“Why Germans are so crazy about Cornwall”. This is what I asked myself, even though I am German and I should naturally know. When I moved to Cornwall, my family and friends were amazed: “You are moving to Cornwall? How beautiful”. They admired me for that decision and I felt that I must be moving to a very special place. A co-worker told me that he had been on holiday to Cornwall in his campervan and that it was absolutely gorgeous.
The first thing my Cornish landlady told me when she realized I was from Germany, that I must love Cornwall like all the other Germans. It dawned on me that there must be something behind it, something I had no idea about.
Recently, the national tourism agency, VisitBritain, issued a report analysing the German market profile. Although London was found to be the leading destination for Germans visiting the UK, the South West was also among the top destinations in terms of visits, overnight stays, and spending. The other two top destinations were the South East and Scotland (VisitBritain 2019). Indeed, as spring came and the temperatures started to rise, the roads filled up with German cars and campervans. My native language was suddenly all around me - when walking along the beautiful coasts or strolling through Falmouth.
Strolling along St. Ives beach at low tide.
This still does not answer the question of why Germans are so crazy about Cornwall. Something I can rule out is the weather. Personally, it took me a long while getting used to the rain despite all the colourful rain clothes. My hometown is located in Thuringia - the green heart of Germany - and receives 178.4 mm of rain per year on average (1985-2015). It has an annual mean temperature of 10°C, with a mean July temperature of 19°C. Wind speeds in July are on average 7 mph. In comparison, Truro receives 683.5 mm on average for the same reference period. Typical for the maritime climate, the mean July temperature is only 16°C, but the annual air temperature is slightly higher (11°C). Truro has wind speeds of 12 mph in July on average. There must be something other than the weather that attracts Germans.
It might be all thanks to the British author Rosamunde Pilcher, who was born at the north coast of Cornwall but spent most of her adult life in Scotland. She has published numerous romantic fiction novels that are set in the landscape of her childhood home - Cornwall. She became very popular in Germany, where her short stories have been brought to public television by the ZDF television network. Every Sunday at 20:15 it is time for the (in)famous Herzkino (cinema for the hearts), which is an alternative to watching a thriller on one of the other public television channels. Casting German actors in the stunning landscapes of Cornwall and Devon turned Pilcher movies into a success story. Since 1993, when the first movie “The Day of the Storm” was launched, more than 100 of her stories have been adapted into movies and broadcasted on German TV reaching constantly high ratings.
This is what made Cornwall so popular among many Germans (it also never rains in the movies). Tour operators even offer special guided “Rosamunde Pilcher tours” to the locations where the movies were shot. Pilcher died recently (6 February 2019) at the age of 94.
Visit Britain 2019. Market and Trade Profile: Germany (February 2019).
The Guardian: The Rosamunde Pilcher trail: why German tourists flock to Cornwall (4 October 2013)
The Guardian: Rosamunde Pilcher obituary (7 February 2019).