Author: gloversure

Sea spotting

It’s spring and the coastline, from the clifftop fields to the low-tide rock pools, is waking up to the new season. We took a closer look at seaside sights, from the door of one Beach Retreat right down to the shore, and found out more about what spring has in store for coastal adventurers, rock poolers and seasonal menus…

Spring is a rapidly unfolding season by the sea, with nature’s delights unfurling: seasonal flavours ready to savour at dinner and clear blue seas inviting explorers in. While seaweed is starting its fresh new growth, farm produce is welcoming in the sun’s growing energy ready for harvest come May.

To begin, we follow the coast path from Port Isaac to Port Gaverne to find out what spring holds for coastal adventurers Cornish Rock Tors

Image credit: Mia Rumble

Early emergence

Ben Spicer, Cornish Rock Tors owner, says the team are “a bit like coastal wildflowers, starting to emerge and grow as spring picks up pace”. Winter excursions happen occasionally but March is when everything is checked, in readiness to fully open on the beach-front at the start of the school Easter holidays.

Image credit: Mia Rumble

Based in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on a stretch of Heritage Coast, it’s a wild and unspoiled environment with extraordinary sights in store. “If there is a prolonged period of high pressure and calm weather then the sea in spring can be extraordinarily clear, marking a stark contrast to the winter,” he explains.

“The rocky coast is a playground of jumps, wave features and caves, and because the tidal range here is so large the route can change drastically over the two hours between setting out and getting back.”

By April, wildflowers begin to carpet the edges of cliffs, with thrift, also known as sea pinks, standing out, soundtracked by the sounds of razorbills and guillemots nesting along the coast.

Coastal playground

Coasteering with Cornish Rock Tors is to journey through an intertidal world, revealing “multicoloured seaweeds, predatory starfish, beautifully patterned anemones, crabs and common blennys – small fish that can survive out of water and slither between rockpools,” says Ben.

Once out in this rocky world, there’s little sign of human activity, aside from distant movement atop the cliff and the occasional passing fishing boat. Instead, the shifting sea reveals a truly picturesque playground:

Image credit: Mat Arney, Cornish Rock Tors

“The rocky coast is a playground of jumps, wave features and caves, and because the tidal range here is so large the route can change drastically over the two hours between setting out and getting back – what was a one meter ‘introductory’ jump at the start of the session can be much bigger a few hours later if the tide is dropping,” he says.

Kayak to clarity

“If we get a period of prolonged high pressure, as has happened a few times in the last few years, the clarity of the water is incredible and you can look over the side of your kayak and see many meters down, all the way to the seabed below,” says Ben.

Image credit: Mat Arney, Cornish Rock Tors

A short paddle from the shore reveals respectfully distant views of seabird nesting sites, and kayak trips often take in the unique view of the harbour at Port Isaac from sea.

“Beyond that, there is a beach that is only exposed at low tide and that it is impossible to get to any other way than by sea kayak or boat. In spring we often take groups there to enjoy their own little private beach before paddling back to Port Gaverne,” he adds.

The dynamic weather along the coast any time of year means booking in advance for any activity is best, advises Ben; if the weather or sea conditions change for the booking time, a different weather window can be found to head on out.

“Every two weeks, all year round, we have spring tides…It’s so much better than other times because these rock pools are home to species that wouldn’t be able to live further up the beach”.

Lying low

While the tidal flux along Port Gaverne’s rocky surrounds creates an ocean playground, each day all along the Cornish coast – north to south – the tides are revealing hidden habitats to discover, with spring quite possibly the best time of year to go on safari there, says Dr Ben Holt of The Rock Pool Project:

“Rock-pooling is all about the tides; it’s the only reason rock pools exist. So it has a really big impact on what you can find.

Image credit: Mia Rumble

“Every two weeks, all year round, we have spring tides when there’s either a full moon or a new moon. It’s when the tide goes out the furthest. It’s so much better than other times because these rock pools are home to species that wouldn’t be able to live further up the beach as they wouldn’t survive with being out of the water for too long.”

Hide and seek

This abundant marine environment, hidden for much of the day, is bright and bustling as spring shoots into life. The 350 different seaweed species in the UK waters are more vivid than ever, growing fresh fronds and leaves, while, mirroring the terrestrial life cycle, it’s a time for laying eggs and carrying young.

Image credit: Mia Rumble

“Pipe fish are in the same family as seahorses, and the male pipe fish carries the eggs,” says Ben.

“Female crabs carry their eggs on the underside of their body. They can be carrying six or seven thousand tiny eggs until they’re ready to be released. Some rock pool creatures reproduce at other times of year but spring is when there’s a higher rate of this behaviour.”

Spring tides – which fall to their lowest in the middle of the day in Cornwall – get their name because spring is when these tides are at the greatest range, their lowest and highest; although, autumn is the other season of very high and low spring tides.

As well as checking the tide times for the best rock-pooling opportunities, Ben’s tip for any intrepid explorers is to make sure you have the right footwear. Flipflops and bare feet don’t make for the best foundation on the slippery, sometimes sharp rocks out on the farthest strandline. In colder conditions, wellies are great, and a pair of old trainers work well for safely exploring in warmer temperatures.

To get searching, grab the guidebook and a camera – to snap any mystery finds for later identification.

The Rock Pool Project runs community projects around Plymouth and Falmouth. You can also book a guided rock pool safari with the team throughout the year.

Diverse delights

Looking out to St Michael’s Mount standing tall in Mounts Bay near Marazion, the team at Trenow Fields are tending to their produce, dictated by the season on land that’s managed to regenerate the habitat and boost biodiversity.

“There’s wild rock samphire, foraged at the cove, which is fantastic in curries or sautéed with eggs.”

Ready for harvest from May, flavourful salad leaves, herbs and edible flowers from Trenow can be found in restaurants all over west Cornwall, and further afield, from Argoe in Newlyn to The Crumb, Penzance, to Source Kitchen in St Ives.

Chefs also request ingredients from the wilder fringes of the farm, emerging from rocks and sand as spring gets going.

“There’s wild rock samphire, foraged at the Cove, which is fantastic in curries or sautéed with eggs. And nettles – great steamed with poached eggs on sourdough toast, or as a creamy nettle soup with lashings of double cream,” says Trenow grower Mark.

Image credit: Mia Rumble

Not on the Trenow produce list, but abundant not far from the shoreline, Mark recommends keeping a lookout for navelwort: “a cucumbery succulent leaf that will be all over the hedges”, and mallow leaves: “an excellent ‘poppadom’ when baked in the oven for a minute.”

While not open to the public, Trenow’s essential oils – produced from the lavender grown on the farm – are available online, and farm shops and veg boxes stock their seasonal sustenance.

To stay by the sea in spring is a chance to spot all that is unfolding along the shoreline from your door to the shore, whether fresh shoots served up at dinner, rare rock pool discoveries or tidal thrills in the clearest of seas.

A place to huddle up for two or a space for all your loved ones to gather and celebrate, where will you explore from #doortoshore? Find your Beach Retreat below.

A fresher taste: spring recipes

After the grey, mizzly days of winter, Cornwall comes alive again in spring: what are the seasonal flavours to try in your cooking best tasted fresh?

Wildflowers in the hedgerows, young lambs in the fields and the first new crops of the year, the farmers’ markets are fully stocked and there’s a new abundance awaiting foragers.

We caught up with three Cornish chefs to find out about their favourite spring flavours. They shared a special recipe featuring ingredients that are best eaten as fresh as possible – ideally on the same day.

Wild flavours

Carla Viladomat is the head chef and co-owner of El Huichol, a Mexican street food company serving up brunch, lunch and dinner at their new spot Pachanga in Newquay.

Her food combines the traditional flavours of Mexico with the fresh ingredients of Cornwall – two places which share a surprisingly close culinary heritage thanks to the large numbers of Cornish miners who crossed the Atlantic to help Mexico mine silver to pay for the Mexican war of independence in the 19th century.

Carla also has a mobile Mexican food van that travels to events and weddings around Cornwall throughout the summer.

Image credit: El Huichol

Favourite spring ingredients

After the Cornish winter I’m pretty sick of tubers – potatoes and turnips and all the rest – so I always look forward to spring, which is when the vibrant flavours of Mexican food come into their own!

“My number one spring ingredient is wild garlic. It’s packed with flavour, and easy to collect in the hedgerows around Cornwall”

There’s so much on offer in Cornwall at this time of year. Fresh mackerel is fantastic, bought from the fishmonger or from the fisherman if you know where to ask! We like to smoke it and make into a lovely paté with pickled smoked chilli, served on a crispy tostada with a mackerel fillet on top. That’s one of our most popular dishes at this time of year.

I also love fresh cauliflower leaves – sometimes I tempura them for texture, or roast them and make them into a purée with lots of fresh lime.

Carla’s on the day recipe

Wild garlic pípian

My number one spring ingredient is wild garlic. It’s packed with flavour, and easy to collect in the hedgerows around Cornwall in March and April. Look out for the wild flowers and the dark green leaves that have a strong garlic smell. It’s best used straight away, but you can also ferment it for extra flavour.

I make it into a Mexican salsa called pípian, or green mole. You need to collect quite a few wild garlic leaves. I blend them with toasted pumpkin seeds, coriander, chilli, fresh radish leaves and plenty of olive oil. It’s like a Mexican pesto, punchy and packed with flavour. The consistency is thick because of all the ground up seeds, but if you like it runnier, just add extra olive oil.

It’s a really versatile sauce. Traditionally it’s eaten with pork or chicken, but I like to use it in a fresh radish salad. I use the freshest radishes I can find, ideally ones I’ve just picked myself, chopped up finely and served with plenty of pípian drizzled over the top.

The freshest fish

Rich Adams runs Argoe, a sustainable seafood restaurant opposite the historic fish market in Newlyn. The restaurant celebrates the best Cornish fish and seafood, and champions species that rarely make it on to British menus.

“Spring is a superb time for trying some different varieties of Cornish fish, with several species coming into season at this time of year”

Favourite spring ingredients

In Britain, we’ve been stuck in our ways eating the same old fish for the last fifty years, and here at Argoe we’re passionate about changing that. Spring is a superb time for trying some different varieties of Cornish fish, with several species coming into season at this time of year – including two of my favourites, megrim sole and spider crab (or Cornish king crab, as we’re calling it these days!). Both are at their best in spring. You can buy them from fishmongers in Newlyn, literally straight off the boats.

Image credit: Argoe

Rich’s on the day recipes

Boiled spider crab and grilled megrim sole

When it comes to spider crab, there’s not much you need to do. Put the crab to sleep by putting it in the freezer for a couple of hours, then drop it into a pan of boiling salted water; the rule of thumb is about 15 minutes per kilo of crab, and 70g of salt per litre of water. I’m a great believer in doing things simply, and presenting things as they are – so once it’s done, turn it whole upside down onto the plate, and separate the claws away from the body.

We pre-crack the claws with a rolling pin or pincers to make it easier to eat at the table. Prise the inner part of the shell away, leaving the brown meat inside – add a squeeze of lemon if you like, and serve with fresh bread and lots of homemade mayo. You’ll need crab picks to get out all the meat, but it’s worth the effort – for me, nothing tastes so much of the sea as fresh spider crab.

Megrim sole is even easier. A fish of about 600-700g is perfect for two. It’s best cooked whole, under a piping hot grill or over a barbecue. Brush with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. It cooks quickly – 5-7 minutes each side. I serve it whole at the table. Getting the fish off the bone is easy once you know how – we use two forks to pull away the flesh from the centre.

Don’t miss the best bits: cheeks, collars, crispy edges and fins. If it’s your first time cooking sole on the bone, ask your fishmonger for advice if you’re unsure, or better still come into the restaurant and we’ll show you how.

What the garden grows

Daisy Hillier is head chef at Potager, a vegetarian cafe and kitchen garden located outside Constantine.

Image credit: Potager

Favourite spring ingredients

At Potager, we’re lucky to be able to grow lots of our own ingredients, and I always look forward to all the fresh flavours of spring and early summer – from edible flowers like nasturtium and borage, which I like to use in salads, to the first Cornish asparagus of the year, delicious lightly steamed and eaten with lots of fresh Cornish butter and black pepper.

“Many people dread cabbage, thinking of that horrible boiled stuff we all had at school. But it’s actually one of my favourite spring vegetables – and the fresher the better. It’s especially well-suited to Asian-inspired dishes”

Spring is also a great time to wander the lanes and forage for wild flowers and edible plants. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with floral flavours in some of my gins at the distillery – watch this space!

Daisy’s on the day recipe

Pan roasted cabbage with togarashi and miso and orange butter

Many people dread cabbage, thinking of that horrible boiled stuff we all had at school. But it’s actually one of my favourite spring vegetables – and the fresher the better. It’s especially well-suited to Asian-inspired dishes like this one.

Start by making the miso butter: 2 tbsp miso paste, 10 tbsp salted butter, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar, the zest of an orange and the juice of two more.

Then peel and cut the cabbage into 8 pieces, retaining some root on each wedge to hold it together. Heat a non-stick frying pan with vegetable oil, add half of the wedges, and fry on each side for 3-5 until caramelised. Put the wedges on a baking tray, cover with the miso butter and a splash of water, and roast in foil for 15 minutes. Turn over and roast on the other side for another 5 to 10 minutes until soft.

While it’s cooking, make the togarashi, a Japanese spice mix. It’s made with the dried zest of an orange, 3 tbsp toasted white sesame seeds, 1 tbsp toasted black sesame seeds, 1 tbsp toasted poppy seeds, 1 tsp sichuan peppercorns, ½ tsp ground ginger and 1 sheet of nori, ground up together.

Serve the roasted cabbage with a fried egg and a good sprinkle of the togarashi spice mix, and some sushi rice on the side.

For more Cornish foodie inspiration, browse our blog.

7 things to do in Cornwall during Easter

Spend your family holiday on the beach this Easter and enjoy the saltwater lifestyle.

With the Easter holidays just around the corner, there’s an abundance of fun activities for the whole family to enjoy. Whether it’s a day on the sand or a visit to one of Cornwall’s attractions, here’s our favourite things to see and do during your stay this Easter.

Admire the coastline from the water

You’ll find the ocean-mad team at Newquay Activity Centre togged up in wetsuits and sharing their expert tips in everything from surfing to stand-up paddle boarding 360+ days a year. Take the plunge with them as they coasteer around the coast, paddle their huge super stand-up paddleboard through caves, kayak under the famous bridge as you look up to the house on the island, or take on a family surf lesson. They offer something for everyone.

Book online today.

rockpooling

Walk the South West Coast Path

Walk onto any beach in Cornwall and you’ll spot part of the South West Coast Path to your left or right. Whether you choose to explore the rugged north coast and its hidden coves or the tropical south coast, you’ll find something different and exciting each turn you take.

Find your closest route.

sea view over cliffs

Go rockpooling

Head to many beaches in Cornwall at low tide and visitors will be pleasantly surprised with hundreds of rockpools just waiting to be explored. You’ll be treated to a natural display of fascinating and tough creatures, including the Cornish Sucker fish, Worm Pipefish and the Common Shore Crab.

See the top tips from Dr Ben Holt at The Rock Pool Project on rockpooling and where to go.

family rockpooling

Eden Eggstravaganza

Every bit as good as the hype, the Eden Project is on Cornwall’s essential tick list. Outstanding on a sunny day and a good choice when it rains, Eden is an inspired blend of indoor and outdoor fun. Dubbed the eighth wonder of the world by some, this dramatic global garden is housed in tropical biomes the size of 30 football pitches.

Over Easter, discover dozens of activities, crafts and games for the whole family across a three-week programme.

easter egg

Go Foraging

Make the most of the Spring sunshine and get out and about with a forage that will take you deep into Cornwall’s woodlands, hedgerows and on the coast. From Cornish mussels and rose chips to wild herbs and edible plants, you’ll find plenty of wild foods great for cooking.

Read our guide to foraging in Cornwall, including foraging experts The Fat Hen Cookery School who run local courses.

Image credit: The Fat Hen Cookery School

Heligan Gardens

Cornwall’s not only known for its stunning beaches, its magical gardens are home to a wealth of exciting, rare and beautiful plants and trees just waiting to be explored. Visit The Lost Gardens of Heligan in St Austell over Easter and you will creep past the sleeping giant, skip past the Mud Maid and explore higgeldy gardens filled with wonky veg and exotic plants.

Book your Easter break and be by the shoreline this year.

What to do in February half-term in Cornwall

February. The post-Christmas blues, new working year stresses, and winter fatigue often mean that this month gets overlooked, treated as one final hurdle to get over before Spring begins to bloom.

Here in Cornwall, we see February a little differently.

Empty, windswept beaches. Wild seas. Clear water and crisp blue skies. Rambling coast paths. Nature undisturbed. February showcases the wild, untamed beauty of Cornwall before the summer crowds roll in, and is secretly a loved-by-locals time of year, due to its general calmness, great surf and spectacular scenery.

February half-term is no different, and makes for a perfect time to gather the family and escape to the coast, giving you that much needed rejuvenation after a long winter season. Here’s some fresh inspiration for things to do this February half-term in Cornwall.

Browse our beach locations or our selection of retreats to find your perfect February half-term holiday home.

Surf’s up

February is ideal for getting in the water, particularly if you’re a beginner wanting to avoid the busy summer seas. Most of Cornwall’s surf and watersports schools operate all year round, and provide the appropriate kit for chillier water. Try Newquay Activity Centre, Kingsurf in Mawgan Porth or Big Blue Surf School in Bude for a challenging but exhilarating day mastering your chosen activity.

Image credit: Big Blue Surf School

National Maritime Museum

Head to Falmouth’s National Maritime Museum for a rainy day activity that’ll connect you to our oceans. Their regular exhibitions bring new and diverse perspectives to maritime issues, whilst showcasing Cornwall’s fascinating maritime heritage. With 15 galleries across five floors, you’ll take a walk through history. While you’re here, Falmouth is a great place to grab lunch and wander the quirky boutique-lined streets.

Eden Project

A unique and innovative eco project, the Eden Project is an absolute must see this February half-term. This stunning global garden consists of tropical biomes the size of 30 football pitches, including the rainforest biome, home to 1000 species of tropical plants, a fully running waterfall and suspended canopy walkway. Adjacent to this you’ll find the Mediterranean biome, filled to the brim with spiky cacti and ancient olive trees.

Trebah Gardens

A spectacle at any time of year, Trebah Gardens are worth a visit during your February half-term stay. Trebah is bound beneath canopies of sub-tropical foliage that tumble to the edge of the Helford Estuary, where there’s a divine sandy beach perfect for picnic and stone skimming. Families with dogs will particularly love this natural playground.

Wildlife wonders

Get acquainted with some Cornish creatures, from native baby seals to African lions. The Cornish Seal Sanctuary, in Gweek, rescues and rehabilitates over 70 seal pups, which you can see up close. Or, spot them in the wild below the cliffs at Mutton Cove in Hayle, where they often bask on the sand – just be sure to keep the noise down as to not disturb their nap time. For a wet-weather-friendly day out, head to Newquay Zoo to meet over 130 species of the worlds rarest and most endangered animals.

Eat local

Refuel after a wintery walk with soul-quenching food at one of Cornwall’s many gourmet restaurants. From the range of Rick Stein eateries in Padstow, to cosy pubs with great menus such as The Mariners in Rock, take some time this half term to taste the shoreline’s seasonal delights. Many places to eat are kid and pet friendly, too.

Family time

Above all else, a February getaway gives you a chance to be together, away from the chaos of term time routines, work and household chores. Settle into a retreat where everything has been sorted for you, allowing you to truly relax. With games rooms, log burners, lavish dining tables and gorgeous views, cosy evenings in are a delight. Browse our selection of coastal properties just made for family stays.

Book your February half-term retreat.

Festive Nights at Watergate Bay

From 1 December, Watergate Bay is lighting up with a festive spirit. From new shorefront dining experiences, wreath making, Champagne tasting, live music and a dozen Christmas trees each telling a different story, discover the advent of Festive Nights on the beach this December. Here’s what’s on at Watergate Bay this Christmas.

Find your retreat by the bay

Twelve Trees of Christmas

Pearly oyster shells and bee-friendly flower seed packets, beach-found Lego bricks and hand-tied botanical decorations – this year the iconic Christmas trees around Watergate Bay will do more than just look beautiful; they’ll be telling stories too. Twelve Trees of Christmas draws on twelve different friends, partners, suppliers and team members, each will decorate a tree in their own unique way. Expect sustainable, organic displays from Emily at 3 Acre Blooms; recycled, repurposed decorations from Beach Guardian; botanical aromas from land&water, and coffee card baubles from Origin Coffee Roasters.

If you’re staying in the area, be sure to wait until dusk and experience the trees as they light up by the ocean.

Craft workshops

Through December Watergate Bay Hotel is hosting a full calendar of winter events to spark that Christmas feeling, including hands-on wreath making, monoprinting and calligraphy workshops. Feel festive whilst crafting a perfect gift to take home to a loved one- book your session here.

Zacry’s on the sea wall

From the start of December, the popular modern dining hub of Zacry’s is moving to the seafront position down on the sea wall, directly overlooking the tidelines of Watergate Bay. Tuck into a seasonally changing three-course menu, bringing the best of Cornish sea, sky and field to the table. If you’re staying with us in the area this winter, be sure to book your table.

Curry Fridays at The Beach Hut

Warming spices and local hero ingredients, head to The Beach Hut for their new Curry Fridays. Every Friday through November and December they’ll be cooking up authentic Indian feasts, with lively Bengali curries, and all of the extras; lemon turmeric rice, warm chapati, spiced carrot pickle, onion bhaji and quince ‘mango’ chutney.

Book your retreat by the bay and experience the seasonal magic of North Cornwall

Celebrate by the sea

Create new family traditions and truly memorable festive moments. Coastal celebration brings the awe-inspiring and restorative power of the sea to your Christmas and NYE…

Winter might mean wet weather, temperatures that bite and short, dark days, but that doesn’t mean you need to steer clear of the seaside.

In fact, a coastal festive break might be just what’s needed to break out of the yearly cycle of heaving crowds in shopping centres, the last-minute panic buying, the relentless sounds of devices come Boxing Day and wondering how to make December 31st special.

“An afternoon on a beach you have all to yourselves, before climbing into an outdoor hot tub back at your retreat as the sun sets.”

Image credit: Mia Rumble

Create your klys

The Cornish word for cosy or snug, klys can loosely be equated with the Danish concept of hygge – a way of life that embraces cosiness, warmth and good times with friends and family, with the help of scented candles, cashmere socks, twinkling fairy lights and anything else that says cosy to you.

“Think rugged coastal walks, cliff views and the ocean stretching out before you, ending in a warm and welcoming 12th century pub with delicious local food and drink.”

Where klys differs, is the role the beautiful Cornish wilderness has to play. Immerse yourself in the raw elements of our winters outside, before heading indoors to warm your soul in front of a log fire and a hot cup of cocoa.

Think rugged coastal walks, cliff views and the ocean stretching out before you, ending in a warm and welcoming 12th century pub with delicious local food and drink.

Or an afternoon on a beach you have all to yourselves, before climbing into an outdoor hot tub back at your retreat as the sun sets.

Celebratory splash

It might seem ridiculous – or completely insane – to plunge into freezing water when the mercury is dropping rapidly outside, but the effects of cold water are well known. Chief among them, that natural high thanks to the heady rush of chemicals, endorphins and hormones circulating around your body, lifting your mood, making you feel alive. Really alive.

Image credit: Mia Rumble

That cold rush surrounded by Cornwall’s varied and beautiful coastal landscapes is an unrivalled feeling.

Local favourite locations include Christmas day gatherings in Sennen Cove, Porthtowan beach and Coverack harbour on The Lizard, where you’ll be joined by other brave souls.

Don’t stay in too long, be aware of how you’re feeling and prepared – with warm clothes at the ready for when you get out. For cold water novices, check out the Outdoor Swimming Society and RNLI guidance.

Auld Lang Syne to a new scene

From assembling, hand-in-hand on a deserted beach at midnight to usher in the new year to gathering round a fire with the sound of the sea in the distance, the ocean is an epic backdrop for special celebrations.

Image credit: Mia Rumble

It’s a time of high drama at sea, with waves crashing into harbour walls and barracking monumental cliffs. Sealife of the most epic proportions can also be spotted in winter months, so keep those eyes peeled for fin or humpback whales cresting the surf.

“Think celebratory evenings filled with talk, laughter, insight and meaningful connection.”

Make a visit to some of the most impressive vantage points we have, like Cape Cornwall – exposed to the full might of the Atlantic and part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site.

Or share warming refreshment and celebrations at your retreat, while drinking in the expansive sea views – so you get the best of both worlds.

Deep connections

It’s Christmas Day afternoon or post New Years’ Day lunch. You’ve eaten too much, you’ve drunk too much, and now you’re slumped on the sofa in front of the TV surrounded by your family and friends. No-one’s really talking to each other. Sound familiar?

What if, you swapped the TV for a crackling fire with a sea view or candle-lit coffee table? Like staring at the sea or the stars, flickering flames are mesmerising and elemental. And in the winter months, they can be a source of warmth, literally and figuratively.

Think celebratory evenings filled with talk, laughter, insight and meaningful connection. Play cards or be more profound: explore your family’s or friends’ deeper selves: what are their private joys, fears, regrets and hopes? What do they wish they could do in a utopia and why? Celebrating by the sea could turn out to be more surprising than you expect.

Gather and celebrate on the beach or find just the place to huddle up for the festive season.

How to do slow travel

Catching the next train, a walking tour, road trips…how exactly do we slow down when we travel? We spoke to two slow travel writers to find out…

“Like anything in life now, there’s a synthetic version of the thing you’re looking for, and there’s a real version of it. Slow travel is just real travel.”

That’s Dan Kieran’s take on slow travel, something he discovered after an overland journey from London to Warsaw, Poland. That slow travel initiation involved cancelled trains, persuading a train manager to let him board a German train without a ticket, and delivering an impromptu English lesson on a Polish commuter train.

Dan, author of The Idle Traveller: The Art of Slow Travel, describes his travel revelation as magical, realising at the time that most holidays involved simply arriving in a destination, rather than really travelling.

“It’s about depth rather than time. It’s about putting yourself in a context that is unfamiliar. So it’s about opening yourself up, not closing yourself down,” he says.

Invitation to explore

For Jo Tinsley, author of The Slow Traveller: An intentional path to mindful adventures, slow travel is an invitation to explore the world at our own pace, “to journey lightly and adventurously.”

Image credit: Graeme Owsianski from The Slow Traveller

“It is the antithesis of bucket list travel, placing spontaneity over a packed agenda and allowing you to travel on terms that are meaningful both to you and to the people you meet along the way,” says Jo.

Reading The Day of the Jackal when I went to Paris, I felt like I was living that book

That sense of exploration means allowing space to connect to a place, “taking time to scratch below the surface of a destination; to build a stronger attachment with, and understanding of, the places we are visiting. This might mean gathering over coffee in a local’s front room; or understanding the connection between local ingredients and place.”

How to slow down

“It’s perfectly fine to have planned elements, but just have something that gives your trip space for the unknown to happen. Do the things you want to do; that’s the point of going, but leave space for serendipity to strike – even if it’s just for a couple of hours,” says Dan.

“More often than not we’d simply pull over when we saw the ‘silhouette of a bather above two wiggly lines’ sign that meant a hot pool was nearby

He also recommends picking up a guidebook. “But I don’t mean normal guidebooks. If I’m going to Berlin, I’ll buy books or novels set in Berlin – I want to feel connected to the city. Reading The Day of the Jackal when I went to Paris, I felt like I was living that book,” he says.

“If I visit the sea, I have to go in the water. I have to walk the coast path. There’s something hugely beneficial in feeling like you know the context of where you are,” he adds.

Image credit: Lily Bertrand-Webb

Jo says that travelling overland – by train, bus, boat, bike or on foot – encourages the exploration of slow travel, but it’s not prescriptive. It isn’t necessarily a question of speed or the length of a trip either.

“It is more about deceleration and reframing travel as a journey – it’s a mindset thing. Once slow travel becomes a mindset rather than a mode of travel, we realise that our journeys don’t need big budgets, long trips or far-flung destinations to be genuinely transformative.”

Journey stories

Jo embarked on an Icelandic holiday without a plan, seeking out the country’s thermal pools. “More often than not we’d simply pull over when we saw the ‘silhouette of a bather above two wiggly lines’ sign that meant a hot pool was nearby,” she says.

As well as following road signs on a whim, she relied on local recommendations and taking spontaneous detours. “Our meandering route eventually led us to the most remarkable pool of the entire trip: Krossneslaug, an infinity pool at the end of a 90km unpaved, potholed dead-end road, which looked out over the North Atlantic, as a gleaming iceberg idled in the far distance.”

It’s always tempting to pack a lot in to a holiday, which is the opposite of that slow travel mindset. Think spending a whole afternoon in one gallery rather than visiting all the top sights in a day, and taking some time to observe the local details where you are, says Jo.

Image credit: Sarah Mason from The Slow Traveller

“When you’re living life doing your normal routine, your unconscious mind is in control. The reason travel is so amazing is you’re putting yourself in a context which is unfamiliar,” says Dan. “That’s what makes it nourishing, because you are conscious of what’s happening to you. That is when you really start to have a fabulous time.”

Slow down and take it all in, footsteps from the shore…

New Year in Cornwall

Wondering what to do on New Year’s Eve in Cornwall? Welcome in the New Year with a bracing sea dip, don fancy dress and party on the streets of St Ives, or watch harbourside fireworks reflect into moonlit seas.

Here are some of our favourite ways to bring in the New Year in Cornwall.

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Dress up for a street party, St Ives

This idyllic Cornish fishing village hosts one of the UK’s most famous New Year’s Eve parties, which sees crowds come from far and wide to hit the streets in fancy dress. Spectacular costumes and vibrant parades floods onto the beach and harbour, where food stands serve up festive treats. Listen for the chime of the bells at midnight, when fireworks fizz and pop over the ocean, bringing in another year in style.

harbour beach st ives

Watch fireworks over Newquay Harbour

Another seaside town that hosts an almighty New Year’s Eve party, the highlight of New Year’s Eve in Newquay is the spectacular fireworks display over the harbour and ocean at midnight. Make your way through streets packed with party goers in fancy dress, squeeze into local taverns or book a table at a sea-view restaurant, and make your way down to the harbour for the countdown to the incoming year.

Have a New Year’s day sea swim, Bude

Blast away the cobwebs and embrace the New Year with an invigorating dip in the ocean. The craze of shedding your wetsuit and leaping into the icy waves has become a New Year’s Day tradition across Cornwall. Join in the icy experience at Crooklet’s Beach in Bude, or head to Summerleaze tidal pool for a more sheltered dip.

Dine by the sea

Fancy food, fine wine and starlit seas. Book a table at a restaurant with a sea view and dine beside the waves. If you’re not big on partying, this is the perfect way to see in the New Year in style, without the headache the next morning.

Enjoy a beach walk

A New Year’s break in Cornwall isn’t all about revelry. Welcome in the New Year at a more relaxing pace, with a stroll along the beach or the South West Coast Path, enjoying the eye-popping scenery as the sea breeze brings a glow to your cheeks. We recommend the 2-mile walk from Watergate Bay to Mawgan Porth, hugging the cliff-tops and keeping your eyes peeled for seabirds and seals at the pristine Beacon Cove along the way.

Book your New Year retreat and welcome in 2024 by the shoreline.