Author: gloversure

No drive delights: Marazion

Setting out from Pilchards in Marazion on foot reveals magical discoveries, a collection of connections around west Cornwall and a picturesque promenade (or pedal) to Penzance…

It’s morning in Marazion, and we’re passing the craft fair stallholders arriving to set up, a fixture by the church every Thursday and Friday. We continue past the jewellery shops and small galleries, the usually busy children’s play area by the car park, eager to be the first one on the beach.

Or one of the first, as it turns out we’re not quite that early. But with so much space on this long stretch of beach, it hardly matters. No one’s yet on the causeway that leads to the majestic spectacle of St Michael’s Mount rising out of the water, a strip of rock that reveals itself like magic as the tide turns.

We’re engrossed as we turn over stones and shift seaweed to one side. We soon spot spiny sea urchins and tiny starfish, small fish and scuttling crabs that shyly duck back into obscurity.

We sit on the sand to take in the view, and to choose which direction to go in. A small speckled wading bird scurries past in front. The sun’s up, the sky’s blue, and the tidelines, pathways and roads pull in all sorts of directions with the obvious arrow leading to St Michael’s Mount.

Turning over stones

Revealed by the low tide is a rock cluster, like the Mount’s shadow. Young rockpoolers are already there, buckets and scoops in hand, burgeoning natural scientists in the making. We’re intrigued at what they might be finding and clamber onto the rocks – engrossed as we turn over stones and shift seaweed to one side. We soon spot spiny sea urchins and tiny starfish, little fishes and scuttling crabs that shyly duck back into obscurity.

Looking-up, back towards the village and the sea, the waves begin to roll in again, ushering us off the rocks and back onto land. A family have shed their dry robes to venture into the shallows, their first dip of the day, and we settle on walking to Penzance along the Mounts Bay Coast Path, a gentle three-mile flat pathway that edges the coastline, wonderfully walkable and cyclable.

For keen cyclists who’ve left their pedal-powered vehicles at home, there’s the option of hiring a green Beryl bike from the car park just before you start – one of multiple locations across Cornwall. We cross the beach and join the path with a mix of cyclists and wheelchair users, pram pushers and dog walkers.

The joys of seaside cycling; a Beryl bike in Falmouth / Credit: Beryl

 “While the Marazion causeway hides underwater during high tide, there’s an entirely submerged forest off the coast of Mount’s Bay. The Gwelen sculptures or ‘seeing sticks’ designed by artist Emma Smith echo the ancient tree remnants.

‘Life changing coffee’

Not far into the walk, we reach The Hoxton Special’s blackboard which cheerfully promises ‘life changing coffee’ and ‘most excellent toasties’. We pop in to the shack to order drinks and a bit of cake (why not?) and settle on a picnic bench to gaze back at the Mount.

More than just a café (which also does handy lunchbox salads to take down to the beach), The Hoxton Special is also a compact watersports centre, offering stand-up paddle boards (SUPs), kayaks, and kitesurf hire, plus lessons. From the bench, fellow customers, wetsuits donned, are out on the glittering water, gliding around backed by a lively breeze.

Coastal connections

The coast path is flanked by the sea on one side and the rail tracks that bring GWR passengers into Cornwall on the other. Blue thistles, white daisies and red poppies spring up alongside a wooden sculpture trail.

The Gwelen Sculpture Trail, by artist Emma Smith and design agency Two

Image credit: Two & Emma Smith

While the Marazion causeway hides underwater during high tide, there’s an entirely submerged forest off the coast of Mount’s Bay. The Gwelen sculptures or ‘seeing sticks’ designed by artist Emma Smith echo the ancient tree remnants on the seabed. Featuring commissioned nicks and marks on their surface created by locals, the trail invites an interactive and tactile experience.

We reach Penzance bus station, from where we could choose a convenient hop-on/off route to nearby towns: Mousehole, St Ives, Land’s End, Newlyn.

Culture centre

Given the glorious weather, we press on walking and reach the beautifully pristine white and blue of Jubilee Pool lido, the sub-tropical Morrab Gardens and the edge of central Penzance, with its ample fill of cultural offerings, boutique shops and cafés.

After a stop-off for a well-deserved lunch in the Tolcarne Inn, sitting at the water’s edge in Newlyn Harbour and a walk around Newlyn Art Gallery’s latest exhibition – too tempting not to continue on to Newlyn – we begin the return journey.

This time we wander through Penzance to pause at The Cornish Hen deli before it closes to get some picnic supplies for the next day. We could walk back along the coast path again, but with tired legs and a bag of new purchases, it feels much easier to hop onto an open-top bus for £2.

The beach at any time, coast paths to uncover, ferries to board – leave the car behind when you stay by the sea…

No drive delights: Fowey

Image credit: Lily Bertrand-Webb

We explore the landscape from Artists House without a car, from catching the ferry, exploring waterside woodland before walking the coast path to the sea for a swim at Readymoney Cove…

It’s July, peak season in Cornwall. Chevrons of water ripple, spread and fade as a pair of swans and their three young glide past on the calm water. The trees in the woods on either side of the creek move with the wind, and we watch as dozens of house martins dive to the water before flitting back to the nest they’ve made in the roof of the old boathouse. White bellies catching the light, a relay in flight.

“To get to Pont, we caught the ferry from Fowey to Bodinnick, and walked along a trail with moderate ups and downs.”

A bustling quay in the 18th century that saw limestone, fertiliser and coal unloaded from sailing barges, Pont Pill today is deserted. Fowey meanwhile, only three-and-a-half miles away, is busy with visitors by now – one reason we’ve headed upstream. Sometimes, it’s good to find a place to have to yourself. We find a patch of grass on the bank of the creek, sit down, and watch the swans as they float languidly upstream.

Image credit: Lily Bertrand-Webb

How to get there

To get to Pont, we caught the ferry from Fowey to Bodinnick, and walked along a trail with moderate ups and downs. It’s known as the Hall Walk. The day started off overcast and cool, but as we made our way through the woods the sun broke through, casting dappled light through the tree canopy.

The views over Fowey are of sailboats lined up all the way down the river as it winds its way to join the sea and clusters of buildings spreading up the hill.

“It’s late afternoon and the crowds have thinned but there’s still a good buzz in the town. It rains, slowly at first, then a downpour, so we make a run for Mardy Bakery on Lostwithiel Street.”

An hour and a half has passed, and the swans are still meandering on what’s left of the water – the tide is on its way out. A family of loud ducks has joined them, along with a couple of gulls. We look around, and we still have the quay all to ourselves.

We could carry on walking along the trail to Polruan to get the ferry back to Fowey – or even opt for a long diversion by first heading towards the South West Coast Path for stunning views out to sea. Rumbling stomachs mean we opt for the shorter route. Golden fields of tall, shimmering grass, Red Admiral butterflies taking off as we wade through, and then more woodland.

Image credit: Lily Bertrand-Webb

And back

Another ferry ride and we’re back in Fowey. It’s late afternoon and the crowds have thinned but there’s still a good buzz in the town. It rains, slowly at first, then a downpour, so we make a run for Mardy Bakery on Lostwithiel Street, a traditional French patisserie. We say hello to Agathe, the owner, and ask how the day has been. Hectic, but good, she tells us. She’s nearly sold out, but not quite so we order a couple of white chocolate Viennese and a cinnamon roll before the other customers get their orders in.

“On the pontoon, a young couple laughs as they bob up and down, mirroring the motion of the water.”

Next stop: Shrew Books, one of Fowey’s many beautiful independent shops, which includes the seaweed pressings and prints at Moleswoth & Bird. At Shrew Books, we spend a good half an hour browsing the shelves, and step out clutching some new books to add to the holiday reading pile. Cutting edge literary fiction, elegant nature writing, compelling non-fiction plus poetry and your next thrilling beach read – the shop may be small, but the range is mighty.

Image credit: Lily Bertrand-Webb

Evening swim

It’s almost dinner time, but after the baked goods we’re unsurprisingly not hungry. So, we set-off along the Esplanade as the sky clears and the day turns towards the evening. We pass young families on their way back to their holiday houses carrying buckets and spades and bodyboards, the outside patio of a restaurant packed with diners as Latin music and the smell of seared meat and garlic drifts out of the open door.

Image credit: Lily Bertrand-Webb

The road starts sloping downwards, and eventually we reach Readymoney Cove. It’s a small, sheltered cove, the first of several choice swimming spots as the estuary meets the sea, with a fair-sized beach when the tide is out, as it is now.

It’s early evening and the beach is empty. On the pontoon, a young couple laughs as they bob up and down, mirroring the motion of the water. We change into our swimming kit (which we luckily remembered to pack), and wade into the water. It’s a little chilly and it bites, but it’s refreshing, and I start to feel the beginnings of the cold water swimmer’s high.

In the water, in between the land and the open sea. I gaze at the horizon. A boat idles along, its engine droning, and the sun begins to set.

The beach at any time, coast paths to uncover, ferries to board – leave the car behind for the day when you stay by the sea…

Luxury charters with One Atlantek

Atlantek – it’s Cornish for Atlantic

As the sun appears over the hills behind the beautiful port of Fowey, a small crowd of people gather to watch the launch of the stunning Rib, Meraud Atlantek, at Caffa Mill. One Atlantek are getting ready to collect the day’s guests from Albert Quay with a day of adventuring and exploration awaiting the family of four who discovered this luxury charter company having met them at Henley Regatta!

What started as a lunch booking at Sam’s on the Beach in Polkerris has turned into much more.

The guests are welcomed by the operations director and skipper of One Atlantek, Tim. As they listen to their safety brief with a fresh coffee in their hands, The brand new 8 metre Ribeye A811 gently bobs against the pontoon. Lifejackets are handed out and the guests climb aboard. Bags are stowed and before they know it, this lucky family are headed out of Fowey in the bright sunshine ready to start their adventure.

Turning to the left out of the harbour mouth they soon arrive at Lantic Bay. This secluded beach has turquoise water and is a good trek to access it by land. The anchor is dropped and a morning swim is the next priority. Watched by a local Seal who is sunning himself on a rock.

Everyone takes turns jumping off the boat and even the kids are dropping comments about how wonderful this place is.

After 45 minutes it’s time to really up the stakes for this group. Tim has spotted dolphins off in the distance and as the group dry themselves off, they are suddenly surrounded by at least a hundred of these majestic creatures. Three of the pod decide that the bow wave is the place to be and the guests are treated to a twenty-minute lesson in what playing in the water really looks like.

As quickly as they arrived, the dolphins are gone and Meraud Atlantek and her passengers are now in the middle of St Austell Bay looking back at the Cornish Alps in the distance.

With the rising tide, the beaches at Silver Mines are the place to be. With no access from the coastal path, these are as close to a private beach as it’s possible to get and the snorkelling is fantastic.

With time flying by, It’s off to Polkerris to be dropped off at Sam’s. Meraud sits waiting just off the beach and with full bellies and big smiles, it’s time to be whisked around Gribben Head and back to Albert Quay where it all began.

One Atlantek are a small local company with some big ambitions. Created in 2022 by Tim Hogg, One Atlantek deliver a truly unique hospitality experience on board their beautiful Rib, Meraud Atlantek. Half Day (4 hours), Day (6 hours) and Extended day (10 hours) charters are available. Have a talk with Tim about creating your perfect day.

Find out more and book your luxury charter today, the perfect experience during your self-catered stay.

Instant beach

Freedom. Ease. Drop-of-a-hat adventuring. As you wake to the stirring sounds of the ocean, surf-check from your balcony and pace your day to the pattern of the tides –you’ll soon discover the joy that comes with staying a stone’s throw from the shore.

From first-light swims and car-free beach days to nature spotting and late night sundowner suppers on the sands – strip back the stress, dial-up the magic and put the best of the coast at your fingertips by staying footsteps from the beach.

DAWN BREAKERS

Bracing waters in the light of a fresh day, nothing starts the day off quite like it. Staying so close to the sand means first-light dips in the vast blue are as simple as rolling out of bed, gathering the troops or going it alone, getting the coffee on to brew and being back in time to warm up your hands up with a mug or two.

Image credit: Lily Bertrand-Webb

While you’ll find yourself a solitary swimmer in small coves and harbours, such as Port Isaac and Mousehole, in other larger bays, such as Gyllyngvase in Falmouth, you’ll likely meet fellow dawn dippers who’ll share a comradely nod.

Sea temperatures reach their zenith in August at around 18.5°C degrees on the North Coast, while the South Coast can be up to 2°C cooler – but the bravest swimmers dive in whatever the season. Always check the conditions, and let people know where you’re headed.

RIVER’S REACH

Stretching way beyond the beach, a water-front stay invites you to explore some of Cornwall’s most tranquil wending waterways. These easy reach river hideaways will soon have you in tune with the daily river rhythms, rills and runnels, ebbs and flows.

Lean into the low-key ease of a lazy paddle out on the River Fowey, where you can hire boards straight from the harbour. From here, let the surging river tide push you towards Golant for a beer at the Fisherman’s Arms and back in time to catch a late lunch at Captain Hank’s on the water’s edge.

Or, for big groups with a thirst for adventure, lash your boards together for a float down the Gannel estuary, where you can disembark, prop up your paddleboards and head up the steep steps to the Fern Pit Café, where refuelling means crab sandwiches and a stellar sea view.

WHEN TO WALK

If your hound is in the holiday party, staying beach-side is a real boon. While some beaches are open all hours to dogs, others have restricted access between 10am and 6pm. Staying within walking distance of the shore means cutting out the drive and making the most of freshly tide-washed sands with your faithful friend in tow. And if you’re an early riser, you’ll often have the beach to yourself.

Image credit: Lily Bertrand-Webb

Dogs are free to roam year-round anytime on Perranporth and Watergate, while other spots such as Porth and Sennen means hot-footing it to the sands before the crowds descend.

Find a shorefront property welcoming well-behaved four-legged visitors…

WHATEVER THE WEATHER

Azure blue skies, splinters of sun bursting from behind clouds, and brooding black veils signalling storms on the horizon – weather watching takes on new dimensions when you’re this close to the coast. Image credit: Lily Bertrand-Webb

Sit back and savour sublime vistas on your seafront balcony, or let the pattern of the skies shape your day. Seek out gentle sunny hazes to set the scene for your little ones paddling in the shallows at Porth, embrace fat-rain raucous swims with your whole gang on Croyde, and take advantage of your seaside spot at Gylly to be the first out onto the sand when the sunshine’s on your side.

And as the hours ebb away into evening, capture a clear horizon and take yourself down to the sands for a North Coast Cornish sunset – if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the elusive green flash.

NATURE SHOW

A glimpse of a dorsal fin dipping below the surface, the swoop and caw of a low-flying kittiwake, and the bobbing head and bristling whiskers of a seal; with the sea within your sights, nature’s bound to put on a show.

Beachside dwellers regularly catch sight of playful pods of dolphins as they skirt the bays and wave ride next to surfers. Keep your eye on the waters and take yourself to the closest cliff top or headland for a clearer view. Lucky sea-watchers recently caught a rare glimpse of a majestic humpback whale not far off the Pentire headland in north Cornwall – best keep your eyes peeled.

SWIM FOR YOUR SUPPER

As the day rolls on into the evening, explore the epicurean offerings of your stone’s throw beach-front stay. Whether it’s a post-swim hand-stretched pizza under romantic festoons at The Jam Jar just a short stroll from Crantock, or bringing some crowd-pleasing Rick Stein’s Fish and Chips back to your blanket at Padstow – why not leave the culinary work to someone else when you’ve escaped to the coast.

From rolling dunes to endless white sands, river-front retreats to bustling bays, get the instant beach experience from your holiday…

Beach BBQ tips

When the sun is shining, you want to spend as much of your time away outside and on the beach as possible – and that includes meal times! We recently caught up with our friend Rupert Cooper of Philleigh Way Cookery School (on The Roseland Peninsula) and Cove Café (above the beach at Hayle looking across St Ives Bay), to get his tips for cooking on the coast.

“Cooking can and should be as enjoyable an experience as eating, even if you’re not in the comfort of your kitchen” Rupert tells us. All it takes, we’re told, is a bit of preparation and a few tricks of the trade to make beach barbecues so much more than burnt bangers and burgers with a dusting of sand.

The first piece of advice that he has for us all, is to invest in a reusable BBQ such as the fold-able Flatdog made by Cornish company ProQ Smokers, which packs down into a case not much bigger than a large laptop. They’re more efficient, great value for money over the course of their lifetime, and cool down quickly enough that you can carry it back to the car after finishing your dinner and drinks. It turns out that disposable BBQs are bad on a lot of levels. Sure, only a few inconsiderate litterers leave them smouldering on the sand, but even for the rest of us there’s the fact that they cannot be recycled and over one million end up in landfill in this country each year. That’s why Waitrose no longer sell them.

Rupert’s tip, particularly for the ProQ Flatdog that he takes to the beach for family cook-outs, is not to overfill it with charcoal. “They get super hot, so it’s better to start small and top-up.”

He also advises to take a paper bag of good quality lumpwood charcoal, and a couple of (natural) firelighters. There’s no waste, no flavour taint from synthetic firelighters, and it’s one less thing to carry back to your car or accommodation! You can check out Rupert’s guide to different charcoals for barbecuing here.

“If you use good quality lumpwood charcoal then you can start cooking almost straight away. The only reason we’re told to let a barbecue burn down is because most disposable barbecues or “easy light” charcoal is covered in chemical accelerants that need to burn off so that they don’t taint your food. But with good charcoal you can start charring peppers and aubergines whilst there are still flames, and then start cooking meat or slower cook items once those have died down.”

With our equipment sorted, what’s best to cook for a delicious, easy, and stress-free meal? “Try cooked lobsters!” Rupert tells us. “They’re really easy, there’s no packaging or faff, and they’re super tasty. Just warm them up with butter on the BBQ. Eat them as-is or follow our recipe for home-made tartare sauce or cucumber salsa to make in advance and take them in jars to make classic lobster rolls on the beach.”

Another suggestion is to make simple kebabs and koftas in advance (lamb koftas are delicious and really easy) and you can either make simple flatbreads yourself to cook on the grill, or buy ready-made flatbreads to serve them in with a dash of plain yoghurt and cucumber.

If you’re vegetarian or don’t like the idea of dealing with meat when cooking outside or away from home, preparing portobello mushrooms with butter and herbs ahead of time then wrapping them in foil so that they’re ready to put straight on the grill is a great option.

Any last tips from Rupert? “Ice cold drinks, of course! There are some incredible craft breweries, wineries and distilleries in Cornwall, as well as companies making low-and no alcohol alternatives. If you’re enjoying great food and good times on the beach with family and friends, then make sure you don’t let that part of the picture slip!”

Enjoy the sun, be careful and sensible when cooking outside over fire given the recent dry conditions (this article is about barbecuing at the beach, but you might be barbecuing in a back garden), and if you’re cooking and eating in a public space then please remember to leave no trace.

If you’d like to learn more about the art of woodfired cooking, or cooking in general, during your time in Cornwall then check out the calendar of cookery courses at Philleigh Way Cookery School on the beautiful Roseland Peninsula here. There are courses covering everything from how to make Cornish pasties or various fish and shellfish courses, through different cuisines, baking and of course, barbecue.

Alternatively, if you just want to eat his food with a view over the beach rather than cooking for yourself, Rupert’s latest venture Cove Café, nestled in the low cliff above the sand of Hayle Beach with incredible views across St Ives Bay, is open daily from 9.30 – 4pm with special evening events such as their hugely popular Portuguese chicken nights a regular occurrence.

Where to eat and drink by the sea

The teams at the National Lobster Hatchery and EW Wines share their recommendations for venues offering great food and drink in great coastline locations…

Across Cornwall, the list of places to enjoy the finest food and drink is eclectic and increasingly sustainable. We asked some Cornish residents working in the wider industry – with their own produce and drink credentials – to reveal recommended venues.

The National Lobster Hatchery (NLH) is a standout organisation in Cornwall’s dynamic seafood scene. Founded in 1998, the charity’s focus is education, research and conservation. Its key conservation project is a pioneering programme to enhance the Cornish lobster population, working closely with the local fishing community.

Image credit: National Lobster Hatchery

The NLH expert team rears lobster babies through their most vulnerable life stages, to improve survival chances by approximately 1000% above survival rates in the wild. This supports a healthy and sustainable lobster stock, and the local fishing communities, both now and in the future.

“Another champion of the seafood scene on the South Coast is the beautiful Hooked on the Rocks. Located overlooking Swanpool beach near Falmouth, this restaurant is perfect for a long lazy lunch overlooking a spectacular vista.”

Chief Operating Officer Nicola O’Donnell says: “For an up-close look at marine conservation in Cornwall, including a peek at our lobster maternity ward and nursery, you can join us in Padstow at our main hatchery site. A centre for all ages to learn more about marine biology, sustainability and, of course, lobsters.”

Seafood with sea views

Nicola recommends The Lobster Shed at Harlyn Bay for great, sustainable seafood by the sea. The lobster served at The Lobster Shed is caught off the coast of Padstow by local fishing boats, and the whole menu is sourced within a 25-mile radius.

“The Lobster Shed are one of our incredible fundraising partners and run our scheme Buy one set one free’ – a great way for organisations and their diners to support sustainability.”

Image credit: The Lobster Shed

Keeping it local but with the sound of something more exotic, the restaurant’s Lobster & Camel pairs Cornish lobster with a Pinot Noir Rosé Brut from the Camel Valley.

“Another champion of the seafood scene on the south coast is the beautiful Hooked on the Rocks. Located overlooking Swanpool beach near Falmouth, this restaurant is perfect for a long lazy lunch overlooking a spectacular vista,” says Nicola.

Bar on the beach

Molly Gardiner, Communications and Admin Officer at the NLH, says the Blue Bar in Porthtowan is a great seaside spot any time; a café by day, with a bar and live music for the evening. “Grab a coffee or a pint and sit back, right by the beach. Siting there recently I saw about 50 dolphins out in the Atlantic. It’s a perfect stop off on a coast path walk or post-surf,” says Molly.

The team also recommend the Cornish Cream Teams available at Berryfield Tea Room, on the road down to Porthcothan Beach.

And to drink?

EW Wines, based at Indian Queens near Newquay was voted the best regional wine shop in the South West last year by wine magazine Decanter. One reason for the accolade is probably that it offers more than a quality selection of fine vintages.

The company is on the journey to becoming a B Corp – a certification scheme for more sustainable business. And as well as special tasting events, you can call in for free wine tasting from a selection of 16 wines, with Jim Bass – EW Wines’ WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Diploma qualified lead educator – offering a guide to the wines in store too.

“For a picnic lunch, we’ll call in to Da Bara bakery for provisions and I’ll take along some of our new range of premium canned wine. We’ve got a dry Muscadet that is absolutely delicious.”

For anyone staying by the sea this summer, they’ve curated a coastal wine box which can be delivered to your door on arrival.

Image credit: EW Wines

When it comes to finding a great spot for a glass of wine with a view, Jim recommends packing a picnic and adding some cans of wine to the hamper.

Favourite spots for picnic lunch or dinner include Porth Island and Whipsiderry Beach, both north along the coast from Newquay. “We had a takeout dinner up on Porth Island recently and watched the setting sun, one of the best views I’ve had with dinner for a long time.”

“For a picnic lunch, we’ll call in to Da Bara bakery for provisions and I’ll take along some of our new range of premium canned wine,” says Jim. “We’ve got a dry Muscadet that is absolutely delicious; it’s the same quality as a bottle – light and crisp, with a little texture. And the canned Fleurie we stock is the first Beaujolais in a can I’ve tasted that I would recommend.”

For takeaway dinner, Jim recommends the filled homemade flatbreads and fried beignet potato sides served at Babu, tucked away on the Treloggan Industrial Estate in Newquay. For dinner out, The Secret Garden in the town isn’t to be missed, serving artisan pizza paired with organic and biodynamic wines. “You wouldn’t know it from the outside; the terrace is really cool and has an amazing view,” adds Jim.

Found a favourite place by the sea for food and drink? Share your recommendation with us on social media, using @beachretreats and #bigreveal.

Huddle-up in a place for two, a walk from north Cornwall’s renowned beaches and eateries, or make the most of being together this summer, footsteps from picturesque picnic stop-offs. Where will you stay?

Fascinating finds and foraging

Seeking samphire beside the estuary and seaweed in rocky pools. Julia Bird of seaweed pressers Molesworth & Bird and Caroline Davey of Fat Hen reveal stories of coastal discovery…

The oldest fossilised seaweed, discovered in 2020, was found in one-billion-year-old rocks in northern China, making seaweed millions of years older than the distant ancestors of our land plants. Today there are over 650 different species of seaweed around Britain’s coasts which have for centuries been a source of fascination for artists.

Anna Atkins’ British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, published as a serial between 1843 and 1853 is a collection of cyanotype prints of seaweed. This early form of photography using paper treated with a light-sensitive solution that turns blue on exposure to light is thought to be the first published book illustrated with photography.

For Julia Bird, a Victorian collection of pressed seaweeds discovered by her business partner Melanie Molesworth in an antique shop over 20 years ago was the beginning of her journey to start foraging for seaweed along the Cornish coast, aiming to capture its ephemeral beauty through pressing.

Image credit: Matt Austin

I’m a lifelong collector of nature really,” says Julia. “I’ve always collected whether it’s flowers or lichen or stones. And my whole life has been sort of sea orientated; I’ve always been a sea swimmer.”

“The fine beautiful samples that we choose to press need water to support their form, so you only notice them if you’re in the water. I’m fascinated by the beauty and variety.”

After moving to Cornwall in the early 2000s, Julia started experimenting with pressing seaweed she had foraged when out swimming. I started looking for seaweed and bringing it home and learning how to press, which of course back then there was nothing out there, you know, in those days. My first press was probably in 2004.”

Pressing ahead

After running a children’s shop in Fowey for 15 years, Melanie’s encouragement to start publishing her seaweed pressings finally came to fruition after Melanie moved, along with her collection of Victorian seaweed pressings, to Dorset. Discovering that the nine framed seaweeds in the collection were from the Dorset coast, the two long-term friends decided to team-up and created a calendar of prints from pressed seaweed for 2018.

And they haven’t looked back since. Molesworth and Bird can be found in Lyme Regis and online year round, and between April and the end of September in Fowey. Inside their shops hang limited edition prints and an ever-changing collection of unique pressed seaweed, gathered along the south west coastline.

Fascinating finds

“We can’t really see what’s beneath the sea surface. There’s a whole diverse and amazing world down there that we should all respect. Just walking along the beach you don’t see the beauty of seaweed because everything dries up really quickly,” says Julia.

Image credit: Matt Austin

“The fine beautiful samples that we choose to press need water to support their form, so you only notice them if you’re in the water. I’m fascinated by the beauty and variety,” says Julia. “And learning about what a superfood they are, how each species has its own combination of vitamins, minerals and proteins.”

For Julia, revealing the beauty of this “garden under the sea” has an important role to play in restoring and protecting it. “For me, it’s partly if you know there’s a beautiful world under there you can foster that respect and love we need to maintain it and look after it.”

Image credit: Matt Austin

Other water worlds

For Caroline Davey of Fat Hen, the wild cookery school, summer is all about the estuary and salt marshes. “This time of year is when marsh samphire is coming into season, that’s June to September. There’s also sea purslane, sea blight and sea arrowgrass, which is like coriander; these are all species that grow in estuaries and salt marshes.”

Image credit: The Fat Hen Cookery School

Caroline is running a number of coastal Fat Hen foraging courses this year, including a recent foraging walk along the coast path followed by a four-course lunch at the Gurnards Head near Zennor in west Cornwall, and a foraging walk, wild picnic and wild spa day near the Helford river on dates in June, July, September and October. All revealing hidden tastes and produce growing wild around the coastline.

She says it’s a time of abundance across the countryside beyond the sea: the plant fat hen – the vernacular name for chenopodium album – found across the country is in season, including its coastal relative spear-leaved orache, which can be used as a spinach alternative.

“I’ve just been picking hawthorn flowers and blossom for tea; they’ve been massively in bloom recently.”

In bloom

Caroline says wild cabbage – which grows on clifftops around the coast – is coming into flower now with the leaves and flowers able to be picked.

“And of course there’s plenty of flowers through the summer. The flowers of rosa rugosa or Japanese rose are absolutely fantastic. It’s not strictly wild: it’s planted as a coastal hedging plant and it escapes into the wild. You can also find black mustard flowers, sea radish flowers, sea cabbage flowers and elderflowers.

“I’ve just been picking hawthorn flowers and blossom for tea; they’ve been massively in bloom recently.”

And as the flowers fade, there are seeds to be scavenged. “Sea radish at some point soon will be forming seed pods and if you catch them early enough they’re like three or four bobbles in a row with the taste of a crunchy radish, perfect for scattering on salads.”

From estuary banks to clear blue pools, reveal fascinating finds along the coast.

Find your place by the sea, a walk from door to shore

New Experiences in Cornwall

A visit to the unique county of Cornwall is the perfect chance to pick-up a new skill, learn something new, or try something different. It might be an old favourite in a new location, or an untested activity you’ve always hankered after. Here’s a round-up of what to do in Cornwall this year and what your stay by the sea could offer this year…

Discover new skies

Cornwall offers dramatic landscapes for night time adventures. In December 2021, West Penwith was recognised as an International Dark Sky Park, joining Bodmin Moor with this designation and the Dark Sky Discovery Site at Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps where you can see the Milky Way pass overhead.

Image credit: Graham Gaunt Photowork

Spend time on ocean time

Why not take some time out from the normal rhythm of life to follow the beat of the tides? From expansive beaches of golden sand and rocky pools teeming with hidden life to high-adrenaline coasteering and water sports at high water. Then there’s reading the waves as they come and go, learning the natural signs of the sea so you can decide what best suits the day’s conditions, from heading in for a swim to grabbing the surfboard.

Go to the ceramic source

China clay is synonymous with St Austell and its surrounding villages; a rich heritage that’s embarking on an artisan revival. Operating out of St Austell’s newly relaunched Market House, along with a host of other makers, Flookan runs a four-week introduction to ceramics course, in the home of china clay, where you can learn a range of skills for working with clay. There’s also one-off workshops and taster sessions running through the year, with private bookings on request.

Image credit: Flookan 

Seek out supper from the sea

Foraging seaweed can be a sustainable, tasty, invigorating journey into a new cuisine. The Fat Hen offers a two-day course in identifying, gathering, preserving and cooking with 15 different seaweeds. You’ll also learn how seaweed can remineralise the body in baths and skincare products.

Find the vines

Cornwall’s relatively mild climate and long sunlight hours make it one of the finest regions for wine production in the UK. The Wild Wine School near Padstow has a commitment to sustainable viticulture, and deals in wine with distinctly untamed notes: its mission is to share wine knowledge and passion “in surroundings that enliven senses and expand minds, calling on nature to add a technicolour edge to your experience”. In its workshop on Organic and Biodynamic Viticulture, you’ll learn the basic concepts of organic and biodynamic viticulture, “from lunar cycles to the special alchemy of plants”, taste six sustainably produced wines, and have the chance to try making one of the Biodynamic preparations.

Image Credit: Ingrid Pop

Ride the West Kernow Way

An 230km off-road route – funded by the European Regional Development Fund’s Experience project – exploring west Cornwall is now fully open. It takes in many of the highlights of the western half of the Cornish peninsula, including the Botallack tin mines, the Bronze Age monument Mên-an-Tol, Land’s End, St Michael’s Mount and Lizard Point. Expect spectacular coastal scenery, hedgerows bursting with wildflowers and ancient tracks across isolated moorland.

Image credit: The West Kernow Way

Explore sea life

Graceful and silent, take to a kayak to explore aquatic habitats and the chance to share secluded coves with seals and cormorants.  Koru Kayaking offer North Coast kayaking around the caves and mining heritage of St Agnes, and the sheltered creeks and coves of the Helford River near Falmouth. For the more experienced, Sea Kayaking Cornwall run a week-long adventure island hopping by kayak around the Scilly Isles.

Image credit: Koru Kayaking

Apnea or freediving, descending under water on a single breath has a long history, with roots in yoga, meditation and breathing techniques. Explore the wilderness underwater with Aquacity, based in the sheltered Porthkerris Cove on the Lizard. Aquacity offer a half-day introduction to freediving from May. There’s also a more advanced course giving an entry-level qualification.

Image credit: Daan Verhoeven

Take the geothermal waters

Jubilee Pool, the striking Art Deco sea water pool on Penzance’s promenade now has its new geothermal pool up and running, heated to 30-35 degrees via its own 410m deep geothermal well. So the pool now offers Geo & Dine, where you can enjoy an evening dip under the moonlight in the steamy geothermal pool, followed by a specially selected, fresh locally-sourced three-course meal. Or try its Geo & Fizz sessions, where you can buy an alcoholic drink from the cafe and enjoy some bubbles in the water.

Find a discounted stay by the sea on our special offers page, and browse our various beach locations to explore a new place this year.

Vote for Beach Retreats in the 2023 British Travel Awards

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VOTE IN THE BRITISH TRAVEL AWARDS

Time flies and it doesn’t feel like 2 minutes since we won Gold at the British Travel Awards at Battersea, London in November 2022.

We won with your help and vote for which we are so grateful. And now we want to retain the accolade in the ‘Best Company for UK Holiday Home Rentals’ category as voting opens for the 2023 awards.

Everyone who votes will be entered into a prize draw for some amazing holidays:

  • A £5,000 Greek island getaway.
  • A £4,000 European villa holiday.
  • A cruise around the fjords of Norway.
  • A European river cruise.
  • 8 days at Lake Gard in Italy.
  • and many more…

Find out more

We love and live by the coast; beach life and creating special memories for all of our guests is our driving force.

For you time on a special beach means many different things; adrenaline pumping surf sessions, wild swimming, long walks surrounded by the senses, family time exploring rockpools, or cocktails in a beach bar as the sun sets.

And these uncertain times, downtime surrounded by rolling surf, towering cliffs, or picture postcard bays takes on extra meaning.

We will always look after you before during and after your time with us. Your support gives us the motivation and passion to keep doing what we do, providing unforgettable beach holidays and sharing our love for the sea.

Please give us a few seconds of your time and vote for Beach Retreats as Best Company for UK Holiday Home Rentals.

Find out more

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Wild Cornwall – 5 places to spot wildlife

Summer is in the air and Cornwall’s coastline is teeming with birds and marine life…

Dolphins frolic in the bays, the call of seabirds echoes from the cliff ledges and seals hunt fish in the shallows, making it the perfect season for a wildlife walk.

Check out some of our favourite places to spot some of Cornwall’s eye-catching indigenous wildlife:

Dolphins

Dolphins are resident year-round in Cornwall and – despite December’s stormy weather – as soon as the sun popped it’s head out in early January, a pod of dolphins were spotted playing in the waters of Mount’s Bay. A stroll along the coastline from Marazion to Mousehole is magical in any season, and if you cross the causeway to St Michael’s Mount, the turrets of this sea-bound fortress make a fantastic vantage point to spot dolphins in the bay.

WALK: Marazion to Mousehole
VISIT: St Michael’s Mount
STAY: Mousehole Accommodation

Seals

Head to Godrevy’s National Trust car park and strike out to the headland that nudges the iconic lighthouse immortalised by Virginia Woolf. On the far side of the promontory at Navax Point, you can peer down to an inaccessible cove to witness a colony of seals basking on the sand and fishing in the shallows. Or, take a spin along Newquay’s shoreline, stopping to watch the fishing boats puttering in and out of the harbour, often trailed by the whiskered noses of inquisitive seals hoping to share their catch.

WALK: Newquay Bay
VISIT: Blue Reef Aquarium
STAY: Fistral beach Accommodation

Seabirds

buzzard
Photo Credit Adrian Napper.

Park at the National Trust car park by Bedruthan Steps and take the walk from here to Porthcothan, listening out for the call of seabirds from the rugged cliff ledges. Bring a pair of binoculars and you might be able to spot skylarks, kestrels, buzzards and even the rare Cornish chough.

WALK: Bedruthan Steps to Porthcothan
VISIT: Carnewas Tearooms
STAY: Porthcothan Accommodation

Owls

owl pentire headland
Photo credit @djedge77 on Instagram.

First light is the perfect time for a peaceful stroll along Newquay’s wave-lashed Pentire Headland, from where you can see for miles along the coastline in both directions. As well as taking in the scenery, keep an eye out for the short-eared owl, often seen flying low on the hunt for small birds. Finish your walk with coffee at the stylish Lewinnick Lodge, where you might also be lucky enough to spot passing dolphins from your window table.

WALK: Pentire Headland, Newquay
VISIT: Lewnnick Lodge
STAY: Fistral Beach Accommodation

Egrets

Egret
Photo Credit Adrian Napper.

A walk along the banks of The Gannel often provides welcome shelter from the coastal breeze on an early spring day. So it’s little wonder that up to 5,000 species of birds have been spotted here, sheltering from the harsh northern winters. Keep an eye out for the distinctive yellow feet of the Little Egret, a white heron with a long black beak that it uses to forage for worms as it wades along the mudflats at low tide.

WALK: The Gannel
VISIT: Fistral Beach, dubbed the UK’s surfing capital
STAY: Holywell Bay Accommodation

To find out more about Cornwall’s wildlife, bag a seat for the award-winning film, Wild Cornwall – Out on the Edge, showing in cinemas across Cornwall throughout February and March. Shot by wildlife enthusiast, Ian McCarthy, the film features Cornwall’s wildlife from peregrine falcons, dolphins and seals, to bats and otters.

Book your stay with Beach Retreats.