The Great Cornwall Road Trip
Now, I have to level with you here, I was really not as excited about this holiday as you may think. Because to me, the UK generally doesn’t conjure up images of turquoise oceans and pristine beaches. So, imagine my surprise when we rocked up to Cornwall and discovered that, bar the escargot, we were basically in the South of France! Cornwall was a sensation and I am so excited to share all the details of this epic week road trip and inspire you to save yourself an airline ticket this Summer and add Cornwall to your must see list.
We left Bristol around midday, and arrived at our little AirBnB Shepard’s Hut near Bodmin a few hours later in time for a dog walk along the Camel Trail and a cup of tea. We just overnighted here to break up the journey, but I hear the Bodmin jail is quiet a fun visit and Bodmin is also home to The Hole in Wall which was recently voted Cornwall’s Best Pub!
After breakfast we headed off to Tintagel Castle - where King Arthur was supposedly conceived (not sure how we know that, but apparently we do.) Unfortunately they are constructing a new footbridge for easier access to the island so we couldn’t get into the ruins itself but enjoyed a walk around the surrounding hills with views overlooking the castle. It was absolutely stunning, and aside from parking and the best pasty I’ve ever had in my life from The Cornish Bakery, a free morning out! There is also a small beach, but we parked off on the cliff overlooking the ocean to soak in the views instead.
We then pottered down the coast, via a stop off in Penzance for groceries to our sweet AirBnB near Porthcurno.
As one does when planning a holiday, I had been obsessively checking the weather report for the week leading up to our departure and I knew today was going to be our best weather day so declared it a beach day out! When looking for best beaches we were a little flustered to discover that Cornwall’s beaches have very strict dog rules in the Summer time so our beach options were pretty limited. Nearest to us was a lovely looking, dog friendly spot called Pedn Vounder which, all the websites seemed to say, “is accessible via a hazardous cliff side path”. You guys, we nearly died. Okay, that’s dramatic. But let it be known that you do have to scale a few steep rocks to get here; at one point we were very worried about our dog, who’s getting on a bit and doesn’t scale rocks faces like he used to, and very nearly turned back! I’m glad we didn’t though, because, as my Wild Retreats friends know, the places that are the hardest to reach are usually the most rewarding. This place was AMAZING.
We finished the day off with a cream tea at the Minack Theatre (£5 entry and dog friendly) and stunning views across Porthcurno Beach (not dog friendly).
I had called and booked a surf lesson today at the Sennen Surf Centre. I’ve always wanted to try surfing but frankly, I have a very deep respect for sharks, so I have mostly steered clear. Cornwall’s waters are shark free! And surfing, as it turns out, is just like yoga - it’s tough to get a handle on to begin with but the combination of strength, flexibility and balance makes for an amazing day of meditation in movement. I’m a surfer now!
We also popped in to Lands End, because, well, you’re there. It was nice but frankly full of tourists and not super interesting. I could have missed this out.
Because Sennen Beach doesn’t allow dogs in the Summer we pulled up to near by Gwynver beach instead. Still a bit of a climb to get there and back, but nothing serious, and we parked off here for the rest of the day until we got hungry and decided to head home.
Everyone told us about St Ives; the jewel of Cornwall. But my research suggested that finding parking in St Ives was all but impossible in the Summer. I’m pleased to tell you that so long as you are there nice and early you can find a parking spot - we had a four hour time limit which was more than enough time for a pancake breakfast overlooking the harbour and a wander through the beautiful streets and shops. It really is as beautiful as they say, though if you decide to stay in St Ives I’d be very sure your accommodation has dedicated parking. Portmeor Beach which abuts St Ives is absolutely stunning too - definitely pack your surf board and get out there nice and early. However, you will have to leave your pup at home.
We left a little before lunch and found our way to Mousehole, which honestly just sounded cute so we decided to stop in. It is as adorable as it sounds! Winding, narrow streets and art galleries tucked away in cosy corners. We settled in at 2 Fore Street for lunch in their sunny outside courtyard and it was delicious!
Today we left the South, and though we were pretty upset to leave this incredible part of the world we were also excited to see more! We stopped by St Michael’s Mount and had a coffee and slice of carrot cake - you can go into the castle, and it’s probably quite impressive but we don’t really like crowds of people and it was very peopley. So we enjoyed it from a distance. Then we continued on to Lizard with a stop off at a tiny hidden alcove beach called Prussia Cove which we shared only with a small handful of other people. The highlight of The Lizard is Kynance Cove, which does look lovely, however that too seemed rather peopley and wouldn’t allow dogs. After enjoy some amazing beaches we didn’t feel like we were missing too much and decided to check in to our hotel, The Old Inn early. I unrolled a yoga mat this afternoon and Ali read, then we had a good old British pub dinner before an early night.
We left early today to get to the Eden Project - it was the only day we had very bad weather so a visit to the Bio Domes of Eden was the perfect way to spend it. Lucky for us, our dog LOVES the car, so he was more than happy to hang out in the shade of the parking lot whilst we explored. The Eden project was a sensation - it’s simply amazing to wander through these giant domes and be transported to Australia, Greece, California and, my personal favourite, the Indonesian and South American rainforests. We paid a £25 entry fee each and it was totally worth it - we spent two and half hours there and there was still more we didn’t see.
We drove on from Eden to Polperro. Clear your schedule people, and go to Polperro. We fell deeply in love with this adorable fishing village; the cute narrow streets, the wild ocean cliffs and proper fishermans pubs that you sit in and can imagine it filled with drunk and rowdy pirates. We stayed at a family owned, dog friendly hotel in the centre called The Claremont Hotel - the location was ideal and it had parking; very hard to come by in a place not built for cars! We loved it so much we rebooked it for a return in December when we checked out.
We built this trip around a wedding - two of our friends from Australia got married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony near Polperro and it was such a special occasion. They met at the same time and the same place as me and my husband, so to watch them get married really felt like an affirmation of the journeys we have been on together.
In short, I’d suggest you save your Airmiles for another time and book yourself a holiday to England’s stunning South Coast. You will not be disappointed!
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