Category: Like a local

Klysa glow

James Bowden for land&water

Image credit: James Bowden for land&water

From rain on her face to a roast in the oven, land&water’s Pix Ashworth shares what klysa means to her…

Sea spray, frosty mornings, bobble-hat shaking winds. A pumping heart rate clambering up the coast path; surging endorphins emerging from the sea. Winter days outside in Cornwall can be thrilling – and all the better for coming inside to hot drinks and good food, good books and good company.

“Time outside makes us feel better inside,” says Pix Ashworth, founder of natural bath and body brand, land&water. Hailing from Watergate Bay on Cornwall’s north coast, the land&water collection captures “that warm glow we feel after time in the elements”.

This sensation chimes with the whole idea of klysa – the Cornish word meaning ‘to make snug’ – when “the outdoor elemental wilderness makes the indoor cosiness feel all the more inviting and impactful”.

Visiting Cornwall for a romantic adventure? Check out our romantic cottages.

Image credit: Goodrest Studios for land&water

So we invited Pix to share some favourite winter scents and sensations, inspired by that uplifting balance between time outside and inside at this time of year…

Image credit: Goodrest Studios for land&water

OUTSIDE

Rain on my face

“We live a few miles inland amongst farmland, and there’s a 5km circular walk I do regularly at the weekends. A mix of blustery winds, patches of sunshine and the odd rain shower is the perfect winter walk for me. As long as I’m warm, the sensation of rain on my face is refreshing, invigorating and somehow satisfying – it completes that ‘blast of fresh air’ feeling.”

Want to stay in Newquay? Have a look at our luxury holiday properties in Newquay.

Land and water woman and sea

Image credit: James Bowden for land&water

Glowing cheeks

“When I picture this sensation, I think of the very moment that I open the door to our house, arriving back home after walk. Sometimes it’s almost dark, in those shortest winter days – even if it’s only late afternoon. But it’s a life-affirming moment, full of positivity and simple happiness.”

Warming pasties

“Our winter beach trips always involve pasties. We cook them at home, wrap them in baking paper and then lots of tea towels to keep them warm. That moment of cold hands opening them up on the beach – followed by that delicious waft – is something else… A heady mix of warm pastry, steak and salt-filled air.”

INSIDE

Wood fire

“Our little sitting room at home is known as the ‘Snug’ (should we rename it the ‘Klys’?). The first thing I do every winter evening when I arrive home is light the open fire. It’s as much about the atmosphere it creates as the warmth it gives off – and there’s something very soothing about watching the flames come to life.”

Image credit: Goodrest Studios for land&water

A roast in the oven

“It’s unusual for a winter weekend to go by without a roast meal. For me, that smell emanating from the kitchen is synonymous with coming in from a blustery walk or a family football session in the garden – happy chaos and the anticipation of fabulous food.”

Bath salts

“Hot baths are a staple in the winter and I particularly cherish them after time out amongst the elements. The scent of the pure essential oils, particularly the restoring lavender and indulgent linden (it’s a smell to sink into!) hang in the air long after my bath.”

Image credit: Goodrest Studios for land&water

Join Pix for a winter walk, talk and swim on the beach and cliffs at Watergate Bay:

Create your own klysa experience with land&water’s Bathtime bundle:

Land and water bath and body bundle

“Slow, glow, soak, breathe, moisturise… The Bathtime bundle gifts the full reset and restore experience, to light up the day’s downtime and emerge soothed – and softer all over. Bundle includes: one Candle 220g, one Bath Salts 250g, one Pulse Point Oil – Soothe 9ml, and one Body Lotion 250ml.”

Pix by the fire land and water

Browse Pix’s tips for winter self-care, from good reads to playlists and experiences, over on the land&water Journal.

Experience a surface-level change of pace, and enjoy slowing down and savouring the simple joys of coastal living along the Cornish coast.

Klysa in Cornwall

Klys

adj cosy; snug

With winter around the corner, we explore what it means to get ‘klys’ on the Cornish coast, and discover this cosy concept’s ties to its Danish cousin, hygge…

Find out why Christmas time is the best time to visit Cornwall and some of our holiday retreats to stay in at Christmas time.

The year is 2016, and a Scandinavian cultural phenomenon is sweeping the world. Candles are being lit, cashmere socks pulled on, cinnamon buns baked, and cups of cocoa nursed – all in the name of ‘hygge’.

Defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or wellbeing,” this Danish term derives from a sixteenth-century Norwegian word, hugga, meaning ‘to comfort’, and has long been a part of the Scandi lifestyle.

Meik Wiking, C.E.O. of Copenhagen think tank the Happiness Research Institute and author of the best-selling The Little Book of Hygge, explains hygge as “the art of creating a nice atmosphere. It’s about togetherness. It’s about pleasure. It’s about warmth. It’s about relaxation. And that is a key cornerstone of Danish culture.”

If hygge has reached saturation point, then the Cornish ‘klys’ comes as a metaphorical blast of fresh, coastal air.”

Strip away the ‘stuff’ – those fluffy shearling slippers and heart-topped hazelnut lattes – and hygge is at its core all about a feeling, which cannot be bought, but can be created.

A Cornish feeling

While no direct English translation for hygge exists, there is a little-known word that comes very close. And it just so happens to be Cornish.

‘Klys’ is listed in the Cornish Dictionary (AKA the ‘Gerlyver Kernewek’) as an adjective, meaning ‘cosy; snug’, with the verb, ‘klysa’, meaning ‘to make snug’.

If hygge has reached saturation point, then the Cornish ‘klys’ comes as a metaphorical blast of fresh, coastal air. In Cornwall, for every glowing pub fire, there’s the mind-clearing clifftop walk to reach it; for every cottage window seat to curl up in, there’s the spectacle of Atlantic storm-watching.

 “From sharing comfort food with friends and family, to lighting spirit-warming scents and singing folk songs in remote coastal pubs, the opportunities for stoking conviviality and contentment are as varied as they are plentiful.”

Experiencing klys in Cornwall centres on a sense of balance, with the outdoor elemental wilderness making the indoor cosiness feel all the more inviting and impactful.

And with winter around the corner, klys is about to come into its own.

Sublime contrast

Winter in Cornwall stands in sublime contrast to summer. Crowds dissipate, waves crash against harbour walls, congested coast paths clear, villages light up, locals gather, log fires burn, and beaches stretch out, gloriously unspoilt. In short, it’s an unexpectedly brilliant time to visit. Channelling the concept of klys during your off-season stay offers a way to celebrate, rather than shy away from, all that’s soul-stirringly unique about a Cornish winter.

“For a suitably klys experience, why not take an exhilarating natural shower in the sea spray and skin-pummelling rain along the wintry coast path, followed by a mug of mulled wine, with eyes bright and face glowing?”

So how best to cultivate those ‘klys’ feelings on your next getaway to the county? From sharing comfort food with friends and family, to lighting spirit-warming scents and singing folk songs in remote coastal pubs, the opportunities for stoking conviviality and contentment are as varied as they are plentiful – and reach a peak around Christmas. After all, what could be more klys than a festive escape to the sea, complete with blustery beach walks and evenings together by the fire exchanging stories of the day’s adventures?

The village of Mousehole does December in true klys style – festooning its harbour in a spectacularly nostalgic display of Christmas lights. Meanwhile, over in Porthleven (the pin-up of Cornish winter storms), huge seas explode against the clock tower as captivated onlookers watch from within the warmth of the atmospheric Ship Inn.

Check out our holiday properties in Mousehole to experience everything the area has to offer.

For a suitably klys experience, why not take an exhilarating natural shower in the sea spray and skin-pummelling rain along the wintry coast path, followed by a mug of mulled wine, with eyes bright and face glowing? Or, for a less intrepid interpretation of klys, curl up with a book by candlelight or take an essential oil-scented bath while the rain batters the windows of your retreat.

Join us in the coming weeks as we journey deeper into what it means to get klys in Cornwall – from tempting recipes for klys-inducing drinks to our round-up of the most invigorating spots to visit, and where to warm up after.

Welcome to cosy season, Cornish-style…

Browse our Cornish locations and find the right coastal spot for your kyls retreat….

Explore how to refresh and restore with Land & Water, your ultimate guide to rejuvenating experiences.

Stargazing rituals by the sea

Our ancestors found wonder and reassurance in the night sky, creating places for stargazing rituals that you can uncover across Cornwall. We went in search of celestial coastal wonder with the help of local astronomer Carolyn Kennett.

Life can be uncertain, but looking up at the night sky might offer us a sense of stability: the unchanged Orion’s Belt, the Big Dipper still staring back at us with its bear-like eyes, and the twin figures of Gemini stretching out their arms towards us.

The sky has more or less looked the same for thousands of years, but if we look further the stars are always moving. One day, albeit in a few million years, the night sky will look nothing like it does today.

It’s possible ancient civilisations found wonder in the sky’s movements and part of the reason they dedicated so much time to stargazing and built monuments to the night sky. The remains of these monuments can be found across Cornwall, giving clues to the rituals of the past, while the clear, dark skies by the coast offer plenty of scope to create your own stargazing rituals on holiday.

Visiting with a large group? Discover our large holiday homes perfect for big families or friend groups.

Astronomical tales

Local astronomer, Carolyn Kennett, is well acquainted with Cornwall’s rich astronomical history, and has her own rituals for the region’s star-spotting sites.

“We’ve moved away and lost our connection to the night sky; we forget to look up to see what’s going on,” she says. Creating this deep connection to the stars was always an important part of our ancestors’ lives.

“It’s widely known as a place of ceremony and ritual with strong alignments with the rising and setting of the sun.”

From visiting ancient astronomical sites to sharing folk tales to simply watching stars glide past you in the dark, Carolyn’s tours bring this connection to life. “When you see the Bronze Age monuments from about four thousand years ago, that’s when things get interesting,” she says.

Stone circle sunriseTregeseal Stone Circle (Credit: Carolyn Kennett)

One of the most inspiring spots is at the Penwith Dark Skies Park, West Cornwall. From a stay in westerly properties such as Stella Maris or Sea Salt Sennen, travel through time, to Tregeseal Stone Circle (or The Dancing Stones) a Neolithic Bronze Age monument of nineteen stones.

It’s widely known as a place of ceremony and ritual with strong alignments with the rising and setting of the sun. It’s one of the stargazing tours Carolyn takes travellers on, a magical place to explore in autumn and winter.

Autumnal astronomy

Whether in the steps of ancient settlers or at your own choice of coastal dark sky lookout, one of the first starry delights to spot this season is the Orionid meteor shower. Catch this comet as it passes around the sun, lighting-up the rock and dust that trails it, between 21st and 22nd October.

Soon after you can catch a glimpse of the partial lunar eclipse when the Moon will pass in front of the sun on the morning of 25th October.

“The best chance to seize both these celestial moments is from a place with little light pollution and a clear horizon like the cliff tops.”

The month of November has even more in store. The Cornwall Astronomy Society Meeting & Stargazing will meet on 8th November to talk under the stars and see what the November sky holds. It isn’t by chance that a beaver moon (which could turn out to be a red blood moon) will appear the same night.

It’s one of the most breathtaking events of the celestial calendar when the moon turns a red colour as it aligns with both the earth and sun in a complete lunar eclipse.

A few days later, between 12th-13th November, the Taurid meteor shower peaks. It’s a key autumn event with the meteors passing by slowly, creating a long-lasting twinkling in the night sky. You don’t need a telescope or binoculars – simply your eyes to look up and absorb the shining expanse above you.

The best chance to seize both these celestial moments is from a place with little light pollution and a clear horizon like the cliff tops.

With clifftop views out to sea, retreats like Iona in Porthcothan or Skyline and Karn Havos in Mawgan Porth, offer clear night-time horizons on the doorstep.

Fancy staying in Mawgan Porth? Have a look at our Mawgan Porth holiday properties.

Credit: Graham Gaunt Photowork

Solstice skies

With December comes the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year on the 21st of the month and a long-standing time of celebration in many cultures, past and present.

An ancient Cornish monument with celestial connection is Hurlers Stone Circle, created in the early Bronze Age. This ceremonial circle was orientated towards the location of the stars that form Orion’s belt when it was made and it still stands in Bodmin Moor’s Dark Skies Park. It could be the perfect spot for stargazing on the winter solstice.

Stone circle sunrise

Hurlers Stone Circle at sunrise (Credit: Carolyn Kennett)

Wherever you find yourself in Cornwall, there’s a universe of astronomical sights to see. Experience these wonders in your own stargazing ritual by the coast or discover the dark sky places of our ancestors.

Explore the beauty of new traditions with our guide, inviting you to embrace fresh experiences and create lasting memories along the Cornish coast.

Refresh and restore with land&water

Introducing land&water, the range of natural bath and body products you’ll find in most of our Beach Retreats properties…

A wide sandy bay on the North Coast of Cornwall; a place where invigoration and calm, alert and serene are endlessly intertwined.

Winding along the cliff path, gazing at isolated patches of sunlight on the sea. Floating ‘out back’ beyond the whitewater, waiting to catch an unbroken wave. Curling in a window seat with a book, while a storm rages outside. Showering after a swim, before sunset dinners and stargazing on the decking…

This ‘active relaxation’ lifestyle that sparked the land&water collection has its roots at Watergate Bay Hotel in Cornwall; land&water founder Pix Ashworth’s family’s hotel. As well as appreciating time out on the beach and cliffs herself, Pix has spent many years witnessing the joyful “warm glow” radiating from Watergate Bay guests after days swimming, surfing or walking on the beach.

Visiting with a large group? Discover our large holiday homes perfect for big families or friend groups.

“It’s a real honour to see people at their most happy and carefree, coming inside after days in the sea air,” she says. “They have that warm glow about them; that natural relaxed feeling, as well as the exhilaration from being active amongst the elements.”

And so Pix set about capturing that feeling; to, quite literally, bottle it.

Created in collaboration with leading apothecarist and perfumer Richard Howard, the land&water collection translates this emotion – and its distinctive blend of invigoration and calm – into its natural bath & body products.

Each recipe uses natural essential oils and actives to evoke the therapeutic benefits of time in the elements, recreating the fresh skin invigoration we feel on the shoreline. The whole collection also embodies painstaking care for the environment that has inspired it.

Like that warm glow, the land&water collection has since radiated out to other locations with similar outlooks, communities and values – whether in the mountains of the Lake District, country gastropubs, London boutique hotels, or national department stores.

The places may vary, but the feeling is always the same…

The blend of invigoration and calm is at the heart of the land&water collection. Created in collaboration with a leading apothecarist and perfumer, land&water products capture this emotion with a blend of buoyant, exhilarating citrus and serene, green and woody notes. Using a 100% vegan palette of fruit, flower and plant essential oils, as well as botanical actives identified through the latest advances in bio-technology (including moisturising and rejuvenating samphire, spike moss and sea buckthorn extracts), land&water blends carefully chosen ingredients with insight, imagination and scientific expertise.

Fancy staying in Watergate Bay? Check out our luxury holiday properties in Watergate Bay, Newquay.

Featuring in most of our properties, Beach Retreats has chosen from the land&water collection: a stimulating hand wash for day-seizing hands, an invigorating zesty body wash, fresh mint, mind-clearing shampoo and moisturising conditioner for high tide hydration.

Sustainability:

As the spark that lit the land&water fire – shaping its philosophy, product concept and very existence – nature is what land&water holds most dear. The brand is committed to treading as lightly as possible on the natural world that has so inspired it – from the sustainable, vegan ingredients it selects, to its 100% post-consumer waste recycled bottles.

The brand has invested in sustainable practices from day one, selecting partners and suppliers whose principles chime with its own, and giving painstaking consideration to its ingredients, manufacturing processes and packaging.

Every product contains:

– Ethically sourced ingredients, 100% cruelty-free

– Only natural, botanical materials in all skin formulations

– High quality essential oils used sensitively and in meaningful quantities

– The full collection is suitable for vegans

– All products are made in the British Isles

– land&water’s packaging ethos centres on re-use, recycle and refill

To sample some land&water for yourself, browse their website here. Or, head to one of our retreats and try it out in a self-catering property by the coast.

Embark on a journey to unlock the tranquility of coastal living with our guide to Ocean O’Clock, where every moment is embraced by the soothing rhythm of the sea.

Run Free

“Running becomes almost meditative.”

Take to the coast path in the quieter hours as the day begins or ends, for a unique running experience.

Lace up your trail running shoes, strap on your pack and set out. With your feet pounding the terrain, the fresh air flowing through your lungs, you begin to connect with the landscape by powering through it: cutting across fields; following a narrow path winding down between trees; and pushing up rough-hewn granite steps to emerge on to a blustery headland, the sun setting over the ocean that stretches out ahead of you. All to a soundtrack of birdsong, wind and waves.

Running the coast path offers the full running experience. It’s exhilarating. Challenging. And utterly freeing.

Visiting Cornwall with an electric car? Check out our holiday lets with electric car (EV) charging points.

A runner’s world

“The coast path offers more than just running,” says Helen Clare (featured in the film below), a St Agnes-based yoga teacher who works with runners to build their strength and flexibility, and help them develop a more natural running style. She’s lucky to have the coast path right on her doorstep. “It’s the whole experience of being out in the environment, surrounded by nature, where running becomes almost meditative.”

If you’re keen to unleash your legs and unwind your mind, you’ll never be short of stimulus on the Cornish coast, which is over 420 miles long and impossibly varied.

“If you spend too much time trying to go fast, you don’t look up at what’s around you. It’s best to savour the moment.”

Starting close to the Devon border, if you reach Rame Head as the sun comes up you’ll be greeted by sweeping bay views that would take your breath away without the hill climb. In the north, feet planted in the golden Watergate sand, you’re just a short trot from blowholes, ancient forts and fascinating rock formations.

Way out west, explore the rugged, foreboding cliffs of Cape Cornwall to run among abandoned mine engine houses or opt for the spectacular highs and azure waters of Porthcurno. On the south coast, navigate the wooded creeks of the Helford River, near Falmouth. The options are almost endless.

Check out more of what Falmouth has to offer by staying in one of our bespoke retreats in Falmouth.

Photo credit: Goodrest Studios

Getting started

As a race director at MudCrew, an organisation that runs gruelling endurance runs on the Cornish coast, Jane Stephens has seen runners of all experience levels throwing themselves at the trails. Her advice is to start short. Uphill climbs on the coast path tend to feel more draining than anywhere else; so too do the steep and hazardous step descents. Don’t worry about times either, as you’re likely to wind up frustrated. Which, she says, is to miss the point entirely.

“Unless you’re a mountain goat, you’re never going to be hugely fast on the coast path,” says Stephens. “So, aim to cover certain areas and log the distance instead. The views are incredible, and it’s just a very special place to be. If you spend too much time trying to go fast, you don’t look up at what’s around you. It’s best to savour the moment.”

watergate

For an easy, accessible starting section, Stephens suggests parking at Trevone and heading towards Watergate, nine miles to the West. She describes the section as “absolutely beautiful, and relatively easy”; a largely wide, flat and open section where you can frequently see the coast path winding ahead of you in the distance.

Run safe

While it’s free and freeing, running the coast path is, first, all about safety. Invest in decent running shoes, with the grip and toe protection to navigate hazards like rocks and tree roots.

“The surroundings. The solitude. You can spend a day out there on remote sections and not see anybody.”

Take plenty of food and fuel. And be sure to let people know where you’re heading. The coast path can turn very remote, very quickly, so carry a means of payment and getting in touch with people.

Finally, if you’re going to run at dusk, make sure you’ve already experienced the route in daylight, keep distances short, and take a head torch – because the terrain will completely transform at night, and so should your level of care.

Interested in finding the best walks in Cornwall? Check out our blog on our favourite autumnal walks.

Adventure all hours

Treat it right, however, and running the coast path is guaranteed to open up a rare world of genuine adventure.

“It’s like how surfers and seafarers respect the sea,” says Stephens. “It can be dangerous, but it’s also my absolute favourite place to be. The surroundings. The solitude. You can spend a day out there on remote sections and not see anybody. It’s just a beautiful place to be.”

Thank you to Helen Clare for allowing us to feature her in our coastal running film.

New food, new flavours

Jude Kereama, Sham Mulji and Fiona Were are among the Cornwall-based chefs revealing some of the tempting new flavours and ingredients on menus in 2022. From St Ives Bay Mackerel to sweet Melder honey, hand-dived scallops and sustainably reared beef, take a culinary tour of the county with some of the most talented chefs working here today…

Interested in staying in our most luxurious holiday cottages? Check out our luxury coastal cottages.

Food pictured: Chef Fiona NZ

Chef Fiona NZ, private chef, Cornwall

Touted as one of the ’10 female chefs to watch’ by The Independent, Fiona Were is taking the Cornish private dining scene by storm. Drawing on her New Zealand roots, classic French training and Asian influences, Fiona travels throughout Cornwall offering her bespoke dining experiences – from intimate dinners à deux to exquisite group tasting menus.

“The ingredient that I’m most excited about using for 2022 is the fantastic seafood that Cornwall has to offer, in particular, hand line caught, St Ives Bay Mackerel. I just love the versatility of this beautiful fish.

“My dishes are always evolving with the seasons and mackerel is often a key feature. It pairs so well with many different flavours, from delicate to robust. I particularly enjoy accompanying this delicious, underrated, sustainably caught fish with herbs I may have foraged on one of my many ornithological forays or that I have grown myself, which add intriguing flavour notes.

“Every ingredient I use plays its own role on the plate. Sometimes less is more, but the flavours and colours are always fresh and intense. The possibilities are only limited by my imagination.”

Beach Retreats in St Ives

Jude Kereama, patron chef, Kota, Porthleven

Meaning ‘shellfish’ in Maori, Kota serves the best local produce with a signature Asian twist from a 300-year-old converted mill on the historic Porthleven harbour front. Half Maori, half Chinese Malay chef Jude Kereama is much-celebrated, having been named ‘Chef of the Year’ in 2019 and chosen to represent the South West in Great British Menu.

“We are looking forward to our new season tasting menu here at Kota, taking advantage of local produce that surrounds us in Cornwall. These include seared hand-dived scallops with xo sauce, crispy onions and venison tartare from a local venison farm which is the best I have ever used (West Country Premium Venison).

“We will serve the tartare with apple, celeriac, hazelnuts and a gochujang dressing. We are also looking forward to producing from our own farm, which we are working on at the moment.”

Find a Beach Retreat near Porthleven

Image Credit: Jude Kereama, Kota, photographer James Ram

Sham Mulji, chef/barista/owner, Situ Café (mobile)

With a menu spanning speciality coffee, masala chai and Gujarati, Ugandan and British fusion food, mobile canteen Situ Café is the brainchild of Sham Mulji – AKA the man behind the van. Visitors to Cornwall can sample Sham’s flavours at local markets, pop-ups and his ‘Eatery Evenings’ – or bring the café culture to their dining room with private catering.

“When I launched the ‘Eatery’ section of the business last summer, I wanted to find the best, local, sustainable produce to continue our aim of connecting communities. I’m particularly excited to explore more of what Homage to the Bovine (grass-fed retired dairy cow beef) have to offer this year ­– building on their sustainable beef practices by using forequarter, shin, ox-tail, marrow and even pushing boundaries by cooking up liver and trotters.

“This is in keeping with our ‘heritage food’ style and, as a farming county, it’s important we take a more sustainable, nose-to-tail approach when eating meat.”

Chef Natasha, private chef, Cornwall

St Ives local and freelance chef Natasha Osborne creates unique dining experiences across Cornwall. Working closely with her clients to plan bespoke menus, Chef Natasha is just as comfortable rustling up a relaxed outdoor wood-fired feast as a refined tasting menu – and can often be found foraging in the Cornish hedgerows for new flavours.

Explore more of our favourite restaurants with amazing sea views.

“I’m most excited about working with new local suppliers. Most recently, I’ve been daydreaming of a dish featuring Melder Honey, which is a honey that’s really local to my hometown of St Ives. It’s the best honey I’ve ever tasted and Toby the owner is so great to work with, often turning up with a truck full of bees and honey for me!

“I’m thinking of recreating a steamed sponge syrup pudding, traditionally made with golden syrup, which I will be replacing with Toby’s honey and adding some blackberries too – perhaps a blackberry custard or crème patisserie. There’s just something so good about an actual, old-school pudding.”

Beach Retreats with room to host

Angus Bell, chef/owner, Restaurant Mine, Falmouth

Nestled in a cobbled courtyard favoured by Falmouth’s arty crowd, Restaurant Mine is a cosy neighbourhood eatery offering a fresh take on classic British food. Le Gavroche-trained chef Angus Bell is the culinary mastermind behind a reassuringly concise menu of locally sourced ingredients.

“I’m very passionate about the provenance of the produce we use. Everything in the kitchen comes from Cornwall, within as small a radius as possible.

“There are some incredible growers here, and I like to preserve the best of each season for use throughout the year.

“One of our suppliers has just harvested his Cornish lemons, which we have on the menu in cocktails and a lemon curd pavlova now and have preserved in salt for future salad dressings and sauces.”

Check out our other locations and other retreats across North Cornwall.

Stay in Falmouth with Beach Retreats

A better bolthole

What’s the best spot for a winter getaway, for solace, rest and revival? Debika Ray escaped to 15 Cannery Row, Hayle, a frame for life on the shore, finding serene sands, newly arrived birds and buckets of inspiration…

By Debika Ray, contributing editor at Crafts magazine, founder of Clove magazine and writer. Her work has been published in Kinfolk, Wallpaper, the Guardian and Architectural Digest.

Discover unbeatable savings and unforgettable experiences with Beach Retreats’ exclusive special offers.

“I have gained very great inspiration from Cornish land- and sea-scape, the horizontal line of the sea and the quality of light and colour, which so excites one’s sense of form,” said the artist Barbara Hepworth in a 1946 interview with The Studio magazine. “And first and last there is the human figure, which in the country becomes a free and moving part of a greater whole.”

Standing in the garden of Trewyn Studio in St Ives, it’s easy to see why Cornwall proved so inspirational for the great modernist sculptor – how she might have felt freed and moved by her majestic surroundings. In November, when I visit, her sloping garden is doused in a misty haze: more than 30 bronze, wood and stone sculptures sit amid a mix of mature trees, ornamental plants and stone walls.

Thinking about staying in St Ives? Have a look at our luxury St Ives holiday properties.

“Here, the proximity and exposure to nature is echoed: as day breaks, light falls softly through the large balcony windows into the master bedroom and open-plan living room.”

To one side of the site are a conservatory and light-filled studio, the latter still scattered with tools, materials and clothing and surrounded by uncarved blocks of stone. Through rainy days and sunny ones, Hepworth would have sat – working or thinking – inside these light-filled spaces, looking out over the landscape she designed herself. “Finding Trewyn Studio was a sort of magic,” she wrote of the place. “Here was a studio, a yard and garden where I could work in open air and space. It is completely perfect for me.”

A clearer mind

My artistic aspirations may not be as lofty as Hepworth’s, but, from this vantage point, I find myself wondering what it would be like to move to Cornwall in search of creative inspiration – writing, reading or simply thinking more clearly amid that magical light and fresh, cool air. Cornwall, I’m told, rarely gets cold enough to snow, thanks to its salty air and the tempering effects of the Gulf Stream – a relatively mild climate that makes an outdoor lifestyle both possible and appealing even in the winter months.

“To stay by the sea, is to watch the landscape shift constantly before your eyes… Modern architects have long understood that building should be a frame for life, rather than imposing too heavily on it.”

Want to learn more about how to make the most of your travel? Read our blog on how to do slow travel.

St Ives is a mere 13 minute coastal train journey, via the sweeping Carbis Bay, from St Erth; itself a three minute onward ride to Hayle, where Cannery Row, is located. Here, the proximity and exposure to nature is echoed: as day breaks, light falls softly through the large balcony windows into the master bedroom and open-plan living room, revealing the Hayle Estuary, with its ebbing and flowing tides, just outside.

To stay by the sea is to watch the landscape shift constantly before your eyes. Later, as the sun sets, the same view is slowly occluded, and our view turns inwards, to the spacious, modern, double-height interior. Modern architects have long understood that building should be a frame for life, rather than imposing too heavily on it.

“At Hayle Beach, a brief stroll from the apartment, rolling dunes – or Towans – tumble down from dramatic black rocks, and the eye has to stretch far into the distance before you can see the waves rumbling towards the shore.”

The surrounding estuary is guarded by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), because of its abundance of wetland flocks. Winter, they say, is the best time to visit: it’s when you can see vast collectives of teals and wigeons, as well as ring-billed gulls from North America, and can be undisturbed by the higher number of tourists who similarly flock to the area in the summer. Elsewhere along the coast you can spot seals, dolphins and basking sharks, or charter a boat to catch your own fish.

“The uneven ground means the tide moves in inconsistently, forming exposed island-like mounds and the water trickles ashore and encircles them: we stop to chat to fellow walkers who are throwing balls for their over-excited dogs to fetch.

Deserted sands

At Hayle Beach, a brief stroll from the apartment, rolling dunes – or Towans – tumble down from dramatic black rocks, and the eye has to stretch far into the distance before you can see the waves rumbling towards the shore. At low tide, on this autumn morning, the sands remain wet underfoot far away from the water’s edge, as we trudge past a handful of other early risers along the practically deserted golden sands.

The uneven ground means the tide moves in inconsistently, forming exposed island-like mounds and the water trickles ashore and encircles them: we stop to chat to fellow walkers who are throwing balls for their over-excited dogs to fetch; they splash and bound as they do so through the pools of water that are swiftly forming. A raised coastal walk takes us on the high road along the beach, leading past miles of unspoiled views.

“In times when sunshine and warmth are scarce, such qualities are needed to uplift us”

Light and air

Hepworth no doubt chose her home partly with views in mind: the home and studio that the artist occupied for the final 25 years of her life – now the Barbara Hepworth Museum – is minutes from St Ives harbour, amid narrow streets and pitched roofs. She is among the best-known artists to have settled in Cornwall, but she is hardly the only one to have been enlivened by this coastal stretch of south-west England. Ceramicist Bernard Leach set up his world-renowned pottery studio in the town in 1920, and it remains among the best known pottery studios in the world, embedded in Cornwall’s historic relationship with clay.

My stroll through the area takes me past and into art and craft galleries, pocketing ceramic objects to take home as souvenirs. These are dotted across the region to represent the creative community that continues to make the county its home. Today, an outpost of the Tate Gallery sits a short walk away from Hepworth’s house on the site of an old gasworks, and shows off the work of several other notable local names.

“Back in Hayle in the evening, we stick close to the water, and close to home: an atmospherically lit shack on the sand”

Here, too, weather provides a backdrop to the building: standing in the amphitheatre-like entryway, I hear the roar of the ocean crashing against the shore and feel the salty air swirl around me. The sound and weather swiftly vanish as I step inside the serene interior, safely ensconced amid the finely curated art collection, but the sea itself remains visible from the open studio nestled at the front of the gallery, which is devoted to artists who take up residencies there and which you can look down upon from a circular balcony.

Later, from the generous windows of the fourth floor cafe, I spot miniature surfers bobbing on the distant waves, and I am mesmerised for hours by their relentless energy and the movement of the water. At ground level, a glass enclosed restaurant across the road gives a closer view, hovering just over the sands of Porthmeor Beach, alongside seagulls and above the smattering of spectators gathered to appreciate the water sports.

Back in Hayle in the evening, we stick close to the water, and close to home: an atmospherically lit shack on the sand, a local recommendation, serves Cajan-spiced fish and barbecued meats. We eat seafood by the bucket, and wash it down with local beers and Cornish-themed cocktails.

Winter retreats to the coast or countryside are often associated with crackling fires, old furniture, low ceilings or dim lighting. But, as Hepworth understood, the soul thrives on light, air and space. In times when sunshine and warmth are scarce, such qualities are needed to uplift us, and more so for anyone seeking to achieve the artist’s ambition of making the “human figure … a free and moving part of a greater whole”.

Living in Light

Natural light makes us feel a certain way, when we’re bathed in it and beyond, throughout each day. As those days shorten, it’s a good time to turn your attention to getting enough of it…

As the clocks go back and mild dread of the darker mornings and evenings sets in, autumn may seem the wrong time of year to be thinking about natural light. But then there’s that low, early evening sunshine on a clear, crisp autumn day, reflecting off the Atlantic.

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If you’re lucky enough to be sat on a dune or clifftop to catch the sunset, wrapped in a blanket and armed with a flask of something hot, expect skies cast in spectacular modes that change minute by minute; light pink at first before mauve and fiery orange, carving an arrow of light on the glistening water from the horizon all the way to you.

“Natural light has an advantage over artificial light in terms of allowing us to feel alert during the day and drowsy at night.”

As the light fades, the cold descends and the daylight vanishes, triggering a rise in your melatonin hormone levels, steering you instinctively towards home. Or at least, that’s what’s meant to happen; a healthy intake of natural light throughout the day to vitalise your body and stimulate your mind followed by total darkness to assist uninterrupted, high-quality sleep.

In reality our day-to-day exposure to artificial light and lack of exposure to natural light is playing havoc, disrupting our 24-hour biological clock and circadian rhythms. So what can help your body get back in sync with the phases of day and night while you’re on holiday?

Design for light

You may have heard the term circadian rhythms (circa: round, diem: day), referring to the body’s cycle of physiological patterns over a 24-hour period that evolved over millennia to sync with the light-dark cycle.

Natural light has an advantage over artificial light in terms of allowing us to feel alert during the day and drowsy at night, with our bodies being the most alert during the morning hours of daylight.

Electric light may be obligatory in extending our waking and working hours, as our daylight hours decrease substantially in autumn and winter. However as Professor Derk Jan-Dijk, Distinguished Professor of Sleep and Physiology at the University of Surrey, says, “[w]e are the only species to extend our day using artificial light, and this has consequences”. Even counting on ordinary electric bulbs as our only light source for a whole day, rather than spending time outdoors, may disrupt our circadian clock.

Architecture has an important role to play in how we access natural light throughout the year, utilising design to encourage generous amounts of natural light to flood through internal spaces. Think contemporary, spacious interiors, full-width, floor to ceiling windows with glazing and bifold glass, perfect filters for the soft autumn light.

 “Dawn and dusk in autumn are beautiful times of the day and the light is extraordinary at times.”

When it comes to orientation, north and south isn’t only a gardeners question. South-facing aspects enjoy more time each day to let the light in.

Illuminating views

And that muted light during the autumn and winter months has its own qualities. For more than a century, the unique quality of natural light has drawn painters to Cornwall’s shores, and remains a compelling source of inspiration. “We are surrounded by water which means we get a lot of sun reflection off the blue sea,” says landscape artist Nicola Mosley, whose Cornwall-based studio takes in a harbour view in Falmouth

“The light on a long hazy summer’s day is lovely,” Nicola adds. “But there’s something about the light during the autumn months; it can be more diffused and softer than summer and for me it’s my favourite time to paint. Dawn and dusk in autumn are beautiful times of the day and the light is extraordinary at times. Even in winter the clouds and mist refract the light in a beautiful soft way.”

“Regular good sleep, as well as being beneficial to us physically, helps us cognitively… to manage our emotions and stress levels better.”

When it comes to interior and exterior spaces for making the most of natural light on holiday, terraces and balconies – with added blankets – mean ocean and sunset views in the open, all year round, any time of day. Wide, open-plan spaces allow light to travel freely and when it is time to switch on the lights, LED lighting can be a gentler alternative, in the same spectrum as daylight, keeping that natural ambience going into the evening.

Call of the outdoors

Dr Neil Stanley of the International Sleep Charity reminds us that “sleep is so central to how our bodies and minds function”. Regular good sleep, as well as being beneficial to us physically, helps us cognitively with decision-making and allows us to regulate and manage our emotions and stress levels better.

Studies show that people who suffer consistently poor sleep are, perhaps unsurprisingly, more prone to anxiety, depression, irritability, and the tendency to catastrophise. None of these states of mind are top of the list on holiday, where you should be relaxing and leaving with an invigorated body and mind.

“Donning coats and boots, or wetsuits and drysuits, and escaping through the front door bright and early on an autumn morning is uplifting on many levels, including that crucial intake of daylight”

Our body’s internal 24-hour clock can also be helped onto the right track through outdoor activity during the day. The stunning panoramic views, enjoyed through expansive glazing, can’t help but beckon you outside, on to the winding coast paths and cycle trails, or oceanside, for that spontaneous rush to the water’s edge for a bracing family swim or surf session.

Donning coats and boots, or wetsuits and drysuits, and escaping through the front door bright and early on an autumn morning is uplifting on many levels, including that crucial intake of daylight to synchronise your circadian rhythms, making you awake and alert.

Days well-spent in the natural light of the day could be the make or break, for refreshing minds and bodies, happier moods, and a good night’s sleep.

Want to explore Cornwall in Autumn? Check out our blog on why Cornwall is great in Autumn.

Natural Signs at Sea

We spoke to sea watcher and Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeguard and supervisor Andrea Harvey about how we can decipher the signs of the sea: its waters, winds and swells, and the wondrous creatures that swim beneath…

When you imagine spending your holiday by the beach, you’re probably thinking golden sand, cerulean skies, and the distant murmur of lapping waves. It’s a picturesque image, but it’s just that – an image.

The real sea, the one that exists outside of postcards and holiday brochures, is far more vibrant and shifting. As Andrea, RNLI beach lifeguard and supervisor in Perranporth, Cornwall, tells us: “It’s not a cookie-cutter paradise place.”

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The sea is beautiful, yes, but it’s also “rustic and rough”. The winds, waves and tides are constantly changing, and strange creatures emerge from its watery depths. “Everyone wants to be near the sea in Cornwall,” adds Andrea with a wide smile. But can we learn how to read it?

See the swell, watch the wind
Being a lifeguard means constantly monitoring the sea, even when you’re at home. “You look up the conditions the night before to assess the individual beaches you’re working on to prepare for the day ahead,” Andrea says, “using apps like Magic Seaweed and Wind Guru” which report and forecast wind and swell directions.

“If it’s really windy, there’ll be lots of broken messy waves…less wind means cleaner, more defined waves”

The waves that you see breaking on the beach are influenced by several factors including the strength and direction of the wind, and the characteristics of the sea bed. The swell refers to a series of large waves travelling across the ocean before they reach the coastline and begin to form the waves that break on the beach. “If it’s really windy, there’ll be lots of broken messy waves and white water all over the place, and less wind means cleaner, more defined waves that break from a point and peel all the way along,” explains Andrea.

To know if a swell will affect the waves on the beach you’re going to, you’ll need to take into consideration the lay of the land and the swell direction: “If a beach is facing north and there is southerly swell the land mass will restrict the swells access to the beach; however there may still be waves due to the wind,” Andrea says.

“You can tell an awful lot just by sitting and looking at the water for a while.”

There aren’t any objectively ideal conditions: it all depends on what you want to do. “Light offshore winds and medium size swells are ideal for surfers but dangerous for kitesurfers, windsurfers and bodyboarders,” notes Andrea. If you’re just going for a dip, “light winds and 2-3 feet of surf are the best conditions to go in to have fun!”

Written in the waves
But with your feet sinking into soft sand and your eyes drawn out to sea, you might not want to interrupt the moment by checking your phone. The appeal of a beach holiday is partly in immersing yourself in your surroundings: “You can tell an awful lot just by sitting and looking at the water for a while,” says Andrea.

If you’re itching to jump in the water after a long walk, cycle or car journey, try to resist the urge for a moment: instead, sit on the beach, soak up the sun and interpret the signs you see.

If you are heading in for a swim, learning to read the moments of calm can be more important than reading the waves. “Quite a lot of the time, people come down to the beach and they see lots of waves everywhere, then they see a nice seemingly calm tranquil patch in the middle and think ‘oh that would be the best place to swim’ – but actually, that’s straight into a rip,” says Andrea.

A rip is a fast, current running out to deeper water, which can reach speeds of 4-5mph; you might spot a rippled surface where no waves are breaking, darker coloured deeper water or bits of seaweed or debris floating on it, being pulled out to sea. Instead, Andrea advises to swim “where the waves are.”

“It’s not just the water itself that you can read; the sea and skies are home to creatures that even the locals are still learning to recognise.”

If you do find yourself in a rip current, the key thing is not to panic. Don’t try to swim against the current as you may become exhausted. Instead, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and float on the water. If you need to, gently move your arms and legs to help you float. Once you can control your breathing, you can call for help or swim to safety.

“With the sea temperature in the UK averaging just 12 degrees most of the year, there’s a chance you’ll feel the effects of cold-water shock when you first get in,” adds Andrea. The resulting increased heart rate or gasps for breath pass quickly, so relaxing and floating on your back is also a good tactic when the water is a little colder. That’ll reduce the chance of inhaling water and panicking.

Species spotting
It’s not just the water itself that you can read; the sea and skies are home to creatures that even the locals are still learning to recognise. Out at sea one day, Andrea was surprised by a “little fin coming through the water.’’ What she saw, however, was not a shark but a sunfish: a silvery, billowing orb of a fish that measures an incredible 11 feet and weighs up to 2.5 tons.

Their tendency to “lie on top of the water and sunbathe” means they are frequently mistaken for sharks. “They’ve got a really long floppy fin that looks a bit like a shark fin when it’s up in the air,” says Andrea.

“As a lifeguard, you quickly notice when things change and there’s new things going on”

Fortunately, sunfish are harmless. They like to feed on jellyfish, another creature that beachgoers may spot: strong winds and currents bring jellyfish to shore, explains Andrea, making their presence a marker of the recent conditions. And it’s not just surfers and jellyfish that are affected by the wind and currents: if it’s been stormy, you might stumble across a fluffy, whiskery little seal pup. “They’ll just come up to the beach for a little break,” grins Andrea.

Soaking up the landscape
Sitting quietly on a patch of sand and taking in the skies and sea can be a surprisingly exhilarating experience. “As a lifeguard, you notice when things change and there’s new things going on,” says Andrea.

You can tune into the human and nonhuman life around you; this season alone Andrea has seen “a minke whale, dolphins, seals, a jumping tuna fish – usually they’re in shoals so that’s an exciting sight – and quite a few Cornish choughs.”

“Seeing how the tides, waves and winds affect beaches differently is a fascinating glimpse into the powerful forces that shape coastal environments.”

As an endangered species, spotting a chough takes patience, a true sign that you’re immersing yourself in the coastal landscape. These crow-like birds with red beaks and feet are literally the stuff of legend: it’s said that when King Arthur died, his soul left in the form of a chough. Even if you’re on a short break, try to give yourself the peace and quiet to stare out to sea as a lifeguard might: you never know what might emerge.

Coastal adventures
If you wake up one morning wanting to explore somewhere new, simply going from beach to beach can be an adventure. “It’s shocked me how different they can be on the same day. Some of them can catch quite a lot of surf, and some of them can be quite flat,” explains Andrea.

Seeing how the tides, waves and winds affect beaches differently is a fascinating glimpse into the powerful forces that shape coastal environments. It also means you can try out different activities; why not swim and sunbathe at one, and surf at another?

“Really, though, just being by the sea is the true adventure, even for those who know it well.”

But while it’s fun to celebrate the variety of beaches, it’s always best to try and stick to those that are lifeguarded, especially if you are planning on going in the sea. RNLI lifeguards operate on over 240 beaches across the UK during the peak summer season, so there’s plenty of choice: “Lifeguards have done all the thinking beforehand,” says Andrea, meaning that any potential hazards have been noted. There’ll be red and yellow flags showing you the safest place to swim, and you can chat to the lifeguards about any concerns you have.

Really, though, just being by the sea is the true adventure, even for those who know it well. If you stay alert to what’s around you, something unexpected is bound to appear – in water, on the beach or up in the air.

To find out more about the RNLI, how to stay safe and where to find your nearest lifeguarded beach, please visit: rnli.org/safety/beach-safety

Experience the captivating beauty of dawn and dusk along the Cornish coast, as we compare and contrast these magical moments in nature’s theatre.

Six places to watch the sunrise in Cornwall

Its 6am and you’ve stepped, still bleary eyed, out of your door and down towards the empty stretch of sand. Soft amber light appears to float in the atmosphere- it is not like the harsh mid-day sun which causes you to squint, rather, this light is gentle, inviting, warm. Slowly becoming more awake and alert, you look at the ocean, glimmering in the morning haze as the large orange ball of the sun steadily rolls itself up into the sky.

The magic of the sunrise hours can’t be overstated- it is a peaceful time, before the crowds flock to the sand, where you truly feel like the shoreline belongs to you alone. With all of our properties positioned footsteps from the beach, we have compiled a list of the six best places to see the sunrise, to tempt you out of bed and towards the golden glow of first light.

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Carlyon Bay

With its south-facing stretch of soft sand, Carlyon Bay, near St Austell, is the place to capture a picture-perfect sunrise. The sun paints the sky with tones of pink and orange which perfectly contrast with the pale blue of the sea in the morning light. The beach will be largely empty at this time in the morning, the only company being the birds wandering around freely as you leave the day’s first footprints in the sand.

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Whitsand Bay

Whitsand Bay runs from Rame Head to Portwrinkle, and its sheer cliffs, long stretches of beach and panoramic scenery make for a dramatic sunrise. Head onto the clifftop to capture the purple sky as the sun bursts its first light above the sloping fields. You may even be joined by some sheep, who populate the clifftop, to watch it with you.

Gyllyngvase Beach, Falmouth

Falmouth’s Gylly Beach is famed as a swimming spot, stand-up paddleboarder’s dream and for its vibrant beachfront café. Yet head down at dawn and you will experience a different atmosphere. As the sun rises, the water takes on a glassy effect and mirrors the kaleidoscope of colours spread across the sky. Spot the daisies that line the beach complimenting the pink hues around them.

Fowey

To catch the sun breaking into the sky admist a serene harbour setting, try Fowey. The masts and sails of harbour boats will point upwards towards the orange splash of colour that rises above the seaside town. The sunrise here is the perfect time to enjoy the sights of Fowey in peace before the lively chatter of the working harbour life takes hold throughout the day.

Mevagissey

Cobbled streets usually packed with beachgoers and fisherman alike are empty in Mevagissey at sunrise, touched only by the soft sun rays which fill the atmosphere. Wander the harbour walls as if they belong to you alone at the calmest point in the day, experiencing this classic Cornish village in a new and ethereal light.

Coverack

Situated on the Lizard Penninsula, Coverack is one of the most Southerly points in Cornwall to watch the suns first light greet the land. Its small pebbly beach is like a secret haven, kissed by the first rays of light which will soon awaken the rest of Cornwall for a lively day of beach trips and water sports. Listen to the trickle of the water as it runs down the rocks which line the shore.

Explore the captivating contrasts of dawn and dusk along the Cornish coast, each offering its own magical ambience and breathtaking views.