Situated in the heart of South East Cornwall at the head of the scenic Looe Valley, the ancient stannary market town of Liskeard is enveloped in natural beauty. The vast rugged expanse of Bodmin Moor with its intriguing rock formations and mining heritage lies to the north, while the pristine sands, secluded coves and quaint fishing villages of the Polperro Heritage Coast lie to the south.
Read our local's guide to Liskeard nd find out why it is so special and discover a few local secrets to help you make the most of your stay.
About the town:
The best way to explore this beautiful town and its interesting buildings is by following the Liskeard Heritage Trail – a map can be picked up from the Tourist Information Centre. Enjoy a leisurely hour or so strolling past original Victorian shop fronts and over 100 houses designed by renowned architect Henry Rice.
Pause to marvel at the Victorian Guildhall and its impressive clock tower, Stuart House where Charles I stayed in 1644, and St Martin’s Church - the second largest church in Cornwall. The Pipe Well, fed by four springs and said to have healing powers, is another site to look out for, as well as decorative murals portraying scenes from Liskeard's past.
Only 10 miles from Liskeard lies the dramatic Cornish coastline. Enjoy a refreshing dip in the stunning hidden coves around the Rame Peninsula, spend a day on the beach in the picturesque fishing port of Looe, and take a boat trip to the old smugglers’ haunts of Polperro.
For families, Talland Bay, East Looe, Lansallos, and Hannafore beaches are all popular options for paddles in the sea and sandcastle building, while Seaton is a firm favourite with dog walkers, with Whitsand Bay being a renowned surfing and scuba diving hotspot.
Lantic Bay is another of our favourite beaches in South East Cornwall, owned by the National Trust. It’s a bit of a steep trek to get there, but you are rewarded with one of the most pristine stretches of sand in the area and some incredible views.
Perched on the fringes of Bodmin Moor, Liskeard is a great base for walkers, cyclists and horse riders looking to explore some breathtaking natural landscapes. Having been inhabited since the Neolithic period, there are mysterious dolmens, stone circles, cairns and hut circles scattered amongst waterfalls, ancient woodland and heather-strewn moors.
At the village of Minions (4 miles) on the eastern cusp of the moor, are the atmospheric crumbling remains of South Caradon Mine and Phoenix Mine, as well as the Hurlers Stone Circles and The Cheesewring - a natural geological formation of granite slabs perched precariously upon one another: a spectacle that has to be seen to be believed!
Golitha Falls (4 miles) is another beauty spot to visit with its enchanting string of cascades that wind their way through a designated National Nature Reserve. Best enjoyed after heavy rain when the falls are at their most spectacular, you can follow a trail alongside the River Fowey through the leafy glades of Draynes Wood, spotting a rich variety of rare flora and birdlife.
For sailing, windsurfing and canoeing, head to Siblyback Lake (5 miles), which boasts an activity centre for water sports. There are 3 miles of even path around the lake ideal for walks and bike rides, with bird hides dotted along the route. Plus, the area is part of an International Dark Sky Reserve, so is the perfect location for stargazing. There's also a great play park and cafe.
There is a whole host of attractions in Liskeard and the surrounding area to make your holiday in Cornwall even more exciting. The dog-friendly Liskeard Museum is housed alongside the Tourist Information Office in Foresters Hall and chronicles the fascinating history of the local lead, tin and silver mining industries – it is part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site. It also displays the largest collection of historic toys in Cornwall including James Bond’s Golden Gun and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
The Stuart House Arts and Heritage Centre on the Parade is the second oldest building in the town and the former home of MP Joseph Jane when King Charles I stayed there during the Civil War in 1644. This association is celebrated with a permanent display about the Civil War in Cornwall, with information boards, weapons, furniture and period costume, plus regularly changing exhibitions for regional artists and photographers. On a sunny day, make time for a cuppa in the medieval walled garden lined with beautiful boxwood hedges and topiaries.
Just 6 miles from Liskeard are Carnglaze Caverns, a preserved quarry featuring three gigantic caverns and a mystical subterranean lake. Holding a steady temperature of 10°C, they are the perfect attraction for a hot summer’s day when you need to cool down. Above ground, there are 6.5 acres of woodlands to explore with an Enchanted Dell where faeries, dragons, hobbits and other amazing woodland creatures are said to hide out.
Liskeard is the northern terminus for one of the most beautiful mainline railways in the country, the Looe Valley Line. Linking Liskeard with the pretty fishing port of Looe by way of the East Looe river valley, the dog-friendly train meanders through tranquil wooded valleys before passing by a glorious estuary where you might spot oystercatchers, curlews and little egrets wading in the water. When you arrive in Looe, there are lots of lovely cafes where you can stop for some afternoon tea.
For thrill seekers, Adrenalin Quarry (4 miles) is an action-packed activity centre where you can ride a zip-line almost half a kilometre long at speeds of 40mph, defy gravity on the vertigo-inducing Giant Swing or scale sheer cliffs and leap into the water on a coasteering adventure. There’s also an 800-metre all-weather karting track and an inflatable Aquapark where you can get wet and wild on oversized trampolines, monkey bars, slides, swings and more.
The food and drink:
When you fancy a bite to eat, there is an abundance of restaurants, cafes and pubs in Liskeard serving fine local produce, along with a bustling market on Mondays and Thursdays where you can fill your bags with homemade Cornish pasties, local meats and cheeses and fresh fish.
For tea and cake, Rumours Bistro, Café Fat Frog and Olive & Co. are all great options to try with friendly, relaxed atmospheres. Vegetarians can also indulge in a mouth-watering menu at The Hub Café with the likes of lentil fritters, homity pie and goats' cheese pizza featuring on the menu.
When only hearty pub food will do, head to The White Horse and The Crow’s Nest Inn, both of which offer an extensive list of local ales and ciders to accompany your dinner. Or for special occasion suppers, Tapenades offers an à la carte dining experience serving dishes such as lemon sole paupiette of Cornish crab complimented with a white wine cream sauce, or rack of local lamb rubbed in rosemary olive oil and complimented with a Madeira jus and redcurrant jelly.
Place yourself in the heart of the action with a stay in one of our holiday cottages in Liskeard. After a fun day of exploring, pop the kettle on and warm your toes in front of a crackling wood burner before sinking into wonderfully soft sheets for the night. From romantic retreats for two to spacious retreats for big families, here are a few of our favourite Liskeard cottages:
- The Coach House Looe Valley Vineyard – a romantic retreat for two plus one dog overlooking the rippling vines of the vineyard, just 3.5 miles from Liskeard.
- Lodge Hill Cottage – a peaceful family home in Liskeard for four plus two dogs with a cosy wood burner for chilly nights.
- Treworgey Coach House – a spacious country house for eight plus one dog with an outdoor swimming pool, games room and tennis court, just 2.5 miles from Liskeard.
For a wider choice of holiday escapes, have a browse of our cottages in Cornwall.