Launceston - a market town in Cornwall
Launceston castle
Launceston castle

Launceston is a traditional market town near the border with Devon and was the county town of Cornwall until 1835. There is a local museum at Lawrence House showing Launceston town life, trade and industry over the centuries.

Launceston (in Cornish "Lannsteffan", which means "Church of St Stephen") is the site of an ancient monastery. In the 11th century, Launceston Castle was built shortly after the Norman conquest (possibly as early as 1067), and the monastery moved from St Stephens into the valley next to the castle. The present St Stephen's church was built in the 13th Century on the site of the old monastery. Today the impressive Norman castle still dominates the surrounding landscape - perched on top of a large, natural mound and is open to visitors.

Mary Magdalene church near the castle is thought to have been originally built at roughly the same time as the castle. It was rebuilt in the middle ages and the current tower dates from the 14th Century. The remainder of the church was rebuilt again in Tudor times with an elaborately carved granite exterior and is quite possibly the only carved granite church in England.

Notably absent from Launceston is an ornate cast iron fountain which due to a rather major shipping error was sent to the wrong Launceston and is now 11,000 miles away in Princes' Square in Launceston, Tasmania as it was too expensive to send back!

The Tintagel Visitor Centre has walk leaflets (for £1) for a 2.5 hour or shorter 1.5 hour "town trail" around Launceston which have lots more information about the history of the town. There is also an audio guide for a walk on the BBC website.

The Launceston Steam Railway is a 2.5 mile route through riverside meadows. At the far end there are a number of footpaths and small lanes that criss-cross through Tregadillet which could be used make a number of routes for short circular walks, possibly stopping off at the pub in Tregadillet.

Some woodland reserves near Launceston that are nice places for a walk are:

Photos of Launceston on flickr

More info