Exploring Paradise: We Unmask West Cornwall’s Top 5 Gardens

The snowdrops are blooming and the daffodils are pushing their way through the frozen soil, these bursts of vibrant colour in the dark months of January and February exude a sense of optimism.  I don’t know about you, but as soon as I spot these bursts of much needed colour, my mind turns to the abundance of Spring, with warmer days and longer nights.  Immediately I am inspired to get the gardening tools out and get my hands in the soil once again.  One of my favourite things to do when not in my own garden is to visit some of the magnificent gardens this part of West Cornwall has to offer, so I thought I would pop down five of my favourite in this latest journal.

Cornwall is renowned for its mild climate, plentiful rainfall, and fertile soil, all of which contribute to the flourishing of its gardens.  The county experiences a unique microclimate, influenced by the Gulf Stream, which brings warm air from the Atlantic Ocean, creating an ideal environment for a wide variety of plants to thrive. Cornwall’s gardens are a testament to the county’s rich horticultural history, dating back to the great Victorian plant-hunting expeditions. The seeds they brought back came from all over the World and helped create some truly magnificent examples of living theatre, the Great Gardens of Cornwall. These gardens showcase a diverse range of plant species, including exotic and rare varieties, as well as traditional English garden flowers.  As a dog owner, who likes to include my furry friends in all my favourite activities, I have only included dog friendly options.

1. Trebah

A stunning sub-tropical paradise with a coastal backdrop. Located on the edge of the Helford River in Mawnan Smith, near Falmouth, Trebah is a beautiful 26-acre Cornish valley garden with over 4 miles of footpaths, vibrant tunnels of colour leading down to the coast and its own secluded beach on the Helford River.  This incredible garden is steeped in history, spanning from Victorian plant hunters to ownership post war by racing driver and car designer Donald Healey. Probably best know for its D-day connections; on 1st June 1944 a regiment of 7,500 men along with tanks, guns and transport embarked from Trebah beach in 10 flat bottomed landing craft, they battled through enormous seas to the Isle of Wight and on to the D-Day assault, landing on Omaha Beach in Normandy and suffering terrible loses. A memorial at the bottom of the garden commemorates the courage of these brave young American soldiers.

Whilst Trebah offers visitors a year-round experience (Here for Opening Hours and Admission Prices) it is truly glorious in Spring when it comes alive with a colourful array of 100-year-old rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias. It is truly breath-taking and as a dog owner it is absolutely glorious to share the picturesque footpaths with my two rescue dogs, who love it there as much as I do.

It’s more than just a garden though, with a unique outdoor theatre, adventure play areas for children and education trails with prizes at the end and the fabulous Trebah kitchen, for a warming cuppa or a full-blown Sunday roast.

If Trebah leaves you wanting more then just next door is the magnificent National Trust garden of Glendurgan.  Another stunning Cornish garden but its not dog-friendly so it hasn’t made my list!

Spring Garden with red rhodendron in foreground and sea in background

 

2. Trewidden

This 15-acre garden, located on the beautiful Lands’ End peninsula, just West of Penzance, is one of the few old historic gardens in Cornwall still wholly owned and run by the same family that created it hundreds of years ago.  Originally planted by Edward Bolitho, who was the owner of Trewidden House, in the 1840’s, Edward started by firstly planting woodland cover before filling it with plants newly introduced from Asia and the Southern Hemisphere, it has passed down through the Bolitho family over they years and is currently owned by Alverne Bolitho.  The garden not only has a rich horticultural heritage but also an industrial one, once the site of an ancient tin mine, the old opencast mine may have been one of the earliest in the Duchy, dating back to Roman times or even before.

Set within the open cast mine is a stand of Tree Ferns, planted in 1902 having been collected in Australia in 1898, now said to be the finest collection of Tree Ferns in the Northern Hemisphere.  Indeed, all the small Tree Ferns that now grow at Trewidden are juveniles from these original mother plants, some of which could be up to 150 years old. The garden is particularly beautiful in Spring, from March to June you will find a fabulous collection of Magnolias, Rhododendrons and Azeleas providing a riot of colour, all set within a mature woodland setting.

Trewidden is dog friendly and provides a stunning backdrop for you and your four-legged friend-to enjoy; it’s a large site but intimate with well-laid footpaths to explore.  There is a beautiful walled garden to investigate, plants for sale and a lovely café providing refreshments and great food from 9.30 – 4.30 each day.  For more information on opening hours, prices and accessibility click here.

3. Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens 

Found in a beautiful sheltered valley, just outside Penzance, Tremenheere combines large-scale exotic and sub-tropical planting interwoven with an evolving programme of contemporary artworks from internationally renowned artists; all set within woodland overlooking St Michael’s Mount and the sparkling beauty of Mounts Bay. The land at the sculpture gardens in West Cornwall was once owned by the monks of St Michael’s Mount until 1295 when it was bought by Michael De Tremenheere, an established tenant farmer, the land remained in the Tremenheere name for 600 years; the land continued to be farmed until 1997 when Dr Neil Armstrong acquired the valley and began the development of the sculpture garden as we see it today.

The warmer winter temperatures and sheltered valley location create a favourable microclimate allowing exotic and half-hardy plants to flourish.  The plants, particularly the notable collection of palm trees, tree ferns, succulents and bamboos create a restful verdancy, with each individual habitat carrying a unifying theme of sculptural forms, textures and colours. The strongly structural planting scheme with a sub-tropical emphasis, means the gardens do not follow a traditional spring flourish but have all-season interest.

The dramatic landscape and planting provide the backdrop to contemplative and inspiring artworks.  Renowned artists, including five members of the Royal Academy of Arts, have interacted with the landscape to create site specific permanent sculptures, whilst the gardens also provide a forum for ever-changing temporary artworks.

In addition to the gardens, Tremenheere gallery is a beautiful oak framed building, with two exhibition spaces, one of the largest purpose-built gallery spaces in Cornwall. Also on site is the Tremenheere Kitchen, a wonderful restaurant for refreshments and beautiful locally sourced food, serving breakfast and lunches all year round, the restaurant and take-away hut are worth a visit in their own right; I can particularly recommend Sunday lunch here!

The gardens are dog friendly, if you wish to stop at the restaurant dogs are welcome outside but not inside.

4. Minack Theatre Garden

The Minack Theatre, located in the far west of Cornwall needs no introduction.  The Minack is a living theatre in every sense, its dramatic setting, perched on the rugged cliffs above Porthcurno and the remarkable woman who built it are equally inspiring.  Rowena Cade, the Minack’s creator, brought up in a genteel Edwardian family was inspired to transform a Cornish cliff-face into an open-air arena, much of it literally built with her own hands. Minack means rocky place, “meynek” in Cornish.  If you had been standing where the stage is now in 1931 you’d have been clinging to sloping cliff, knee deep in gorse, with a ninety-foot drop to the sea behind you!  Now the world-famous theatre welcomes over a quarter of a million people each year to enjoy the fabulous views and experience the magic of live performances in this iconic space.

Lesser known is the exotic garden planted around the site, small in scale compared to the other gardens discussed here but packed full of exotic plants that are rarely seen outdoors on mainland Britain.  The garden is made up of a series of raised beds, each one named after a Shakesperean character.  Winding paths and flights of steps weave through the upper areas of the theatre among a patchwork of exquisite sub-tropical specimens and carpets of pink and purple succulents clothe the rocks in summer.  Usually native to the Canary Islands, Maderia and Morocco, Aeoniums thrive at the Minack, the garden being home to one of the largest collections in the country.

Writing in County Life Magazine in 2023, renown gardener Alan Titchmarsh said “Of all the gardens I have visited in my long gardening life, none has left me more impressed with the level of cultivation or elevated by the sheer joy it imparts.  The impact is emphasised by the backdrop of the turquoise-blue sea, frequently populated by dolphins, whose leaps into the air seem to celebrate the spectacle.”

The garden holds appeal all year round, but June would be my favourite. The garden is a riot of colour and you are greeted with the abundant, towering and seemingly pre-historic blue spires of Echiums. Whilst dogs are not permitted during live performances, they are welcome on short leads if simply visiting the gardens and theatre.  Visiting hours and more details can be found Here.

Minack Theatre with abundant garden succulents in foreground, ocean in background

5. Tresco 

OK, so a little further afield but these gardens just cannot be ignored.  If you are staying in West Cornwall and plan a day-trip to the Scillies or you are holidaying in the Scillies then a visit to Tresco Abbey Gardens is an absolute must.  The garden is home to thousands of plants from across the globe, flourishing in the sub-tropical climate of the Isles of Scilly.

Founded by Augustus Smith in 1834 around the ruins of a Benedictine Abbey on the Island of Tresco, which is a short boat ride away from the larger island of St Mary’s. There are over 4,000 different specimens made possible by the exceptional hours of sunshine and the warmth of the Gulf Steam. The plants are laid out geographically, with the hotter, drier terraces at the top of the garden housing South African and Australian species, and those lower down providing humidity for those from New Zealand and South America.  You will find an abundance of Palms, Bamboo, Cacti, Echium, Agapanthus, Flame-Trees and King Proteas.  Even the non-gardeners cannot fail to be impressed by the array of scents, sights and sounds everywhere in the abundant gardens. The gardens are also  home to golden pheasants and a small population of red squirrels.

Although Spring is a magical time to visit the Tresco Abbey Gardens, where spring flowers bloom weeks ahead of those on the mainland, you really can visit at any time of the year.  In autumn the red, gold and amber of seasonal foliage contrasts with the proteas, aloes and camellias and you will even find more than 300 species of plant in flower as late as the winter solstice.

It is worth visiting the Valhalla Museum during your visit. Here you will find a collection of figureheads and relics from the shipwrecks that have taken place around the islands.  Most of the figureheads date from the middle to the end of the 19thcentury, from merchant sailing vessels or early steamships.  Dogs are welcome in the gardens on leads; but please note there is no dog-friendly accommodation on Tresco.

This list captures just a glimpse of the magnificent gardens scattered across West Cornwall. These selections, each a personal favourite, offer a diverse experience, offering inspiration and tranquility on days spent strolling with my dogs. While Tresco remains an occasional treat due to its location, the others are cherished regular haunts. Of course, West Cornwall boasts numerous other horticultural wonders, including The Eden Project, Lost Gardens of Heligan, Trelissick, and Lanhydrock, to name a few. If your visit doesn’t allow for exploring these gardens in person, our independent garden centres offer a delightful alternative. Surround yourself with the incredible variety of plants they showcase – a perfect way to bring a piece of Cornwall’s natural beauty home with you.

Discover Our Beautiful Homestays

The Summer House

Stunning detached property set above the beautiful village of Mousehole, spacious and stylish interior with room for all the family, private garden to relax and unwind and safe off road parking for two cars, to make life super easy.  Two master suites with en-suite bathrooms, one on the ground floor so easy access for any mobility issues. Use of shared infinity style pool with beautiful sea views over Mounts Bay. It sleeps 6 (max 4 adults) and is dog friendly, the perfect choice for a family to relax, unwind and reconnect. Special Offer running over February Half Term.

The Barn, Ashton

Fabulous converted Barn with plenty of space for all the family, a perfect base for families with the added benefit of a large, flat and fully enclosed garden for the children and pets to enjoy.  Sleeps 6 and dog friendly, located close to the foodie haven of Porthleven so no need to cook every night.  The perfect choice for a family wanting a comfortable and relaxing holiday.

Mousehole Cottage

A beautiful detached granite cottage located close to the centre of Mousehole harbour.  The perfect choice for your family if you want a great base to explore the whole area, close to many of the gardens in this journal.  Lovely sea views from the cottage, private parking to make life simple and a private dog proof garden for alfresco dining after a days exploring. Sleeps 6 and dog friendly. Mid winter offers currently running.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unlocking Your Stylish Cornish Getaway: 5 Reasons to Book Direct

Welcome to Stylish Cornish Cottages, where the magic of Cornwall meets the personal touch of a dedicated host. As the owner and founder of Stylish Cornish Cottages, I embarked on this journey organically, transitioning from a holiday cottage owner to the heart behind a collection of unique getaways nestled in the breathtaking landscape of Cornwall.

My adventure began in 2007, feeling incredibly lucky to be the proud owner of a small cottage in beautiful Mousehole, but being a novice host, I decided the right move was to entrust my precious cottage to a large, supposedly local, holiday letting agency. Yet, within three short months, it became clear that something was missing. That something was the intimate knowledge, the personal touch, and the authentic connection that only a passionate local could offer.

Fast forward to today, Stylish Cornish Cottages has flourished not through flashy ads or impersonal transactions, but through the genuine warmth of word-of-mouth recommendations. I invest myself in each cottage, having decorated and maintained many in the portfolio with my own hands! It’s not just about the cottages though; it’s about the vibrant community these homes are located in and the local tips I can impart to my lovely guests; not just as a business owner, but as a mother with a teenage daughter and two crazy rescue dogs, navigating the joys of family life in this scenic part of the UK.

Join me on a journey beyond the provision of a beautiful cottage, where every stay is an invitation to experience Cornwall like a local. In this journal, I unravel five compelling reasons why booking directly with Stylish Cornish Cottages is the key to unlocking an unforgettable Cornish getaway. It’s time to embrace a holiday that goes beyond the ordinary, where your host is not just a name but a story, and your escape is crafted with love and local expertise.

1. Unlock the Best Rates, Every Time

At Stylish Cornish Cottages, we believe that every little detail contributes to a memorable holiday. That’s why when you choose to book directly with us, you’re not just reserving a cottage; you will always be securing the best rate, guaranteed.

Our commitment to transparency means no hidden fees, no surprises—just a straightforward, honest approach to pricing. Skip the crippling “Traveller Fees” and misleading “Cleaning Fees” that can sneak into your booking elsewhere. With us, what you see is what you get. Navigate our website to find your perfect cottage, either using the search bar on the homepage or dive into the details on individual property pages. Input your desired dates, and the most competitive rental rate is at your fingertips. We believe in keeping things simple, so the only extras you’ll encounter are a modest £36 booking fee and, for our dog-friendly havens, a £25 pet fee per furry friend.

Finally, we charge a small breakages deposit of £200 when the final balance is due, rest assured; this deposit is fully refundable shortly after your departure.

Booking directly guarantees you the best price all year round, increasingly the On Line Travel Agents (OTA’s) are using “dynamic pricing”, where the booking software looks at peaks and flows in demand for accommodation in each area, so the price of your holiday may be dictated by an algorithm rather than the host’s common sense.

Choose Stylish Cornish Cottages for an experience where affordability meets authenticity. Your dream Cornish getaway starts with the assurance that you’re not just a guest; you’re a valued part of our community.

2. Authentic Local Knowledge

We are passionate about sharing the charm of West Cornwall, at Stylish Cornish Cottages, we invite you to delve deep into all West Cornwall has to offer. For 16 years, my husband, daughter, and I have woven our lives into the rich tapestry of this incredible region, both as business owners and as a family, so book with us and be guided by those that call it home.

Choosing to book directly with us isn’t just about securing accommodation; it’s about gaining access to a treasure trove of local insights that no tourist website or online resource can rival. We live and breathe West Cornwall, and we’re eager to share our intimate knowledge to transform your holiday into a personalised experience.

From the best beaches with convenient parking spots to the must-try local restaurants and breath-taking walks, trust us to be your guide. Whether you’re seeking recommendations for places to visit or looking for the most scenic routes, we’ve got you covered. In each property, you’ll find comprehensive information packs to enhance your stay, but beyond that, rest assured we’re just a phone call or email away.

Don’t just take our word for it; one of our wonderful guests, after a stay at Porth Nanven Cottage in 2023, said, “Phay was very helpful—she knows the area inside & out, and her suggestions on hikes, places to visit & eat came in very handy, thank you Phay!”

Mousehole Harbour West Cornwall, with Boats and Sandy Beach in Foreground and Houses in the Background

3. Unlock Exclusive Offers for Your Getaway

Stylish Cornish Cottages is not just any local agent, we consider ourselves a family of like-minded and discerning guests, all seeking a memorable holiday infused with a personal touch. Become a part of our community, subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Instagram or Facebook. This ensures you’re always at the forefront, privy to the latest special promotions and last-minute deals. We believe in rewarding those who choose to book directly, and our special offers are tailored to add that extra touch to elevate your getaway.

Planning an off-peak escape, whether it’s a rejuvenating early spring retreat or a winter re-set? Booking directly with us unveils the potential for fantastic deals that go beyond the offerings of platforms like Airbnb or Booking.com. It’s our way of showing appreciation for putting your trust in Stylish Cornish Cottages.  You’ll also get a regular dose of Cornwall in your inbox or social media feeds, and who doesn’t want that little piece of escapism on a dull working day?

4. Experience the Personal Touch

Booking directly with Stylish Cornish Cottages goes beyond securing a place to stay; it’s an assurance that your getaway is supported by the personal touch of our trusted team. If you need to reach out then you know, you are connecting directly with us, and we are ready to address your enquiries or concerns promptly. We take pride in our hands-on approach – nothing is too much trouble when it comes to planning your perfect holiday!

Our commitment to the personal touch extends beyond the accommodation. Need advice on exciting trips or activities? We have a curated network of trusted local businesses, ready to enhance your experience—whether it’s bike hire, surf lessons, art courses, or a foraging adventure.

For those who want to immerse themselves in the culinary delights of Cornwall, we’ve got you covered. Choose to cook with the finest local produce, and we can arrange for a delicious food box to be delivered to your door on the day you arrive. Alternatively, if your holiday mantra is to stay out of the kitchen, we have a treasure trove of recommendations for fabulous restaurants, pubs and cafes to try out during your stay.

Choose Stylish Cornish Cottages and your dream escape awaits, where every detail is handled with care and the personal touch that only a true local can provide.

As Rachel said after her stay at Mousehole Cottage this year: “On arrival we really appreciated the flowers, the welcome-basket and the milk in the fridge! We felt at home and very welcome from the first second! We enjoyed every moment of our stay! The whole organisation and conversations with Stylish Cornish Cottages were perfect! Thank you we had an amazing stay!”

Comfortable Sofa in The Summer House, Mousehole with Books and Cosy Blanket

 

Reason 5: Support Small Business, Choose Local

In the current challenging landscape, the choices we make have a meaningful impact. Since 2008, as a small business owner, I’ve cherished the trust and support of our wonderful guests who’ve chosen Stylish Cornish Cottages for their holidays. In a world where the big holiday letting agents grow ever larger, offering a diminishing personal service, and online travel platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com prioritise market dominance over genuine service, your choice to book directly with a small, local agent becomes a powerful statement.

By choosing Stylish Cornish Cottages, you not only secure a beautiful holiday cottage with the assurance of a professional yet personal touch, but you also play a crucial role in supporting a small family-run business. It’s a win-win – your dream getaway comes to life, and you contribute to the sustainability of a local business.

As one of our Rinsey Head guests said after his third visit this year: “Stylish Cornish Cottages have a unique collection of houses on their books, and have always been brilliant to deal with.”

In a world where every booking counts, your decision to book directly is not just a transaction; it’s a vote for the authenticity and individuality that small businesses bring to the table. Thank you for being a part of our journey, and for choosing the path that values the local, the personal, and the meaningful.  I really hope we can plan the perfect escape for you in the New Year!

Phay MacDowel, Founder of Stylish Cornish Cottages, and Robbie a Black Staffie Cross Dog

Phay

Founder, Stylish Cornish Cottages.

 

 

 

 

Christmas in Cornwall – Experience the Magic!

Cornwall, the ultimate destination for a magical festive getaway! Explore enchanting festive days out, embark on blustery coastal walks, indulge in scrumptious roasts at cosy pubs, or immerse yourself in the thrill of storm watching. Whether you prefer lazy days with cheesy movies or the exhilaration of a coastal adventure, Christmas in Cornwall offers an array of activities to make your festive break truly memorable. With Halloween behind us, it’s time to fully embrace the festive spirit. In our latest journal, we’ve curated a guide to some of the best things to do during the Christmas build-up in Cornwall.

Mousehole Lights

As far as Christmas lights are concerned you won’t get much better than the Mousehole Harbour Lights. Every December since 1963 the harbour village of Mousehole (pronounced Mowzel) becomes an illuminated spectacle with lights everywhere – in the harbour, on the cottages, harbour walls, hillside and a Celtic cross on St Clement’s Isle in the bay. The operation is mammoth and all run by volunteers, work to activate the 60+ displays, 90km of cables and approximately 7,000 bulbs starts each September.  This year, the switch on will be on Monday 11th December, between 5 – 6pm; the lights are then illuminated every evening from 5pm to 10pm until Saturday 6th January.  The exception to this is Tuesday 19th December when the lights are extinguished at 8pm, as a mark of respect to the lives lost in the Solomon Browne Lifeboat Disaster.

If you are anywhere in West Cornwall on 23rd December make sure you head to Mousehole for Tom Bawcock’s Eve, an annual event to celebrate Tom Bawcock a legendary character from the village of MouseholeCornwall. He appears to have been a local fisherman in the 16th century. According to the legend, one winter had been particularly stormy, meaning that none of the fishing boats had been able to leave the harbour. As Christmas approached, the villagers, who relied on fish as their primary source of food, were facing starvation. The legend passed down states that Tom Bawcock decided to brave the storms and went out in his fishing boat. Despite the stormy weather and the difficult seas, he managed to catch enough fish to feed the entire village. The entire catch (including seven types of fish) was baked into a pie, which had the fish heads poking through to prove that there were fish inside; so “stargazey” pie was born. The story of Bawcock was popularised by Antonia Barber‘s children’s book The Mousehole Cat, which featured the stargazy pie.

Mousehole-Christmas-Lights

Rogue Theatre

A magical Christmas experience aimed at children but just as compelling for adults.  Based at the beautiful Tehidy Woods, near Portreath; wander through the Winter Wood on a wintry afternoon or after dark and discover an enchanting, glittering, candlelit wonderland, drawing you into an ancient kingdom.  The actors lead you through a series of scenes created amongst the branches,  it’s not so much like going to the theatre as wandering into a magical world in the woods. Created by Cornwall’s award winning immersive and highly visual Rogue Otherworld, Winter Wood is an immersive adventure for families and those who seek the magic we often forget.

At the end of your journey, you arrive at the Old Man Winter’s warm marquee to sit down and watch the play, the details for 2023 have just been released and will include live music, festive stories and winter wonders; go to Rogueotherworld for more details and to book your tickets. Mulled wine, hot chocolate, mince pies and soup are available to keep you warm but please do wrap up warm!  A perfect start to your Christmas stay in Cornwall.

Magical Illuminated Night Gardens

We are blessed with many stunning gardens in Cornwall, visiting in the winter is a very different experience from the colourful and abundant spring and summer visits, but many are turned into a magical winter wonderland filled with lanterns, lights and delicious food along the way, an ideal way to kick off your Christmas celebrations in Cornwall.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan – Night Garden

Become immersed in an enchanting lantern experience, set amidst the atmospheric Lost Gardens. Journey through an extended 1-mile one-way journey around the accessible Garden, let the Heligan staff direct you to discover nature in a celebration of the wildlife that make Heligan their home all year round. Explore at your own pace, stop to admire the beautifully lit installations and laterns, take in the smells, toast marshmallows by stunning fire bowls, experience glittering oak trees, and enjoy seasonal warming take away refreshments and meals amid a truly festive backdrop for your Winter’s evening. There are lantern making workshops for children to attend to create their own handheld lantern to light their path whilst they explore night garden, workshops run from 4pm – 6pm and must be pre-booked.

Trengwainton, Madron, Penzance

A lovely National Trust property with a beautiful walled garden and orchard which is lit with stunning lanterns, all made by local schools and local artists. Stroll through the gardens lit by these creative lanterns and hundreds of fairy lights. Make a Christmas Wish by hanging a bauble on the wishing tree and gather your family and friends for a picture at the selfie station. Pop into the bookshop for some winter reading and to make a Christmas craft. The café is closed but there are outdoor food vendors selling hot drinks, cakes and savouries. The shop will be open for Christmas shopping from 4.30 till 8.30.  For dates and prices please see Link.

Eden Project

Discover the magic of Christmas this year at the Eden Project, by stepping into an all-new after-dark immersive music and light experience on selected dates throughout December. Add in ice skating and Father Christmas visits, Eden offers you the chance to truly celebrate the festive season with your loved ones. The music and lights experience is on selected dates: 1-3, 8-10, 14-23 and 27-30 December 2023. For more information see Link.

Eden-Project-Christmas-immersive-light-sound-experience-2023

Festive Christmas Markets

There are many things that Cornwall gets right, proper pasties and long sandy beaches to name a few, but we get Christmas right too!  There are so many fabulous Christmas markets to choose from in Cornwall, why not book a short break in the build up to Christmas and shop for your presents in a much more enjoyable way this year? Almost every town will boast a great Christmas market but here are our pick of the bunch.

Truro Christmas Market

Truro Christmas Market runs at Lemon Quay every Wednesday to Sunday from 29th November right up to Christmas Eve, from 9am to 4pm, with several late-nights on Wednesdays.  Wander amongst the wooden cabins, source beautiful local gifts from Truro’s top artisans and traders, as well as finding delicious locally sourced food, arts and crafts, music and entertainment.

Falmouth’s Festive Weekend

Falmouth’s festive weekend is the perfect event to bring your family and friends together with ice skating, live music, and an incredible Christmas market. Here, you’ll find rides for kids, a free Santa’s grotto, and so much more, to really get you in the festive spirit the streets are even snow covered! The date for your diary is Saturday 9th to Sunday 10th December, from 11am – 5pm. Some small charges apply for some of the activities.

Healeys Christmas Market

In its sixth year, Healey’s Christmas market is located in a rural spot in Callestick, just a short drive from Perranporth, and is guaranteed to get you in the festive mood. The farm is transferred into a fairytale wonderland, with twinkling fairy lights dotted around the courtyard, Christmas music and local crafts, the all-important mulled cyder and tasty food, Healey’s is a fantastic spot for families at any time of the year but particularly at Christmas. You can get involved in activities like cocktail-making, cydermaster tours and story times for the kids.  Entrance is free, small charges for some activities may apply.  Running every weekend from Saturday 11th November to Sunday 17th December, from 9am – 5pm.

Porthleven Christmas Market

Held inside the Shipyard Market and along the illuminated harbour, the Porthleven Christmas market brings in stallholders from all over the local area, with artisan wares from Cornish candles to silver jewellery inspired by the sea. The weekend starts on Friday 3rd December with mulled wine, mince pies, the Porthleven band and the light switch on at 7pm. The weekend of 4th – 5th December will be your chance to shop till you drop with live music and an appearance from Santa to really get you in the festive spirit.  Stalls open 10am – 6pm all weekend.

Take the Plunge at Christmas

In order to really indulge in that sumptuous Christmas lunch, topped off with a mound of Cornish Cheeses and lots of chocolate why not take a Christmas Day plunge into the chilly December sea? There are many organised events on Christmas Day and Boxing Day run by local Cornish communities raising money for charities around Cornwall.  Lots of people get dressed up in Santa and elf costumes- but the less you wear the braver you are!

11.00am – Sennen Cove

A swim steeped in tradition, the Sennen Christmas Day swim attracts hundreds of people every year – with only the odd wetsuit in sight! Meet opposite the Sennen Surf School, let the salty water invigorate you, and afterwards warm up with a mulled wine or hot chocolate.

12.30pm – Coverack Harbour

The story goes that a local doctor made a bet that he could swim across the harbour and ever since it’s been a local tradition for the village residents to swim the wintery water on Christmas Day.  A fund raising event for Cancer Research.

Boxing Day – 12pm – Porthminster beach

At the St Ives Boxing Day swim you are welcome to a full on wet suit or go with the crowd in fancy (skimpy) dress!  The swim is for charity and you can make your £1 donation on the day before taking the plunge with the rest of the brave bunch.  To warm you up afterwards Porthminster Café will be open serving hot chocolates and bacon sarnies. It has to be the best cure to any Christmas day over-indulgence!!

Brave-swimmers-no-wet-suits-cold-water-Christmas-Day-swim

Discover the Magic – Find your Festive Retreat
Mousehole Cottage

Be part of the Mousehole magical light switch on!  Take a few days out and come for a festive short break in the beautiful harbour village of Mousehole; we have a few short breaks at discounted prices still available, drop me an email for details – or call to discuss.  Mousehole Cottage is the ultimate cosy cottage to snuggle up by the fire after a full day of Cornish Christmas activities!

The Summer House

The perfect Festive venue!  Available over the Christmas and New Year weeks, what better place to come and celebrate Christmas or see in 2024 with your family or close friends.  Set just above magical Mousehole, The Summer House is close enough to walk down to all the festivities and see the stunning lights but provides a haven of peace and tranquillity if you just want to unwind after a busy year.  Also available for a short pre-Christmas break, your chance to come and view the lights, sample some Cornish Christmas spirit whilst returning to relax in a super stylish and comfortable cottage. Special Offers apply, email or call to discuss.

Porth Nanven Cottage

Have a break from the crazy Christmas build up and book a short break to Porth Nanven Cottage, a perfect retreat to relax and unwind.  Also available for the New Year week, come down and enjoy all the wonderful Christmas festivities that West Cornwall has to offer and then come back to a beautiful home from home for a cosy evening in, or stroll to nearby St Just for a fully festive night out in the atmospheric local pubs!  Special offers apply, email or call me to discuss.

The Barn, Ashton

Spend New Year with the family in this ideal and spacious converted Barn, close to Porthleven which is a beautiful harbour town, festooned in Christmas lights and packed with buzzing pubs, cafes and restaurants to celebrate the start of the New Year. The Barn itself offers a peaceful retreat if relaxation is what you need, with a log burner, great kitchen and plenty of space for everyone; its an ideal choice for the New Year week. Just one week remaining, email or call me to discuss.

 

Embrace Autumn’s Splendour: 5 Must-Do Activities in Cornwall

As the leaves turn golden and the air takes on a crisp chill, autumn in Cornwall is a magical time of year. Whilst still in denial that Summer (did it really happen?) is over, thoughts have started to turn to wellies, Sunday roasts and woolly jumpers, so it seemed a good time to share our favourite Autumn activities. With its stunning coastline, charming villages and fabulous local produce, West Cornwall offers the perfect destination for your autumn or October half-term getaway. Here we’ll guide you through a few of our favourite things to do, whatever the weather.

Wrap up warm and head out for a walk

Take advantage of Cornwall’s breathtaking coastal paths and woodland trails. It’s the ideal time of year for wrapping up warm and getting out for a walk. Explore the rugged beauty of the North Coast between Sennen and St Ives, a dramatic section of coastline with a number of great pubs on the way and taking in the section around Botallack Mine, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Alternatively take a gentler option and walk from the historic town of Penzance to the beautiful harbour village of Mousehole; passing Newlyn enroute, one of the largest fishing ports in the UK and central to the fishing industry in Cornwall. You can stock up on some wonderful fresh fish, beautiful cheeses, visit Jelberts the famous and super simple ice cream parlour and even visit the Fermentary, a small business that produces fermented foods and drinks using traditional methods, try their Zinger Water Kefir for instance! I definitely recommend heading out for a walk before dusk, if you are lucky you might witness one of Cornwall’s magnificent sunsets. For more inspiration and some guided circular walks all around the area, download the iwalkcornwall app.

Tin Mines at Botallack-North Coast Cornwall UNESCO Heritage Site

Pick your own Pumpkins!

Embrace the essence of autumn with a delightful trip to one of West Cornwall’s picturesque farms. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to handpick your very own pumpkins, it’s an adventure for all the family, and you can even involve your dog in the fun. Then get your pumpkins back to your cottage and let the creativity flow by carving these beautiful gourds into spooktacular masterpieces!” Make sure to capture those Instagram-worthy pictures from field to finished article!  Our favourite farm is Trevaskis, Connor Downs, near Hayle. Set among 28 acres of beautiful countryside, Trevaskis Farm is a great day out, pumpkins will be picking soon but you can also wander the orchards, visit the farm park, eat at the restaurant (don’t miss the incredible array of cakes!) and then stock up on all your essentials, and plenty of treats from the fabulous farm shop, don’t miss the award-winning home-reared British Lop pork. Dogs are welcome on leads, but not inside the restaurant or farm-shop, as it’s a working farm and prone to mud in the wetter months, wellies are advised!

Wild Swimming followed by Hot Chocolate

Be Brave; the sea is at its warmest in the Autumn so why not get in that beautiful crystal-clear water for a quick dip and rejuvenate body and soul in the process.  Make sure you check the sea conditions before venturing in, and if you don’t think sea swimming is for you, then get all the same benefits with a visit to Cornwall’s celebrated Art Deco Sea water lido on Penzance’s Promenade.  If visiting the Lido, you can cheat and book yourself a session in the geo-thermally heated pool – after an invigorating swim in the main pool of course! What could be better after your swim than treating yourself to a warming cup of hot chocolate, at a nearby café, complete with marshmallows and whipped cream – you have earnt it after all!  After much research, Stones Reef at Praa Sands gets my daughter, Poppy’s vote for favourite hot chocolate in the area!

Wild Sea Swimming West Cornwall

Sunday roast followed by board games by the fire

Picture your perfect Sunday, a lazy morning reading papers, a brisk, revitalising walk along the coast to a wonderful local pub for a traditional Sunday lunch and then cosy up back in the cottage, light the wood-burner and gather around the table for an afternoon of board games.  There are so many fabulous places to find a great Sunday lunch, but our favourite would have to be The Gurnards Head. Set off the road between St Just and St Ives (B3306, near Zennor, probably one of the most beautiful roads in the UK so maybe have a drive before your walk!) Walks from the Gurnards Head are plentiful, just a 5 minute stroll from the pub and you find yourself on the cliffs and coastal path, there is a relatively short loop you can do which takes about 30 minutes or a longer walk towards Zennor and back through the fields.  The food at the Gurnards Head is kept simple, the menus are short, fresh and seasonal and can change daily depending on what is brought to the back door. After a long, relaxing lunch you can either retire to the bar area, get a table by the fire and crack out the cards or return home and let the competition start, the perfect way to spend quality time together.  Many of our beautiful properties have a good supply of board games but remember if there is a family favourite best bring it along with you!

Cosy Bar Gurnards Head near Zennor, St Ives

Halloween Fun in Cornwall

If you’re visiting during late October, don’t miss the spooky Halloween festivities. Many Cornish villages really go to town with front gardens and houses decorated to the max.  Many of the big attractions also host Halloween-themed events, from haunted house tours to pumpkin carving contests. Dress up the kids, yourself and of course the dog, and join in the Halloween spirit for an unforgettable autumn experience.  Our favourite for Halloween trick or treating is Mousehole; it seems the whole village enter into the spirit and competition is high for the best decorated and spookiest garden/ house.  Without a doubt down one of the small, unsuspecting side streets you will find the answer – I will say no more, you will know when you’ve found it!! For those with young kids who want to trick or treat, make sure you only knock on doors which have a lit pumpkin outside.  The fun starts early for the younger children, usually at dusk; the scarier costumes tend to come out a little later! Once you have filled your baskets with sweets, stop in at The Old Coastguard Hotel for a much-needed glass of something!

West Cornwall offers a treasure trove of autumn delights, whether it’s picking pumpkins, exploring scenic trails, enjoying wild swims and hot chocolate, relishing Sunday roasts and board games, or embracing the Halloween spirit, this corner of England has something special for everyone. So, why wait? Book your autumn or October half-term holiday in West Cornwall now. I list below a small selection of our Cornish cottages with availability this autumn, all of which are ready to welcome you, your family and your furry friends to experience an unforgettable autumn getaway.

Discover Our Beautiful Homestays
Mousehole Cottage

Lovely detached Cornish Cottage close to the heart of beautiful Mousehole Harbour, with private parking, a garden, wood burner for the chillier evenings and a great selection of board games!  Sleeps 6, dog friendly.  Check out our October Half Term Special Offers.

The Summer House

Stunning detached property set above the beautiful village of Mousehole, spacious and stylish interior, private garden, parking for two cars.  With two beautiful bathrooms and plenty of hot water for your post-swim warm up! Sleeps 6 (max 4 adults), dog friendly.  Special offers running from September through to 19 October.

Porth Nanven Cottage

Beautiful detached Cornish cottage set at the end of a magical valley near St Just, with two comfortable bedrooms, two bathrooms and a spacious sitting / dining room.  With footpaths from the doorstep leading in every direction, a short walk down to the sea at Porth Nanven Cove, an exhilarating walk along the South West Coastal Path to Sennen Cove or a stroll up to the local market town of St Just.  Special offers running from September to 19 October.

Brook Cottage 

Magical Cottage set in Cot Valley, near St Just, set in beautiful surroundings with sub-tropical garden and brook running through it.  Reverse level property with beautiful views down the valley towards The Brisons which sit approximately a mile out to sea.  Large sitting room and well equipped kitchen both leading onto large decked balcony.  Three bedrooms, sleeping 5.  Parking and dog friendly.

Around Cot Valley, St Just

Located in the far west of Cornwall, Cot Valley is half-a-mile from the westerly town of St Just.  A narrow lane and stream bisects the valley ending at Porth Nanven Cove.

Sometimes referred to as ‘Dinosaur Egg Beach’ , Porth Nanven Cove has a remarkable deposit of ovoid boulders covering the beach and foreshore. These boulders come in all sizes, from hen’s egg to a metre or more in length, they are now legally protected by the National Trust which owns the beach. These weirdly shaped boulders are the work of the sea, but dramatically, the sea of 120,000 years ago. Sea levels are now much lower, causing the ancient beach to be suspended in the cliff above the present day beach level. Stand on the beach and look back towards the cliff, and you will see a wall of rounded stones making up the raised beach, which is of scientific interest.

Sunset at Porth Nanven Cove

Heading east, follow the zig zag path upwards and onto the headland, the walk continues along the coastal path heading towards Sennen.  You will see the Brisons, two offshore rocks, located approximately one mile southwest of Cape Cornwall. They mark the starting line of the annual swimming race ending at Priest Cove.

The Brisons

Follow the highest footpath and you can head east to Gwyner and Sennen Cove. Or take the left-hand path at Letcha.  This footpath will bring you into the small hamlet of Letcha with St Just visible in the distance.  Climb the wooden fence and follow the tarmac road bringing you out by Lands End Youth Hostel (mis-named, its actually in Cot Valley!)  Turn left and follow the left hand bridleway which will bring you out onto an unmade track leading up to Porth Nanven House & Cottage. Turn right and cross the stream you will re-join the lane leading down to Porth Nanven Cove.

Letcha with St Just in distance

Cot Valley contains many relics of its former association with mining. It is believed that mining work was being carried on here as early as the Medieval period. Mine shafts and other evidence of metal mining dot the valley sides. The stream would have been dammed at one time to provide a stable source of water power.  A number of water mills operated in the valley.

Accommodation in Cot Valley

We have some stunning properties in Cot Valley:

Porth Nanven House, sleeps 6 with private garden and fabulous sea views.  A few weeks still available in June & July, prices start from £1,150 in June,  https://www.stylishcornishcottages.co.uk/accommodation/porth-nanven-house-cot-valley/ 

Porth Naven Cottage, sleeps 4 with private garden. A few weeks available in July & August, and due to cancellation 21st – 28th June, special offer price of £795 per week or £150 per night, min 5 nights,  https://www.stylishcornishcottages.co.uk/accommodation/porth-nanven-cottage-cot-valley/

Brook Cottage, sleeps 5 with private garden and fabulous sea views. 1st – 8th June available from £550 per week or a few short breaks available in July and late August,  https://www.stylishcornishcottages.co.uk/accommodation/brook-cottage-cot-valley/

 

Porthleven Food Festival

 

 

Now in it’s 11th year the Porthleven Food Festival is being held from Friday 26th April to Sunday 28th April 2019.

Porthleven Food Festival includes: National and International Chefs theatre, numerous food stalls and street food, music and entertainment for all the family.  The festival takes place in the harbour town of Porthleven, near Helston in West Cornwall. It is all about the food with plenty of local chefs taking the stage in the chefs theatre. This year Anthony Worrall Thompson is back to open the festival. He is  followed by local celebrity chef Jude Kereama from Kota & Kota Kai in Porthleven.  There will also be demonstrations by chefs from local restaurants such as Bens’ Cornish Kitchen, Fifteen Cornwall, Porthminister Beach Cafe and Rick Steins in Padstow.

Food and Drink

Eat and drink your way around the town, trying out all the yummy food and drink outlets! Stop for a break and listen to a range of music performed at various stages round the town.  Join in a masterclass or two, this year these include: creating the perfect G&T, a cocktail masterclass or Beer tasting via St Austell brewery.  Or sketch your way round joining the festival sketchbook workshop.

Family Friendly

The Porthleven Food Festival is a family friendly event with a dedicated family field.  Activities this year will include circus skills, crafting tent and of course a bouncy castle.  There is a literary tent, food stalls and the odd bar or two in the family field to keep the adults entertained!

Entertainment

The fun continues in the evenings with The Shipyard Sessions (tickets required). There is plenty to eat and drink and a fireworks display at 9pm on Saturday night.

Things to know
Entry to the main event is free but tickets are required for the Shipyard evening music sessions and masterclasses.

Trading hours are 10am to 7pm

There is a festival campsite, tickets are from £18 for the weekend (Friday to Monday), booking advisable

Find all the information you need on: https://www.porthlevenfoodfestival.com/

Nearby Accommodation

If camping is not your thing, we have two lovely properties nearby.  Tivoli One is a beautiful Cornish Cottage which sleeps up to 5 people. It is available from Friday 26th April to Monday 29th April at the special festival rate of £400.  https://www.stylishcornishcottages.co.uk/accommodation/tivoli-one-cornish-cottage/

Alternatively The Artists Studio is available from Saturday 27th April, suitable for 2 people and priced at £60 per night, minimum 3 night stay.  https://www.stylishcornishcottages.co.uk/accommodation/the-artists-studio-praa-sands/