27th October 2022
With winter around the corner, we explore what it means to get ‘klys’ on the Cornish coast, and discover this cosy concept’s ties to its Danish cousin, hygge…
The year is 2016, and a Scandinavian cultural phenomenon is sweeping the world. Candles are being lit, cashmere socks pulled on, cinnamon buns baked, and cups of cocoa nursed – all in the name of ‘hygge’.
Defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or wellbeing,” this Danish term derives from a sixteenth-century Norwegian word, hugga, meaning ‘to comfort’, and has long been a part of the Scandi lifestyle.
Meik Wiking, C.E.O. of Copenhagen think tank the Happiness Research Institute and author of the best-selling The Little Book of Hygge, explains hygge as “the art of creating a nice atmosphere. It’s about togetherness. It’s about pleasure. It’s about warmth. It’s about relaxation. And that is a key cornerstone of Danish culture.”
Strip away the ‘stuff’ – those fluffy shearling slippers and heart-topped hazelnut lattes – and hygge is at its core all about a feeling, which cannot be bought, but can be created.
While no direct English translation for hygge exists, there is a little-known word that comes very close. And it just so happens to be Cornish.
‘Klys’ is listed in the Cornish Dictionary (AKA the ‘Gerlyver Kernewek’) as an adjective, meaning ‘cosy; snug’, with the verb, ‘klysa’, meaning ‘to make snug’.
If hygge has reached saturation point, then the Cornish ‘klys’ comes as a metaphorical blast of fresh, coastal air. In Cornwall, for every glowing pub fire, there’s the mind-clearing clifftop walk to reach it; for every cottage window seat to curl up in, there’s the spectacle of Atlantic storm-watching.
Experiencing klys in Cornwall centres on a sense of balance, with the outdoor elemental wilderness making the indoor cosiness feel all the more inviting and impactful.
And with winter around the corner, klys is about to come into its own.
Winter in Cornwall stands in sublime contrast to summer. Crowds dissipate, waves crash against harbour walls, congested coast paths clear, villages light up, locals gather, log fires burn, and beaches stretch out, gloriously unspoilt. In short, it’s an unexpectedly brilliant time to visit. Channelling the concept of klys during your off-season stay offers a way to celebrate, rather than shy away from, all that’s soul-stirringly unique about a Cornish winter.
So how best to cultivate those ‘klys’ feelings on your next getaway to the county? From sharing comfort food with friends and family, to lighting spirit-warming scents and singing folk songs in remote coastal pubs, the opportunities for stoking conviviality and contentment are as varied as they are plentiful – and reach a peak around Christmas. After all, what could be more klys than a festive escape to the sea, complete with blustery beach walks and evenings together by the fire exchanging stories of the day’s adventures?
The village of Mousehole does December in true klys style – festooning its harbour in a spectacularly nostalgic display of Christmas lights. Meanwhile, over in Porthleven (the pin-up of Cornish winter storms), huge seas explode against the clock tower as captivated onlookers watch from within the warmth of the atmospheric Ship Inn.
For a suitably klys experience, why not take an exhilarating natural shower in the sea spray and skin-pummelling rain along the wintry coast path, followed by a mug of mulled wine, with eyes bright and face glowing? Or, for a less intrepid interpretation of klys, curl up with a book by candlelight or take an essential oil-scented bath while the rain batters the windows of your retreat.
Join us in the coming weeks as we journey deeper into what it means to get klys in Cornwall – from tempting recipes for klys-inducing drinks to our round-up of the most invigorating spots to visit, and where to warm up after.
Welcome to cosy season, Cornish-style…
Browse our Cornish locations and find the right coastal spot for your kyls retreat….