Su Carroll rounds up the very best activities to check out along the coastline this summer, with her list of top things to see and things to do in June.

 1. Saluting life savers

As the Royal National Lifeboat Institution marks 200 years since it was founded, renowned Cornwall-based artist Kurt Jackson has documented their work in an exhibition, RNLI Cornwall, at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth.

The exhibition features a selection of paintings he created inside Mousehole’s old Penlee Lifeboat Station. He was given special access to it, left as it was following the tragic 1981 disaster that resulted in the loss of 16 souls, including the entire crew of the Solomon Browne lifeboat. It’s a poignant tribute to the sacrifice made by the RNLI’s brave volunteer crews.

The paintings vary in scale from postcard-sized pieces up to massive canvasses measured that capture the charity’s iconic blue and orange lifeboats nestled into Cornish harbours or breaking through mountainous waves, as in Punching Through, (2021 pictured). Closer to shore are paintings featuring lifeguards at the centre of Cornish beach life at locations including Sennen, Gwithian, Porthtowan and Trebarwith. Ends November 3,


Art has always been an important feature of cultural life in Falmouth. JMW Turner visited the town in 1811 and many artists have made their homes here – Henry Scott Tuke, Charles Napier Hemy and William Ayerst Ingram – and it has attracted visiting painters such as John Singer Sargent and J M Whistler. The visual arts have been taught at Falmouth for over a century and Falmouth School of Art has a fine reputation. Discover artists old and new at Falmouth Art Gallery where entry is free.

2. Coastal inspiration

This delightful exhibition by three artists based in Penwith, Cornwall – Sara Bevan, Graham Black and Gillian Cooper – shows how each are inspired by different aspects of the wild coast and moor landscapes in which they live. A Trio of Printmakers brings their print work together for the first time highlighting individual styles and choice of imagery, whilst showing an insight into their knowledge and expertise of a wide range of techniques belonging to an age-old craft.

All three artists hail from outside the county. Sara Bevan was born in Walsall and studied at Liverpool Polytechnic, specialising in printed textiles. She now lives and works in Sennen near Land’s End. Graham Black moved to Cornwall after a long career as an art director in London to rekindle his love of printmaking and loves the forms and shapes of the ancient granite rocks and cliffs that dominate Land’s End where he lives. His work Sandbar at Sennen (pictured) is in the show.

Gillian Cooper studied Art in Camberwell and Bristol, before moving to Cornwall in 1999 where she makes monoprints, collagraphs and etchings exploring the overlooked in the Cornish landscape; wild flowers, birds and their nests. The show is at The Old Coastguard in Mousehole. Until June 10,


Mousehole, just outside Penzance, is the quintessential pretty fishing village and was the main port for Mount’s Bay in the 13th century. It was narrow streets, traditional cottages and two lovely sandy beaches (when the tide is out). Every Christmas visitors come from miles around to see the famous Mousehole lights. Also famous is the Mousehole Cat, from the book by Antonia Barber. Legend has it that the cat went to sea with owner Tom Bawcock to find food for starving villagers. When they returned, the fish was baked in a pie with heads poking through the pastry – the stargazy pie.

3. And breathe…

Waves of Wellness is a three-day immersive weekend of wellness and holistic practice in a soothing environment on the Cornish Coast. The festival at the Bedruthan Hotel and Spa will include expert practitioners surfer and environmentalist Sophie Hellyer, former international rugby player Anthony Mullally and yoga therapist and psychologist Dr Alicia Ray (pictured). It will focus on movement, mindfulness, creativity and nature, with a variety of workshops to guide participants on their holistic journey.

The programme includes deeply restorative breathwork sessions aimed at inducing deep relaxation and balance in the nervous system, Pilates, therapeutic yoga and sound healing. Inspiring participants to discover their inner artist, there’s a programme of arts and crafts including Beading Workshops and Expressive Art in Bedruthan’s own art studio.

The scandi-inspired retreat on top of the Cornish clifftops, is a colourful, idyllic choice for nature-loving travellers with Sensory Spa Gardens, relaxation lounges and swimming pools. June 14-16,


There are spectacular views from Carnewas, one of the most popular destinations on this stretch of the Coast and in the care of the National Trust. You can walk along the cliffs towards Park Head and the sheltered cove at Porth Mear. There’s parking and a shop and café in buildings that are a reminder of the area’s industrial past mining lead, iron and copper.

4. Taking the plunge

Swimrun, which combines swimming and running, is growing in popularity as participants enjoy the challenge of racing a predefined course, alternating between land and water, starting and finishing in the same gear and completing multiple swims and runs.

It’s the perfect blend – both wild swimming and trail running have seen a huge boost over the past few years. Wild swimming is up 300 per cent and there’s been a 20.5 per cent increase in trail running over the past three years. Last year there were 25,000 Swimrun competitors worldwide.

Events run from May and coastal Swimruns include Studland in Dorset where the race starts on Knoll Beach (June 15). The quirkily titled Mad Hatter’s Hokey Cokey (July 13, pictured) takes place of Cornwall’s beautiful Roseland Peninsula with three distinct legs – Portscatho to Portloe, Portloe to Gorran and Gorran to Mevagissey. On the same day is the Wales Swimrun which attracts over 200 athletes from 20 different countries. The event is held in the stunning Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and award-winning blue flag bays.


The Wales Swimrun is centred in historic Saundersfoot which was founded as a small village in medieval times. At its height it was a thriving coal port shipping 30,000 tons a year of anthracite coal. When the industry went into decline around 150 years ago, it transformed into a stylish seaside resort. Saundersfoot Harbour is home to a new heritage and interpretation centre, suitable for all ages, exploring Saundersfoot’s heritage, and the wider significance of the sea and coastline. You can visit the Heritage Centre and go aboard a coastal schooner moored in the harbour.

5. Sea sounds

The popular east Devon seaside town of Budleigh Salterton will be the destination for internationally renowned classical music artists this June. Performers at Budleigh Music Festival include opera legend Dame Sarah Connolly (pictured) who will be performing Elgar’s Sea Pictures.

Other concerts include Tenebrae, one of the most highly regarded choirs in the world, the internationally acclaimed concert pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, composer and virtuoso Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita and the BBC Big Band.

A special family concert, in partnership with Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival, will bring together Michael Morpurgo and cellist Clare O’Connell for his version of The Carnival of the Animals.

Budleigh Music Festival has a well-established outreach programme, dedicated to providing opportunities for people to access classical music. In addition, some of the events this year have interpretation in British Sign Language. The festival is centred around the town’s St Peter’s Church, providing a wonderful acoustic backdrop to the performances. June 28-July 7,


Just three miles away is Bicton Gardens with more than 64 acres from the beautiful formal gardens with their soft sweeping lawns, elegant water features and fragrant English borders to a Palm House and historic greenhouses and natural woodland. There’s lots to make it a real family day out with indoor and outdoor children’s activity play areas, Bicton Woodland Railway, countryside museum, garden centre, restaurant and gift shop.

6. A hoe down

The inaugural TK Maxx Presents Plymouth Summer Sessions takes place in June on the city’s iconic Hoe, overlooking the sea, and offers a stellar line-up of acts for four days of music.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor – enjoying a bit of a revival thanks to the use of Murder on the Dance Floor in hit film Saltburn – opens proceedings on the Thursday alongside Gabrielle and Stone Foundation who are celebrating 25 years of hits. The audience should be in fine voice to join in with the classic Delilah when Tom Jones (pictured) takes to the stage, delivering all the hits.

On Friday Cassyette plays support to Bryan Adams. Saturday’s line-up is Hardwicke Circus, The Zutons, The Lightning Seeds and Madness. On Sunday the headliner is Sting with support from Blondie and Australian group Germein. June 13-16,


… or hate (depending on your point of view) Antony Gormley’s LOOK II on the waterfront below the Hoe, looking out across Plymouth Sound towards the sea. Twenty-two individual iron blocks cast in a single element create a twice life-sized figure that was commissioned to mark the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower, from the city. It celebrates the extensive labour and craftsmanship that goes into working with natural materials like iron noting Plymouth’s legacy as a naval city of significant international importance. It expresses the tension between going and staying, and the twin human desires of making roots and a yearning for adventure. Or it’s a rusting eyesore say critics. Take your pick!

10 things to do in May

7. Moving objects

The Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro has an entertaining exhibition of work from leading automata artists which will delight all ages. Writer Anthony Horowitz – who wrote Foyle’s War and the Alex Rider books for children – is a big fan and has been collecting automata for 30 years. “The child in me is still delighted by the ingenuity and originality of modern automata,” he says. “I do hope you’ll discover the wonderful collection at the museum in Cornwall and, for a short while, put the cares of the world behind you.”

The Marvellous Mechanical Museum exhibition explores the fascinating world of automata which blends art, science, and engineering. Many of the featured pieces were created within a 15-mile radius of the museum. Derived from the Greek meaning of acting of one’s own will, an automaton describes a moving mechanical machine, often created as characters of people or animals. Evidence of early automata has been dated to around 2000 BC when small figurines with moveable limbs were discovered in Egyptian tombs.

Visitors will be enchanted by over 30 pieces of kinetic sculpture on display, created by renowned artists, including Keith Newstead’s The Dead Sea (pictured).

The exhibition is supported with a programme of family fun activities. Ends July 6,


The three spires of Truro Cathedral dominate the skyline in the heart of the city. Designed by John Loughborough Pearson, Truro Cathedral has stunning architecture and some of the best examples of stained glass windows anywhere in the country and yet it was only completed in 1910. It was the first Anglican Cathedral to be built on a new site since Salisbury Cathedral in 1220 and took 30 years to complete. Take a guided tour (book online) to explore what is regarded as a triumph of Gothic Revival Architecture.

8. Rame views

An exhibition to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Byre Gallery in the coastal village of Millbrook in Cornwall is inspired by visitors’ favourite views. Curator Elaine Dye invited art lovers to suggest their most cherished Cornish panoramas and the ones that they would like to see evoked in paint, clay or silver.

Each artist worked from a photo submitted by gallery clients and each brings a unique perspective, creating a vibrant tapestry of interpretations. The result – The View from Here – is an exhibition of diverse pieces which reflect the rugged and constantly changing landscapes and seascapes of this little-known corner of south east Cornwall and the Rame Peninsula.

In the exhibition are visual artists Imogen Bone, Jill Hudson (who contributed The View, pictured), and Alice Robinson-Carter alongside ceramicist Anthea Bowen and jeweller Carin Lindberg. June 1-29,


A short drive from Millbrook is beautiful Anthony House, in the care of the National Trust. The house is still a family home to the Carew family who have lived here for over 600 years. The interior has a remarkable collection of portraits as well as period furniture, textiles, tapestries and sculptures.

The house and grounds were the backdrop to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and you can still see the giant caterpillar sat on the lawn, delve through a rabbit hole into an oversized garden, or play a game of croquet or giant chess.

9. Down to Earth

Artist Rebecca Styles creates landscape art using landscapes – mixing local earth pigments, grit and charcoal with her oil paints. Her latest exhibition, Hawthorn, Hedgerow and Heath, continues her enquiry into the essence of ‘place’.

Inspired by her en plein air sketches of West Cornwall’s diverse heathland flora, from windswept hawthorns to sculptural succulents, her paintings capture the vibrant colour and pattern of hedgerows and moorland in the full bloom of summer. They take the viewer on a walk along remote rural lanes, over Cornish hedges heavy with wildflowers, past ancient stone circles and through heat-hazed fields of long summer grass, lush with foxgloves, buttercups, meadow thistle and wild garlic.

Following on from her Cape Cornwall collection of last autumn, this new exhibition is at Whitewater Contemporary on The Parade in Polzeath. Rebecca was born in West Yorkshire and studied at Falmouth College of Art. June 1-26, 


The sea. One of the best beaches in Cornwall, Polzeath is hugely popular for its vast expanse of sand and rolling Atlantic breakers which make it a mecca for surfers. Everything revolves around the beach. Food, drink, shops – it all has a sunny vibe. Leave your troubles behind with the laid-back atmosphere. But be aware that the car park is on the beach and the tide has been known to swamp it. Check the signs!

10. Rhyme time

A new initiative, Word Kitchen, curates spoken word events, workshops and networks to grow creativity, confidence and wellbeing through literature, story-sharing and storytelling. It was established by David Lloyd and Pippa Marriott who met on the Creative Writing Masters course at Exeter University.

Over the last 18 months they have run free events in the Brook Kitchen art cafe in Budleigh Salterton, Devon. These open mic nights – one prose, one poetry in each quarter – have attracted participants from all over East Devon and beyond into Somerset, Dorset  and Dartmoor.

Contributors read from published novels and poetry collections, some sharing work in progress, some stepping up to the mic for the first time. Past participants have included Phil Ireland (pictured).

The next event is a poetry open mic night at the Brook Kitchen and everyone is welcome to read work or just enjoy listening. June 5,


Budleigh Salterton ticks all the boxes for visitors. It has a lovely pebble beach with clean waters and lots of opportunities for water activities from kayaking to paddleboarding. It has beautiful places for nature lovers – the River Otter Estuary is a nature reserve were over 120 species of birds have been found. Beavers were introduced here over ten years and they are thriving – follow the Beaver Trail to discover their habitat. There’s history too – Sir Walter Raleigh lived here and his family pew can be seen in the Church of All Saints in East Budleigh. If you want to go back even further in time, walk the South West Coast Path along the Jurassic Coast and discover over 185 million years of history. Or simply wander the shops and lovely places to eat.


TV adventurer Bear Grylls brings his Gone Wild festival to Holkham Hall in Norfolk this August, alongside a return to Powderham Castle in Devon where the event, co-founded with Oli Mason, was first held.

“Our goal is to get families spending time together in the great outdoors, sparking their imagination, building confidence, encouraging inquisitive minds and confidence in kids,” says Bear. “Where else can you learn how to light fires, go climbing, and then throw your mum down a 50-foot mudslide before partying and dancing the night away watching an amazing line-up of live music?”

Over 100 incredible free daytime experiences include the legendary Gone Wild Assault Course, archery, abseiling, survival skills, axe and spear throwing, tree climbing, raft building and races, shelter construction, wild swimming, and SUP experiences.

Music acts include Sam Ryder (at both venues), Reef, Scouting for Girls and McFly at Holkham Hall and James, The Feeling and Ocean Colour Scene at Powderham Castle. An incredible line-up of speakers at both events include Bear Grylls, British explorer, adventurer and writer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and former Welsh rugby star Alix Popham.

Holkham Hall (August 8-11), Powderham Castle (August 22-25),