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Why foodies will love West Cornwall

As the time for your Cornish holiday approaches, you’re sure to have glistening visions of warm sandy beaches and explorations of the local area for the first day of your trip in mind. A visit to the nearest supermarket that looks exactly like the one you find yourself in every week at home, complete with glaring lights, busy aisles and plastic packaging, is slightly less appealing.

When some of the highest quality meat and veg is on our very doorstep, the appeal of supermarket ‘convenience’ has become less and less as we turn our heads to the butchers, growers and makers that are introducing the next level of Cornish cuisine to our plates. The hustle and bustle of traders and friendly faces in the monthly farmers markets and local food hubs offer a tantalising taste of what our local artisans have up their sleeves, as many of us have been feeling the need to replenish our larders a little more frequently with food that feels a lot closer to home than what we can purchase in the large national supermarkets.

It’s not only locals who are beginning to more readily embrace the rich food heritage that Cornwall has to offer. More and more visitors to our shining shores are coming to realise that there is much more to experience than the same old brands you’ll find on the supermarket shelf. Influenced by the landscape and the lives of the working men and women who have inhabited Cornwall for centuries, the history of Cornish food is a relationship entwined with the geography of the place – from coastline to farmland, across the county. Famed for the culinary treasures that hail from the county, West Cornwall is a bustling hub of home-grown wonders, so it comes as no surprise that locals and visitors far and wide are increasingly looking to incorporate some of the best produce in the UK into their food shop.

With such a rich array of Cornish food on offer from friendly faces right in West Cornwall, you need look no further than your very own doorstep for the highest-quality homegrown produce. At Stylish Cornish Cottages, we know that it can be difficult to know where to start, especially if you’re new to the area. This is why we are proud to partner with the multi award winning Cornish Food Box Company to offer all of our guests the ability to pre-order a selection of local produce delivered to your door, to save that dreaded trip to the supermarket on your first day.  Choose from fresh local and seasonal vegetables, fruit, free range meat, fish and seafood to alcohol, chocolate, cheeses, bread and much more, not to mention locally made ready meals for the freezer.  Ordering is really simple, either on-line or over the phone (but must be done in advance), to top it off you will be given a discount code by Stylish Cornish Cottages to get £5 off any order over £50.

Porthleven Food Festival | Stylish Cornish Cottages
Organisers of Porthleven Food Festival are hoping for a similarly busy event to 2018

One of the biggest celebrations of food that occurs every spring here in the south west is the Porthleven Food Festival. This year, after a two year break due to Covid, we will see a fresh array of producers, makers and chefs primed and ready to give you a taste of something really special. An award-winning, community-led, not-for-profit event, this year’s festival will take place in the charming harbour village of Porthleven from 22nd to 24th April, and is an absolute must-visit for anyone staying in the area. Run by the team behind the Food & Farming tent at the Royal Cornwall Show – showcasing quality artisan suppliers from across Cornwall and the south west – discover a food market populated with local artisans and their unique Cornish products, alongside stalls of street food to entice you with smells of seared meat, bubbling curries and seafood paellas.

Amongst a multitude of new faces, you’re sure to come across some familiar ones too, with a few of Porthleven’s finest due to make an appearance. The proudly Cornish Ann’s Pasty Lounge offers pasty crimping workshops by Ann herself alongside cocktail masterclasses, and the famed Origin coffee will certainly be on the scene. At the very heart of it all, find chef and owner of Kota and Kota Kai Jude Kereama at the Chef’s Theatre, where top chefs from across Cornwall and the south west bring their cooking expertise to the table, matched with the ultimate objective to ‘promote awareness of the extent and quality of locally produced food’. Watch and learn as these culinary experts cook live, creating amazing dishes using fantastic produce from across our county and beyond. For a next-level experience and for a complete immersion in to the local food scene the Porthleven Food Festival is not one to be missed.

Discover our beautiful homestays

The Barn, Ashton

A deceptively spacious, single storey property in Ashton, near Porthleven. Sleeping six comfortably, the perfect location for exploring the whole area, with easy access to the Lizard and Lands’ End peninsular.  Good availability throughout late April – June.

Visit The Barn

Leskinnick Terrace, Penzance

A beautiful Victorian terraced town house, with private garden, located close to the centre of Penzance, a great position for exploring West Cornwall.  Sleeps three, with spacious living accommodation and garden with beautiful summer house.  The property is new to Stylish Cornish Cottages, so there is excellent availability from April onwards. Special offers apply throughout April (check out the Current Offers section of our website)

Visit Leskinnick Terrace

Rinsey Head, Near Porthleven

A spectacular cliff top property with incredible views in every direction, a really unique and special place to stay. Sleeps up to 10, with spacious living areas. Located close to Porthleven.  Limited availability in April, May and June.

Visit Rinsey Head

Lunch on the balcony at Rinsey Head

The rocks beneath our feet

Shaping the west Cornwall coastline, we explore its geology with caving, climbing and coasteering expert Matt George.

Why is the geology of West Cornwall so important and what are the main features?

The rugged coastline of west Cornwall is now all that remains of a huge mountain range, some 5000 metres high, that was formed about 300 million years ago. This mountain range extended across South West England, as well as elsewhere around the world. Countless millennia of erosion have left a landscape that is a far cry from mountainous, but reveals what was happening deep underneath those mountains, in the distant past. Most notably, we have the formation of the Land’s End granite. This is part of the huge Cornubian batholith, which is the source of granites from the Isles of Scilly all the way up to, and including Dartmoor. Land’s End granite makes up most of west Cornwall, in fact it is the only part of Cornwall and Devon where the majority of the coastline is comprised of granite.

How have these features shaped the coastline and what should visitors look out for?

The predominance of granite on the Land’s End peninsula creates a very distinctive coastline, quite different from the rest of Cornwall. The results are majestic golden cliffs with their characteristic castellated profile. This sets west Cornwall apart from the rest of the county, in fact its granite coastline is, by many, considered to be the most beautiful. The absolute crown jewel of the county is the stretch of coast from Land’s End to Porthcurno, including what may be the UK’s most beautiful beach – Pedn Vounder, at Porthcurno. Once a secret, secluded beach, social media has changed this forever, and it’s easy to see why; on a sunny day, it could easily be mistaken for the Caribbean!

Porth Nanven cove, at the end of Cot Valley, is also of geological note. This beach is often referred to as the ‘dinosaur egg’ beach for the ovoid boulders that cover its shores. These rocks, although shaped and deposited by the sea, were not done so in recent times. They have actually come from an ancient beach, which you can see deposited in cliffs at the back of the beach suspended in animation some 120,000 years ago.

Other stops worth looking out for are the towering cliffs of Land’s End, or the relatively hidden beach of Nanjizal. One of the best ways to enjoy this coastline is to tackle a few miles of the South West Coast Path, as every cove and carn is worth a visit!

We hear there is an alternative way to discover this stretch of coastline….can you tell us more?

An even better way to really experience the coastline of Cornwall is by coasteering. This is an activity that allows you to access places unreachable by any other method and is an adventurous way to get a totally unique perspective of the coastline. It’s a combination of many activities, including swimming, scrambling over the rocky foreshore, and exploring sea caves and arches, but above all, it is best known for its cliff jumps. Whilst there is no requirement to jump into the sea when coasteering, if you want to get that adrenalin pumping, jumping off a rocky ledge on the Cornish coast into the Atlantic will be sure to do the job!

West Cornwall is peppered with the relics of Cornwall’s mining heritage. How does this relate to its geology?

It’s all about the granite! The emplacement of the huge body of granite beneath west Cornwall and the mineralisation of the granite and surrounding rocks associated with these events led to the formation of immense mineral wealth. This led Cornwall to become one of the most important producers of metals in Britain throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. At its peak, Cornwall was regularly producing over half of the country’s non-ferrous metals (i.e. everything except iron). Cornwall produced a lot of different metals, including copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, and even uranium. However, it is most famous for its tin mines, and there was a time – in its heyday – that Cornwall was a world-leading tin producer.

To the untrained eye, the effects of the Cornish mining industry are still obvious. Ruins of the iconic engine houses, which housed steam engines that would pump shaft and haul materials, still dot the landscape. None of these are more iconic the Crowns Mine engine houses at Botallack. Perched just a few metres above the sea, these engine houses are one of Cornwall’s oldest tourist attractions. As far back as the mid 19th century, people travelled from far and wide to marvel at these unlikely structures. Visitors included French aristocrats, Russian admirals, and even the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Princess Alexandra).

Aside from these more obvious reminders, Cornwall’s mining industry has left a permanent mark on almost every part of Cornwall. There is barely a valley or area of moorland where someone didn’t try and sink a mine, with the hope of striking riches ‘below grass’. Instead of the idyllic Cornwall we know today, picture an industrial wasteland. Entire valleys would have been covered in discarded rock spoil, often heaved into gigantic terraces. Earth was moved to make way for engine houses and tin dressing plants. Smoke would have belched, and there would have been the constant noise of men, women, and their machinery.

Cornwall has had a hundred years to recover from these scenes, and vegetation has largely reverted the landscape back to its ‘natural’ state. But if you get your eye in, under the bracken you can still clearly see evidence of the mining industry everywhere: horizontal features and inconspicuous terraces now masked in foliage; the remnants of horse whims and water leats. All of these betray the bones of an industry that, in so many ways, shaped our county.

Is it possible to explore Cornwall’s underground mining world?

Cornwall Underground Adventures are the only providers of guided mine exploration in, not just Cornwall, but the south of England. It was the idea of two keen mine explorers who wanted to share their passion for exploring Cornwall’s hidden subterranean world with other people. Their aim was to offer experiences that were as close to authentic mine exploration as possible.

What they offer differs from the small handful of ‘show mines’ that it is possible to visit around the county. Instead, Cornwall Underground Adventures offers you the chance to visit an abandoned mine in the exact condition it was left when the miners downed tools, a hundred years ago or more.

Using caving equipment and techniques, it is now possible to venture deep underground to witness first-hand what the Cornish miners created all those years ago. It is the perfect combination of adventure and adrenalin, as well as an interactive history lesson. After all, the only way to truly understand life underground for a Cornish miner, is to go underground and see it for yourself.

Cornwall Underground Adventures offer a range of experiences, from entry-level trips, to more challenging experiences involving abseiling and underground climbing routes. They run their trips in mines near St. Just, in the far west of Cornwall.

Kernow Coasteering are one of Cornwall’s leading providers of coasteering and have been offering coasteering adventures from their base in west Cornwall, for ten years. For anyone who has previous coasteering experience, Kernow Coasteering offer the ultimate coasteering tour –  around the cliffs of Land’s End itself. This is undoubtedly Cornwall’s best coasteering experience, set along one of the most beautiful and iconic stretches of coastline the county has to offer. They also offer beginner and intermediate experiences at other locations in west Cornwall.

Discover our beautiful homestays in Cot Valley near St Just …

Porth Nanven Cottage

Nestled into the hillside, this gorgeous traditional cottage for four is the perfect bolthole for getting away from it all.  Visit in February / March and take advantage of our Special Offers. Good availability throughout 2022.

Visit Porth Nanven Cottage

Porth Nanven House

You’ll find this stunning property for seven at the end of a quiet lane hidden away in its magical surroundings.  Only available for 8 weeks over July & August so be quick and book now!

Visit Porth Nanven House

Brook Cottage

If you’re looking to enjoy subtropical splendour, a magical garden and stunning views then Brook Cottage, sleeping five, ticks all the boxes and is dog-friendly too! We still have availability from June onwards.

Visit Brook Cottage

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/

 

All around the Rinsey Head headland

Rinsey Head is a stunning National Trust headland with a lovely circular walk around the headland. There is also a lovely sandy, dog friendly beach. Looking for a longer walk? You can also walk west via Praa Sands to Perranuthnoe or east to the harbour town of Porthleven (1.5 hours).

Free parking is available at the National Trust car park at the end of Rinsey Lane, however it gets  busy in the summer months so we recommend arriving early.

Wheal Prosper mine near the Car Park at Rinsey Head

Can you see either a man at prayer or a bird looking out to sea?
Wild Ponies grazing at Rinsey Head

Stylish Cornish Cottages nearby:

https://www.stylishcornishcottages.co.uk/accommodation/the-ultimate-self-catering-cottage-location-in-cornwall-rinsey-head/
https://www.stylishcornishcottages.co.uk/accommodation/tivoli-one-cornish-cottage/

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/