Cornwall Cottage Holidays – Holidays in the Heart of Cornwall

CORNWALL: beaches, buckets, spades, pasties and lashings of clotted cream – yes? Well, no.

In fact these days Cornwall is as far from the traditional seaside holiday destination as you can possibly imagine.

In 2007, Cornwall is a surfing Mecca, a foodie haven, a centre for family fun, a cultural hotspot, a gardening paradise, an outdoor enthusiasts’ dream – and so much more.

It’s at the centre of a world-wide environmental mission to combat the effects of global warming with cutting-edge research led by the famous Eden Project and by teams working on wave and wind energy.

It’s even ranked alongside the Taj Mahal and the Grand Canyon by the United Nations as a designated World Heritage Site because of the remains of the Victorian mining industry that once was the industrial power house of the world (didn’t you know the Cornish invented the car? Richard Trevithick’s ‘Puffing Billy’ ran up Camborne Hill, literally under its own steam, independent of rails, on Christmas Eve 1801). Oh – and there are still beaches, buckets, spades, pasties and lashings of clotted cream.

But in 2007, visitors to Cornwall who simply head for the sand are missing out on so much. Many are, instead, choosing to base themselves in the heart of Cornwall: the beautiful, largely unspoilt central area that provides the perfect link between moor and sea, town and country.

From the Heart of Cornwall, you can be on the beach on the South coast in 25 minutes or on the North coast in less than 45 minutes. From here you are 80 miles from the furthest borders of both Devon and Cornwall and 20 miles from each coastline, North and South. You’re in the heart of the countryside – in the Tamar valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – yet only half an hour from the bustling, cosmopolitan city of Plymouth with its historic attractions, its fabulous restaurants and its award-winning Theatre Royal with shows direct from London’s West End.

If you want to explore the wild, remote moors, then that’s easy too: walking, riding, climbing and even abseiling are literally a few minutes away.

The Heart of Cornwall covers a central location between Bodmin Moor to the West and Dartmoor to the East, just over the border of the Tamar River which separates the ancient nation from England.

Our holiday cottage gives an example of the attractions of the Heart of Cornwall. We’re in Golberdon, bordered by the main links between the historic towns of Launceston, Bodmin, Liskeard, and Callington with moorland to the West and rolling countryside to the East.

Walking holidays

If you just want to laze on your holiday, the immediate area offers great walks (whether to somewhere, or circular), an ideal way to take in some beautiful countryside. The River Lynher runs past the outskirts of the village and provides some great walks along the river bank.

Some of our own favourite walks end or start from some of the characterful local pubs in the area, such as The Church House Inn in Linkinhorne.

Even walking along the narrow roads will immerse you in the countryside, but if you’re feeling more adventurous then you could turn off and go cross country through such places as Wagmuggle and Browda.

The nearby Tamar Valley offers some stunningly beautiful scenery.

Once known as ‘the market garden of England’, a boat trip on the Tamar Ferry between historic National Trust-held Cotehele (a land that time passed by), the Victorian mining port of Morwellham and the riverside village of Calstock is the ideal way to experience the valley, although there are many walks too.

A great walk starts from The Royal Inn at Horse Bridge and travels along the Cornish side of the Tamar river before turning off through the villages of Luckett and Hampt, before you meander back to the Royal Inn for a well earned shandy!

This whole area was once a haven for early daffodils, strawberries and other Tamar Valley delights: an entire industry existed to transport early produce created by the idyllic growing conditions to customers in London and there are remnants of that industry throughout.

It’s ironic, because just decades before that explosion in rural skills the Tamar Valley was one of the engine houses of the Victorian world, a centre for mining now commemorated at fascinating Morwellham Quay, where families can actually take a train ride deep underground. This open-air museum is host to two music festivals each summer, for jazz and folk fans.

If you’re up for a more energetic walk, then perhaps you might venture onto the moors. Kit Hill provides a spectacular panorama of the surrounding countryside. From here you can see Brentor Church in Devon, perched atop a Tor, not far from spectacular Lydford Gorge which can be accessed from either end via National Trust car parks. This is a rewarding walk for the more sure-footed hikers and the Castle at Lydford offers a cosy retreat for food and refreshments.

Or you could join the many ramblers who tackle the entire length of the famous 600-miles-plus South West Coast path – but in stages.

Many use short-break holidays to tackle small parts of this stunning long-distance footpath, taking in the absolutely stunning cliffs and beaches of Cornwall.

Outdoor activities

Devon and Cornwall have a growing network of cycle paths which offer a great way of enjoying the countryside.

Most of these are based on disused railway lines so you can enjoy a ride without the normal ups and downs. The Camel Trail is a particular favourite of ours. It stretches from Bodmin Moor and follows the picturesque River Camel valley through Wadebridge and on to Padstow on the North Coast, home of TV chef Rick Stein and, of course, some superb restaurants – and Rick’s own fish and chip shop.

Most cycle paths have cycle hire shops at either end if you don’t want to bring your own and most will hire trailer buggies which will accommodate two young children, and baby car seats so the whole family can take in the countryside.

If you venture into Cornwall, the Plym Bridge cycle path just the other side of Plymouth takes you quickly from the city into the peace of the countryside and onto Dartmoor. Lydford has the start of the Granite Way. Again, a former railway line provides most of the cycling from here to Okehampton.

Gardeners’ paradise

Devon and Cornwall boast some of the finest gardens in the country, many within easy distance of Rose Cottage. The mild climate means plants bloom early here in the far West, and Spring is an enchanting season amid the unrivalled magnolias and rhododendrons, camellias and daffodils.

The Eden Project has stolen a lot of the limelight in recent years and rightfully deserves a full day’s exploration. Its futuristic biomes replicating some of the world’s climate zones are truly one of the wonders of the modern world. Nearby is the Lost Gardens of Heligan, a recreation of a working Victorian estate that was the first project of Eden founder Tim Smit (The Times called it “The garden restoration of the century”).

Half an hour from Rose Cottage, across the Tamar and Tavy rivers, lies The Garden House, chosen by The Independent as one of the best 50 gardens in Europe and home to a stunning mingling of formal planting in the romantic terraced Walled Garden, created around the tumbling ruins of a medieval vicarage, and stunning modernism blending wild flowers with a recreated landscape in the Ten Trees garden beyond. Other garden attractions near us include the National Trust highlights of Saltram, Cotehele and Lanhydrock.

Heritage holidays

In fact, some of the National Trust’s finest properties are within half an hour of Rose Cottage. Cotehele, on the banks of the Tamar, really is the land that time forgot – the house is basically unaltered since the 15th century when its owners moved to Mount Edgcumbe, opposite Plymouth. There isn’t even electricity. Each year, the marvellous Christmas garland stretching around the medieval Great Hall draws visitors to this traditional evocation of the Christmas spirit of days gone by. The estate is surrounded by beautiful walks.

Cotehele also has an historic quay and impressive sailing barge of the type often used to transport materials before the days of congestion charges!

Lanhydrock was home to the Cornish Agar-Robartes family, Victorian entrepreneurs made fabulously wealthy by the mining boom of those years. It has lovely gardens and a stunning Gothic home, and each July hosts a spectacular music and fireworks picnic with some of the biggest names in jazz, blues and rock’n’roll.

Saltram House, on the outskirts of Plymouth, is such an unrivalled remnant of Georgian grandeur that it was used as the main location for Emma Thompson’s famous movie adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.

On Dartmoor, Castle Drogo, perched high above the beautiful Teign Valley on its lonely crag, was the last Castle to be built in England. With its battlements, towers and turrets it may look like a medieval relic, but in fact it was completed by American business baron Julius Drewe in only 1937.

But there’s more to the heritage of this area than the National Trust. Morwellham Quay is a unique open-air museum of a Victorian mining port, and you can even take a train ride deep into a copper mine, while the children can enjoy dressing as Victorian pupils, shopping in period shops – and even trying lessons in a schoolroom of the period.

And who cold fail to enjoy the nostalgia of a steam train? Half an hour away in Bodmin there’s the Bodmin and Wenford Steam Railway – so popular even Thomas the Tank Engine pays regular visits.

The great outdoors

Beaches are not far: Whitsand Bay and Looe on the south Coast are popular spots – take the cliff walk from Hannafore Point at Looe and dare to tackle the steep steps, and you can soon find yourself far from the madding crowds in quiet, unspoilt coves even at the height of the summer season. The walk is worth it.

The North Coast offers the beaches around Bude and Widemouth bay and the dramatic rocky coastlines around Tintagel, where the romantic castle ruins offer an evocation of the Arthurian age.

There’s canoeing on the River Tamar, surfing on the north or south coasts, or a wonderful choice of riding opportunities: Lower Tokenbury is only minutes from our cottage and offers the ideal way to explore our countryside on horseback.

At nearby Siblyback Lake, there’s canoeing, windsurfing and angling.

If golf is your pursuit of choice, the Jack Nicklaus-designed St Mellion international, home of the Benson and Hedges Masters in the 90s and soon to host the English Open, is one of the finest courses in the country.

Family fun

There are some great family attractions nearby. Children of all ages enjoy the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, the country’s biggest and best such attraction, while very close by are attractions such as Trethorne Leisure farm, Hidden Valley Country Park (both near Launceston), the Tamar Valley Donkey Park (and yes, as well as indoor and outdoor playgrounds there are donkey rides).

Evenings out

The very best of professional, big-scale, big-budget theatre is at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth, while more intimate delights are on offer just minutes away at Sterts, an open-air theatre on the edge of Bodmin Moor which offers a mixture of amateur and professional music and drama, including popular family shows.

Carnglaze Caverns is another unusual venue for music – again just half an hour away. Concerts are performed underground in the Rum Store – used by the Navy as a storehouse and so hidden away it was used to secure the Crown jewels during the Second World War!

Fowey, every May, is home to the Du Maurier Festival, a month of fantastic entertainment. Stars heading to Cornwall this year include everything from Jethro Tull to Humphrey Lyttelton to provide an exotic mixture of music and drama, talks and comedy.

Eating out

One of the great benefits of Cornwall’s expertise in hosting visitors is the extraordinary range on offer when it comes to eating out.

You can choose from Michelin Star standard just minutes away in Callington, or further afield in Padstow or Plymouth. You can take an invigorating walk to the nearby Church House Inn for bar meals or fantastic cuisine in the restaurant using the best of local ingredients, or visit any of the many other nearby pubs that offer Cornish food and Cornish ale – the Caradon Inn in Upton Cross, the Royal at Horsebridge, the Manor in Rilla Mill, the Racehorse at North Hill, the Springer Spaniel at Treburley.

If you would like to know more about staying in our part of Cornwall, please visit our web site.

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