Category: Nature

Sea and skies

Waves crash against rugged shorelines and the air takes on a crisp, invigorating chill. Cornwall unveils a different kind of magic during the autumn and winter months. The season for a change of pace, a chance to embrace the coastal environment and relish precious downtime.

Summer by the sea has much to offer, then as the days shorten and the landscape shifts into its next season mode, it’s time to slow down, stretch out and look up.

You can’t beat the autumn and winter for stargazing. From September through to March, the stage is set for the perfect conditions to gaze at the stars.

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Starry skies over Gwennap Head, West Penwith

Image credit: Graham Gaunt Photowork

Bodmin Moor is among the best locations nationwide to turn your eyes skywards. In 2017, the majestic granite moorland was awarded an International Dark Sky Park accreditation – the first to be given to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the UK. This means that night-time levels of artificial light are extremely low, creating pitch-black conditions in which to admire celestial sights. And with ancient monuments all around – from stone circles to burial mounds – the past feels within touching distance. To see the stars in a dark night sky as our ancestors would have done thousands of years ago is an awe-inspiring experience.

A second Cornish region recently gained the same accreditation. West Penwith – ranging from near St Ives to St Just to Mousehole was added to the roster in 2021. Unlike Bodmin Moor, West Penwith is a sweeping coastal habitat, which offers the opportunity to enjoy dark skies from a clifftop vantage point and picturesque ruins of tin mines silhouetted against the sea.

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“And as the shower’s peak on 14–15 December coincides with the crescent moon, the sky will be left dark, meaning viewing conditions should be perfect. Moonless nights offer the best opportunity for stargazing – if you want to admire the Milky Way, for instance, time your viewing with the new moon.”

Sights to see

With luck, you may see the spectacular colour of the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, when the night sky is filled with dancing shades of pink, green, yellow and violet. Though only rarely seen further south than Scotland in the UK, the colourful phenomenon graced Cornish skies twice last year.

Image credit: Graham Gaunt Photowork

The cosmic calendar is filled with must-see events this winter. On 28 October, the UK will witness a partial lunar eclipse, as the moon passes through the earth’s shadow; turn your eyes to the skies at 21:15 for the maximum eclipse.

In December, the Geminid meteor shower will see up to 150 meteors per hour dashing through the night sky, making it one of the best displays to see this year. And as the shower’s peak on 14–15 December coincides with the crescent moon, the sky will be left dark, meaning viewing conditions should be perfect. Moonless nights offer the best opportunity for stargazing – if you want to admire the Milky Way, for instance, time your viewing with the new moon.

On 22 December comes the winter solstice: the shortest day and longest night of the year. This needn’t be gloomy – far from it. The annual Montol Festival in Penzance on 21 December aims to revive ancient pagan traditions to joyous effect. Six days of celebration – including storytelling, folk music and mask- and lantern-making workshops – will lead up to the main event on 21 December, in which a procession of picturesquely-costumed figures parades through the town.

Image credit: Bella Bunce

Sea views and swims

The winter months are the perfect time for bracing coastal walks. The South West Coast Path along the rugged cliffs and hidden coves of north Cornwall offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. Bundle up, bring your camera, and set out for an invigorating hike.

You might even catch one of the season’s most dramatic spectacles: storm watching. Head to a cliffside viewpoint and witness the power of the ocean as it crashes against the cliffs and sends waves soaring into the air. Then there’s the prospect of taking it all in from a beach side retreat, or retreating back there for a mug of cocoa after facing the elements.

Image credit: Bella Bunce

For keen swimmers or those game for a short cold water dip, secluded sea pools offer protection from the wildness of the waves, and local favourites include Bude Sea Pool and Treyarnon Bay Tidal Pool, near Padstow. For something less exhilarating and more relaxing the geothermal pool at Jubilee Pool in Penzance is open all year round, filled with seawater that’s been geothermically warmed to a toasty 35 degrees.

“During winter, hundreds of thousands of starlings gather here to swoop in their impressive formation – known as a ‘murmuration’ – at sunset.”

Winter wildlife

Winter is an excellent time for wildlife enthusiasts to visit. As mainland Europe freezes, the Cornish coast becomes a hub for both resident and migratory bird species, including puffins, gannets, and razorbills. Look out, too, for flocks of brent geese and wigeons arriving from the Arctic, seeking refuge in the mild Cornish climate. The cliffs provide ideal vantage points to spot these majestic creatures as they soar along the coastline.

Image credit: Graham Gaunt Photowork

Some of the best places to bird-watch include the internationally-important Maer Lake Nature Reserve near Bude, Middle Amble Marsh and Walmsley Sanctuary, both near Wadebridge, and Windmill Farm Nature Reserve on the Lizard. And to combine heritage sights with natural wonders, you can’t do better than a trip to St Michael’s Mount in Marazion, near Penzance. During winter, hundreds of thousands of starlings gather here to swoop in their impressive formation – known as a ‘murmuration’ – at sunset.

You may even be lucky enough to witness seals and dolphins playing in the brisk waters. Grey seals haul themselves ashore to have their pups in autumn and winter, and there are spots around the coast to observe seals at this time of year from safe vantage points. Bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins and harbour porpoises are frequently seen off the Cornish coast year-round.

Whether seeking adventure, carving out some precious downtime, or looking for both, the autumnal and wintery coast has something to offer every traveller.

Experience the mesmerising allure of the sea with the sensational sea, where each moment is immersed in the beauty and tranquillity of coastal living.

Make your escape, experience #coastalwonder.…

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…

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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

Uncover the enchanting allure of Fowey’s no-drive delights, where every corner offers a new adventure and relaxation awaits just a stone’s throw away.

Must See Places in Cornwall | Top 10 List

Beyond Cornwall’s sandy beaches, you’ll find exquisite gardens, cultural attractions and a rich history. If you’re planning a trip to Cornwall for the first time and aren’t sure on the best places to visit, we’ve produced a list of the top 10 must-see places in Cornwall, ensuring you won’t miss a thing on your holiday.

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 Eden Project

A unique and innovative eco-project, the Eden Project is an absolute must-see on your visit to Cornwall. This stunning global garden consists of tropical biomes the size of 30 football pitches, including the rainforest biome, home to 1000 species of tropical plants, a fully running waterfall and a suspended canopy walkway. Adjacent to this you’ll find the Mediterranean biome, filled to the brim with spiky cacti and ancient olive trees. The site also has an impressive stage where the Eden Sessions are held, seeing performances from world-famous musicians, an ice rink in winter and a science centre featuring fascinating and educational installations.

Image credit: Matt Jessop via Visit Cornwall

South West Coast Path

Another unmissable activity is the South West Coast Path. Stretching for 630 miles and wrapping around the Cornish coast, it is an unforgettable trail featuring some of the most spectacular coastal vistas in the country. If you’re staying by the beach, you are bound to be close to a stretch of the path, on which you can set out on a variety of walks past dramatic cliff edges, fields of sea pinks and secret coves. All of our retreats are within walking distance to the coast and in easy reach to the coast path, meaning you can hop on it and head out on an adventure in no time.

St Michael’s Mount

Set off Marazion beach is this must-see tiny island, featuring an ancient castle and a cobbled causeway that disappears under the tide twice a day. When the tide is out the causeway is exposed, meaning you can take the 10 minute walk across to the castle. If you’re planning to get back to the mainland on foot, you’ll need to check the tides– the tide floods in faster than you might imagine, so always leave yourself a healthy margin for error. When the island is cut off by the tide, small boats run between the pier at Marazion beach and the harbour on the Mount. These run throughout the day in spring and summer but less frequently at other times.

Lost Gardens of Heligan

Cornwall isn’t all just sandy beaches and sparkling oceans. Inland from the shores you’ll come across gardens rich in history and lush vegetation. The Lost Gardens of Heligan are perhaps Cornwall’s most famous gardens, and were rediscovered and reawakened following WW1.

Image credit: Toby Strong

Tintagel Castle

For breathtaking panoramas and untouched history, head to this sleepy Cornish town on the North coast which conceals a dramatic historical castle behind its village streets. You can walk up onto the cliff paths and have access to the castle, where you can uncover the tales of King Arthur.

Image credit: Matt Jessop via Visit Cornwall

Tate St Ives

Looking to get your fix of art during your stay in Cornwall? Head to the county’s best art gallery, the Tate, for a creative experience. It’s located in St Ives, the heart of the artistic scene in Cornwall which is known for its unique light which casts a soft blue glow off the sea. Here, sculptor Barbara Hepworth made some of her most influential work, much of which is showcased in the Tate and the nearby Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Minack Theatre

Watch a play before dramatic clifftop panoramas at the Minack Theatre, an impressive open air theatre situated above Porthcurno beach. If the weather is obliging, the Minack feels like a tiny Greek amphitheatre; the sea here seems bluer than elsewhere in Cornwall, the sand of Porthcurno beach below appears whiter.  The theatre was carved from the unrelentingly hard granite of the Cornish coast by Rowena Cade; it took many years of hard physical labour through the harsh coastal winters to construct and is a monument to dogged perseverance. The story is told at the Minack’s visitor centre, which is well worth a look even if you don’t see a play.

National Trust sites

Cornwall is home to countless National Trust sites, from stretches of coast path to historical houses and gardens. Our particular favourites are Wheal Coates mine in St Agnes, the Roseland peninsula, Lanhydrock country house and Kynance cove in the Lizard. Browse their website to find your nearest National Trust site- they make for a great day out.

Surfing at Fistral beach

Fistral is the nation’s surfing capital and is known for its consistent waves, intense sunsets and lively atmosphere. When visiting Cornwall, it’s highly recommended that you try your hand at surfing – there are plenty of places in the town and on the beach where you can hire equipment and book onto lessons. Or, just sit back on a summer’s evening and watch the surfers rolling in when the swell is rising – it’s truly a must see.

Chasing waterfalls

Alongside acres of beautiful woodland, there are a handful of waterfalls dotted around Cornwall, often concealed deep into nature trails. Visit St Nectan’s Glen, near Tintagel and Boscastle, an area of woodland bursting with mystical tales of piskies and fairies. Here, you will find St Nectan’s Kieve, a spectacular sixty foot waterfall seen through a hole in the rocks. Or, visit Golitha Falls near Liskeard, a cascading waterfall set in a wooded valley.

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

A Change of Pace

From the thrilling calm to the calming thrill, the ocean is a place of endless surprises whether it’s by, on or under the waves. In a series of posts, we explore what it means to get your energy from the ocean and the delightful contradictions you can embrace in every sea salt fix.

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Credit: WeSup

From dawn to dusk and through the seasons, the ebb and flow of tides are in constant flux, creating a magical ocean playground. On the shoreline, on the surface or submerged in the deep, there are endless ways to play, and it’s the sea’s shifting moods that help determine your pace.

The quiet aftermath of a storm washes up beachcombing treasure, still waters keep a paddleboard balanced and rolling waves offer up ideal surf conditions. But is it as simple as measuring your adrenaline rush against the height of the break, or does ocean time have the power to do more?

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It’s not surprising that in the gentlest walk, the deepest dive or the most adrenalin fuelled charge, we can find moments of both serenity and exhilaration.

Credit: Aquacity

“We are inspired by water,” Marine Biologist Dr. Wallace Nicholls writes in Blue Mind: How Water Makes Us Happy. “Hearing it, smelling it in the air, playing in it… creating lasting memories along its edge”.

Nicholls explains that as humans, our calm, peaceful and content state of mind, which he terms ‘blue mind’, is stimulated by proximity to open water. That even just thinking about water is enough to trigger an emotional response, because all our senses are craving the full nature experience. So it’s not surprising that in the gentlest walk, the deepest dive or the most adrenalin fuelled charge, we can find moments of both serenity and exhilaration. Our bodies crave water time exactly because of its simultaneous ability to help us reset and get our hearts beating.

If you’re eager to embrace the marvellous contradiction of the ocean but don’t know where to start, we’re here to help. Over three posts we’ve caught up with ocean lovers who relish the fast and slow of their preferred water activities on the shoreline, on the surface and beneath the waves. So read on, leave your expectations behind and open your blue mind. Calming thrills and thrilling calm await…

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Read about adventures of every pace: on the shoreline, on the surface or in the deep.

Credit: Chris Moakes

Dawn vs Dusk

The magic hours. Which is your favourite?

“A sculptor’s landscape is one of ever-changing space and light where forms reveal themselves in new aspects as the sun rises and sets.”

– Barbara Hepworth in Barbara Hepworth: Drawings from a Sculptor’s Landscape, 1966 barbarahepworth.org.uk,

 

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The sun rose just after 5 o’clock this morning; it will set just before 9.30pm. We’re in the daylight month and each day the summer sun creates stunning, relaxing and inspiring skies in those early or late hours. Staying steps from the shore means the freedom to enjoy those moments even more.

Coastal skies don’t hold claim to the most spectacular dawns and dramatic dusks but they’re undoubtedly among the best. Sharing an image by Kirstin Prisk (@kirstinprisk) of a sunset sky in St Ives this month, the Tate St Ives nodded to the unique light the sun creates there: “The town of St Ives has long been an artistic hub, attracting artists since the time of J.M.W Turner because of the beauty of the landscape and quality of natural light.”

That corner of coastal light has inspired artists since the 1930s, and around the British coast early risers and evening explorers are rewarded with colour shows to take the breath away.

Which are you, an early riser catching the first light or an out of hours dusk seeker?

We asked members of the Beach Retreats team to share one of their favourite phot0s out of hours at the beach. As you’ll see below, dusk comes out on top.

And if you’ve captured a great shot at the beach out of hours, why not share it with us on Instagram or Facebook ­­– tag us @beachretreats and add #beachoutofhours ­– to be in with a chance of winning a land&water bathtime bundle and luxury Cornish hamper.

Lingering light

Lowenna in the Beach Retreats marketing team likes to catch the fading light as it disappears over the horizon. There’s no better place to watch the day slip away over the horizon than the sweeping vistas of the north Cornish coast.

This shot was captured on the sand dunes that lead down to the breaks at Fistral beach in Newquay. “I like to wait until the sun has completely dropped, to see the lingering glow on the horizon,” says Lowenna.

Open ocean

There’s no denying the sunlight on the sea creates some of the most awe-inspiring views of all. Steve, in our portfolio management team, also prefers the dusk light on the waves.

This photo was taken from Pentire Headland with the sun hovering just above the line of the ocean. “From here, you can see the entire stretch of the horizon glowing and the wide expanse of sea looks truly amazing at this time of day,” says Steve.

pentire

Low in the website team finds the lure of the water difficult to resist when the sunset colours the sky. This image was taken on Little Fistral beach in Newquay. “My favourite time of day is dusk, especially the moments just after the sun has set where the whole sky turns shades of pink, purple and orange.

“That day, the setting sun lit up the whole beach in these colours. It looked so magical we just had to go in for a swim at 10pm!”

Explore the wonders of sea and skies with our blog on how to make the most of your holiday with stargazing.

Dawn vs dusk

We’re asking our followers on Instagram and Facebook to choose their favourite #beachoutofhours time. Which will you choose, dawn or dusk?

Explore outside of Cornwall, with the coastal charm of North Devon with Beach Retreats, where relaxation meets adventure.

Cornwall in Autumn

Things to see and do in Cornwall this Autumn…

The ocean’s still warm, the surf’s pumping, the beaches are crowd-free and the gardens are aglow with golden hues. We love autumn in Cornwall. From coast path rambles and blackberry picking, to action sports and ales by crackling log fires, here are some of our favourite activities for autumn breaks by the beach.

Fancy staying in a holiday retreat with a log burner? Check out our cottages with a log burner for a cosy getaway.

Go blackberry picking on the coast

Breathe in the fresh sea air, soak up the stunning coastal scenery and forage for the juicy fruits of autumn. Whether you take punnets full back to your Beach Retreat and conjure up a crumble, or snack on them as you stroll, you’ll find hedgerows everywhere packed with wild blackberries throughout September and October. Some of our favourite places to fill our buckets with nature’s bounty include the dramatic, calf-busting terrain between Bude and Morwenstow, the coastal trail stretching from Cawsand to Rame Head, and the lush flanks of the Roseland Peninsula.

Find out more about foraging in Cornwall.

Suit up and take the plunge

It’s taken the whole summer for the ocean to warm up – and it’ll take a good few months for it to cool down again. So autumn is a great time to hit the waves – whether you go surfing, swimming or make a splash on a coasteering adventure. Tap up one of the experts in Cornwall, we love the Extreme Academy at Watergate Bay and Kingsurf in Mawgan Porth. There you’ll get kitted out with super-warm wetsuits, snuggly surfing booties and high-tech boards, so there’ll be no stopping you riding the waves whatever the weather.

If you fancy a close-up, adrenalin-fuelled view of the coastline, book a session with King Coasteer and swim, climb and cliff-jump your way around the coast in the safe hands of a coasteering guide.

Discover coastal bliss in Cawsand, South Cornwall, where tranquility meets adventure

Sip on local ales beside a crackling log fire

When you’ve had a blast outdoors in the autumn breeze, there’s nothing better than hunkering down by a log fire in a cosy local pub. One of our favourite autumn walks is from St Ives to Zennor – an eye-popping six-mile stomp ending at the cosy Tinners Arms, where you can sip a well-deserved ale under low beams beside the roaring fire. Not many pubs in Cornwall can match the 700-year history of this traditional inn, which was built in 1271 and much loved by author DH Lawrence. However, a couple of other places we love to warm our cockles by the fire include the Driftwood Spars brew pub tucked beside Trevaunance Cove in St Agnes, and the 13th century Pandora Inn, with its port holes looking out to Restronguet Creek.

Visiting Cornwall in the Autumn? It’s the perfect time to visit our favourite Sunday Roast locations.

Get lost in Autumn gardens

Crunch through the golden leaves, swing through the trees and follow tunnels of autumn hues that tumble to the water’s edge. Just in the National Trust stable you can explore the magical woodland of Lanhydrock, the sub-tropical landscape of Glendurgan and Trelissick’s stunning 500-acre estate on the banks of the River Fal – and that’s just for starters. Another favourite with families – and dogs, too – is Trebah Garden, where you can follow colourful foliage to a sandy cove. Or tunnel through bamboo, banana palms and gigantic rhubarb plants, to ancient woodlands and water meadows at the historic Lost Gardens of Heligan. Out of all the county’s garden wonderlands, the Eden Project is still the mega-star, where you can wander through a rainforest, bask in the Med and visit a Western Australian garden in the iconic, sky-scraping biomes.

Explore the English Heritage

From the twin castles of Pendennis and St Mawes, to mysterious stone circles such as Chysauster, there are plenty of English Heritage sites to discover across Cornwall. One of the attractions topping our radar this year is Tintagel Castle, where you can step across the new bridge from the mainland, to reach the castle ruins perched on a rugged island. Indulge your imagination in tales of King Arthur’s magical conception here, listen to your echo in the eerie Merlin’s Cave, and discover the history of a place that has posed as a major trading port, a prosperous Dark Age settlement and a magnificent fortress. Regardless of its enthralling past steeped in myths and legends, it’s also a gob-smacking location to roll out a picnic rug on the headland, spot seals and seabirds, and explore sea caves and rock pools.

Find out more about English Heritage sites in Cornwall.

Find your perfect Beach Retreat this Autumn.

Cornwall’s Wild Larder

At a time when the seasonality and provenance of our food are becoming evermore important, people are opening their eyes to our edible landscape. Cornwall is a foodie haven renowned for its abundance of fresh ingredients plucked from the coast and countryside, so it’s little wonder that the shoreline and hedgerows are bursting with them. Cliff-tops are thriving with samphire, gorse flowers and wild garlic, boulders are strewn with edible seaweeds and hedgerows are bursting with all sorts of berries and herbs.

It’s not often that people compare Cornwall’s landscape with the shelves of a supermarket, but whether you want to make chutney or serve up a three-course feast, expert forager Caroline Davey can show you where to find an array of ingredients in nature’s larder. “It’s about using foraged foods like any other ingredients you would buy from the supermarket, and making interesting, delicious dishes with them,” says Caroline.

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A keen cook with a background in ecology and botany, Caroline started supplying local restaurants with foraged ingredients back in 2007, and by 2008 she had launched Fat Hen – her own foraging and wild cookery school. Caroline’s renovated barns tucked in the wilds of West Cornwall are the perfect base to bring people together to enjoy the Great Outdoors, go foraging and create fabulous feasts from nature’s bounty. This isn’t foraging for survival’s sake. Greens, herbs, salad, veg, seaweeds, flowers, seeds and roots are cooked up into restaurant-worthy dishes, sometimes topped up with seafood from the local fishermen. “People start identifying edible plants in a bunch of greenery or seaweed and realise not only that they can eat them, but that they actually taste really good,” says Caroline. “The profile of wild food is changing. It’s not just eating wild food that’s important; it’s the process of foraging for our own ingredients that is emphasising our connection with food and the landscape. When you get down to the beach and you’re out foraging you’re living so much in the moment and everything feels so good.”

SEASIDE FORAGING

Anyone can go out and forage for ingredients along the shoreline – seashore plants are very distinctive and quite easy to identify with the help of a guidebook to wild ingredients. Caroline recommends River Cottage’s Edible Seashore.
The coastline is a great place to find seaweed, samphire and sea beet, all delicious served up with line-caught mackerel or foraged mussels. Then you can scour the woodlands and hedgerows for berries, edible flowers, three-cornered leeks and nettles.

Six wild ingredients to forage for in Cornwall

ELDERFLOWER – the taste and scent of English summer. The sweet flavour of elderflower makes delicious cordial and non-alcoholic elderflower champagne’, and can also be used in salads and dressings.

NASTURTIUM
Part of the watercress family, nasturtiums grows so vigorously in Cornwall that some people consider them to be a weed. The leaves and petals have a peppery, tangy flavour and add wonderful colour and punch to a summer salad.

APPLE MINT
A versatile ingredient for cocktails and summer barbecues. Apple mint adds a zingy flavour to salad dishes, cocktails and meat. Or you can simply pour boiling water over a sprig for fresh mint tea.

BLACK MUSTARD
The strong and peppery leaves can be used for frittatas, salads or as a cooked green. Use the flowers in a salad or a Bloody Mary.

ROCK SAMPHIRE
Named after St Pierre (the patron saint of fishermen), samphire is delicious pickled, in a salsa verde, in fritters or alongside fresh fish.

MUSSELS
Our favourite food to forage for has to be mussels. Pick them off the rocks at the lowest tide and steam them in white wine with garlic and cream. Don’t pick them after rain or near a river-mouth and only from September to April.

FAT HEN – www.fathen.org, 01736 810156

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

Unearth fascinating finds and foraging adventures with Beach Retreats’ insightful guide.

10 Must Visit Natural Attractions in Cornwall

Want to explore more of Cornwall? Check out our favourite autumnal walks in Cornwall.

Hell’s Mouth, nr Godrevy

Stand atop craggy cliffs, gazing a dizzy 300 feet down to waves crashing against the rocks below. Just north of Godrevy lighthouse, Hell’s Mouth is a place of untamed beauty; where ships have foundered, cliffs have crumbled into the ocean, and fulmars dance on currents of air rising between rugged ledges. Close to the haunted Deadman’s Cove, this is a staggering location to clap eyes on Cornwall’s coastal panorama at its wildest.

St Nectan’s Glen, nr Boscastle

Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and Cornish piskies as you explore the magical Rocky Valley and St Nectan’s Glen. Park at Trevethy (between Tintagel and Boscastle) and walk via St Piran’s Church, following the River Trevillet through the leafy glen to a thundering 60ft waterfall. It’s believed that, as part of a ritual to turn them into knights, King Arthur’s squires passed through the rock arch and dropped into the plunge pool of St Nectan’s to be cleansed.

Bedruthan Steps, nr Mawgan Porth

Dubbed Britain’s equivalent of Australia’s Twelve Apostles, here a series of mussel-clad towers rise from golden sands. Many visitors simply stare at these rock giants from the cliff tops, but it’s worth waiting for low tide to descend the 140-something steps and experience the immensity of the scenery with your toes in the sand. After the calf-busting walk back up, you can reward yourself with a Cornish cream tea at Carnewas Tearooms.

Porth Island, Newquay

Protected from the Atlantic swell by the rugged promontory of Porth Island, Porth Beach is popular with families for swimming, SUP-ing, rock-pooling and picnics. But step over the footbridge onto Porth Island and you can explore a far more rugged domain that was once an Iron Age settlement. Peer down into the wishing well pool, soak up stunning views of Newquay’s coastline and follow the spit of land to the blowhole, where clouds of sea spray explode from the rocks at mid-tide.

Brown Willy, Bodmin Moor

A huge contrast to Cornwall’s coastal wonders, head to the wild territory of Bodmin Moor to climb the 420m to the top of Cornwall’s highest peak – Brown Willy. The rolling moorland is littered with prehistoric remains, and once you reach the summit you’ll be rewarded with far-reaching views of the countryside and coast.

Pedn-Vounder, Treen

If you can brave a knee-wobbling descent and don’t mind mingling with the naturists, at Pedn-Vounder you can take a dip in an iridescent-blue lagoon surrounded by white sands. A low-tide beach backed by towering cliffs, this breath-taking beauty is overlooked by the huge granite boulder of Logan Rock, and the sparkling water is some the cleanest, and clearest, in the UK.

The Rumps, nr Polzeath

If you want to escape the crowds and blow away the cobwebs, strike out along the coast path out of New Polzeath, and head for the twin-headed promontory of The Rumps. Far from the beach brigades, here you can discover the remains of an Iron Age fortress, capture far-reaching views of the coastline and lookout for puffins on The Mouls (the island that lies off the eastern headland). Just make sure you hold onto your hat on a windy day.

Nanjizal, nr Land’s End

About a mile from Land’s End and only accessible on foot, Nanjizal is a wild and secluded cove where the sea laps beneath the Song of the Sea rock arch. When winter swells rage it’s an awesome sight to behold and you’ll probably be in the company of more seals and sea birds than humans; while on calm summer days coast path walkers trickle by and are lured into the sea caves and the turquoise plunge pool beneath the arch.

Treyarnon Tidal Pool, Treyarnon

This natural pool carved into rocks hemming Treyarnon beach, is a picturesque place to take a dip without having to battle the surf. Paddle, rock jump, do a few laps, or simply explore the surrounding rock pools, before basking on the boulders like seals, to warm up before a picnic on the turf-topped cliffs.

Cape Cornwall, nr Pendeen

Avoid the camera-wielding crowds at Land’s End and head for nearby Cape Cornwall, where the Atlantic currents divide. Here you can climb to the landmark chimney atop a rocky peak, and enjoy views of Land’s End, Brison Rocks and the World Heritage mining coastline, with little more than sea birds for company.

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