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Out of hours: At the beach with Nell Kerr

Cornish artist Nell Kerr evokes the ever-changing spirit of the ocean in paint. From roaring waves to sparkling ripples, her paintings get up close and personal with the surface of the water – exploring how the light interacts with it, how it swells and flows. Nell’s studio sits right next to a stream that feeds into the creeks of the beautiful Helford River, giving her unlimited access to the South Cornwall coast any time the mood takes her.

She downed brushes to tell us about the joys of having the beach to yourself, the hypnotic effect of the sea, and the art of capturing that magical last light, as part of our Out of Hours content series.

Nell Kerr Credit: Nell Kerr

When I start a painting, the first thing I look for is the light.

The same scene can be completely changed by the conditions minute to minute, which is what makes living close to the sea so inspiring. The water reflects what is happening around it, meaning it’s different every time you look.

Having the coastline close by brings so many opportunities, whether that’s swimming, surfing, boating, walking the coast paths, or just sitting by the water. I feel incredibly lucky to have the Falmouth Bay and Helford coastline on my doorstep. It really is a beautiful place, with so much variety of landscape.

“The same scene can be completely changed by the conditions minute to minute, which is what makes living close to the sea so inspiring.”

What I love most about Falmouth and Helford is that there’s always something new to see and to notice. It’s in constant flux. Tide, light, weather – it’s an endless resource for paintings.

I spend a lot of time in, on and next to the water. I think we approach life through the prism of our interests, so where some people see a surfable wave, I see a painting opportunity.

Psychologists have studied the human response to natural fractals such as waves, and the evidence suggests that there is a stress-reduction effect that is somehow triggered by a physiological resonance inside the eye. In fact, a 1986 NASA study measured a significant decrease in participants’ stress response when they were viewing fractal images. I think it’s something we can all relate to – who doesn’t love gazing at the sea? It’s hypnotic. I wanted to replicate this effect in my paintings.

Early mornings before the beaches get busy are always an inspiring time, the sun still low in the sky and very few people about. There’s something really special about having a beach to yourself, even if only for a little while. It’s a real privilege.

The evening light here is especially magical. There are fewer people around and often the wind drops and the water takes on a glassy languor that is so beautiful and ethereal.

Nell Kerr Credit: Nell Kerr

“There’s something really special about having a beach to yourself, even if only for a little while. It’s a real privilege.”

On a practical level, the surface of water is a challenging subject to study and so provides myriad learning opportunities for me as a painter. I enjoy playing with micro versus macro, and the illusory nature of scaling up the tiny waves that break on the shoreline. I also love the meditative exercise of attempting to capture the light in a way that transports.

My studio sits right next to a stream that feeds into one of the Helford creeks, which is a constant reminder that the river and its beaches are right there whenever I need them.

I usually take photographs and make sketches outdoors and then work from them in my studio. But there is definitely a more immediate quality when working from life that I hope to take advantage of now that the weather is being kinder.

I love being out on the water in our Canadian canoe with my camera to hand. It’s a wonderful way to get really close to the water’s surface much further out from the shore where the water behaves differently. It’s also a really fun and non-intrusive way to explore the coastline and see it from a different perspective.

Immersing myself in the water gets my eyes on a level with the surface, which I love. That experience then informs my work; it’s an effect I enjoy trying to replicate in my paintings.

“The evening light here is especially magical. There are fewer people around and often the wind drops and the water takes on a glassy languor that is so beautiful and ethereal.”

Spending so long gazing at the water, I see lots of seabirds and the occasional seal. Also, dolphins last summer – that felt like a very good sign. Working with the sea has given me a real appreciation for how essential it is that we protect and preserve our precious marine environments.

Find out more:

nellkerr.com
@nell_kerr

 

Out of hours: At the beach with Nick Pumphrey

A 5am alarm – sometimes earlier. Pulling on the wetsuit, eyes half closed, as the first faint traces of monochrome light emerge. Rain, hail, raging gales or glassy calm, photographer Nick Pumphrey steps into the sea with his camera every morning while most of us are sleeping. Why? To get creative in the ‘blue hour’, connect with nature, calm his mind and capture the breaking dawn while floating in the waters around his home town of St Ives.

Nick Pumphrey Credit: Nick Pumphrey

Before the pandemic, Nick travelled the world shooting for publications and brands including National Geographic, The Guardian, Roxy, Surfdome and Wavelength magazine. But immersing himself in the ocean on his doorstep every morning has sparked a new energy and insight he’s eager to share.

As part of our Out of Hours content series, we caught him one morning once he’d dried off, made a coffee and posted his 10 daily ‘Dawn Days’ images to his Instagram account.

Credit: Nick Pumphrey

Dawn Days came about in the early stages of lockdown last year. I wasn’t feeling too good – not myself. I wanted to get rid of the anxieties that were clouding my thoughts. I read a few books on mindfulness and studied the Wim Hof cold water submersion breathing – and I had this idea that sharing pictures of the sea might lift people’s spirits.

There was no real brief, no expectations. I thought, I’ll get in the sea in the dark, see the sunrise, float, photograph whatever’s happening. Then share it. I wanted to keep the whole motive as simple and honest as possible.

I swim with my camera for my own sanity, I swim to share stories with fellow swimmers, I swim to be present and to connect with something much larger than myself. I share images on social media with the hope of inspiring others to be creative and to connect with nature.

Credit: Nick Pumphrey

With the dawn wake-up calls, there’s always a bit of stubbornness, a resistance, there. But ultimately, I know I’ll feel better when I’m up – that it’ll be worth it. Once I’m on my feet and the wetsuit’s on, I’m not tired anymore. I haven’t missed a morning yet this year.

“I swim with my camera for my own sanity, I swim to share stories with fellow swimmers, I swim to be present and to connect with something much larger than myself.”

In the summer, it can be a 4am alarm to be in there for the blue hour. It drives you crazy chasing that first light. You get up and look out, and it’s like, ‘Oh no, it’s getting light already!’

The ‘blue hour’ is the hour before dawn, when you often get the best colours in the sky. I float there, literally just hooting out loud at these incredible colour displays above. You know it’s a good day when you’re hooting while shooting.

Nick Pumphrey Credit: Nick Pumphrey

Various people have joined my dawn swims along the way, and it’s seriously improved their wellbeing. James Hardy – a great surfer, he’s been doing it with me every single day since January. When he started, he couldn’t sleep. He’d had really bad sleeping problems for years, but after 14 days in the sea at sunrise, they disappeared. Then there’s Lydia from Wild Swimming Cornwall. She was battling mental health issues, and then immersion in nature has completely sorted her.

We’ve been out in some pretty wild weather – sleet, snow, wind, big swells. No two days are the same. You’re connecting directly with nature – starting your day positively. Not to mention all the benefits of cold water.

Out of hours Credit: Nick Pumphrey

There was one Dawn Day experience that turned pretty heavy. I was at Godrevy, and there was a heavy sea fog. I couldn’t see the sea, but I could hear it. My ego was saying: ‘I have to do it, people are going to be expecting my 10 photos,’ when of course they’re not really. My gut was telling me no, but I kept going. Even in the water, the current was pushing me back towards shore. Eventually I got out there, but then I got caught in a current, and ended up 100 metres up by the cliffs. I looked in and thought, ‘the beach isn’t there anymore, it’s just a rock face.’ I was alright, the tide was OK and there was enough space for me to climb up and call it a day. But you know, I’m experienced, and I still got caught out. It taught me how important it is to listen to your instincts and respect the sea.

Nick pumphrey Credit: Nick Pumphrey

“The ‘blue hour’ is the hour before dawn, when you often get the best colours in the sky. I float there, literally just hooting out loud at these incredible colour displays above.”

Porthmeor Beach was my playground. We came to St Ives when I was 6 months old, so I’ve spent my life around the sea surrounded by creative folk. I started surfing at 12, and I’m 42 now. I suppose I’m naturally drawn to the water, because I always have this burning desire to be in the sea, or at least close by.

I’ve wanted to be a photographer for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t have the confidence to go for it at first. So I kept doing the ‘safe’ jobs to bring money in. It was only when I was 35, 36 – that I decided to properly give photography a go, 100%, without any compromise. Over the last 6 years or so, I’ve lived purely off my photography. I really believe if you go with those gut feelings and trust that it will work out, then it probably will.

Credit: Nick Pumphrey

My sea photographs are a combination of intention and experimentation. On dark mornings, I normally start with slow exposure as that lends itself beautifully to the movement – the ‘whoosh’ – of the sea. There are days that don’t look particularly inspiring, but if you take a photo at half a second, or a second even, you get some unexpectedly beautiful results. I move the camera with the wave, take the picture – and give the camera a little jolt, and it just pulls everything up. I love the anticipation, the not knowing exactly how it’s going to turn out. There are no rules.

I enjoy going through my shots once I’m out and dry with a cup of coffee. The coffee, the edit and the music – I love it.

You get some mornings when the sun’s going crazy, the waves are pumping, the light is intense, and you’re just reacting to what’s happening in front of you. They’re the best days – when you’re totally present.

When I do the dawn swims there’s the connection to nature; to the energy of the sea and the power of the sunrise. You’re getting a big dose of natural light into your eyes first thing. These days, it’s usually the opposite, with people waking up and looking straight into a phone screen. I know I used to do that, but not now.

Credit: Nick Pumphrey

“I love the anticipation, the not knowing exactly how the image will turn out. There are no rules.”

There’s been an awakening during this last year. People have realised that being out in nature makes them feel better. Growing your own food, leaving the city – there’s been a huge shift, a move back to our roots. It’s positive, because when you appreciate and understand nature, you want to protect it.

Credit: Nick Pumphrey

We’ve had some incredible encounters with wildlife. Every morning two little seal pups would come up and hang with us. They’re so inquisitive and innocent. I got a photo of one rubbing its head on James’ swim fin! We also witnessed a few gannet feeding frenzies, and schools of dolphins swimming by too.

This morning there was a white sunrise. It had an exotic, hazy feeling. When the sun finally showed itself it was this bright white ball – a bit like the moon. I took a few shots and then just put my camera down and looked at it. It was so peaceful. Really calm, no wind. It was just the oily textures of the sea and this white sun, with its reflection coming straight to me.

I’m not religious, but there’s a spiritual dimension to being in the sea at dawn. It’s like coming back to source, tapping back into how we were, how we’re supposed to be. It’s easy to see life as school, study, get a job, make money, buy a house – but ultimately, we feel at our best when we’re in these natural environments. You absorb energy from nature. It makes sense.

Find out more:

nickpumphrey.com
@nickpumphreyphoto
Fine art prints available at nickpumphrey.art

Out of hours: At the beach with Alicia Ray

If you spy a group doing downward dog in the Gwithian dunes at dawn, the woman leading the way is likely to be beach yoga guru Alicia Ray. Channelling insight gained from years of experience as a clinical psychologist, therapist, fitness instructor and yoga teacher, Alicia brings a holistic approach to wellbeing that incorporates her love of the Cornish coast.

As part of our Out of Hours content series, we spoke to Alicia about sunrise sun salutations, the restorative power of the sea, and what a flock of Canada Geese has to do with beach yoga.

Credit: Alicia Ray Wellbeing

After 10 years of teaching high-intensity fitness classes, I needed something different. I was seeking space and a deeper connection with the outdoors. I found yoga through attending surf and yoga retreats in Portugal, Sri Lanka, and Costa Rica. My first yoga class was outside on a rooftop in Portugal. We practiced sun salutations at sunrise and after that I was hooked!

I don’t think I truly understood the value of connection with nature though until I spent six weeks doing my intensive yoga teacher training in Costa Rica. We’d start each day with yoga as the sun rose and I found there was something particularly magical about practising at this time of day.

I now teach beach yoga classes, surf and yoga retreats in Cornwall, yoga and wellbeing retreats in Sri Lanka, and advanced yoga and mindfulness training for aspiring young surf athletes in the Philippines.

The benefits of yoga for surfing are amazing, including increased strength and flexibility and a calm, focused mindset.

Alicia Ray Credit: Alicia Ray Wellbeing

“My first yoga class was outside on a rooftop in Portugal, we practised sun salutations at sunrise and after that I was hooked!”

The last 12 months have highlighted how essential the coastline is for my wellbeing. If I’m feeling stressed or low on energy then I find that being close to the sea restores me.

Living in Truro means I have both the North and South coasts within striking distance and so I’m utterly spoiled for choice. I love being on the South Coast for the sunrise and head there for sea swimming and paddle boarding in the calm waters; while I love the North Coast for its dramatic cliffs, amazing surf and epic sunsets.

Weekends are all about getting up super early, parking our van by the coast for coffee and soaking up the view. That time when there’s hardly anyone around is precious, breathing in the fresh air, the sea, the calm.

Credit: Alicia Ray Wellbeing

I like to hit the beach first thing and stay until that quiet time after sunset. I think what makes the sunrise and sunset special is the serenity. There’s a magic when you sense that others are connecting to the same energy as you.

“Weekends are all about getting up super early, parking our van by the coast for coffee and soaking up the view. That time when there’s hardly any people around is precious, breathing in the fresh air, the sea, the calm.”

I think the unpredictability of nature helps create perspective. It’s hard to worry about everyday problems when a sudden rainstorm erupts, or a glorious burst of sunlight appears from behind the clouds. There have been amazing rainbows out to sea during our beach yoga classes, and then there are incredible moments when someone spots dolphins in the waves. And there’s nothing like the sight and sound of a flock of Canada Geese flying overhead to snap you out of ruminating about work!

We can be so consumed by our devices and online commitments that we don’t see the beauty of what is already around us. Outdoor yoga enables a calming of the nervous system so that our full attention is present in the moment. Practising in nature allows us to absorb so much more of our environment, which we can easily miss when we’re rushing from one thing to the next.

Alicia Ray Credit: Alicia Ray

I would encourage everyone to try yoga at sunrise. During my Sri Lanka yoga retreats we’re on the beach at 5.45am each day – which can be a shock at first! But by the end of the week, everyone is hooked, and all agree that the magic you experience at this time of day is well worth the early start (coffee helps!).

“There’s nothing like the sight and sound of a flock of Canada Geese flying overhead to snap you out of ruminating about work!”

Gwithian was the first beach we visited when we moved to Cornwall and I have many fond memories of this amazing stretch of coastline. I love how open it is. You can get off the beaten track quickly, you can find a space for yourself, or share it with others. Everywhere you look there are inspiring views, ocean sounds – you really feel the entire landscape. The sand dunes are just stunning and I can spend hours amongst them walking, reading, practising yoga.

My favourite light for beach yoga is the golden sunset tone you get at Gwithian in September and October. This warm, low light is pretty special.

Every outdoor yoga class has a totally unique feeling as the light changes throughout the seasons. In spring, the colours are bright blues and then into high summer they change into vivid yellows and greens.

Our practice is often influenced by the change in energy from the environment around us and the changes in the ocean. Through the summer months the ocean is calmer and the energy picks up in our Autumn classes as the waves become stronger and more powerful.

It’s amazing watching the change in people from the start of a beach yoga class to the end. The walk back across the dunes is calmer, more zen – I notice that people pause to take in the scenery, listen to the sounds.

“I would encourage everyone to try yoga at sunrise. The magic you experience at this time of day is well worth the early start (coffee helps!).”

I’ll be teaching regular classes from Gwithian beach on a Saturday morning and Wednesday evening from this Spring to Autumn. From regulars to newcomers, everyone is welcome! We practise during all weathers and embrace the changes in the elements. I also offer bespoke individual and group yoga, surf and wellbeing packages so that people can enjoy a wellbeing retreat day or a surf and yoga weekend as part of their holiday in Cornwall.

Find out more:

aliciaray.uk
@aliciaraywellbeing

April and May staycations

It’s almost time for us to open the doors and welcome you back to the coastal life we know all love and have missed. Every place on our books has the beach less than a mile away,  everything you need nearby and a finish that will lift spirits the moment you walk in. Curl up in your favourite window seat, fire up the gas bbq while the waves roll in and put beach life back on your 2021 itinerary.

Here are our recommended retreats for an April and May staycation.

THE VILLAGE, WATERGATE BAY

Two and four bedroom lodges from £1,240.

A superb collection of two and four bedroom eco lodges, just a two minute walk from Watergate beach. Enjoy glorious views across the bay and out to sea, as well as reverse level accommodation where the living area is on the first floor to fully exploit these dramatic sea views.

Where to eat: Wax Watergate Bay will be opening their beer garden daily throughout April/May with hog roasts, cocktail bar, burritos and music.

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Levan
Breock

Merryn Watergate Bay

THE STRAND, PORTH

Four bedroom houses available from £1,479

The Strand development is a new collection of town houses beautifully designed over four floors. Each property has a private balcony, front and rear garden (front gardens are communal) and sea views in the distance. Step out of your door and stroll for two minutes down the road and you’ll find yourself on the family-friendly Porth beach – a wide expanse of sand flanked by rockpools and cliffs. Porth is located between Newquay and Watergate Bay, complete with a local pub on the beach and shop.

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SKYLINE, MAWGAN PORTH

Six bedroom house available from £3,032

Nestled above Mawgan Porth, Skyline combines contemporary coastal living with boutique interiors to create a space perfect for self-catering family holidays. In just a five-minute walk, you’ll find yourself on Mawgan Porth’s golden sand and at the village centre with its perfectly formed mix of cafes, restaurants, pub, surf shops and surf school.

Head to the Merrymoor Inn beer garden for local ales, delicious Cornish food and a sea view.

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1 PORTH SANDS, PORTH

Two bedroom apartment available from £684

Just a stone’s throw away from Porth beach; a wide sandy beach sheltered by two headlands, 1 Porth Sands is a contemporary two bedroomed first floor apartment with a private balcony and stunning coastal views. Nestled between Watergate Bay and Fistral headland, Porth is a charming waterfront village with a teahouse, cafe, restaurant, pub and boutique shop. The beach is popular with families for its flat golden sand and shallow waters, while surfers enjoy catching the Atlantic swells.

Enjoy take away pizzas from The Mermaid throughout April/May.

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THE COURTYARD, KINGSAND 

Four bedroom house available from £1,039

Positioned in the heart of a beautiful Cornish former fishing village, 100 metres from the beach, The Courtyard is perfect for an ‘escape from it all’ break. The Rame Peninsula, known as Cornwall’s forgotten corner, Kingsand and Cawsand are a pair of charming fishing villages untouched by time. With colourful wooden boats, shingle beach and woodland border, it is a popular destination for artists and those that wish to escape the crowds in this idyllic little bay.

The Courtyard is a duplex apartment on the ground and first floor, converted from a chapel to bring contemporary living to a historic building.

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SEARCH ALL SELF CATERING HOLIDAYS IN CORNWALL.

Social distancing and these strange times don’t mean you can’t enjoy dining out in the foodie Mecca that Cornwall’s become. Here are our favourite places to tuck into a taste of Cornwall in an outdoor dining room.

Watergate Bay

Whether you’ve been surfing, walking the dog or simply basking on Watergate Bay’s two miles of golden sands, you’ll no doubt have worked up an appetite for a pit stop at Watergate Bay’s brand new pop up. Drop your surfboards and beach gear, and follow the smell of food, to fill up on seasonal takeaway dishes – From gourmet hot dogs and Napoletana-style pizzas to artisan ice cream, cold beers and cocktails for sunset. From May.

watergatebay.co.uk

Fox’s Revenge, Summercourt

FoxsClocking up huge applaud for its no fuss, flavoursome food and venue, the Fox’s Revenge has taken the changing face of dining out in its stride, with the addition of a large tipi dining area. What with Cornish weather being so unpredictable, and no one wanting to rub elbows at the dinner table these days, here you can tuck into no-fuss seasonal flavours from the barbecue and smoke shack, served with a breath of fresh air yet undercover. Genius. Booking essential.

thefoxsrevenge.com

Canteen Cornwall

Newquay Community Orchard & St Agnes
Since Canteen Cornwall started serving up their famous dhal, chicken dinners, cinnamon buns and delicious daily dishes at Wheal Kitty in St Agnes, their seasonal food and convivial dining ambience have lured hungry folk from far and wide. And now, with a second venue that’s just opened its doors, the same sustainable, seasonal fare will now be brought to the tables at Newquay Community Orchard. Taking the field to fork ethos even more seriously this time, much of the produce will be picked from the market garden just a pebble’s throw from your plate.

canteencornwall.com

The Slope, Great Western Beach, Newquay

Lap up the beach vibes and banging Cornish food at this popular surfers’ hangout harking back to the 60s. A menu tailored for barefoot beach goers includes family-friendly share platters, loaded fries and gourmet burgers. What’s more, it’s all served alongside locally roasted coffee and Cornish beers made by Sharp’s brewery. So, peel off your wetsuit and bask on a surf-side bench, or grab a takeaway and tuck-in with your toes in sand.

theslopenewquay.com

Poldhu Beach Cafe, Poldhu Cove

Bang on the family Mecca of Poldhu Cove, this buzzing little beach café serves breakfast baps, finger-licking lunches and Poldhutastic hot chocolates – all with a side order of eye-popping sea views from the beachside deck. So, whether you’ve been riding the waves, hunting for beach treasure or creating sand sculptures on the beach, it’s the perfect pit stop for rumbling tums. Every Friday in summer enjoy stone-baked pizzas served with Cornish cider or a glass of bubbly, while listening to live music and the beat of the waves.

poldhu.com

The Driftwood Spars, St Agnes

A historic inn serving its own micro-brewery ales under low-beamed ceilings, and delicious seasonal food in a contemporary dining room, The Driftwood Spars took the changing times in its stride. Now you can enjoy the same great food from local farms and fishermen, alongside the same quenching local ales, in a large outdoor dining area just footsteps from Trevaunance Cove.

driftwoodspars.com

The Cornish Arms, St Merryn

When foodie hero Rick Stein took the helm of this traditional country pub in 2009, The Cornish Arms turned into one of the North Coast’s foodie destinations. Within an easy hop of St Merryn’s seven bays and beaches, it really is the perfect place to fuel up after a surf, coastal stomp or even a game of golf. With a huge beer garden it’s always been popular when the sun shines, and now it boasts a huge outdoor eating area undercover, so you can enjoy Stein’s classic Cornish dishes, come rain or shine.

rickstein.com/restaurants/the-cornish-arms/

Prawn on the Farm, Padstow

For a little seafood bar and restaurant tucked in the cobbled streets of Padstow, Prawn on the Lawn made a very big name for itself. A pioneer of the alfresco foodie movement, it changed its location to Trerethern Farm (just outside of Padstow), tweaked its name and created an outdoor restaurant that proved a huge hit on the foodie radar. And it’s back this year with an even bigger outdoor restaurant under canvas, serving small plates and seafood platters with a focus on produce sourced directly from the day boats, all with a side order of divine countryside and estuary views.
prawnonthelawn.com

The Mariners, Rock

What better way to spend a summer afternoon than watching the boats go by from the terrace, while sipping local ales from Sharp’s brewery, alongside Porthilly oysters (plucked from oyster beds in view), lobster, mussels and catch of the day? With Paul Ainsworth and his team heading up this local pub beside the Camel Estuary, it’s little wonder that the calibre of the food and drink matches the divine views on the doorstep. Make a day of it by arriving on the Black Tor ferry from Padstow.

paul-ainsworth.co.uk/the-mariners

Sam’s on The Beach, Polkerris

Step straight off your SUP and tuck into steaming bowls of local mussels and other Cornish seafood, or enjoy a slice of artisan pizza fresh from the wood-fired oven, while casting your gaze over St Austell Bay. Once an RNLI station, at Sam’s on the Beach you can take a seat on the old slipway where boats used to be launched into the sea. A dab-hand at alfresco dining, you can now also enjoy Sam’s On the Roseland, serving award-winning burgers, gourmet hand-rolled pizzas and Bali bowls, from a freight box kitchen and bar on the Roseland.

samscornwall.co.uk

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Slow travel in Cornwall

On the upside, this crazy year has given us all many reasons to stay closer to home and slow down a little. And being a destination that doesn’t involve hopping on a plane to get to, Cornwall’s culture, landscape and remoteness makes it a place that goes hand-in-hand with the art of slow travel. So, here are some of our favourite places to ditch the car and reconnect with yourself, with each other and with nature at your own pace.

Care free adventures in Cawsand

Cawsand

Once your feet hit the sand, these waterside villages and your pace of life will quickly re-adjust to the ebb and flow of the tides. Take a step back in time in this ‘forgotten corner’ of Cornwall, where you can wander the coast path to historic landmarks or hop aboard a ferry and witness the county’s maritime heritage from the water. Why not wake up with a sunrise sea dip, skim pebbles in the twinkling bay, then follow the cobbled lanes to The Old Bakery for a loaf of fresh sourdough that you can unpack on a picnic at Rame Head?

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Soak up eye-popping scenery in Portloe

With little to do except stroll, swim, eat and gawp at its pristine beauty, the seaside hamlet of Portloe is an idyllic location to ditch your keys and lap up life in the slow lane. Get a mighty dose of Vitamin Sea, rub shoulders with local fishermen and dine on the their catch in historic smugglers’ hangouts. Flaunting Cornish culture and eye-popping coastal scenery in bucket-loads, for its diminutive size, you’ll feel a million miles away from the maddening crowds. In spring, wafts of coconut-gorse infuse the air as you stroll along the coast path to Portholland’s duo of beaches. Or you might prefer to castaway on a paddleboard to spot seals and seabirds.

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Crabbing and coastal rambles in Mousehole

Mousehole

Hang a crabbing line from the harbour wall and watch the watery world go by in a place dubbed ‘the loveliest village in England’ by Dylan Thomas. Tuck into potted Cornish crab accompanied by locally brewed ales in the The Ship Inn – a place frequented by Thomas – before rambling onto Lamorna Cove, where he also stayed with his girlfriend Caitlin. As you pass the iconic Tater Du lighthouse, tunnel through the enchanting Kemyel Crease woodland and emerge at Lamorna’s quayside. It’s easy to see why Dylan Thomas fell so deeply in love with the landscape – and indeed his girlfriend, who he subsequently married. Whether you walk the coast path, or take a cruise aboard where the skipper regales tales of smugglers, shipwrecks and pirates, you’ll no doubt fall head over heels for this place, too.

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Shell-hunting and sandboarding in Holywell Bay

holywell

Get lost in miles of dunes and glide down their sandy peaks, onto a crushed-shell beach perfect for hunting sea glass. At low tide explore the sea caves in search of the ‘holy well’ that gave the beach its name, and when westerlies bring white horses scudding across the Atlantic, seek shelter in the towering dunes. As soon as you clap eyes on the twin peaks of Gull rock, you’ll recognise the bay for its part in BBC’s Poldark hit. And whether your toes are in the sand or you stomp the coast path to Kelsey head, it’s easy to imagine Ross Poldark galloping along the shoreline, and Demelza wistfully picking sea pinks on the cliff tops.

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Cycle coast to coast from Portreath

Portreath

Exploring Cornwall under pedal power is a great way to get under the skin of the landscape and culture at your own pace, while cunningly avoiding the holiday traffic. There’s a web of mineral tramways criss-crossing some of the county’s richest mining heritage in West Cornwall, our favourite of which is the Coast-to-Coast trail. Freewheel along 11 miles of off-road trails from Portreath harbour on the north coast, ticking off sea views, woodland, engine houses and quarries, on the way to the sublime estuary-edge Devoran on the south coast.

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Rockpooling on Downderry beach

Kick off your shoes, grab a fishing net and bucket, and pad along Downderry’s sand and shingle shoreline on the ebbing tide. Here, in the shadow of the sea cliffs, you can squander hours searching the rock pools for the likes of starfish, anemones, crabs and blennies. Don’t lose track of time if you want to pad barefoot all the way to Seaton, as you don’t want to get cut off by the incoming tide. At the very eastern end of the beach you’ll find more than nature baring all, as it’s a popular naturist hangout.

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Chase waterfalls at Rocky Valley

BoscastleFeel the embrace of nature as you turn inland from the rugged North Cornish coast and follow a magical glen all the way to a thundering waterfall. Explore ancient woodland alongside the River Trevillet to reach the 60ft St Nectan’s Glen, serenaded by birdsong, the whisper of the water, and the mythical fairies and piskies believed to inhabit one of Cornwall’s most spiritual sites.

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21 must dos for your 2021 Cornwall bucket list

Make 2021 one to remember with our guide to amazing things to see and do throughout your visit. Can you tick them all off before the year is over?

1. Wild Swimming

Cornwall

What better way to start the new year with a wild swim in the Atlantic Ocean. Cornwall is filled to the brim with the perfect swimming conditions from sheltered harbours to natural fresh water swimming pools. Check out our friends at Wild Swimming Cornwall for their top locations, where they describe any outdoor swimming experience a place where you are surrounded by nature and exposed to the elements counts as a wild swim.

2. Join a feast night

St Austell

Showcasing delicious local produce and ingredients you won’t be able to live without, restaurants like Knightor Winery have it all going on when it comes to dining out. With excellent food and premium wines produced from their own Cornish vineyards dining at Knightor Winery is the top of list, next to our friends at Nancarrow Farm. With themes in the past including Sri Lankan, Nordic and Scandi, 2018 is sure to bring even more foodie nights to remember. Look out for upcoming feast dates.

3. Get wet ‘n’ wild with a family surf lesson

Multiple locations

If you’ve not yet delved into the ocean on your holiday, 2018 is the time to do it. Better yet, we want you to mix it up with not just a surf lesson, but a family surf lesson, getting everyone involved. You won’t get any closer to the salty air you dream about than this. There are fantastic surf schools all over the coast offering lessons for a wide mix of ages and abilities. Below you can see the Extreme Academy at Watergate Bay.

 extrmeme academy watergate

 

 

4. Walk the South West Coast Path

Multiple locations

You may have already done some of this without even realising. Step onto the beach and turn left or right, you are sure to step on part of the 300 miles South West Coast Path. If you need a little guidance, check out their website for your nearest route.

Gate past Pentire Point

 

 

5. Visit a hidden beach

Multiple locations

Feel as though you are on your own private beach at one of Cornwall’s secret locations. Leave footprints in untouched sand, run away from the summer crowds and if you’re brave enough, why not join the naturists that sometimes bathe in these hidden locations.

lantic beach

 

6. Take the road to nowhere

We love the idea of just jumping in the car and seeing where the beautiful coastal roads will take us. You’ll often come across tiny coves and beaches that you’ve never even heard of. 2018 is the time to discover somewhere new. Be sure to take a road map with you (just in case).

Small cove at the start of the walk over the bridge

 

 

7. Go back in time at Tintagel Castle

Tintagel

Immerse yourself in history, myths and stunning scenery at Tintagel Castle, set high on Cornwall’s rugged north coast between Padstow and Bude. With the Atlantic Ocean right beneath you, you won’t be short of photo stops as you meander through the old pathways where King Arthur once stood. Walk the brand new bridge, new in 2019. Find out more about this magical day out.

Tintagel Castle

8. Lose yourself in the Lost Gardens of Heligan

St Austell

Owned for over 400 years by the Tremayne family, Heligan is arguably one of the most mysterious and romantic estates in England, with a fascinating history. Learn how the garden was lost for decades and when it was discovered, wander around hidden paths taking in the scents and sights of the flowers and tiptoe past the famous sleeping goddess. Find out more about a trip to the Lost Gardens of Heligan.

9. Take a dip in Bude Sea Pool

Bude

Recently restored with help from the community and its sponsors, Bude Sea Pool is a part natural, part man-made swimming pool in the rocks at Summerleaze Beach in Bude. Built in the 1930’s the pool attracts visitors throughout the summer months and creates a safe haven for families to bathe.

10. Take a selfie at Men-an-Tol

Near Penzance

Believed to be around 3,500 years old, Men-an-Tol near Penzance is made up of four stones including the iconic circle and three pillars. Crawl through the circle if you wish to be ‘blessed’ and ‘heeled’ or simply do what most visitors do, take a selfie! There is only one other example of a holed stone in the UK which can be found in Gweek, Cornwall.

11. Forage for your own dinner

Voted as one of the top 10 foraging courses in the UK by Countryfile, Fat Hen in Cornwall celebrates wild food and cooking as well as the coming together of people who enjoy the great outdoors. If you love the delicious Cornish produce that’s already on offer, you’re going to love it even more when you have picked it yourself.

12. Walk the causeway to St Michael’s Mount

Marazion

From ancient cobbles to castle walls, through time and tide, St Michael’s Mount is beckoning upon your next visit to Cornwall. Walk the causeway at low tide and climb to the top of the magical castle. Here you can admire the views, hear the islanders’ tales and unearth a history that lives on in every step. Find out more about St Michael’s Mount.

13. Take the family on a Super SUP

Newquay

New to the Newquay Activity Centre collection is the Super Stand Up Paddleboarding. Fun for the whole family, you’ll take on your fellow shipmates in a myriad of fun games including ‘King of the SUP’ and ‘Sumo SUP’. In addition to the guaranteed giggles, you’ll learn how to kneel and stand up paddle, perfect paddle strokes, navigate the coastline, and negotiate the swell and waves back to the beach. Find out more about Super SUP.

14. Go to Bodmin Jail

Bodmin

Discover life behind bars as an 18th Century prisoner in the heart of Cornwall. Explore the many cells and features that make your visit to the Jail a fun and educational, and just a little bit scary, adventure!

Visitors can wander through the depths of the Jail, over five levels, and browse creative exhibits depicting penal life in Victorian Cornwall. Be sure to visit the Execution Shed; a fully restored, 4.5mtr deep, Victorian hanging pit. This is the only hanging pit in the UK and the site of the last man executed in Cornwall. Find out more.

15. See a show at the Minack Theatre

Porthcurno

Beautifully located on the cliffs above the Atlantic Ocean, Cornwall’s famous Minack Theatre is one of our biggest must dos for 2018. The theatre showcases an excellent mix of drama, music, comedy and story-telling throughout the year, with the ocean as its stunning backdrop. See the 2018 schedule.

16. Visit the Tate St Ives Museum

St Ives

In a prime position overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the famous Tate St Ives is a fantastic day out for all the family. Showcasing British art through its gallery, exhibitions and events, it embraces the best of international modern and contemporary art. Tate St Ives is part of the Tate family of venues that includes Tate Modern, Tate Britain and Tate Liverpool and opened in 1993. Find out more about Tate St Ives.

 

17. Sip wine at Camel Valley Vineyard

Bodmin

Sitting on the terrace sipping Camel Valley wine on a summer’s afternoon is magical. Camel Valley has been producing award-winning, world class wines in a beautiful corner of Cornwall since 1989. Stroll through the vineyards and its beautiful surroundings, learn what makes an award-winning wine and of course sit down, relax and savor the taste. Find out more about booking a Camel Valley tour

18. Rick Stein Cookery Class

Love seafood but can’t quite get it to taste like Celebrity Chef Rick Stein’s dishes? Now is your chance. Rick Stein Cookery School offers long and short classes all year round. Choose from Indian curries, Far Eastern, Italian, Indian street food, Spanish tapas to name a few, plus some wonderful patisserie and bakery sessions. Find out about Rick Stein Cookery Classes.

 

19. Kayak around a secret cove

If you enjoy getting active on your Beach Retreats holiday, then this is the activity for you. Go it alone, or jump in with your pal, once you have your paddle it’s all down to you. Find secret caves, float under the bridge or enjoy a tour where you’ll really see the fantastic sights of hidden Cornwall.

Do you have some of your own 2019 bucket list ideas? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and join the conversation using #behere.

20. Eat a famous Hedgehog Ice Cream

Chapel Porth beach is a short drive from our St Agnes properties. Famous for its hedgehog ice creams, this is a popular location for local surfers and families. Their famous ice cream comes with Cornish clotted cream and chocolate and nut sprinkles. Sounds good right?

Book your 2020 self-catering holiday to Cornwall.

7 Festive Escapes for Christmas

Crisp walks along romantic clifftops. Sundowners while watching the ever-changing ocean vistas from the balcony. Toasty evenings playing board games beside a crackling fire. Escape to Cornwall this Christmas as staying in becomes the new going out.

Our festive escapes make it easy to sink into a bubbly hot tub beneath a blanket of stars, uncork the fizz and chink glasses after a blustery walk, or simply feast on the most delicious local produce delivered to your door.

Let us help you find the right retreat for your 2020 Christmas break…

The Penthouse 37 Dunes, Perranporth

The Penthouse 37 Dunes

Live the high life this Christmas and wake up just a few paces from the popular Perranporth beach in north Cornwall. The large open plan living space offers breathtaking ocean views with a large wrap around balcony if you can brave the elements with a mug of hot chocolate or mulled wine. The Penthouse 37 Dunes has four bedrooms with beautiful and bright interiors and a luxurious finish.

Please note we can only accept up to six guests, following the current government guidelines.

the penthouse dunes

Find out more about The Penthouse 37 Dunes.

The Tower, Praa Sands

The Tower, Acton Castle

With picture-perfect views out towards St Michael’s Mount in Marazion, The Tower is perfectly located for exploring the best of west Cornwall. The large duplex apartment, occupies the top two floors of Acton Castle plus a large private rooftop terrace with 360 views.

Think large bedrooms with sea views, a sumptuous and complete refurbishment to match the grandeur of the building, matched to a hi-spec kitchen and bathrooms.

Situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, surrounded by secluded, rocky coves, Acton Castle stands proud on the cliffs over Mount’s Bay. The picturesque cove sits on the eastern flank of Cudden Point. The dramatic coastline of Prussia Cove is made-up of three smaller coves called Piskies, Bessy’s and Kings.

the tower

Find out more about The Tower.

4 Godrevy Court, Carbis Bay

4 godrevy court

Don your walking boots and walk off your food with a ramble along the white sands of Carbis Bay. Jump on the South West Coast Path and walk 20 minutes to reach the famous St Ives where you’ll find its picturesque harbour and an abundance of places to drink and dine (book in advance and check current government guideline restrictions).

4 Godrevy Court is first floor two bedroom apartment, less than a five minute walk from the beach with a small balcony and superb ocean views.

4 godrevy court

Find out more about 4 Godrevy Court.

12 Pearl, Fistral

12 pearl

Enjoy the hustle and bustle of Newquay this Christmas as you sleep just moments away from the world renowned Fistral beach. Storm watch from the comfort of your own sofa while sipping on something bubbly as you celebrate the festive period. The town’s shops, restaurants and pubs are just a 10 minute walk away. Head to the Red Lion for a cosy bar, complete with a roaring fire and delicious pub grub. Rick Stein’s Fistral and The Fish House are just a minute’s walk in the opposite direction.

12 Pearl is a contemporary apartment with a stylish open plan living space. There are two spacious bedrooms making it ideal for a small family or couples.

Find out more about 12 Pearl.

Stella Maris, Mousehole

stella maris

Stella Maris is perfectly placed in the heart of Mousehole in west Cornwall. You’ll find plenty of art galleries, cafes, boutique shops and restaurants on your doorstep, all within a 2-minute walk of this Grade II listed, former fisherman’s cottage. Christmas in Mousehole will be slightly different this year, without the famous harbour lights display, nonetheless, it will still be picture perfect as you wander around the cobbled streets.

stella maris

Find out more about Stella Maris.

7 The Rocks, Holywell Bay

7 the rocks

Flawlessly created for luxury holidays, 7 The Rocks is a four bedroom semi-detached new-build house in the village of Holywell Bay, north Cornwall. Walk in the footsteps of Captain Poldark Christmas morning, explore the fascinating grotto-like Holywell Cave with its calcium deposits, and at low tide, discover an old Argentinian coaster just offshore. Wander the sand dunes, some of which are 60 feet in height, and if you’re traveling with your other half, the dunes also provide a romantic setting to watch the sun go down.

7 the rocks

Find out more about 7 The Rocks.

Harbourside Cottage, Boscastle

harbourside

A cosy cottage for 2, Harbourside Cottage is located in the centre of Boscastle opposite the river, just a 300 metre walk to where the river meets the ocean. The pace of life in this pretty village is blissfully relaxed, so for those arriving in the winter, there’s nothing better than enjoying a romantic evening for two in front of a crackling fire with a bottle of two.

boscastle

Find out more about Harbourside Cottage.

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Watergate Bay to Porth Beach walk

View Watergate Bay in all its glory with its exceptional facilities including the Extreme Academy, which offers a great range of adrenaline sports, great lifestyle shopping, and the legendary Beach Hut. After a bite to eat, strike out along the South West Coast Path and head to neighbouring Porth beach. 

Miles: 1.7
Time: 0:37 minutes
Moderate

Start off on the coast path above Watergate Beach, a two-mile stretch of golden sand. Warm and cold Atlantic currents converge here, giving rise to a wide range of marine plants and animals. Herring gulls and fulmars nest above the high water mark, and clumps of tufty pink thrift abound on the cliffs.

The rock pools are home to many molluscs and algae, as well as the astonishing shanny fish, which can survive out of the water for brief spells. Look out for bottle-nosed dolphins and harmless basking sharks out in the bay.

porth rockpools

Turn left on the Coast Path and follow it back to Whipsiderry, where some of our favourite north Cornwall views, never disappoint.

watergate

The island near the steps on Whipsiderry Beach is Black Humphrey’s Rock, which is riddled with old iron mine workings. A couple of adits emerge near the steps, and some of the boulders on the beach contain iron ore.

whipsiderry

There are some impressive caves this side of Trevelgue Head. White marble was once quarried in the pillared Cathedral Cavern, which has a number of tunnels leading away from it, and it is still possible to see a shaft in the roof and drill holes in the walls. Another large cave is Banqueting Hall, also known as Concert Cavern, where candlelight concerts have sometimes been held.

porth island

There is also a spectacular blowhole, just opposite the island, which can be reached by crossing the bridge. Around the time of half-tide the air in one of the caves is so violently compressed that it forces a jet of water through a blowhole in the cave with a thunderous roar that sounds like an old steam train suddenly emerging from a tunnel.

Fuel up on coffee and deck yourself out in the latest coastal style at Roo’s Beach and stroll along the golden sands of Porth beach before heading back to your swanky abode. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, head to the pub on the beach – The Mermaid, where they serve pizzas in the beer garden, local ales and a full lunch and evening menu.

Porth beach

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Paddleboarding in Cornwall

What better way to explore the craggy coastline of Cornwall than afloat on a paddleboard?

Tone your core and hone your balance as you glide from bay to bay, via smugglers’ caves, hidden coves and secret lagoons, peering down into the blue abyss to see jellyfish, crabs and shoals of fish. You might even snag a mackerel on a hand line or spot a seal on your tail.

Far from being solely a sublime summer sport, stand-up paddleboarding can be enjoyed all year round in Cornwall. In fact, autumn is one of our favourite times to launch from the crowd-free beaches, while the ocean is still warm and teeming with wildlife. Even on a crisp mid-winter’s day, in a decent wetsuit you can enjoy a paddle in a sheltered cove. Whether you pack your own inflatable paddleboard, or hire one or set out with an expert guide, paddleboarding is the perfect way to twist your perspective on the stunning Cornish coastline. Look from the outside in, and get your fill of fresh sea air, as you propel yourself across the water, interacting with your natural surroundings.

All of our Beach Retreats are a pebble’s throw from the coast, making it easy to enjoy a stand-up paddleboarding adventure from your doorstep. And in these crazy times, it’s more vital than ever to immerse ourselves in nature, embrace the seasons and stay active, in order to boost our mental health and happiness. As soon as you cast away from the stress of the daily grind on a paddleboard, your mind and body tunes into the sights and sounds of the coast, and the rhythm of your paddle, while developing your strength, endurance, balance, coordination and agility.

Expert SUP coach Dom Moore, of the Surf Sanctuary at Fistral beach, waxes lyrical about the benefits of paddleboarding in Cornwall: “SUP tours are a great way for newcomers and families to experience paddleboarding and discover the beautiful wilderness of our coastline.” Get away from it all and get to grips with the basics on a two-hour tour, or learn everything you need to know about paddleboarding on a two-day Atlantic Expedition. On the latter not only can you explore different routes and take your skills to a new level, you will also learn about the tides, the wind, the moon, how to read maps and apps, and safety and rescue techniques.

With over 400 miles of coastline to explore in Cornwall, there are so many paddleboarding routes and beaches to choose from. Make sure you take a dry bag, a picnic, and a mobile phone, and always check the weather, wind and swell forecast before you go. Never launch a paddleboard in offshore winds.

5 OF OUR FAVOURITE PADDLEBOARDING SPOTS

Gorran Haven

Launch from the historic harbour at Gorran Haven and nudge around the coast to the deserted Vault beach. If you’ve got enough paddle power and the wind and currents are in your favour, push on around Dodman point, where you’ll often encounter seals on the way to Hemmick beach.

Cast away with Haven Kayaks.

Holidays near Gorran Haven.

 

The Helford Passage

Time your trip with the tides and float along the Helford River, exploring hidden creeks and spotting plenty of wildlife on route. Families might like to try a 2.5-hour tour onboard an 8-man Mega SUP.

Cast away with Ocean High.

 

Cawsand Beach

The calm and sheltered waters lapping Cawsand are the perfect territory to get your balance on a stand-up paddleboard. Nail the basic techniques with a SUP lesson, or join a full- or half-day guided trip to explore sea caves and secret coves.

Cast away with Cawsand Kayak Hire.

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Cawsand

Carbis Bay, St Ives

The sheltered, sub-tropical Carbis Bay is a divine location to cast off on a stand-up paddleboard. Explore the nooks and crannies of the coastline, gaze out to Godrevy lighthouse, and moor up on the St Ives’ beaches for food and refreshments.

Cast away with Ocean Sports Centre.

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The Gazzle and The Gannel, Newquay

Discover crabs and blennies hiding in the nooks and crannies of Newquay’s sheltered ‘Gazzle’ area, or float along the serene River Gannel spotting little egrets, greenshanks and other birds that flock to the rich pickings of the salt marshes.

Cast away with The Surf Sanctuary.

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Gannel

Wildlife to spot while paddleboarding in Cornwall…

Seabirds – lookout for the black and white feathers of Guillemots clinging to the sea cliffs the distinctive orange beaks of oyster catchers, the graceful shags and cormorants perched on the rocks, and gannets diving deep below the surface for fish.

Mackerel – the blue and green tiger strips of mackerel can be seen shimmering beneath the water in huge shoals in spring and summer. Throw out a hand line and catch one to put on the barbecue for dinner.

Spider crabs – easily recognisable by their red shells and long limbs, spider crabs have a claw-span up to 80cm and live up to 40 years.

Seals – the most frequently sighted mammals in Cornwall, seals are playful and inquisitive, s they’re likely pop up and eyeball you as you paddle by.

Dolphins – the most magical sight is a pod of dolphins, their fins dancing above the waves.

Find your place by the sea with a self-catering holiday in Cornwall.