Cape Cornwall is one of my favourite spots in the far west. Perhaps anywhere.
You can’t really call someplace wild when it has a golf course behind it, yet the Atlantic weather hits the Cape full on, and it’s where I tend to head when there’s a storm blowing.
I’ve often dreamed of converting the lobster pot shed below Cape House into a simple over night shelter in the spirit of a Scottish bothy. Trouble is I’d want to be there all the time myself.
Or, even better, how about taking the concrete hut that’s fast falling into the sea (see below) and putting a great big glass wall on the seaward side, roofing it and putting a single comfortable chair inside. It could be a day retreat for anyone needing contemplation time. A sanctuary where dreamers could connect with the sea without getting wet. A haven to help a person realise that their concerns, no matter how grave, are insignificant in the scheme of things.
Let’s swing to the other end of the scale.
Right now one of the finest houses in the far west is on the market, and it’s right above the Cape.
It’s a little out of my price range and there are a few too many windows to clean for my liking, but those minor details aside, Porthledden House is quite magnificent.
Porthledden is the name of the little visited cove to the north of the Cape, worth visiting for the interesting mining remains there, and it lends its name to the house that overlooks it.
We all remember the place as something of a haunted house before the current owners took on a monumental restoration from around 2004. I’m sure hundreds of people dreamed of taking on the project, but thankfully the couple that finally took the plunge had both the vision and depth of pocket to do it properly.
A century after it was built by one of Cornwall’s most successful and respected mining captains the house was rescued by the enterprising couple that set up hotelsdirect.co.uk.
The said mine captain – the captain was akin to a managing director and next most important person to the mineral rights owner – was a fellow by the name of Francis Oats. He hardly got to spend any time there as his success earned him the notice of De Beers and he spent much of his career in South Africa. At De Beers he rose to be chairman of the diamond mining business, succeeding a rather notorious fellow by the name of Cecil Rhodes.
It’s often said that where’s there’s a mine there’s a Cornishman at the bottom – it’s good to know that now and then there’s also a Cornishman at the top!
Following his death in South Africa, Oats’ son took on the house and opened it as a hotel, surely that is what this stunning property is destined to be again, but after 30 years of trying that business failed.
The current owners oversaw a fitting and beautiful restoration – 200 windows in bronze frames, that huge roof that took a year to replace using slate from the original Westmoorland slate quarry, granite from the original De Lank Quarry near Bodmin. But now it seems, it’s time to move on for them.
I’m not in the business of helping the people to sell their house. But I am interested in this magnificent property and its successful future. Were it to stay in private ownership and be maintained as it is now that would be exciting. Then again if the right hotelier were to take it on and thereby make it accessible for more people I’d be delighted too.
Flick through the sale photos and you’ll see some of their fabulous art, from the Kurt Jackson that dominates the main kitchen to more classical pieces. Much of the furniture too are craft pieces to admire.
Here’s a link to the sales particulars.
Gaze on in envy, but then delight in the fact that thanks to The National Trust (and, strangely, Heinz) Cape Cornwall is free for us all to enjoy, for a stormy spot of wave watching, or for the delightful swimming out of Priest’s Cove.