Cornwall has inspired countless artists and writers. For instance, during a trip to the picturesque county, English landscape artist JMW Turner painted Land’s End and the Longships Lighthouse. And in his childhood Sir John Betjeman enjoyed family holidays to Trebetherick, near Polzeath. Betjeman’s love affair with Cornwall is reflected in his poems Seaside Golf and Summoned by Bells.
My wife and I have long wanted to re-visit Cornwall with its stunning coastlines stretching from Polperro to Portreath and Penzance. And so when the opportunity arose, Caroline, baby daughter Harriett and I jumped at the chance.
On rare occasions, Harriett and showers permitting, it was enjoyable to simply sit on a bench and savour this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
“I gradually discovered the remarkable landscape which lies between St Ives, Penzance and Land’s End,” said world-renowned sculptor Barbara Hepworth in 1952 – her gallery is in St Ives. In fact modern art lovers find plenty to entertain them in St Ives as it’s also home to the Tate Gallery where there was an exhibition of work by Alex Katz. At the entrance to the town is Leach Pottery, founded in 1920. One of the great figures of 20th century art, Leach played a crucial pioneering role in creating an identity for artist potters in Britain and around the world.
Cornwall isn’t just famous for art though, it’s also the setting for the Inspector Wycliffe novels and subsequent TV series as well as ITV’s Doc Martin starring Martin Clunes. Doc Martin’s cottage can be found in picturesque Port Isaac.
“That series has had a detrimental effect on this historic fishing village,” says a village shopkeeper. “It’s driven away those who used to holiday here four or five times a year and replaced them with tourists. But I’m philosophical about it and hope that the new breed will keep coming back.”
Further along the coast the quaint port of Padstow is home to Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant, which provides tasty takeaway fish and chips as well as Chalky’s Bark – aged beer brewed by Sharp’s brewery in Cornwall.
A big disappointment for us though, was Mevagissey because its narrow roads made driving incredibly problematic while there was not much parking either. Delve deeper into its history and you discover that in the 18th century the fishing village was famous for smuggling brandy, gin and lace. Some say that this was the reason for Mevagissey’s awkward lanes, deliberately designed to impede the efforts of the enforcement officers.
In our opinion the village should be pedestrianized because you frequently have to look over your shoulder for the next vehicle, which is a hindrance with a small child.
The key to a successful and relaxing holiday is a comfy night’s rest and this was certainly achieved at Gwel an Mor, the five-star holiday resort at Portreath where there are 60 luxury self-catering Scandinavian lodges. We booked through Hoseasons and our three double bedroom lodge with balcony was equipped with a luxurious hot tub. There was even a video library at the Clubhouse so we borrowed The Boat That Rocked and thoroughly enjoyed it. We hired bicycles, too, for cycling along the mining trails. This proved to be a great way for sending Harriett off to sleep.
Swimming in the Gwel an Mor pool of an evening ensured that Harriett had a restful night’s sleep and if we had had the energy we would’ve made it to the gym but the Terrace restaurant was more appealing! There we were treated to some wholesome home cooked food including an enjoyable chicken saltimbocca while little Harriett tucked into a child’s portion of grilled salmon.
Holidays are about pampering and Caroline enjoyed a velvet foot care treatment at Gwel an Mor’s spa, using Thal’ion, a French product that contains seaweed and essential oils.
Feeling much rejuvenated and relaxed, Cornwall inspired our creativity.
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Arrive at Gwel an Mor, Portreath, Cornwall
Walk to Portreath – little Harriett’s first paddle in the sea
Mevagissey and Pentewan beach
Swimming at Gwel an Mor and St Ives
Port Isaac and Padstow
Gwel an Mor Wildlife Experience, lunch at the Terrace, foot treatment, bike ride and night swimming