested in geography, wanted more information than the basic detail available (although it was just right for me).

If the Eden Project was first, Land's End was only just behind it on the list with my husband and me both keen to go right to the far edge of England.

It didn't disappoint. Even the drive there was worth it, as we felt we were moving further and further away from civilisation. The visitor centre now offers a range of attractions, which some have dismissed as "tacky" but which we enjoyed, with my son especially liking the 4D dinosaur film, The Lost World.

While I know that children need more than beautiful views to enjoy a holiday, and understand why attractions such as a Shaun the Sheep exhibition are a good idea, no-one travels to Land's End just for extras like these.

Instead we wanted to see the famous Land's End sign and marvel at the scenery in front of us. It was absolutely glorious, almost overwhelmingly so. The views were, to use a cliché, stunning.

And if my 11-year-old son enjoyed Land's End, he was even more excited to try Cornwall Football Golf in St Austell: the UK's first football golf park. As you'd expect from the name, the game is simply crazy golf, but on a larger scale, played with footballs and with much bigger holes which was terrific fun, albeit exhausting by the end.

There was no shortage of places to relax afterwards. Cornwall is known for its beaches and we enjoyed an afternoon trip to busy St Ives - we particularly liked seeing seals swimming in the sea - and to beautiful Daymer beach in North Cornwall. However, as it wasn't especially sunny throughout our trip, we swapped more lazing on a beach towel for extra day trips.

One I particularly enjoyed was discovering the Lost Gardens of Heligan. The 200 acres feature a field of poppies, mud sculptures, a great restaurant, and best of all, a "jungle" area with its own rope bridge. It's quite steep in places so be warned if you have young children, but I thought it was a very special place and with so much space, it didn't feel crowded.

But I feel that we left the best to last. Tintagel Castle has to be one of the most dramatically lovely spots I have ever seen in the UK, alongside the Highlands of Scotland.

The castle is said to be connected to King Arthur and there is a small exhibition at the start. After seeing this, you start to walk, and walk… and walk. And yes, your children might complain, after a while. But even they will then gawp at the beauty in front of them as you enter the castle ruins and climb up for even more spectacular views. There is also a new statue to admire, inspired by King Arthur.

With such beautiful scenery, so much for families to do plus delicious food (all those scones, ice-creams and fudge), we had a wonderful time while barely seeing the half of it.

Perfect for summer, half-term and beyond.

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