Thank you to my husband, the geeky researcher of the Tylda household, for this post.
I thought it was a good time to write something about our national obsession – the weather. Cornwall’s weather is infamous, both for magnificent sunshine and horrendous rain, but we were curious as to whether this reputation is rightfully deserved. To get more insight into this, we turned to the Met Office climate averages maps.
There is a lot of data there, and for those that are geekishly inclined, such as myself, it is a great way to spend an evening. To focus our efforts (and to prevent this turning into an all-nighter), we concentrated on those factors that most affect us campers:
– Minimum and maximum temperature (i.e. roasting tents and freezing nights)
– Light (Cornish ‘mizzle’), medium and heavy rainfall days
– Sunshine hours (i.e. sun-tans and sun-burns)
– Wind (stormy sleepless nights and damaged tents)
Out of interest, we decided to do a comparison with our main rival tourist area in the UK, and with an equally bad reputation for producing appalling weather – the Lake District.
Because a good graph tells a thousand words, I made four (that’s 4k words saved, right?). With the varied topography, from battered coasts to sheltered coves and exposed moorland, there is inevitably variation across the county, which is represented by the shaded area around the solid average line. The dotted line represents average values for the Lake District.
With regards to the variation across the county (i.e. the shaded areas), the climate data maps clearly show the Bodmin Moor to score comparatively badly in terms of how pleasant the climate is there, i.e. low temperature, more rain and less sunshine than other parts of Cornwall. The coastal areas such as far West Cornwall, the Roseland and the Cornish ‘Riviera’ come out best. They generally get the most sunshine hours and the highest temperatures, but equally they are also amongst the windiest. Though having said that, with the recent heat wave we very much welcomed this extra little breeze! Anecdotally, I would say it is correct that the immediate coastal areas are sunnier than the rest of the county. Having been surfing in far West Cornwall regularly, we would quite often enjoy sunshine 50m out to see, watching clouds condense a few 100 meters land inwards of the cliffs.
The comparison to the Lake District puts Cornwall in a fairly good light: On the whole, Cornwall is sunnier, warmer and less rainy, all the right things for camping! Where the Lake District definitely outperforms Cornwall, is on the wind front, it is significantly less stormy up there. And if you like snow then the Lakes are also a better bet of course!
Compared to the rest of the country, Cornwall is on par or slightly better than Wales and most western parts of England, but the Midlands, South and Eastern England get significantly less rain. Temperatures in those parts tend to be higher in the summer and lower in the winter, which is due to the moderating influence of the Gulf Stream in Cornwall. But, and here’s the interesting thing: Cornwall is as sunny or more so than most parts of the UK.
All-in-all, this implies that Cornwall’s reputation for being rainy likely is due to the fact that it rains more regularly and especially heavier than many parts of the UK. But when it’s not raining, it’s more likely to be pleasant weather down here. Basically, when the weather here is bad, it’s really bad, but when it’s good, it’s glorious!
We hope this information helps you plan your camping trip in Cornwall for the maximum chance of good weather! In an upcoming post we’ll go through our weather month-by-month and recommend the best months for camping in Cornwall.