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Cornwall - Eating and sleeping
It’s not so long ago that Cornwall’s culinary identity rested squarely on its traditional pasties and cream teas, while crab sandwiches and early asparagus were push-the-boat-out treats. And it would probably be fair to say that until recently (with one or two noble exceptions) Scillonian cuisine was best described as…conventional.
How things have changed! Both Cornwall and Scilly have completely reinvented themselves as high-class foodie destinations and I’m struck by the pace at which this change is occurring. It started, we all remember, with Rick Stein in Padstow, who was followed by a large scoop of celebrity chefs nailing their colours to the Cornish mast and doing much to promote not only the superb local seafood but also award-winning Cornish cheeses, meats and charcuterie.
Cornish pasties are one of the county's true icons © Constantin Stanciu, Shutterstock
But Cornwall’s reputation as a top foodie destination has changed direction over the past few years. You no longer have to go to the big-name restaurants in Padstow, Newquay or Rock to fall in love with Cornish food, for even larger crowds seem to be drawn to places like Simon Stallard’s Hidden Hut – a coast-path café near Portscatho, where outdoor evening cook-ups sell out online in seconds. A host of other informal venues that celebrate seasonal, local produce cooked simply but with passionate regard for the quality of the ingredients –and often served at shared convivial tables – have sprung up. Canteen in St Agnes, The Kitchen in Falmouth, The Crab Shack on Bryher or the Tanglewood Kitchen Company and On the Quay in St Mary’s are all places where solo travellers feel as though they are among friends, drawn together by a love of good food, cooked by good people.
Nor do you have to eat out to get a taste of the way things are heading. I admire the way that village and community shops have pitched in to support local producers and I’ve derived huge pleasure, while researching this edition, from making a point of buying all my weekly groceries – from salt and ketchup to flour and teabags – from Cornish suppliers or producers in village shops and from farmers’ markets and the Great Cornish Food Store in Truro. A rising number of artisan bakeries – Vicky’s, Baker Tom’s, Stones, Da Bara’s – have acquired devoted followings too, and the peculiarly Cornish saffron bun is selling in record quantities from Sennen to Bude. Ice cream has also become an artisan affair, and coupled with the Kea plum that most desirable and local of fruits – is something you’ll not find anywhere else in the country. Cornish-grown and blended tea? Look no further than Tregothnan. Gorse-flavoured chocolate? That’s made in Cornwall, too.
Cornish ciders, ales, craft gins and wines have made a powerful impact on the drinking scene in recent years: there are almost 50 Cornish and Scillonian breweries and micro-breweries at the time of writing, while ciders made with Cornish apples can hold their own among the best that Devon and Somerset can offer and the latest generation of sparkling wines from Camel Valley and Polgoon continue to scoop awards by the bucketful. And as for gin… I’m not alone in thinking that Westward Farm on St Agnes in the Isles of Scilly produces some of the finest botanical flavoured gins ever tasted. No doubt about it: Cornwall and Scilly have become hugely rewarding destinations for foodies of every persuasion.
With such an abundance of local produce and culinary talent, it’s no surprise to discover that Cornwall and Scilly host more festivals dedicated to food and drink than any other region of Britain. Some celebrate a local speciality, such as the Falmouth Oyster Festival or the Newlyn Fish Festival, others bring all kinds of specialist growers and producers together, like the Great Cornish Food Festival in Truro, the Food and Farming pavilion at the Royal Cornwall Show in Wadebridge, or the Taste of Scilly Festival held every September – a wonderful excuse for an island-hopping, gastronomic adventure. Porthleven, St Ives, Mevagissey and Rock are also riding the wave of success, hosting food-and-drink festivals that attract greater numbers each year.
Away from the hustle of the foodie-fests, I’ve also discovered the joys of foraging in Cornwall. Rachel Lambert www.wildwalks-southwest.co.uk, a neighbour of mine when I lived near Penzance, introduced me to the thrill of returning to the kitchen with a bag filled with fresh green alexanders, wild sorrel, crunchy pennywort, pungent threecornered leeks and young nettle tips. I must give special mention also to Liz Woods, whose blog, Feasts and Festivals, opened my eyes to the rich traditions of celebratory Cornish cooking, from stargazy pie to hot spiced cider; the blog became a book, Cornish Feasts and Festivals (Alison Hodge, 2013); and the recipes are now an established part of my own culinary adventures. Another individual making tireless and inspirational efforts to promote quality Cornish produce is Ruth Huxley. Her books, The Great Cornish Food Book (Cornwall Food and Drink Ltd, 2014) and its companion volume The Great Cornish Fish Book (Cornwall Food and Drink Ltd, 2015), present a very contemporary picture of the richness and diversity of the Cornish culinary scene and are highly recommended. Ruth has also been instrumental in the opening of a terrific shop called, appropriately, Great Cornish Food, beside Truro’s new (and long-awaited) Waitrose.
So, what has become of the humble pasty and cream tea? The good news is that they are as popular as ever, but the bar has been significantly raised. The long-established supremacy of Ann’s Pasties is now challenged by the likes of Nicola Willis at The Dog and Smuggler in Falmouth, or Aunt Avice’s Pasty Shop in St Kew Highway. And a Cornish cream tea – jam first, cream on top unless you want to be thrown out of the county and into Devon where they practise the heresy of putting cream on first – is still a fine objective for a clifftop or moorland walk.
For our author’s selection of recommended places to eat see Slow Travel Cornwall.
Launcestion & the northeast
Mid-Cornwall north: the Camel Estuary to Holywell Bay
The Fowey Valley & the Cornish Alps
The Mining Heartland
Truro & the Fal Estuary
Southwest Cornwall: the Lizard Peninsula
Penzance, St Ives & the Penwith Peninsula
The places to stay listed below are a personal selection of B&S, campsites, self-catering cottages – and one or two very special hotels – that struck me for their location, friendliness or character, or a mixture of all three. These listings are far from exhaustive; for a really comprehensive selection, you might like to look at www.visitcornwall.com/accommodation.
Thatch-roofed cottages such as this one in Cadgwith are typical of the county © David Hughes, Shutterstock
Mill House Inn Trebarwith PL34 OHD; 01840 770200; www.themillhouseinn.co.uk; email@example.com. Once an 18th-century cornmill, now a small, upmarket hotel that has been given a clean, contemporary makeover: beams, fireplaces and slate floors have been retained, crisp linens and blond wood furniture added. Cooking is ‘Contemporary Cornish’ and there’s often music in the bar: Thursday evening is folk night with local singers. Not cheap, but ideal as a treat and well placed for exploring Tintagel and the surfing cove at Trebarwith Strand.
The Old Rectory St Juliot, Boscastle PL35 0BT; 01840 250225; www.stjuliot.com; firstname.lastname@example.org. Thomas Hardy stayed here while working on the church just down the lane and one of the rooms, named after him, has a splendid Victorian ‘thunderbox’ in the bathroom. In a leafy, rural spot away from the bustle of Boscastle, this is an average-priced B&B that lives up to its green credentials. Breakfast eggs come from hens in the garden and honey from the newly introduced hives. Rare-breed pigs in the paddock do their bit for the ‘eat local’ cause too. Evening meals, served in the beautifully restored Victorian greenhouse are bookable and homemade pasties are always on offer.
The Old Vicarage Morwenstow EX23 9SR; 01288 331369; www.rshawker.co.uk; email@example.com. Three rooms, beautifully decorated in Victorian style, with memorable views of the gardens and coast are matched in old country-house elegance by a billiards room, library and drawing room straight out of Agatha Christie. A well-priced B&B also offering self-catering for six in the converted stables, this is a house full of history just a field away from the coast path where Morwenstow’s legendary vicar scanned the cruel rocks for signs of shipwrecked souls.
Orchard Lodge Gunpool Lane, Boscastle PL35 0AT; 01840 250418; www.orchardlodgeboscastle.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. Boscastle gets pretty jammed with cars in the summer, so Geoff and Shelley Barratt offer discounts to guests arriving by public transport or on foot or by bicycle. A ten-minute stroll from the harbour and just yards from a good local pub, with a pretty garden and log fires in the winter, this is a practical and comfortable base for exploring the region. The five double and two twin rooms are crisply contemporary, and the bathrooms luxurious, but the price remains pleasantly average for a B&B.
Coombe 01628 825925; www.landmarktrust.org.uk; email@example.com. Three miles north of Bude, Coombe is a hamlet cluster owned by the Landmark Trust, consisting of eight whitewashed cottages and a mill mostly dating from the 18th century, clustered around a shallow stream and ford occupying a sheltered valley wedged between a wooded nature reserve and the gloriously unspoilt and pebbly beach at Duckpool. Mostly built of cob and thatch and sensitively restored and furnished by the Trust, the eight cottages sleeping three to six are an absolute treat. Not for the budget-conscious, but last-minute offers are sensibly priced.
Pencuke Farm St Gennys (near Crackington Haven) EX23 0BH; 01840 230360; www.pencukefarm.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. Has three luxury yurts and five self-catering cottages on a small, family-run organic farm adjoining lush meadows. The cottages are cosy, with unfussy, contemporary furnishings, while yurts come elegantly equipped with beds and sofa bed (each yurt can sleep up to six), linen and blankets, table, chairs and logburners. Outside are barbecues and a smart bath and laundry building with a drying room. Prices for weekly rental are very reasonable, and there’s a farm shop in the yard. Perfect for families wanting a slice of the Slow life.
Wooda Farm Crackington Haven EX23 0LF; 01840 230129; www.woodafarm.co.uk; email@example.com. An organic farm, with 20 acres of bluebell woods and pasture, Wooda is a place for creative spirits of all ages. Couples, families, groups of artists and musicians come here to make the most of the barn and stable studios and enjoy the lovely surroundings. Organic lamb and vegetables arrive fresh from the farm, spring water comes from the well and green electricity from the windmill: it’s a pretty special place, well off the beaten track. Accommodation is flexible: there’s a self-catering cottage which sleeps three in comfort or five with mattresses on the floor and larger groups stay as guests of Max and Gary in the farmhouse. Not expensive, particularly if you bring your own bed linen.
Scadghill Farm Stibb, near Bude EX23 9HN; 01288 352373. Very basic, budget camping in a small, level field, but well placed for a walk and those wanting to be close to Bude but outside it.
There are some very swanky places to stay in this region which do not really fall within the Slow remit. However, special mention should be given to Mawgan Porth’s Bedruthan Steps Hotel, much loved by exhausted parents for its terrific programme of morning, afternoon and evening activities for children from babies to teens, and its very grown-up sister hotel next door, the Scarlet – positively the last word in green luxury and eco-architecture.
Daymer Bay and St Enodoc church © Helen Hotson, Shutterstock
Molesworth Manor B&B Little Petherick PL27 7QT; 01841 540292; www.molesworthmanor.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. A comfortable family home, with a good-sized garden for children to play in, close to Padstow and Wadebridge. Excellent family accommodation at reasonable prices.
Roskear Tregunna, Wadebridge PL27 7HU; 07748 432013; www.roskear.com; email@example.com. Peaceful 18th-century farmhouse off the beaten track, close to the estuary and Camel Trail. Log fires, beamy sitting room and breakfast cooked on the Aga. Two rooms, a double and a twin, share a bathroom; reasonably priced for such an upmarket part of Cornwall.
Woodlands Country House Treator, Padstow PL28 8RU; 01841 532426; www.woodlands-padstow.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. Luxurious country-house ambience 15 minutes’ walk from Padstow harbour. Pretty gardens, croquet lawn, very comfortable rooms with understated décor. Breakfasts are very special: the buffet table beautifully presented with homemade muesli, breads and jams and juices; cooked breakfasts are made from locally sourced ingredients, including their own-recipe sausages. Not for the budget-conscious, but a top-notch B&B.
Cornish Tipi Holidays Tregeare, Pendoggett, St Kew PL30 3LW; 01208 880781; www.cornishtipiholidays.co.uk; email@example.com. A wonderful, wooded spot with its own clear-water lake in a disused quarry, perfect for swimming, fishing or messing about in the boats and canoes provided. Some tipis are grouped together, others are scattered singly or in pairs among the trees, all have their own firepits for outdoor cooking. Tipis come in three sizes, the largest sleeping seven – great fun for a pack of small children, though parents will need deep pockets, as prices are comparable to holiday cottages within equally easy reach of upmarket Rock and Port Isaac. A cheaper option is to bring your own tent for a spot of wild camping.
Moyles Farm St Minver, Wadebridge PL27 6QT; 01208 862331; www.moylesfarm.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. Just minutes from Polzeath and Rock, a delightfully kitted-out shepherd’s hut (with bathroom at a discreet distance) is the ultimate hideaway for romantics. Two farm buildings and the large mill house have also been stylishly converted to offer upmarket self-catering accommodation. Locally cooked meals can be supplied from the freezer on request.
There are some spectacular camping opportunities around the Moor, ranging from luxury yurts to no-frills wild camping spots. Four of the best are included below. The Best of Bodmin Moor website (www.bestofbodminmoor.co.uk) also lists a good selection of hand-picked bed and breakfasts and holiday cottages.
Bedknobs Polgwyn, Castle St, Bodmin PL31 2DX; 01208 77553; www.bedknobs.co.uk; email@example.com. Eco-award winning B&B (recycling, repairing and buying local are the watchwords: even the handmade soaps come from just down the road), and elegantly furnished (check your socks or bring slippers, because shoes are left at the door). Wonderful breakfasts, sandwiches and cream teas served up with lashings of local knowledge. No under-12s or dogs. Grown-up luxury with a conscience doesn’t make it the cheapest B&B, but still remarkably good value.
Cabilla Manor Mount near Warleggan PL30 4DW; 01208 821224; www.cabilla.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. The explorer, Robin Hanbury-Tennison and his wife, Louella, live in the Georgian farmhouse, which is nicely stashed with books, paintings and rare and lovely things brought back from their travels – and four very comfortable rooms (two of which share a bathroom). Outside on the farm there are sheep and cattle and white horses from the Camargue. B&B is extraordinary value; dinner (with Robin and Louella) is occasionally available and should be organised well in advance.
Roscrea 18 St Nicholas St, Bodmin PL31 1AD; 01208 74400; www.roscrea.co.uk; email@example.com. Bang in the centre of Bodmin, a house with a rich history is now a very comfortable B&B. All rooms are furnished on a Victorian theme, tea is served on arrival either in the garden or firelit drawing room; breakfast eggs come from the hens at the bottom of the garden and excellent evening meals using locally sourced meat, fish and vegetables can also be cooked on request. Very reasonably priced.
East Rose Farm St Breward, near Blisland, Bodmin PL30 4NL; 01208 850674; www.eastrose.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. If camping isn’t quite your style, just across a pretty stretch of moorland from South Penquite Farm, by the de Lank River, East Rose Farm offer seven holiday cottages, sleeping from two to six people at a reasonable price. There are bikes for hire and the Camel Trail is close by, but fishing types will want to stay close to the farm’s three-and-a-half acres of fishing lakes, stocked with bream, roach, tench and rudd.
South Penquite Farm Blisland, Bodmin PL30 4LH; 01208 850491; www.southpenquite.co.uk; email@example.com. Dominic and Cathy Fairman and their brood live and farm on this idyllic moorland campsite; expect free-ranging chickens and ducks, a trickling stream and ecological sensitivity in the nicely done showers and washrooms. Courses teaching bushcraft skills are popular with older children; families with young children will love the safety and freedom the site offers as well as a very pretty slice of moor on the doorstep. There are three yurts for hire and a VW camper van is available too. Cheap camping, and the yurts are excellent value. No dogs, but a highly rated boarding kennels is just next door.
Tregillis Farm South Petherwin PL15 7LL; 01566 782939; www.tregillis.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. Laura Richards, Jim Wallwork and daughter Mali farm here following biodynamic principles. They have opened up a lovely field (sheltered by woodland and bordered by the River Inny) for campers who are prepared to ditch their vehicles in the farmyard and walk down ferny farm tracks to the field, half a mile away, past herds of very happy cattle and flocks of Suffolk sheep, where they have a small number of retro ridge and bell-tents waiting; Jim’s Land Rover can be pressed into service if absolutely necessary. It has basic showers, loos and campfires, absolute peace and the sense of being a world apart from mainstream Cornwall. A little more expensive than bringing your own tent, but well below ‘glamping’ prices.
Yurtworks Greyhayes, Row Hill, St Breward, near Blisland, Bodmin PL30 4LP; 01208 850670; www.yurtworks.co.uk; email@example.com. Three beautifully kitted-out yurts in a stunning wooded valley; the biggest has an attached ‘pod’ for small children to play and sleep in. All have double beds, crisp linen and logburners as well as barbecues for outdoor cooking. Each has its own compost loo in a separate ‘yurtlet’ and there is a luxurious yurt bathroom complete with roll-top bath and solar-powered shower, shared by the three yurts. Prices on a par with holiday cottage accommodation; the largest sleeps six.
Botelet Herodsfoot, Liskeard PL14 4RD; 01503 220225; www.botelet.com; firstname.lastname@example.org. A working farm of idyllic beauty in a green valley overlooked by an Iron Age hillfort, offering B&B in the farmhouse, self-catering in the adjoining cottage or another cottage just down the lane, two yurts, each in its own meadow – and camping for a very limited number of ‘low-impact’ tents in whichever of the fields closest to the farm is not being grazed by the cows. The Tamblyns have farmed here for generations, know the area inside out and their recipe for simple, unspoilt rural seclusion is perfect, and offered at average prices. Be sure to walk out to the vertiginous tree tunnel, made by Julie and Richard Tamblyn’s father. Carl Honoré, author of In Praise of Slow, stayed here and loved what the Tamblyns have created.
Pentillie Castle St Mellion, Saltash PL12 6QD; 01579 350044; www.pentillie.co.uk; email@example.com. Fabulous, faultless B&B in a wonderfully restored late 17th-century manor house overlooking the Tamar. The Corytons are delightful, hard-working hosts who now have nine bedrooms available to guests and will cook a three-course dinner if numbers (minimum six) are feasible. Opera and theatre are performed in the garden during the summer and there are art study days, classic car and gardening events too. Upmarket prices, but worth every penny.
Rezare Farmhouse Launceston PL15 9NX; 01579 371214; www.rezarefarmhouse.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. No longer a farm, but a very comfortable village house offering four rooms (two doubles, one twin and one single), and breakfast with a menu using local organic products that takes some beating: homemade bread and granola, porridge cooked overnight in the Aga, pancakes with fruit from the garden alert you to the fact that Mike and Colin are not just brilliant cooks, but care deeply about the food they use. Dinners are also cooked on request. A great place to explore the Tamar Valley: flyfishing can be arranged and bike and walking routes suggested. Prices are a little over the average; comfort, cooking and care, however, are way above the norm.
Westcroft Guest House Market St, Kingsand PL10 1NE; 01752 823216; www.westcroftguesthouse.co.uk; email@example.com. A very special, distinctly upmarket B&B right on the seafront at Kingsand with three bedrooms done out in luxurious contemporary style. There’s a star-gazing bathtub, four-posters, but it’s not so posh that well-behaved dogs aren’t welcome. Next door, the owners have created a superb gallery, aimed at bringing wider recognition to local artists.
Berrio Mill Golberdon, Callington PL17 7NL; 01579 363252; www.berriomill.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. Two luxurious holiday cottages, sleeping two and four, look across the leat to a former mill, surrounded by unspoilt woods and fields, just yards from the River Lynher, where fishing for salmon and sea trout is all part of the deal. The Callanans, who live in the mill and are deeply committed to the Slow ethos, produce honey, fruit and vegetables for their growing jam, mustard and chutney business. Weekly tariffs at average rates for a very special place, particularly if you’re into flyfishing.
The Old Luggage Van and the Travelling Post Office Railholiday Ltd, Haparanda Station, Nut Tree Hill, St Germans PL12 5LU; 01503 230783; www.railholiday.co.uk; DaveandLizzy@railholiday.co.uk. St Germans is a working station on the main line from Plymouth to Penzance, but quiet, flower-filled corners have been found for three beautifully restored railway carriages, converted into cosy, quirky self-catering accommodation,. The Old Luggage Van sleeps two and has a woodburner; the TPO, which has a double bed, sofa bed and bunks, will sleep a family of up to six and has private access to ten acres of woodland. A nother carriage which will have disabled access is currently undergoing a painstaking conversion. Weekly rental close to average holiday cottage prices.
Spring Park Vintage Holidays Rezare PL15 9LX; 07805 990302; quirky-holidays-cornwall.co.uk. Romantic hideaways for eco-sensitive couples don't come any better than this: each lovingly furnished cabin has a luxury bathroom, total privacy, a woodland clearing garden with firepit and some have a bedroom tucked into a shepherd's hut in one corner of the garden. The woodcutter's barn has two bedrooms and is ideal for families. Sensibly priced luxurious and cosy alternative to camping in a wonderful rural location close to the Tamar.
Treworgey Farm Duloe, Liskeard PL14 4PP; 01503 262730; www.hideawayhuts.co.uk; email@example.com. A shepherd’s hut has been carefully transformed by Alec and Jo Craig into a lovely, simple double bedroom decorated in pale greys and blues, standing in a sheltered paddock beside woodland, where a very discreet and eco-friendly shower and loo complete the facilities. The farm has stables and riding is available for guests staying in the shepherd’s hut or in the several upmarket holiday cottages that have been created from converted farm buildings. Prices similar to top-end B&B accommodation.
Wringworthy Cottages Morval, Looe PL13 1PR; 01503 240685; www.wringworthy.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. Great set-up for children, with lots of friendly animals and both indoor and outdoor play spaces which include a heated swimming pool. The eight cottages, created from restored farm buildings, sleep two to eight and make it more like a little village: perfect for sociable families and a great base – if you can drag the children away – for exploring both coastal and inland areas around Looe. Good value and some very good deals for low season, last-minute breaks.
Hawkins Battery The Earl's Drive, Maker PL10 1JB; 01752 823234; hawkinsbatteryholidaypark.co.uk; email@example.com. Occupying a late 19th-century sea defence fortress, the campsite is small, but perfectly placed with wonderful views out to sea. On the lower level the old gunners' huts and officer's cottage offer basic but spotless accommodation at very reasonable rates. Not suitable for glampers or Wi-Fi addicts; very suitable for get-away-from-it-all nature-lovers, many of whom return year after year to this very peaceful spot.
Highertown Farm Campsite Lansallos, Looe PL13 2PX; 01208 265211; www.nationaltrust.org.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. When some of my friends, camping for the first time with two very small children, asked me where they should pitch their tent, this was my first suggestion – and they loved it. Lansallos is a tiny unspoilt village, a short walk from a lovely beach and the campsite is in a field next to the church. It’s owned and run by the National Trust, in a very relaxed kind of way, relying on the decency of those who camp there to make it work. A restored barn offers washing and drying facilities. Very cheap, but be sure to reserve a pitch in school holidays: it’s a small site.
View across to Bodinnick and Ferryside from Fowey © ian woolcock, Shutterstock
Fowey Hall Hotel Hanson Drive, Fowey PL23 1ET; 01726 833866; www.foweyhallhotel.co.uk; email@example.com. Spacious and comfortable with a country house feel (there’s a good-sized garden, too), families come here to unwind: the hotel is very child-friendly and there’s nothing stuffy or pretentious about the elegance and luxury of the surrounds. And it’s just a short walk from the beach at Readymoney Cove and the centre of Fowey. Prices are about double those of an average B&B
The Dwelling House at Fowey 6 Fore St, Fowey PL23 1AQ; 01726 833662; www.thedwellinghouse.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. Highly recommended tea room with one double B&B in the centre of Fowey. Parts of the lovingly and sensitively restored house date from the 16th century. Very reasonable rates for such a special place.
Foye Old Exchange 12 Lostwithiel St, Fowey PL23 1BD; 01726 833252; www.foye-old-exchange.co.uk; email@example.com. A B&B with a difference, close to the church in the middle of Fowey. Up until 1960, this was the Fowey telephone exchange and the owners, Celia and Michael Penprase, have acquired an extraordinary collection of telephones and telephonalia, all on display downstairs. Upstairs there are three double rooms (one has a four-poster); prices are average for Fowey. Note: there is no parking and it’s a hilly walk to the nearest paying car park on the outskirts of Fowey.
Caerhays Estate Caerhays PL26 6LY; 0800 032 6229; www.nicheretreats.co.uk/caerhays. There are nine self-catering holiday cottages on the estate, all beautifully converted from estate buildings. The Fish Sheds (sleeps six) and Lime Kiln (sleeps two) are right on the beach, while the Lodge and Rabbit Warren are in the lovely gardens. The Vean is a luxury country house (part- or fully catered accommodation), sleeping 16, furnished to suit the Georgian elegance of the building. Prices reflect the quality of the accommodation and the idyllic locations.
Lombard Farm Mixtow PL23 1NA; 01726 870844; www.adventurecornwall.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s a yurt, a tipi, a cabin for two and a couple of family-friendly cottages on this family-run idyll, all beautifully presented. Everything is geared towards making the most of the lovely outdoor location – canoeing and mountain-biking trips can be arranged.
Penquite Manor Youth Hostel Golant PL23 1LA; 01736 833507; www.yha.org.uk; email@example.com. A Georgian manor house in three acres of grounds overlooking the Fowey sounds like very upmarket holiday accommodation, but this is the Golant Youth Hostel, and a perfect spot for families on a budget. There’s a kitchen for self-caterers, and a dining room where you can book an evening meal. Golant is a 20-minute walk: very pretty in daylight, but a torch is essential after sunset.
Court Farm Camping St Stephen PL26 7LE; 01726 823684; www.courtfarmcornwall.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. A campsite for stargazers: the low level of light pollution here has led to the creation of an observatory on the farm, which runs regular events for would-be astronomers. The land has been farmed by the Truscott family for 250 years and the quiet camping field is very much in tune with the family ethos of sensitive, sustainable land use. Expect average camping prices and don’t forget torches - it really is very dark at night.
Calize Country House Prosper Hill, Gwithian, Hayle TR27 5BW; 01736 753268; www.calize.co.uk; email@example.com. Calize House is a substantial Victorian villa, with views over the rooftops of Gwithian to the Godrevy lighthouse and St Ives Bay. It’s also a great B&B that works hard to support the local economy (breakfasts are sourced from farmers’ markets) and is environmentally conscious too. Reasonably priced for above-average accommodation (there are four doubles as well as a two-bedroomed self-catering cottage).
Drym Farm Drym, Praze, Camborne TR14 0NU; 01209 831039; firstname.lastname@example.org. A treat for gardeners and sybarites alike – comfortable farmhouse accommodation surrounded by two acres of richly planted Cornish gardens. A good spot for exploring local mining heritage sites & as well as both north and south coast beaches. The two double bedrooms (a small twin may also be available on request) provide upmarket luxury at affordable rates.
Driftwood Beach Chalet Gwithian Towans, Hayle; 01209 832042; www.forevercornwall.co.uk; email@example.com. A wooden chalet, built in the 1930s, set among the dunes at Gwithian, lovingly renovated to provide a bright and airy living space. Not big or posh, but sleeps a family of six comfortably and is right there on the beach. Expect to pay upmarket prices for this slice of retro beach-holiday style. The Forever Cornwall website will point you towards similar properties if this is the kind of place you're looking for.
Godolphin House 0844 800 2070; www.nationaltrustcottages.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. Recently restored and furnished with country house furniture from local sales, the historic manor house is available for weekly rental through the National Trust. There’s a terrific atmosphere of the past (ghosts seem to part of the deal) and enough space for 12 people to stay in style. Prices match the sumptuous surroundings, but with a couple of large families sharing, prices seem pretty reasonable.
Beacon Cottage Camping Beacon Drive, St Agnes TR5 0NU; 01872 552347; www.beaconcottagefarmholidays.co.uk; email@example.com. The working farm is spread over the lower slopes of St Agnes Beacon, within easy reach of Chapel Porth; Trevaunce Cove is about two miles away on the coast path. It’s a windy spot, but with glorious views out to sea; the seven paddocks and orchards, each with a limited number of pitches, offer shelter and are popular with families who return here year after year. Very reasonably priced and well placed for exploring on foot or by bike. There’s a small shop selling milk and eggs from the farm.
Upmarket hotels and self-catering cottages are thick on the ground here: the Duchy, the Falmouth, the Greenbank and St Michael’s Spa are all to be found in Falmouth; the Tresanton in St Mawes and the Nare on the coast cater to the well-heeled on the Roseland side of the estuary. A selection of B&Bs and campsites are listed on www.falriver.co.uk.
Come-to-Good Farm Feock TR3 6QS; 01872 863828; www.cometogoodfarm.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. A very reasonably priced B&B in a glorious rural spot, close to the thatched Quaker meeting house of the same name. A double room and family suite (sleeping four) each have their own bathroom. The farm has chickens and sheep, and children are encouraged to collect the hen eggs for breakfast. There are hands-on courses for those interested in learning lambing skills or looking after their own poultry.
Hay Barton Tregony, Truro TR2 5TF; 01872 530288; www.haybarton.com; email@example.com. Well placed for exploring the Roseland peninsula, this very comfortable farmhouse has three gorgeously furnished bedrooms (crisp white cotton and woollen blankets) and the breakfasts and teas get rave reviews.
Little White Alice Carnmenellis TR16 6PL; 01209 861000; www.littlewhitealice.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. In a wild and remote corner of the granite landscape close to Stithians Lake, about six miles west of Penryn, are these six beautifully designed, eco-friendly cottages, sleeping two to eight, and a studio where the owner teaches weaving from home-grown willow. Hand-crafted kitchens and the last word in eco-luxury bedrooms and bathrooms at average holiday cottage prices. There’s a natural swimming pool, looking just like an emerald pond, a fire-pit and Cusgarne Organics deliver boxes of farm produce on request. The name is a version of the local tin mine – wheal white allis.
The Observatory Tower Trelawney Rd, Falmouth; 0844 800 2813; www.cornishgems.com. The white tower, looking rather like a lighthouse, is one of Falmouth’s landmarks. Built in 1867 on the highest point in Falmouth as a weather observation tower, this is now a quirky but very upmarket self-catering let, sleeping four in some style. The top floor has blackout blinds and a camera obscura, handy if there’s an eclipse.
St Anthony Head Cottages National Trust Holiday Cottages; 0844 8002070; www.nationaltrustcottages.co.uk; email@example.com. Out on the wild, remote St Anthony headland, the former office buildings of the World War II observation post have been converted by the National Trust into four small holiday cottages. Tiffy’s, the Lieutenant’s and Captain’s quarters each sleep two, the Major’s Quarters sleeps four and is suitable for wheelchair users.
Carnebo Barn Trenoweth, Mabe, Falmouth TR10 9JJ; 01326 377454. The approach is up a rough track west of Penryn: the car-free, inexpensive campsite is intended for walkers and cyclists looking for a spot of back-to-nature camping and an evening round the fire-pit. There’s a solar-powered shower, compost loo and a cold tap, but just down the hill is a pristine, icy cold pool in a small disused quarry. A pre-erected bell-tent, sleeping four, is a handy option.
The Hen House Tregarne, Manaccan TR12 6EW; 01326 280236; www.thehenhouse-cornwall.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. Grown-up eco-luxury B&B plus self-catering barn surrounded by organic meadows, where visitors are encouraged to relax among the wild flowers or indulge in a spot of stargazing. Breakfast eggs come from hens in the garden, everything else from local suppliers and Sandy makes her own bread. Dog-friendly, but no under 12s. Good value in the upmarket Helford area.
Kynance Cottage Next to Kynance Cove Café, TR12 7PJ; 01326 290436; www.kynancecovecafe.co.uk; email@example.com. Just big enough for a couple with two small children wanting to ditch the car for a week (you’d have to: the car park is nearly a mile away along a rough track). The café-cum-shop and beach crowds mean you’d be far from isolated during the day, but just imagine having one of Cornwall’s most perfect coves to yourself as dawn broke. Not cheap, but until the other two cottages are renovated, the only place to stay is right here, in the cove.
Trelowarren Mawgan TR12 6AF; 01326 221224; www.trelowarren.com; firstname.lastname@example.org. Eco-luxury doesn’t come any greener or more comfortable than this, and the lovely, leafy Trelowarren estate is a byword in Cornwall for successful sustainability. There are 18 self-catering houses and cottages, sleeping between four and ten, all heated from a single biomass boiler, fuelled by coppiced wood from the estate. Bring bikes for cycling through the estate to the craft centre, restaurant or the pebble-bottomed swimming pool in the old walled fruit garden. It’s a serious treat to stay in one of these fabulous cottages – reflected in the prices.
Henry’s Campsite The Lizard TR12 7NX; 01326 290596; www.henryscampsite.co.uk. What’s so good and unusual about the location of this camping spot is that it is right in the Lizard village, with its shops and pubs and bus service as well as being just a field away from the beach and coast path. But what makes it so special is the laid-back, campfire ambience; there’s banked seating round the firepit for a small crowd, so when the guitars come out, it’s more like being at a mini-festival of a very green persuasion. Cheap and extremely cheerful camping.
Penmarth Farm Coverack, TR12 SB; 01326 280389. Henry’s campsite is wildly popular and often full, but Ben Roskilly on the hill above Coverack offers simple, cheap camping on the farm.
The useful website www.cornwallfarwest.co.uk, not affiliated to the tourist office, is used by owners of all types of accommodation in Penwith to advertise their stuff. The site has an excellent interactive map, particularly good for finding out-of-the-way campsites and B&Bs.
Abbey Hotel Abbey St, Penzance TR18 4AR; 01736 366906; www.theabbeyonline.co.uk; email@example.com. Jean Shrimpton, fashion icon of the Swinging Sixties, bought this hotel in 1979, bringing country house elegance and colour to the 17th-century town house overlooking the harbour. Today, her son Thaddeus runs the hotel with the same dash and friendly eccentricity. Expect log fires, tea in the pretty garden, French armoires, crisp linens and wool blankets rather than duvets – and upmarket prices for all this. Visiting dogs please note: there is the promise of an extra sausage at breakfast if you have been well behaved.
Gurnard’s Head Near Zennor, St Ives TR26 3DE; 01736 796928; www.gurnardshead.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. A lot of thought has gone into the very comfortable bedrooms; not cheap, but just right for a bit of indulgence. Friends of mine who run a market garden on the Roseland peninsula spent their Slow honeymoon here, arriving on the round-the-coast bus, which passes the doorstep. Some of the best walking on the north coast can be enjoyed from here. The pub downstairs is a highly rated eating spot, serving contemporary dishes of lovely local grub.
Primrose Valley Hotel Porthminster Beach, St Ives TR26 2ED; 01736 794939; www.primroseonline.co.uk; email@example.com. Just yards from the beach and close to the Tate, the presentation of this small (ten-bedroom) eco-friendly, family-run hotel is as good as its location. Local producers are well supported (the bar stocks only Cornish beers, for example) and much emphasis is placed on employing a friendly, local team all year round. Prices are very reasonable for this kind of eco-luxury in the centre of St Ives.
Boscarne Farm Crows-En-Wra, St Buryan TR19 6HR; 01736 810366. A cosy B&B, very reasonably priced, with an understandably loyal following. All four rooms have sea views and the two doubles have half-tester beds. There’s also a twin and bunk room, making it ideal for families. Evening meals are optional, and breakfasts are cooked on the Aga. A real gem.
Boswednack Manor Zennor, near St Ives TR26 3DD; 01736 794183; www.boswednackmanor.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. Set in three acres of organic meadows, vegetable, fruit and flower gardens, overlooking the wild north coast, the rambling Victorian farmhouse offers good-value, traditionally furnished rooms and vegetarian breakfasts. A 20-minute walk across the fields brings you to Zennor; the coast path at Gurnard’s Head is even closer, making it a popular B&B with walkers.
Cove Cottage St Loy, St Buryan TR19 6DH; 01736 810010; www.covecottagestloy.co.uk; email@example.com. An idyllic, secluded spot, overlooking a superb subtropical garden and the sheltered cove of St Loy: a first-floor hideaway for two people – four-poster bed included. A very special B&B (dinner served in rooms by arrangement), priced accordingly.
Grove Cottage Trescowe, Germoe TR20 9RW; 01736 763624; www.cornishcottagewithrooms.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. A lovely garden surrounds this old cartwright’s house, brimming with exotics. Well placed for exploring the Lizard peninsula and Godolphin estate as well as Penwith, and close to the glorious coast around Prussia Cove. The two attractively furnished double rooms and one single are very reasonably priced and breakfasts are a celebration of local produce.
Gypsy Caravan Primrose Cottage, Levant Lane, Trewellard, Pendeen TR19 7SU; 01736 787585; www.gypsycaravanbandb.co.uk; email@example.com. Just 300 yards from the dramatic clifftops and National Trust-run Levant Mine, this authentic Gypsy caravan is a godsend for budget-conscious walkers looking for a bit of cosy, quirky luxury at the end of a day’s hike. The painted wagon sleeps two comfortably (there’s space for one dog in the cubby underneath the bed) and there’s even a TV next to the little logburner. Breakfast is served in the conservatory, next to the shower room.
Boscrowan Farm Heamoor, near Penzance TR20 8UJ; 01736 332396; www.boscrowan.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org. A mile north of Penzance, David and Elizabeth Harris’s 25-acre smallholding is a model of small-scale sustainability. The two competitively priced cottages, Peace and Plenty (sleeps four) and Ring and Thimble (sleeps two), have their own garden spaces, where old wheelbarrows are planted with salads for guests to help themselves to, and Elizabeth encourages visitors to pick cosmos and sweet peas too, as an alternative to buying imported cut flowers for the cottages. Children should bring wellies if they would like to help feed the ducks and chickens.
Land’s End Hostel Trevescan, Land’s End TR19 7AQ; 07519 309908; www.landsendhostelaccommodation.co.uk; Susie@landsendhostelaccommodation.co.uk. Spotless bargain-priced hostel accommodation, plus one en-suite twin B&B; near the coast path.
Secret Garden Caravan & Camping Park Bosavern House, St Just, Penzance TR19 7RD; 01736 788301; www.secretbosavern.com; email@example.com. There are just 12 pitches (for tents or caravans) in this old walled garden and orchard, close to St Just. A community farm next door has eggs and veggies for sale and a lovely walk from the doorstep takes you down the Cot Valley to the coast at Porth Nanven. If the site is full, try the rugby club on the outskirts of St Just, which offers basic camping (for tents) in a pretty spot.