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Pete Lawrence - 06 Dec 2015
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I had visited Cornwall twice at this time of year over the last decade and both times seen the sleepy county bathed in sun in its pre-tourist season and amazingly, fortune smiled and it was a case of third time lucky.

Winter was on the cusp of spring, it was Mid March and time to tempt fate by heading down to that much-loved part of the UK, Cornwall, with good friend Josie Kemp in tow.  Josie had her sights set on buying a holiday home somewhere near St Ives and so offered me a trip down and board and lodging for two nights in the wonderful faded grandeur of the Tregenna Castle in return for driving her there and offering a second opinion on her viewed homes. It was a long overdue first visit to St Ives for me and I wasn’t disappointed. The vista from our room offered a spectacular panoramic view over the bay and long walk down the steep hill was worth it for the treasures at the bottom, not least the excellent Sloop Inn, where at least two meals were enjoyed. 

I had visited Cornwall twice at this time of year over the last decade and both times seen the sleepy county bathed in sun in its pre-tourist season and amazingly, fortune smiled and it was a case of third time lucky. When Cornwall is like this, there must be no better place to be at this time of year, and we made the most of our good luck by getting out and about, most memorably by walking along the spectacular beach at Riviera Towans, Hayle, overlooking St Ives Bay, and on the headland a little further up the coast at Gwithian, a truly splendid outlook at sunset.

After two nights in the cosy hotel we promised ourselves a night in the van and so set out for a lunch and afternoon stopover at Porthtowan which saw the first of I’m sure will be many picnic lunches in car parks.. It also included a visit to The Blue Bar, many years after I was first invited there by my friend John Bampini. It was a wonderful, sheltered spot with an alternative west coast feel to it and we left reluctantly to head much further up the coast, without much of an idea where we might end up, essentially following our noses. I had a half baked idea that somewhere close to Port Isaac might be good, after briefly visiting the village in 2013, and we found our spot randomly just up the road from there as the light was fading and we were beginning to get hungry. I’d never been to Port Gavern before, but as we pulled around the cove, Josie spotted a pub/hotel that looked like it was worth a stop. I wondered aloud if the landlord would let us park up so Josie went in and asked. The landlord, a young and pleasant bloke actually came out to see if there was a suitable spot in their car park only to find that it was full. So he then pulled an ace from his pack by offering a spot “up the hill on some spare land we own, right next to the dustbins”. It didn’t sound too enticing, but a short drive up the hill revealed a gem of a lookout spot, with a fine view over the bay and a short walk down to one of the most welcoming pubs I have recently visited. In fact, we enjoyed it so much we booked in for breakfast the next morning and that was truly top class, after a walk around the bay and bordering cliffs. I will return, without doubt and ~I thoroughly recommend http://portgavernehotel.co.uk, just the right balance between boutique small hotel and local hostelry 

Onwards towards less idyllic parts the next morning, save for a fine north Devon lunch stopover at Berry’s Ground Lane on the edge of Exmoor, overlooking Woody Bay, just down the road from Lynton and Lynmouth. The cheese rolls had rarely tasted so good. 

 

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