Flicking back through 12 months of photos brings home how wonderful it is to spend a full year in the far west.
Most visitors don’t have the good fortune to see the area through the seasons. So take ten minutes out, indulge me, and look through a few snaps.
The challenge was keeping this to 2 shots a month.
The year started with a long cold snap. Day after day of beautiful clear skies making the high points such as Carn Galva, Trencrom, and Chapel Carn Brea ideal destinations.
This shot is above a small farmstead called Rosemorran on one of the routes from Zennor up to Zennor Hill where there’s a toppled quoit and spectacular views on a clear day. While it’s but a tiny hamlet Zennor is a must visit place for The Tinner’s, the church (with its Mermaid legend) and the cliff path.
This close to the sea you can’t go too long without the cloud coming down and shrouding all in mist, mizzle, fog. Don’t let it stop you. Get out there and enjoy the immediacy of your surroundings. Sites like the Crown Mines beneath Botallack and Levant Mine a little further along the coast look especially eerie when glimpsed through the fog. Fortunately the areas of moorland we have on our doorstep are each fairly small so the risk of getting completely lost is low.
Even during January Cornwall is becoming popular. Those who choose the month for a visit are rewarded with the best prices and the chance of walking for hours without passing another soul. When the skies are clear, they’re super clear, and the colours ping out like an ad for the latest ultra HD TV.
Already the lengthening light evenings are noticeable. On the coast that’s exaggerated by the last rays of the sun reflected off the sea. This dusk view of The Brisons was taken long after most of the country was in total darkness.
A walk into the dawn, or dusk, is a beautiful thing, and in the far west it’s easy to escape the street lights. Many guests at Tregiffian share their photos of the Milky Way, some having seen it for the first time.
Pedn Vounder (Treen) is often listed as one of the world’s best beaches – and it’s here, on our doorstep. I like to describe it as a clothing optional beach. On this day in February as we walked the cliff path in tee shirts there were a couple of brave (mad?) folk on the beach totally naked – I can believe that it was warm enough out of the breeze, but the sea they swam in was definitely very chilly.
To get to the beach park at Treen and follow the track to the campsite, and then down to the coast. As you head towards Porthcurno the beach path will veer left. Be careful – it’s a difficult climb down the last 20 feet. Later stop off at the excellent Logan Rock Inn and sup a HSD. It’s worth walking out to the Logan Rock on a clear day too, it’s where this photo was taken from.
Already the hedgerows are springing forth.
Walking miles every day with the dog, and a keen eye for change, brings awareness of the beautiful new life and the speed of nature’s progress. It’s a joy to be based in the far west experiencing the same thing differently each time.
This photo from the lane to Tregiffian is pertinent to the start of The Cornish Way in the dim and distant past, and it’s now more relevant than ever. The track to Escalls takes you to the fine Manor Farm, where there’ll soon be a sweet addition called The Piggery. The track to Tregiffian opens up some of the best cottages in the far west including Myn Tea, New Forge, Tregiffian Barn, The Old Dairy and Giffy House.
At New Year a family took three of the houses and made the most of their time together, while retreating for privacy when it was needed. What a great way to holiday.
We took one of our last stays at Myn Tea during March, and indeed we met its new owners then. The sun shone day after day and we walked the beach with the dog each morning. We took sun downers on our favourite cliff top spot. We had early doors beers at The Old Success, walking home in the falling light. Nearly 20 years after the Myn Tea adventure started its beauty still moves us to tears.
It’s time to start swimming again!
While the sea is an OK temperature through January to March I no longer try to get in regularly until April (and sometimes later). The first swim this year was at Nanjizal, having walked over from visiting No.3 Coastguard Cottages at Porthgwarra.
No.3 achieves a degree of seclusion even though it’s right on the coast, and the walking from there is excellent in both directions. The cliffs past Nanjizal to Land’s End are our best for drama, and in the other direction there’s the little known Porth Chapel Beach before the Minack and then Porthcurno.
Eating out more often is one of the great pleasures of a holiday – and how good is a cafe breakfast? St Just has three good cafes, this indulgence was enjoyed at the Keg an Teg.
Spring! Oh how good is spring in the far west?
We first met these two beauties on a walk between Lillie’s Lookout and Trewellard for dinner at the rather good Trewellard Arms. While they’re on a beef farmer’s land, their future looks bright as they’re the pets of the farmer’s grand daughter.
Spring heralds the local fertility festivals. The big ones to look out for are Obby Oss in Padstow, and our local favourite, Helston Flora. Flora Day is held on the 8th of May (unless that happens to be a Sunday or Monday) and it’s a wonderful day of dancing and festivities. Be sure to sup a pint of Spingo at The Blue Anchor, and wander the back streets too – there are many beautiful buildings in Helston.
I often suggest to guests who are not tied to school holidays to try to visit in June. Not only do we have the longest days, but the weather tends to be at its best in June. Word must be getting out there – many of the cottages are full through June, but ask Seb about availability as he’s adding some excellent new properties.
The Cot Valley leads down from St Just to Porth Nanven where there’s a small but delightful tidal beach (and a great example of a post-glacial raised beach). The valley has some dedicated gardeners who over many years have created one of the few lush spots this side of Penzance.
Ah. Penzance. After much refurbishment works the Jubilee Pool at Penzance was re-opened in June, with a great cafe to compliment the stunning Art Deco lido. There’s talk of geothermal heating for a section of the pool in the future. We’re all for it!
June is festival time in Penzance. Golowan is crowned by the fun Mazey Day when the whole town goes mad for the week.
There haven’t been anywhere near enough dog shots in this post so far – let’s put that right.
We rarely feature images of guests, after all their stays are their private time, but this little fellow, Elox, is too cute not to share.
Elox was on a motorbike tour from Switzerland and stayed at Archavon Studio for a few nights in July.
One of the great views of the far west is missed by so many. Here Polly looks out from Carn Bosavern, the hill above St Just that’s a short walk from Pippa’s Place, and Archavon Studio.
July is festival time in St Just. The brilliant Lafrowda Day is on the second Saturday in the month. For a small town it’s a mighty event! See posts on Lafrowda and try to be there next year.
Cornwall is at its busiest, yet still it’s easy to escape and find solitude. I wouldn’t recommend St Ives to anyone in August, yet on this walk just a couple of miles out of the town we hardly passed anyone on an eight mile stank.
Through August I collected Amanda from Penzance station in the evenings. What a great opportunity for a swim. Here we were between the station and Long Rock. We had the good fortune to enjoy many such milky calm evenings, although they were interspersed with a few more wet days than we’d have liked.
The other great month for those not tied to school holidays is September.
The sea is as warm as its going to get. The evenings are still long. Most places are still busy, but nowhere is crowded.
This shot was taken above the sublime Primrose Cottage at the wonderfully named Ding Dong Mine and looks right down to St Michael’s Mount. Walking from Primrose is especially good. Look out for a post soon from the new cabin there called The Woodcutter’s. It’s going to be popular!
On the other coast, and still walkable from Primrose is the Crown Mines on the edge of the cliffs below Botallack. Immortalised by Poldark and a frightening engineering feat.
By October we feel lucky on tee shirt days, but they certainly happen, and in 2017 October was a good one.
It was also an exciting time for The Cornish Way as its new owner, Seb Blakemore, took the reins. As we explained to all the guests booked into 2018 and 2019 it’s all change and no change at all. Seb has plenty of experience from many years in hospitality and running his own business.
As Polly stands down from her role as company top dog, so Otto puts his best paw forward.
To be in the far west for a whole year has given me the opportunity to get out there whenever the weather smiled on me (and every other day too).
Our lovely regular guests M&S tried a few routes to get to the Tater Du lighthouse but were thwarted by land owners keen to retain the privacy of their (rather special) property at the south coast Tregiffian. It’s not easy, especially in winter when the mud levels make boots a necessity. Here it is – it’s the most recently built in Cornwall and was completed in 1965.
This blog concentrates on the far west, but one of the most magical sunsets of the year was this one at Fistral. We’d stopped off to run the dog, and have a great pizza, after an airport trip. What a treat!
The beach can be beautiful no matter what month, what weather.
Before Tom Bowcock’s Eve this year we spent the afternoon on Portheras, the gorgeous unsigned sandy beach on the north coast. The Pendeen fishermen have been working hard at Boat Cove at the west end of the beach and their huts make good photographic material.
Of course the big event that brings everyone together is the Christmas Swim. 11am on Christmas Day on Sennen Beach. It’s gathering momentum and was attended by hundreds of people this year for a choppy dip in a chilly sea. I’m sure it makes the Christmas dinner taste even better.
2017. The world has seemed to become a more crazy unhappy place. Yet the far west has strode onwards. Changing, while staying the same. Busier, yet with so many opportunities to escape the crowds. More beautiful – if you teach yourself how to look.
We wish you all the very best for 2018, and hope to welcome old friends and new to the far west, some of you for holidays, while others move west for a new life.