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Senses in the studio

People standing on a beach with a surfboards.

We visited the Leach Pottery in St Ives to talk about using the senses when we create with clay and the connection this artisan studio has with its coastal location. Watch the film here…

A short walk from the sea front, tucked away among houses alongside the Stennack River lies the Leach Pottery, an international centre of creative clay work. Founded in 1920, the pottery has a pivotal role in the story of St Ives as a place of artistic endeavour.

We spoke to the pottery’s Ellen Love about the studio’s connection to the sea and the role the senses have when creating with clay.

From walks around the hallowed seaside studios to family workshops getting to grips with the wheel, treat your senses to a Leach Pottery visit.

Staff pick of the month: Swell, Falmouth

Our new series, Staff pick of the month, asks members of the team about their favourite Beach Retreats property. This month we speak to Operations Manager Kat Dreifke. Kat, originally from Germany, now lives in Cornwall and loves exploring the coastline with her partner Lee, daughter Lottie and dog Juni.

Her chosen retreat is Swell, a four bedroomed retreat just moments from the peaceful waters of Swanpool beach in Falmouth.

What is it you like most about this property?

The surrounding area and the close proximity to the beach. The views are stunning, the interior design is just lovely and of wonderful quality, and the outdoor space makes this property perfect for spending warm summer evenings in the garden enjoying the Cornish sun until late.

What will be your favourite part of the day when staying at this retreat?

Early mornings, for a sea swim at the beautiful Swanpool beach, and late evenings enjoying some al fresco dining and a glass of vino in the garden.

What is it that you like about the local area?

You can decide whether you want busy or not- Falmouth town centre is short walk away, where there is plenty to see and do and many shops, or you can stay in the more peaceful areas such as Swanpool beach and the surrounding coast.

What’s the nearest beach like and how far is the walk?

Swanpool beach is stunning! It’s great for swimming and has everything you need, including a local activity centre and a café on site. There’s even a crazy golf next to the beach. The walk is just a couple of minutes down the road from Swell which is great for popping back and forth from the house to the beach.

Is there a particular restaurant in the area that you would choose to eat at?

Hooked on the Rocks for great local seafood, every day!

Can you catch a good sunset or sunrise here?

Falmouth is on the south coast so it’s known for its great sunrises! The sea view balcony from the bedroom and living room of this property means you can wake up with the first rays of natural light and watch it rise over the sea.

What would you say is a must-see or do in this area?

Pendennis Castle and Gyllyngvase Beach are great but if you can travel a little further then Trebah Garden is wonderful.

Swell sleeps eight and has 2022 availability, click here to find out more.

Interior Design Masters Winner | Get the Look

Get the look of Interior Design Masters winner Banjo Beale’s winning prize contract design!

We were so excited to unveil Interior Design Masters winner Banjo Beale’s redesign of Winnow, the prize contract for the show. Winnow is our self-catering retreat at Watergate bay, and Banjo’s vision for the new design was all about sustainability, using a mix of antique, vintage and upcycled furniture mixed with recycled and natural fabrics and textures to create the finished product. The transformed space is a light-filled, warm and inviting coastal haven, which tells a story of the wild Atlantic ocean and the surrounding rugged cliffs through its outdoors-inspired interiors.

We’ve got all the details from Banjo about where he sourced some of his furnishings, so you can get the look yourself.

1. The brown wooden chairs in the living room are made from pineapples, a signature piece from Pinatex Pineapple Leather.

2. The lounge light shades which can be seen being used by Banjo in Interior Design Masters, are from Ferm Living.

3. The metal chairs in the living room are from Ferm Living. 

4. There are two stunning photography Prints, one in the living room and one in the kitchen by Kara Rosenlund.

5. The upholstery for the living room daybed was made by Poh Maluna

6. The framed seaweed prints are from Molesworth and Bird.

7. The llustrations in the living room are by Sam Scales.

8. The sofa was custom designed by Banjo and made by Claytons Upholstery.

9. The linen curtains are from Ada and Ina Fabric.

10. The signature lobster cushion was a collaboration with Amy Davies Design.

11. The most comfortable chair in the property – the studio Chair was from Buchannan Studio.

12. The dining table was ordered from Galvin Bros. 

13. The dining chairs surrounding it are Zara Home.

14. You’ll find plenty of Turkish Urns and Pots in the kitchen made by Lots of Pots Gatwick.

15. The shades above the kitchen island were ordered from International Art and Antique Fair

16. Many of the plants are were sourced by Banjo from Columbia Road Market, including the Coco Palms, Bird of Paradise and Kentia Palm.

17. The kitchen cupboards are made from rough sawn oak by local carpenter.

18. The grass lamp on the kitchen counter is from Abigail Ahern.

19. The outdoor table is perfect for alfresco dining and was made by Sustainable Furniture.

20. The outdoor chairs were locally made by Mena Woodwork.

21. The wallpaper found in the wc was custom designed by Amy Davies Design.

22. The bedheads were custom designed by Banjo with the yellow and green bedhead fabric from Fermoie. 

23. Here you’ll find the brown wooden pineapple chairs again, from Pinatex Pineapple Leather

24. More plants from Columbia Road Market.

25. The bedside tables were purchased from Ceraudo. 

26. The bedroom lamps are Kalinko.

27. The Jack & Jill bathroom taps and concrete sink were designed and purchased by Cast Iron Bath Company

28. The bathroom tiles can be found at Mosaic Factory 

29. The antique brass handles and power points throughout are from Corston Architectural.

What have we missed?
Contact us if you’re keen to know more about a particular piece.

Get inspired by our interior designed retreats in various beach locations around Cornwall, and keep an eye on our special offers page for your next stay.

Interior Design Masters winner Q&A

Light. Colour. Character. The winner of this year’s Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr knows what it takes to bring a space to life. And, he tells us, it all starts with a story…

From the salty sea-dog sister of Laurence Llewelyn Bowen kicking back in a shepherd’s hut, to a drunken botanist making a country house hotel his home, Interior Design Masters’ 2022 winner Banjo Beale’s fictional characters kept us entertained and enthralled throughout this year’s show.

The BBC One series hosted by Alan Carr saw eight contestants compete over six weeks to impress design judge and former editor of Elle Decoration Michelle Ogundehin, in the hope of winning a contract to refresh one of our Beach Retreats at Watergate Bay.

Inspiring the designs he brought to life in each episode and driving him to seek out the vintage finds, unique styles and problem solving mindset that saw him take the Interior Design Masters crown, imagination has always sat at the heart of Banjo’s spaces.

And the property redesign he tackled as his prize was no exception. Tasked with refreshing Winnow, a four bedroom Beach Retreats at Watergate Bay, Banjo played with natural textures, bountiful light, bright colours and one-off salvaged pieces to weave a story that sings from the moment you walk in the door.

Fresh from applying the last lick of paint, we caught up with Banjo to tell us more about his Interior Design Masters experience, the insights he learnt and the things he discovered about design, creativity and Watergate Bay through the process.

To see Winnow in full, click here.

Congratulations! How does it feel to be the winner of this year’s Interior Design Masters (IDM)?

I’m buzzing to have won IDM. It was a rollicking rollercoaster around the country that ends in gorgeous Cornwall… or is it just the beginning?

What were your expectations of the show before you took part?

I expected an adventure and what I got was so much more. I got well out of my comfort zone, tried things I’d never dream of and in my pursuit of that perfect wow piece, I travelled the length of breadth of the country, picking up a vintage canoe in Grimsby, ripping out port hole windows from a boat in Brighton harbour and driving eight hours for a vintage parasol from Ibiza.

An incredible apprenticeship I’d call it, albeit with cameras in your face and Alan Carr heckling you but I got to hone my skills and create some crazy spaces, from dangling a canoe from a Cotswold cabin to now, designing a holiday cottage in Cornwall.

Which was the most challenging brief you tackled in the competition?

I had no idea just how intense pulling together a whole room would be. I am not a natural born planner, it was a challenge, pulling everything together from the paint down to the last screw. I am more of a dreamer than a doer, but I quickly learned to get my hands dirty, solve problems fast and keep moving. Plus, for someone like me, forever hunting that elusive vintage piece, it meant lots and lots of driving.

Any moments that really stand out for you, perhaps a turning point, a challenge you overcame, something funny and/or unforgettable?

It was the in-between moments where the magic happens. The characters you meet on the road and the friends who become family, from the contestants to the crew. For me, the most incredible moment is seeing the owners reaction to their space transformation. These businesses are their livelihood and that’s a lot of pressure. But to see tears of joy and to know you’ve changed their life a little bit, you can’t beat that feeling.

What would you say is your signature style as a designer?

Natural, vintage and reclaimed with a healthy dose of greenery is my signature style. I enjoy natural textures and pieces with character, particularly primitive design. On the show, I was stretched to embrace more colour and although I really enjoy a neutral design story, I found colour unlocked a new world for me.

I’m also really inspired by storytellers like Wes Anderson and Roald Dahl, people who create imaginary worlds and bring them to life. I live in my own dream land half the time, so I love creating a little bit of make believe in spaces. Every space I tackle now I like to create an imaginary character and bring their world alive with objects, art and history. When I’m shopping or hunting for treasure, it helps me get into their mind, whether it’s an 18th century drunk botanist or an 18-year-old party girl from Manchester.

My other design inspiration is my granny friend, or Franny as I like to call her. She built the cheese farm we live on and at 83 years old, she has taught me many amazing things from weaving willow, making pottery, and caring for tropical plants (in Scotland!) in her giant glass barn. She is always dreaming and always scheming.

What was the most valuable piece of feedback or insight that you got from Michelle Ogundehin and the other judges and how has it influenced your process and thinking as a designer on your work at Winnow?

I absorbed everything Michelle said to me. I wasn’t on the judging sofa too many times so I consumed lots of her writing and Instagram advice, from learning what a muddy green is to creating a healthy space. One piece of advice she gave was to make it warm, and I really brought that to my Beach Retreats space at Watergate Bay. I want people, in summer or winter, day or night to feel a summer glow in their holiday home. From the cushions to the lighting, my space is a little ray of sunshine.

What’s next for you and how has IDM and the process shaped those ambitions and plans?

 I’d love to continue creating spaces and sharing stories. Design doesn’t have to take itself so seriously so I want to make characterful spaces for colourful characters.

About the Beach Retreats project

What excites you most about working with Beach Retreats?

I had never been to Cornwall before this project and I have to say, I get it. It’s all about the location and I was so inspired by the natural surroundings, bringing the outside in and creating a truly special holiday destination where people can come back down to earth.

What were your first impressions of Winnow and the setting?

Winnow was an amazing blank canvas. The bones of the building were great, perched on top of a hill overlooking cliffs. An architecturally designed building, with gorgeous natural light is a dream brief. My challenge was to create a space that was just as good inside, as Cornwall is outside.

From where have you drawn inspiration for the project?

Watergate Bay is a kaleidoscope of natural colours and textures. The wild Atlantic coast, craggy clay cliffs, wildflowers and sandy beaches inspired my natural colour palette and texture story.

Throughout the show, Michelle and the other judges spoke about showing your design story, a continuous thread of an idea across the space. What’s the story you’re telling with Winnow and how does your design realise it?

I started in Montauk, upstate New York, a seaside town with sloped roofs, modernist buildings and lots of creative types. I added a dose of Cornish seaside with intricate fine art photography of seaweed and shells and layered this with found art, objects and textures. My character? You know when you are a kid and you have one mate with just the coolest parents, well they were my imaginary client. An artist and a marine biologist who travel the world, collecting art and ephemera, and always land back in Watergate Bay in their large seaside abode, where their children, grandchildren and dogs reunite, sharing seafood feasts at long tables and reading in pillowy armchairs and daybeds.

How have you incorporated sustainability into your design?

I like to avoid big box stores and always hunt for reclaimed pieces first. I adore re-imagining unexpected things into useful objects, like my dining room lampshade I found at a market that was once a Hungarian chicken coop. If I buy new, I like to look at natural materials or interesting, forward-thinking brands like my living room chairs which are made of Pineapple leather. Pinatex take discarded pineapple tops and turn them into the most amazingly realistic leather like material. My other chairs are made from recycled plastic bottles.

Winnow is your first commercial project, what’s been your biggest learning / surprise?

Interior Design is 99% logistics. The project stretched me from being a dreamer to a doer and unlocked the list maker in me. It taught me that with time, a trusting client and a brave outlook, I can create spaces that are a little bit magic.

About interior design

What are your top tips for giving your bedroom the feel of a holiday home?

Make it warm. Add natural textures like linen, rattan and wood and layer that with lots of cushions, relaxed furniture and art that talks to your favourite location.

Beach Retreats is all about being by the coast and living the outdoor lifestyle, are there any quick and easy ways to bring this vibe into interior design for the home?

The coast offers endless inspiration. For me, I wanted to create an outdoor living room inside. Charred timber cladding is typically seen on the exterior of a building so I brought it inside and in doing so created a natural, textural element that drew the eye back out to the view.

What’s the one thing worth splurging on and what can you save on?

I like to mix high and low pieces. From vintage market finds that cost a dime, like my coffee table and Hungarian chicken coop light shade to designer pieces like my pillow armchair from Buchannan Studio and my bespoke table Galvin Bros and outdoor chairs from local maker, Mena woodwork.

What differences are there in designing a holiday space and the home?

A holiday home should make you feel refreshed, recharged and relaxed. Why should you limit that to your holiday? Why not make a holiday at home with your design choices?

To see Winnow in full, click here.

 

Q&A – Wildlife Conservation Biologist & Photographer

Wildlife conservation biologist and photographer Kaushiik Subramaniam was drawn to documenting life below the surface by his research and the technical challenges of photographing below sea level – a unique sensory experience…

How long have you been taking photographs of the underwater environment and what locations have you photographed in?

I’ve been photographing underwater since 2018, while doing research for my Masters degree thesis on whale sharks, and since then I have shot underwater in the UK, Kenya, Sri Lanka and, at the moment, in Mexico.

Image credit: Kaushiik Subramaniam 

When did you decide this is something you wanted to do and what do you think attracted you to this work?

I’ve always felt comfortable underwater and it went hand-in-hand with my research. It’s something completely different to topside photography; there’s a lot more involved. Conditions are always changing underwater, minute to minute, and can be completely different depending on what light is being shot through the water, for example. It can be dangerous and exciting, on top of thinking about composition. That’s part of what drew me to it, alongside my fascination with underwater life.

“For the most part, I feel that underwater is a much calmer place than on land. A lot of people that scuba dive and freedive have that in common: a feeling of peace and tranquillity underwater.”

What affect does being underwater have on your senses?

It’s difficult to explain but it is almost like some senses are muted underwater and some are heightened. Hearing can be muted or dulled down but there are noises: fish make clicking sounds and even coral on a reef makes noise.

Eyesight is very important; although, the light can play tricks on you in the water and it’s not always easy to judge depth properly. So, it does take a bit of getting used to.

How do you approach photographing wildlife underwater?

First and foremost you’re trying to find the animal then you have to think about composition and lighting. It’s not like on safari where you can move a car to get the right shot. You are being moved by the ocean, sometimes against the current and really all kinds of different things can go wrong when you’re trying to get the shot you want. It’s a mix of waiting and being proactive to find the shot.

You’re also aiming to have minimal impact on wildlife behaviour so you are documenting wildlife in as natural environment as possible. Trying not to create stress and that varies not only between animal but also individual to individual within a species.

“To be able to see them in our waters was incredible They are really elegant, beautiful looking sharks and very fast too. So to have one stick around me and my camera was amazing.”

Just because a text book says a species is ok with people being nearby, it doesn’t necessarily mean the individual animal follows that. You have to approach it slowly and keep your distance, judge how the wildlife is reacting to you. It’s very obvious normally, when wildlife doesn’t want you around it. An animal will try and get away, as far as possible, and chasing it is almost the worst thing you can do.

What senses do the underwater animals you’ve encountered use around you?

In UK waters, I have spent the most time with grey seals and they are quite intelligent mammals. In many ways they behave like underwater dogs. The way they look at you. The way their eyes move. They are such curious little things and very sneaky. They will be behind you, keeping an eye on you. Then they will come closer and have a nibble of your fins, play with you. Being in the water with seals is so much fun.

Image credit: Kaushiik Subramaniam

On the other hand, shark species will keep an eye on you from a distance. For example, tiger sharks in the Maldives are big enough to know you are not a threat to them and they will look at you in the eye try to figure you out. The level of curiosity can vary from individual to individual, some will even prod you with their nose. Like other sharks they also rely heavily on their sense of small and electro receptors. Cameras give off more electrical impulses than humans, so sharks can be attracted to the equipment we shoot with.

“Going out with a friend snorkelling on a shallow reef (a ridge of rock, coral or sand near the surface), wherever it may be, you can find incredible wildlife.”

Can being underwater ever be an overwhelming sensory experience?

For the most part, I feel that underwater is a much calmer place than on land. A lot of people that scuba dive and freedive have that in common: a feeling of peace and tranquillity underwater. It certain conditions it can be overwhelming; I was recently in the water with 15 tiger sharks and it was hard to know where to look!

What have been some of your most memorable encounters with underwater life?

I did a long spell researching whale sharks out in the Maldives and had a number of incredible encounters with them. They’re the biggest fish in the world with stunning patterning.

I was also lucky enough to swim with blue sharks. When we think about UK waters, sharks aren’t the first things that come to mind but we are very lucky that we have a rich abundance of shark species around the UK.

Image credit: Kaushiik Subramaniam

Blue sharks are very much endangered across the world unfortunately, the victim of shark fining and the shark meat industry. To be able to see them in our waters was incredible. They are really elegant, beautiful looking sharks and very fast too. So to have one stick around me and my camera was amazing.

I’ve recently been freediving, and photographing wildlife from the surface, in Mexico. At this time of year, grey whales migrate down from Canada to Mexico, where they calve. In this protected environment they are very curious and playful with humans. They will come next to the boat and look at you in the eye. The mothers almost encourage calves to come and interact with the boat, and you have these 40ft wales under your boat pushing it up and down, playing hide and seek. It’s a very unique experience!

Image credit: Kaushiik Subramaniam

What tips do you have for anyone interested in exploring the underwater world either for the experience, or to capture the experience through photography?

Going out with a friend snorkelling on a shallow reef (a ridge of rock, coral or sand near the surface), wherever it may be, you can find incredible wildlife.

With scuba diving, sorry for the pun, I would say just take the plunge. You can do a DSD, Discover Scuba Dive course, so you don’t have to have a qualification you just have to do one pool session and then you can go out for a shallow dive. Depending on the location, you can see incredible things and that might give you the push you need to do your certificates and increase your ability in the water.

If you want to do photography, it’s important to be comfortable in the water first before you put a camera under the water. You want to be able to concentrate on the photographs once you are confident with diving.  

Image credit: Kaushiik Subramaniam

Discover Kaush’s work here, and follow his underwater adventures on Instagram.

Find a retreat near Cornwall’s underwater worlds and browse our special offers.

Staff pick of the month: The Old Store, Portloe

Our new series, Staff pick of the month, asks members of the team about their favourite Beach Retreats property. This month we speak to Owner Services Co-ordinator, Belinda Peckett. Belinda lives in South Cornwall and has a dog called Ruby, and their favourite walk is the circular walk from Polkerris to the Gribben Head.

Her chosen retreat is The Old Store, an elegantly converted house which blends tradition and modernity to create the perfect retreat just 150 metres from Portloe beach.

What is it you like most about this property?

I like the fact that is located in a slightly lesser known part of the South Coast of Cornwall, with easy access to spectacular coastal walks. Portloe is in the Roseland Peninsula which is a stunning and often quieter part of Cornwall.

What will be your favourite part of the day when staying at this retreat?

Early in the morning, when you can wander down to the harbour and hopefully see the fishing vessels unloading their quarry. I love the traditional fishing atmosphere of the town.

What is it that you like about the local area?

Access to spectacular long coastal walks in either direction, where I could take Ruby for a stroll or spend the day exploring. It’s a walkers paradise!

What’s the nearest beach like and how far is the walk?

The nearest beach is Portloe which is a small beach in the harbour, but Pendower beach is about 3 miles away walking via the South West Coastal Path. The spectacular scenery makes it so worth the walk – the beach merges with Carne and is expansive at low tide which is the best time to visit.

Is there a particular restaurant in the area that you would choose to eat at?

The Hidden Hut at Porthsatho, for their grilled mackerel. They use fresh fish caught that day in their meals so it’s always delicious.

Can you catch a good sunset or sunrise here?

The south coast is best for sunrises, and you will catch a great one down on the beach or high up on the coast path. The great thing about this property is that it’s so close to the sea, you can just wake up and head out to see the sun rising.

What would you say is a must-see or do in this area?

In Spring time the magnolias in the gardens at Caerhays Castle are a must see. 

The Old Store sleeps six and accepts pets, click here to find out more.

How Many Beaches Are There in Cornwall?

Cornwall is famous for its beaches and coastal path, bordered on all three sides by stretches of sand. Its coastline also differs dramatically depending on where you are in the county – the north coast is exposed to stronger swells, creating rugged cliffs and great surfing beaches, whereas the south coast is generally more sheltered and features untouched and pristine coves.

But how many beaches are there in Cornwall?

From swathes of sand spanning miles along the coast to hidden beaches only accessible at low tide, Cornwall’s coast comprises of over 400 beaches. We’ve created a guide to the best beaches in Cornwall, whether you’re looking for a family cove, dog friendly beach or a watersports spot. So on your next visit to Cornwall, you’ll be able to find the right beach for you.

All of our retreats are within walking distance of a Cornish beach. Find your ideal beach from our 33 locations, or browse all beach properties with a sea view.

Secluded coves

Cornwall is unique in its varied coastline and unusual rock formations, which creates secluded caves with beautiful structures. More than simply a flat open beach, these coves are the perfect places to visit for finding hidden sun traps, nooks for picnics and pools to swim in.

Our south coast favourites include Kynance Cove in the Lizard Penninsula and Pedn Vounder, near Porthcurno, both of which are widely regarded as some of the most Instagram-worthy beaches in Cornwall due to their mesmerising rock structures and tropical blue water. If you’re on the north coast, try Little Fistral for a more secluded feel, just along the headland from the main beach.

Pictured: Pedn Vounder

Best beaches for watersports

A Cornwall beach holiday is a great place to pick up some new skills in the ocean. The north coast in particular offers a beginner’s surfer haven, with Watergate bay and Fistral beach producing consistent surfing conditions. Or, try your hand at kite surfing in the Atlantic breeze. For a gentler option, try stand up paddleboarding or kayaking on the calm waters of Gyllyngvase beach in Falmouth.

Pictured: Watergate Bay

Best beaches for swimming

Wild swimming has massively grown in popularity over recent years, and Cornwall has an array of bays, coves and tidal pools perfect for a cold water dip.  It’s generally best to choose somewhere calmer and away from the main swell, as the sea can be unpredictable. Some popular spots include Newquay harbour, Nanjizal, the natural rock arch near Land’s End, and the River Fowey. Always check tide times and safety advice before dipping, and never dip alone.

Pictured: Newquay Harbour

Best beaches for families

What does a family beach look like? To us, it’s a curve of soft sand for castle building, a shoreline for paddling and shell collecting, a sea safely watched by lifeguards, and perhaps a gentle river or stream for little feet to splash about in. This scene comes a reality along the Cornish coast, with the likes of Porth beach, its neighbouring Mawgan Porth and Carlyon bay all popular family beach choices.

Find a family retreat.

Pictured: Carlyon bay

Dog friendly beaches

Last but not least, Cornwall is a paw paradise, with miles of sand and rural space for your four legged friends to run about in. Although some beaches have seasonal dog bans in place, there are plenty which welcome dogs all year round. Some of our favourites include Perranporth beach and Watergate bay, both huge beaches which at low tide reveal endless space for dog walks.

Find a dog friendly retreat here.

Pictured: Watergate Bay

See below for some beach retreat inspiration for your next visit to Cornwall.

Sea Senses | By the Sea & Its Sensory Benefits

From walking the coast path to diving beneath the waves, being by the sea is being able to fully immerse your senses. We found out more about the sensory benefits…

Picture yourself on your favourite Cornish beach. The waves fizz over the sand. The sun warms your face. The pebbles you stash in your pocket feel smooth. The foraged seaweed you dare to nibble on tastes salty; the air smells briny.

Stir it all together, for a unique sensory experience. Sound, sight, touch, taste, smell – all five senses are enlivened: gathering information, grounding the body and soothing the mind.

Research repeatedly shows how contact with nature can improve mental health. According to the Forestry Research Institute in Japan, just being outside can lower our levels of the stress hormone cortisol by as much as 15%.

“Writing over 150 years earlier – long before the dawn of the smartphone – the poet William Wordsworth expressed a similar sentiment. “How much more ought the feelings to prevail when we are in the midst of the realities of things”

And yet the relentless pace of our increasingly two-dimensional, digitised lives is drawing our attention further and further from the natural world. Meanwhile, our highly-evolved senses become largely redundant if we spend too much time sitting in front of screens.

Return to reality

“Nature is our default setting but we have been trained to wander so far away from it,” chef Valentine Warner told Hole&Corner magazine recently. “We have depleted our senses and I find nature awakens mine. I wish we could all stop stroking our phones and look up.” In this virtual age, nature can bring us back to reality.

Writing over 150 years earlier – long before the dawn of the smartphone, the poet William Wordsworth expressed a similar sentiment. “How much more ought the feelings to prevail when we are in the midst of the realities of things; of the joy and happiness of birds and beasts, of hills and streams, and trees and flowers,” he reflected.

Let your senses grow

Gardening – an activity rooted in nature that engages all five senses – has been prescribed by the NHS since 2019. Scientists have even found that people who garden have measuredly better wellbeing.

For Kendra Wilson, author of Garden for the Senses: How Your Garden Can Soothe your Mind and Awaken Your Soul, gardening is “a way of embracing mindfulness by stealth.”

“Cornwall’s wild spaces present abundant sensory experiences – especially at this time of year, as spring breathes new life into the landscape.”

The first step to enjoying a sensory green space, writes Kendra, is to “make sure you leave your phone indoors,” and find plants that appeal to at least two senses. Aromatic herbs, flowering shrubs and fruit-bearing plants will lead you on a journey through taste, texture, scent and colour.

But you don’t have to tend a garden to access these tactile delights. Cornwall’s wild spaces present abundant sensory experiences – especially at this time of year, as spring breathes new life into the landscape. Edible rock samphire starts sprouting on cliffs; gorse turns the coastline golden; wild garlic scents woodland air; calmer seas invite morning swims.

Hands-on activity

Creative pursuits also allow us to tap into the calming benefits of sensory experience. Cooking, painting, carving, weaving, knitting, sculpting: any activity where we use our hands has a remarkable ability to relax us.

“In today’s society, many of us go through our whole lives without ever working with our hands: we live, we work, we eat, we buy, we repeat,” writes artist and professional textile repairer Molly Martin. “Everything is made and delivered at a blistering rate, from fast food to fast fashion and, although this may keep the economy buoyant, it’s not necessarily good for our mental health, or for our planet.”

When Martin uses her hands to mend textiles and create illustrations, she says she is left with “a sense of calm and balance.”

Getting hands-on with creativity has been shown to have quantifiable benefits from feeling happier and more relaxed to reducing anxiety.

Sea more

Over the coming months, we’ll be uncovering the many sensory experiences, and the joy of tuning into your senses, by the sea, so you can make more of every beach retreat…

Stay by the sea in one of our beach locations, and keep your eyes peeled for special offers to be here, for less.

10 reasons to stay in Hayle

Ever considered holidaying in Hayle? This estuary town sits on a dramatic stretch of the west Cornwall coast, between St Ives and Gwithian, and is home to Cornwall’s longest beach, Gwithian Towans, which stretches three miles from Hayle to Godrevy head.

Despite its natural beauty, Hayle is often the lesser spoken about destination compared to the nearby holiday hotspots of St Ives and Mousehole. We’ve come up with 10 reasons why you should pick Hayle for your next trip to Cornwall.

Away from the crowds

Hayle is just outside of the bustling streets of St Ives, and you’ll find quieter beaches and plenty of untouched nature to explore. Due to the size of its sandy beach, you’ll always have space to yourself, even on the busiest of summer days.

The train into St Ives

If you do fancy an excursion out of town, the five minute train ride from Hayle to St Ives is one of the most scenic in the UK. Be sure to grab a window seat on the right hand side, as you’ll pass the tropical waters of Carbis Bay and will have panoramic views of St Ives ahead of you, spanning all the way back towards Godrevy in the distance.

Godrevy lighthouse

Further along the three mile stretch of beach, you’ll come across Godrevy, where you can see the iconic lighthouse standing proud on the skyline. This very lighthouse inspired Virginia Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse, and is a must see on your visit to Hayle.

The best sunsets

As Hayle is on the north west coast of Cornwall, the sun sets directly above its horizon, meaning fiery red sunset skies. Head out along the coast path towards Godrevy, where you can see it set behind the lighthouse, causing the iconic white building to glow gold.

Seal spotting

Walk past Godrevy lighthouse and over the National Trust owned headland and you’ll come to the inaccessible Mutton Cove, home to a Grey seal colony. Because it can’t be reached by humans, it’s a perfect place for them to gather and bask, while interested wildlife spotters can peer down unobtrusively from above.

Food and drink

Hayle is home to an array of delectable eats, from its iconic Philps pasties which are famous around Cornwall to fine dining with a sea view in many waterfront restaurants. Check out our guide to eating out in Hayle for more recommendations.

Nature and sand dunes

Beyond its sandy shores lies a fascinating natural landscape to explore. Look around Upton Towans nature reserve that leads onto a mass of sand dunes which border the beach. Or take a walk or cycle along the RSPB reserve, passing the estuary, tidal pools and marsh in and around the town.

Bird watching

The estuary is a great spot for wildlife, as it attracts various flocks of birds throughout the seasons. Spend a day around the wetlands area and you may catch a rare sighting. The nearby Saltings nature reserve is also a prime place for murmurations in the shoulder months.

Coastal walks

From Hayle you also have easy access to the South West Coast Path, where you can get to St Ives on foot. The walk is just over six miles, but the coastal views along the way and the promise of a seafood lunch in St Ives will keep you going.

Watersports

Gwithian is a great spot for budding surfers to pros, with its wide shoreline and consistent swell. The area is also famous for windsurfing. There is a selection of surf and watersports schools dotted along the coast, meaning you can hire equipment and head out on a lesson if you don’t feel confident in the water.

Find out more about Hayle here, and take a look at our retreats in Hayle for your next trip below.

Eating out in Hayle

Hayle is a treat for the eyes, with its landscape of photo‑worthy vistas, riverfront wildlife, three‑mile long beach and yawning estuary.

Yet beyond the glorious scenery is a generous handful of beachfront takeaways, laid back cafes and fine dining restaurants where you can tuck into freshly caught seafood, pub classics and everything in between. Here are some of our favourites….

Hungry Horsebox Co.

Converted from an old horse trailer, this café on wheels is parked down at Gwithian Beach and open daily to serve delicious al fresco meals and snacks, ready to be devoured right there amongst the elements. Forget the Cornish pasty‑ how about sampling the rich spices of their famous red lentil dahl with coconut, spinach and sweet potato? Or, tuck into their mouth‑watering whipped lemon and tahini hummus, with toasted flat breads and truffle oil. A taste sensation served with a view.

Sunset Surf Café/ Bar

Looking for some post‑surf grub to re fuel you for the rest of the day? Look no further than Sunset Surf Café, cooking up filling breakfasts, heart‑warming lunches and refreshing drinks that really hit the spot. This café overlooks the sand dunes of Gwithian beach that lead down onto the huge expanse of sand below, the perfect scenery to accompany your meal.

Philps Famous Pasties

A trip to Cornwall wouldn’t be complete without a proper Cornish pasty – it’s a holiday essential. Years of expertise in the pasty trade makes Philps the best in their business, and they cook up fresh batches of the stuffed, flaky pastries daily at their riverside takeaway. You can never go wrong with a classic steak or cheese and onion, but they offer a range of options to satisfy all pasty‑lovers’ appetites!

Sanders Fish and Chips

Another Cornish classic is the fish and chips. Light, flaky cod coated in crispy batter, served with a generous handful of chips and adorned with plenty of salt, vinegar and mushy peas. Can it get any better? Sanders know how to do fish and chips right, and have them ready to eat in or takeaway, allowing you to tuck in in front of the sunset.

Rockpool Beach Café

Just moments from the sea at the lighthouse end of the beach sits The Rockpool Beach Café. Its laid‑back atmosphere and sand dune surroundings makes this boho café a go to lunch spot, serving up fresh seafood, pizzas and beach bites that you can eat in or take to the beach. They also have a sandy back garden, and host live music and open‑air cinema events throughout the year.

Salt Kitchen and Bar

A social hub in the centre of Hayle, Salt is the place to go after a day on the beach. Rock up with sandy toes straight from the sea into this laid back, friendly diner, where you can tuck into modern continental food with a Cornish twist. Sample monkfish and tiger prawn skewers, an antipasti sharing platter or simply a cold beer as you soak up the beach life aura.

New to the area? Check out our blog on 10 reasons to stay in Hayle to find out more, or browse our Hayle retreats below.