If you’re planning a winter trip to Cornwall, you might be wondering about the weather and if you’re likely to see frosty conditions.
The quick answer to your question is: no, you probably won’t. Thanks to Cornwall’s position at the South Westerly point of the UK and the fact that it’s surrounded by the gulf stream, it the temperatures remain milder in the winter months.
Here’s all you need to know about snow in Cornwall!
Does it snow in Cornwall?
It very rarely snows in Cornwall, and the reason for this is quite simple: places that are surrounded by sea are much less likely to have extreme weather.
Cornwall is very nearly an island, being surrounded on all sides by sea apart from its border with Devon, which is mostly made up of the Tamar River (apart from four miles in the north of the county).
This means that it’s very much surrounded by water, with the furthest point from the sea probably being Launceston on the Devon border (I couldn’t find any data on this so I looked at a map to work it out!) which is only located 20 miles/ half an hour’s drive from the nearest coastline.
As water takes longer to cool down or heat up, it rarely gets to the low temperatures that the rest of the country can plummet to in the winter months.
Instead, warm air can blow off the surface onto the land, warming it up in a way that doesn’t happen in continental areas.
This partially explains why the entirety of the UK doesn’t usually see as dramatic weather as European destinations, and why it doesn’t often snow in England altogether. However, as London isn’t as close to the ocean (and the English Channel, which it is near to, is a much smaller body of water!), it sees snow much more frequently.
This is also why Cornwall doesn’t have quite as dramatic summers as elsewhere in the UK!
There’s also the fact that Cornwall is the furthest south region of the UK, with Lizard Point being right at the bottom of the country. Generally, further south equals closer to the equator and warmer!
When did it last snow in Cornwall?
The MET office says that while Cornwall is “the area of the UK least likely to see snow” it does have “7.4 days of snow or sleet per year”.
However, this is referring to snow that’s falling, not snow that’s settling.
If you ask locals when it last snowed in Cornwall, many remember snowfall in 2010, when schools had to close due to an unusual amount of the white stuff.
But the last time that Cornwall had really heavy snow was November 25th, 2005, when a few inches fell in mere hours.
In recent years, snow in Cornwall, even in the middle of the winter, has been very rare – it’s also becoming rarer and rarer throughout the UK.
Average winter temperatures in Cornwall
If you’re visiting Cornwall in December, January or February, you can expect the following temperatures:
- December: 7°C – 10°C (45°F – 50°F)
- January: 6°C – 9°C (43°F – 48°F)
- February: 5°C – 9°C (41°F -48°F)
As you can see, even the winter temperatures are far above freezing!
Things to do in Cornwall when it snows
If you’re spending a Christmas break in Cornwall or spending any time here in the cooler months, you’re very unlikely to see snow. Still, it could always happen! Here are a few things to do if it does:
- Build a snowman in one of Cornwall’s fields or parks!
- See the charming cathedral city of Truro covered in snow.
- Stay in a shepherd’s hut with a hot tub and warm up!
- Have a roast dinner in Cornwall’s best pubs – my favourite is The Golden Lion near Redruth.
- Snap photos of a rare sight of Cornwall’s best beaches covered in the white stuff.
Not a fan of the snowy weather at all? I’ve written a whole post about things to do in Cornwall in the rain, so you can also refer to that to find some all-weather activities like museums and indoor exhibitions.
My favourites are the Eden Project, where you’ll definitely warm up, or the Telegraph Museum in Porthcurno.
Tips for visiting Cornwall in the snow
If you do happen to visit Cornwall when it’s snowy, my biggest tip is to drive carefully and assess which roads to take.
Cornwall is somewhat notorious for its narrow, winding country roads that can become very blocked off with snow and icy in the winter.
If possible, opt for main roads like the A38 and A30, which will have been gritted. If you have any concerns about reaching your accommodation, ask your host who will be able to advise on the best route to get there!
Virtually all hotels in the UK have well-functioning heating, so you don’t need to worry about that!
Make sure that you pack not only warm clothes for your trip, but also waterproof clothes – as snow anywhere can get you drenched!