We’ve always wanted The Cornish Way to be different.
Ideally offering a more personalised service.
There when guests want us, a quick meet and greet when it suits everyone, and some even pop around for tea.
We wanted a range of great accommodation options, all of which deliver on our promise of “Holidays that fill you with joy”.
Over the past year we have added to our portfolio at both ends of our range.
Primrose Cottage at Boskednan is a dream property for groups – ideally two, even three families. Here kids can live out their adventurous dreams in real life, creating holidays that will forever remain in their memories as halcyon days. The adults will have so many corners of the house, and garden, to which they can escape. Then all can gather around the huge table for dinner to share tales of the magical day that was.
Lillie’s Lookout is its delightful antithesis. A cabin of just 30 square metres for two lucky adults, perhaps with a babe in arms, that looks over the fields and on out to sea, with the Scilly Isles as a backdrop. We’re in love with Lillie’s for its perfect proportions, as well as its location above the cliffs that drew us to this, the end of the earth, in the first place.
In a few weeks Archavon Studio will take our ambition of creating luxury from a small space to a new level. It’s around 25 square metres and the brief was to deliver a boutique hotel experience, in the middle of St Just, but with the convenience of a self catering apartment. It’s nearly finished, it’s looking amazing, and we’re very excited about its impending launch.
And right now we’re trialling what we hope to be the next stage for The Cornish Way.
We’ve hired a basic camper van of vast proportions.
Constance is a Mercedes Sprinter who spent her early life delivering pharmaceuticals for Alliance Healthcare before being retired and given a new purpose by Steph and Tom, her current owners.
She has had a light conversion to create a camper that’s somewhere between gypsy caravan and cottage on wheels. She’s lined with tongue and grooved pine, has a mini Welsh dresser that houses her sink and some storage, and a super king (albeit short) bed that opens out to create some hard to enter seating around a table of sorts.
No fridge, loo or shower here, Constance delivers the basics for taking to the road, but delivers them well.
What she has that’s a huge attraction for an autumn, winter or spring stay is her woodburner – wow!
We’ve long talked of offering a great home on wheels as an addition to The Cornish Way’s portfolio. Hiring Constance is a trial run, to see if it works for us (it does) and to take copious notes on what we need to do to create an experience worthy of The Cornish Way’s brand.
We picked Constance up from her owners in Illogan near my home town of Redruth on Friday afternoon, and felt the thrill, tempered by fear, as we drove such a long beast of a truck through Illogan and Redruth school traffic before we hit the A30.
Our first manoeuvre was to swing into Prima Bakeries at Wheal Rose, Scorrier, for pasties (one cheese and onion, one steak and ale, both as good as I could hope for without them coming from mum’s oven) and saffron buns.
As ever I wondered why don’t bakeries give you a small pack of Rennies with every pasty?
The size of the van hit home as I came out of the bakery and saw that it was more than double the length of some of the cars in the car park. It took a few forwards and backs to escape.
Our destination was near Mevagissey. We eschewed the opportunity to do battle with the Truro traffic, and instead headed up the A30 to Mitchell before cutting back to emerge above Truro beside its new Waitrose.
I’d grab a bite of pasty when relaxed enough. And making a pasty last is always an achievement.
That might make it sound like it’s hard to drive.
In fact it’s stupidly easy on normal roads.
It’s just when a tight bend, or reversing, is called for that you remember that Constance is 6m+ long and that tail end needs more attention than you’re used to offering.
Constance is experienced. With a quarter of a million miles on her clock she has seen more than most. She squeaks and squeals, she doesn’t stop like the empty hire vans I’m used to, and she climbs as if lugging a serious load, but all those are characteristics to get used to, and despite them all she feels solid, dependable.
We’re booked into The Meadows, an adults only (!) campsite outside of Pentewan, near St Austell, and we’re there in no time. Nothing like a new and challenging vehicle to make the miles just slip by.
The campsite is very smart, advertises a curry van and bar on the first night, and our plot is just opposite the reception – with the huge advantage of having wifi where we’re parked.
It’s right off the main road and so there’s constant traffic noise, but the dense greenery, and attractive planting is sufficient to distract us from the cars.
An evening exercise with the dog got us caught up in a duck race with 150+ rubber ducks racing down the white river, the River St Austell, that flows from high in the clay pit hills, down to the sea at Pentewan. The river banks are part of the walking and cycle trails that make the area so attractive, and seeing the river filled with hundreds of bobbing rubber ducks was quite surreal.
The bed arrangement in Constance involves removing the table top and using it as slats for part of the bed. It’s not too difficult, and your effort is rewarded with a super wide, if rather short, bed.
We slept like logs. As did Polly who had her own secret chamber beneath the bed, surrounded on 5 of 6 sides – doggy heaven.
I’ve always loved a two ring burner and oven combo from my first student bedsit, so cooking up breakfast was a joy, and the first food eaten outdoors is always twice as tasty as its indoor equivalent.
Yesterday we walked down the white river to Pentwean, then along the rollercoaster of a cliff path to Mevagissey in misty weather. After a few good benches on the route, the first stop in town was at the museum. What a cracking little place it is too. On three floors, with entry on donation, there’s a huge amount to read that’ll learn ‘ee of old times by the sea.
Strangely there’s no cash point in the town and so you have to ask for cash back – the convenience store beside the good looking No.5 Brasserie will give you up to £50 for a reasonable £1 fee.
Armed with rapidly devaluing sterling we headed off in search of fish and chips which we ate on the front, guarded by a super attentive sea gull ready to swoop on an accidentally discarded bit of fish, or maybe on Polly if she were to step out of line. The best fish and chips in town is from this little unit on the quay – we had mackerel fillets and chips, fantastic!
Was that enough? Oh no, not until we’d devoured a rhubarb crumble ice cream from Kelly’s on the front.
Mevagissey’s many charms weren’t lost on us, but this is a tale of life in a van, not of towns by the sea. After the up and down walk home to the beast we marvelled at the convenience of having your home on wheels.
We thought about driving to the pub, having a few scoops and intending to walk home, then realising that home was waiting for you outside.
Fortunately we didn’t have to work that one thorough as Lazy’s camp bar opened for cocktails.
Constance is, as I’ve said, basic, but charming. She’s also expensive.
You could take a cottage at The Cornish Way this week for the same nightly price as the van, and have a great space, that’s immaculately prepared, and have nothing to think about other than foraging for food. With the van everything is extra – outside chairs, firewood, bedding even, and that seems a rip off, especially as the capital investment in this thing is minimal. But that aside it has been great fun and we know we could deliver a fantastic experience that will delight guests for a similar price and add a new dimension to the business.
Look out for Archie Van early next year.
And if you fancy camping in mid-Cornwall then I heartily recommend The Meadows, Pentewan.