Living in a bustling hub like London, it can start to feel suffocating quite quickly. The best way to cope and recharge is by escaping with one of the many south coast of England road trips available! You are spoiled for choice with the many possible UK road trip ideas starting from London, and so you can design your road trip to fit your exact needs and wants. But in case you’re someone who benefits from a rough outline, here is out itinerary for a London to Cornwall road trip in a motorhome.
Day 1, London to the New Forest
Driving time: 2 hours and 8 minutes
You could drive straight to Cornwall if you’re strapped for time, and start with day 3 instead. But as a firm believer that a trip should be about the journey as well as the destination, and as someone who hates driving over three hours and finds it too tiring, I decided to make a few stops on the way there. The first stop; the New Forest! After being in the metropolitan setting of London for so long, I am sorely in need of some fresh air, space to stretch my legs and cute ponies. A nice hike through the New Forest, and night at a rural campsite should do the trick wonderfully. If you enjoy a long walk, be sure to tackle the Avon Valley Path, a whopping 34 miles taking you from Salisbury to Christchurch on the south coast. Not a walker? Try pony trekking, which the New Forest is famed for! Be sure to stop by the New Forest Lavender Farm, to fill your sense with that sweet scent and enjoy a delicious afternoon tea. Looking for more tips for your time here? Check out our blog on camping in the New Forest.
Staying at: Red Shoot Camping Park. The ideal campsite for families, family-run and featuring a shop, bakery, children’s play area, laundry room and disabled access facilities. Not only are they child-friendly, but they are dog-friendly too!
Price: £18.30-30 per night
Address: Toms Ln, Ringwood BH24 3QT, United Kingdom
Day 2, the New Forest to Torquay
Driving time: 2 hours and 38 minutes
I must admit I’m a little biased for choosing Torquay as the second stop, given that it is my birthplace, but is still a gorgeous seaside town that is certainly underappreciated. So grab something to eat from the onsite bakery and set off for Torquay. For the drive there, I recommend enjoying a road trip podcast, the time will fly by! Take the coastal route and stop at Babbacombe, to enjoy a clifftop stroll and dip in the waters. From here you can visit Babbacombe Model Village or even the Babbacombe Theatre. If you’re planning to visit Oddicombe Beach next, why not take the Babbacombe Cliff Railway?
Make your way to The Kents for a delicious pub lunch, enjoying the locally sourced menu. Right next to this pub you’ll find Kents Cavern Prehistoric Caves, an incredible site. They have tours throughout the day as well as kids activities. You can follow this by a visit to the nearby Torquay Museum or Agatha Christie Gallery - their most famed resident! Then stop by a local shop for some groceries and head over to the campsite, you’ll need your rest for more driving tomorrow.
Staying at: Hoburne Devon Holiday Parks. A little drive down south, but this luxurious site is worth it. Start your road trip off by taking a soak in the pool and enjoy the social atmosphere of this site.
Price: £30-35 per night
Address: Grange Rd, Paignton TQ4 7JP, United Kingdom
Day 3, Torquay to Polperro
Driving time: 1 hour and 39 minutes
And finally we reach Cornwall! Polperro is one of the most picturesque villages in the region, filled with fairytale cottages, wild flowers and the famed Cornish confectionary. Head to Chapel Pool and cherish the stunning view from the cliffs and nearby architecture, truly a sight to be photographed. Follow this by a visit to the Polperro Harbour Heritage Museum and a scone at Bean and Scone, deliciously crumbly and sweet! Then head to the campsite to pitch up, and stroll along to the beach, I hope you packed a good novel to enjoy.
Staying at: Highertown Farm Campsite. A simple campsite but containing all the necessities. Clean shower and toilet facilities, and you can’t beat that direct access to the beach!
Price: £14 - 18 per night
Address: Looe PL13 2PX, United Kingdom
Day 4, Polperro to Falmouth
Driving time: 1 hour and 27 minutes
Heading further down, we reach the charming city of Falmouth. Given their extensive maritime history, a visit to the National Maritime Museum Cornwall would be recommended. This airy harbour museum is filled with maritime artefacts, the evolution of boats and various displays on fishing, smuggling and rescue - a true highlight is their Titanic exhibition! Follow this by some fresh air with a stroll along the beach, perhaps with a cheeky bit of fish and chips. I mean, you are in Cornwall after all! I would recommend getting your salty fill from Rick Stein’s Fish, the famed TV chef’s Falmouth outpost. Satisfied? Now it’s time for some more history, with a trip to Pendennis Castle. The hike up will certainly work your calves, and this landmark hilltop castle is only challenged by the gorgeous view it provides across the bay. There are also interactive kids’ exhibits to help keep everyone interested.
Staying at: Trewen Farm Campsite. The highlight of this campsite has to be the stunning view it provides, as the hilltop location allows you to wake up to sea views. They also have a fridge or freezer available for use.
Price: £12.50 or £15 (with electric hook up)
Address: Budock Water, Falmouth TR11 5DZ, United Kingdom
Day 5, Falmouth to Lizard Peninsula
Driving time: 52 minutes
Take your time and enjoy your morning coffee with that incredible sea view, you’ll soon be missing it again! Then drive over to Cadgwith, park your campervan and stroll over to the village. This cosy fishing village is truly magical, filled with thatched huts and winding alleys. This is a great place to get a souvenir for loved ones back home, and the inns will give you a great cuppa. When you’re ready, drive on to Lizard Peninsula. Featuring some of Cornwall’s best beaches, I would spend the rest of the day simply exploring the hidden coves and relaxing on the sandy beach. The turquoise waters will you have relaxed in no time, and there are plenty of places to pick up a seafood lunch! If you’re craving something else, why not pick up a delicious Cornish pastie from Ann’s pasties in the village?
Staying at: Henry’s Campsite. Let today be a day with minimal driving, and so this campsite is perfectly located in the village. Don’t be fooled by the central location, it is still green as can be and features quirky facilities.
Address: The Lizard, Helston, Cornwall, England, TR12 7NX, United Kingdom
Day 6, Lizard Peninsula to Penzance
Driving time: 56 minutes
The most majorly west town in Cornwall and the next stop on our London to Cornwall road trip. Penzance is renowned for its Celtic Cross, and after visiting this you can head to Battery Rocks, an iconic rock formation overlooking the breathtaking Remwood Lagoon. Stroll along the Penzance Promenade and get a refreshment, before heading to the Minack Theatre. This theatre is one of a kind, an open-air theatre built on a cliff, overlooking the sea. The entrance fee to this unique site is £4, and you can even watch live shows there. Once you’ve sufficiently filled your camera with photos, drive 22 minutes to Land’s End. The most western point of the UK, this iconic signpost is now accompanied by various attractions, including a farm park and animal centre.
Staying at: Trevedra Farm Caravan and Camping Site. Run by the Nicholas family for over 85 years, this campsite knows how to cater to its guests. With a spectacular cliff top location and cafe onsite, truly dinner with a view!
Price: £20 - 35
Address: Sennen, Penzance TR19 7BE, United Kingdom
Day 7, Penzance to St. Ives
Driving time: 25 minutes
St. Ives is considered to be Cornwall’s most popular seaside town, and so you’ll be spoiled for choice of restaurants, ice-cream parlours, pastie shops and pubs. It can get quite crowded in summer, so be sure to plan well. If you’re a fan of art, head to the seafront St Ives Gallery, which features rotating modern art exhibitions, all focused on British artists. If you’re craving for art hasn’t quite been filled, next you can visit the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. Right next door to the Tate St Ives, it features the modernist artist’s former studio, as well as displaying her bronzes and various works. After lunch, take a boat trip to Seal Island. Located just west of town, this will allow you to see a seal colony closeup on this rocky inshore island. The island is also home to anglerfish, dogfish and sea anemones, as well as a century-old shipwreck.
Staying at: Hellesveor Holidays. This cosy, family-run site is close to the boat tour office. Offering grass pitches as well as hard-standing, you’ll enjoy their clean and spacious sanitary facilities after a sandy day at the beach!
Address: Hellesveor Farm, Saint Ives TR26 3AD, United Kingdom
Day 8, St. Ives to Newquay to Exeter
Driving time: 53 minutes, 1 hour and 50 minutes
As mentioned previously, I don’t enjoy very long drives in the car, so I’ve split the way back slightly. But if you’re ready to end your London to Cornwall road trip, you can head right back after St. Ives, or spend another day here for more downtime. Our first stop is Newquay, one of the major Cornish cities. It can be quite a busy place, hence not spending a full day there. But it is still a great stop for stretching your legs, with a gentle stroll along the Great Western Beach. If you’re travelling with kids, I’d recommend Blue Reef Aquarium Newquay, filled with exotic species and a delightful coral reef display.
After lunch, get back on the road and head to Exeter. This charming city dates back to the Roman era, when the Exeter city walls were constructed to protect the centre. There are plenty of historical sites to enjoy, such as Exeter Castle (Norman landmark) and Gothic Exeter Cathedral. A fun activity I would certainly suggest doing are the underground passages tours. Slightly eerie, but an exciting chance to explore the medieval subterranean passageways that are used to transport water under the Exeter city centre.
Staying at: Hill Pond Caravan and Camping Park. The final night of your road trip! This simple site has spacious pitches to allow for privacy with your travel buddies, a toast to the end of the holiday!
Price: starts from £17
Address: Unnamed Road, Clyst St Mary, Exeter EX5 1DP, United Kingdom
Day 9, Exeter to London
Driving time: 3 hours and 46 minutes
The final stretch of our driving itinerary for south west England. Follow the A30 and then the M3 all the way back to London. If you’re looking for a stop along the way, consider stretching your legs in Amesbury and spotting the famed StoneHenge. Alternatively you can stop in Basingstoke, as the easy access to the M3 will reduce time lost. There are plenty of delightful lunch places here, including the Jolly Farmer.
And there you have it, one of our favourite south coast of England road trips! This 9 day road trip can easily be shortened to within a week, so it simply depends on how much time you’d like to take. Find a campervan for this trip with Goboony, or for one of the many other UK road trip ideas starting from London!