Out There: Cornish Delights

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It was with a degree of trepidation that I booked a four-night break in Cornwall.

I was worried that the weather would be terrible and that we’d spend the days swathed in waterproofs and lashed by the spray from enormous waves.

Luckily the opposite proved to be the case. The weather was mild and the sea almost as calm as a millpond.

We even had several hours of warm sunshine and were able to take our coats off!

My thick winter coat stayed in the car and my husband Sparky’s dodgy long johns (thankfully) remained at the bottom of his rucksack.

If you are prepared to take a gamble with the weather, November is a wonderful time to visit Cornwall as we discovered last week.

Vast

We were spellbound by the soft golden sunlight, fiery oranges of the beech trees and vast empty beaches.

On some days we were the only people exploring the beaches and coastal path.

Our first night was at the cool surfers’ paradise of Harlyn Inn next to the vast expanse of Harlyn Bay near Padstow in North Cornwall.

As the light faded, we walked from Harlyn to Trevone and back. It is one of the most beautiful coastal paths in the UK and I can heartily recommend it as a holiday destination. It was a huge thrill to watch the waves crashing against the rocks and a surprise to see dozens of surfers riding the rollers.

The next day we headed down the coast to the delightful resort of St Ives.

We’d managed to get a great deal on the rather swanky St Ives Harbour Hotel and almost felt a little out of place as it was so up-market.

St Ives was a joy to explore. The town was busy but not over-run with tourists due to the time of year. We paid a visit to the famous garden where sculptress Barbara Hepworth once created her iconic works of art. As it was out of season we were the only visitors and were able to enjoy the sculptures, sub-tropical planting and seclusion without interruption.

I can also highly recommend a visit to Barbara Hepworth’s garden at any time of year. Sparky had brought his Leica M6 camera with black and white film in it from Robertson’s of Lancaster so we are excited to see the results when the prints come back.

The only down-side of this mesmerisingly beautiful coastal town was being pecked on the head by a gull as I tried to eat a pasty.

After roaming around the winding streets and golden beaches of St Ives we drove over to Mount’s Bay near Penzance.

We walked out over the causeway to St Michael’s Mount. Sadly the castle was not open but we will return another time.

On the way back from Penzance I forced Sparky to stop off at a wonderful plant nursery at Whitecross selling hardy exotics (http://www.hardyexotics.co.uk/).

I could quite happily have filled a lorry full of amazing plants from the nursery and shipped them back to Lancaster. However, money being tight, I made do with an unusual rhododendron ‘calophytum’ which will eventually grow into a small tree and bear large trusses of fragrant, pale pink flowers in early spring.

The following day we had a walk along the coastal path to Godrevey lighthouse near Gwithian. The highlight of this walk was seeing seals playing in the surf.

On our last day we made our way over to the south coast with its tiny coves and sheltered harbours.

We explored Fowey– home of millionaire boat owners – and had a walk along the coastal path from Polkerris beach to rugged Gribbin Head, a location made famous as it features in the novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

The little harbour at Mevagissey was full of life as dusk descended. Fishermen were heading out to sea and the local pubs were filling up.

Our last night was spent at the ancient Rising Sun Inn at Portmellon just a mile away from Mevagissey. This cosy pub was a real slice of Cornish life. It was full of friendly characters and at night we could hear the sea lapping at the shore just a couple of metres away from the inn.

The pub lived up to its name as when we awoke the rising sun was bathing the cove in sparkling light.

We had one final walk on the beach at Gorran Haven and watched a woman having a swim in the crystal-clear water.

Cornwall is a long way from Lancashire but the long drive (about seven hours) is worth it for the privilege of enjoying England’s most westerly county.