Driving on holiday in Cornwall can be vastly different if you’re used to driving in towns and cities. We have written this essential guide to help you drive safely on your Cornish holiday. First time visitors often find Cornwall’s lesser roads a challenge. Follow our advice and you’ll be better prepared to plan your road trips, drive according to the road conditions and when facing a vehicle coming toward you on a single track road.
Firstly, there are no motorways in Cornwall. Different driving skills are needed when you drive off the beaten track or are faced with narrow steep country lanes. Many are surprised it can take around 2 hours to drive from one end of Cornwall to the other. Cornwall’s major route is the A30 – a fast road made up largely of dual carriageway, travelling along the central backbone of Cornwall all the way to Penzance, with A roads spurring off to serve the north and south coast. South East Cornwall is largely served by the A38 and A390.
1. When to stay on 'A' roads
If you’re trying to see several of Cornwall’s top attractions on a short break or on a touring holiday, then getting lost on back roads might result in a good story to share later with friends. However, it’s often better to stay on the A roads to get to your destination in the quickest time and avoid spending too much time in the car.
Touring by car is certainly the best way to reach the hidden gems and lesser-known beaches. The rewards of getting lost in the rugged Cornish landscape do outweigh the stressful encounters you may occasionally have on single track roads.
2. Should you trust your sat nav?
Sat nav and Google maps often recommend the shortest route ‘as the crow flies’. In Cornwall, this might take you on roads with exceptionally steep gradients or on back lanes with grass growing up the middle and high dry-stone hedges either side. The base of these old Cornish hedges, so typical of the Cornish countryside, are made of unforgiving solid stone, deceptively hidden from view by masses of grass and wildflowers.
If you’re a confident driver, the rewards are plentiful when you explore little used Cornish country lanes. You can more easily stop at will to spot wildlife, admire flora and fauna, take a walk or admire a view.