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Cornwall Campervaning & Hiking


cornishSpending a few cramped days in our hired Cornish campervan under grey sky - with too much luggage and the constant threat of rain - made us wonder what we were doing. We live in Spain with almost guarenteed sunshine and a swimming pool and yet we had chosen for our holiday to swop that for a small space and grotty weather.  Why?? I admit I thought this on the first day of our trip. I don't know about you, but for the first bit of any family camping getaway we are - lets put it nicely - settling into each other. There's a bit of bickering and talking through gritted teeth ('put that phone down' and the like)... and then we relax and start to have fun.

Our antidote to the initial tensions was to hike. Get the wind in our sails. We walked from Perranporth Beach, crossing the dunes, and pass the rather uninspiring Ministry of Defense part of the coastline but beyond this we are rewarded with glorious Holywell and Crantock - just stunning. Distracted briefly by the sand surfing at Holywell we were forced on by a smattering of rain.

cornwallThen we crossed the Gannel Estuary on a footbridge only seen at low tide where small boys dangle bate on string for crabs. A little ferry will take you over if the tide is high for around £1. Then on past Newquay's famous surfing beach at Fistral and ending up at Towan Beach in Newquay Bay after the harbour for a bag of chips. This is about 12 miles I think - A long but worthwhile day on our feet. If you want to shorten it, start at Holywell and spend some time there on the beach too.

At Towan Beach, Newquay, there is a charming and unique house on a high rock accessed by a bridge, 80ft above the beach, known as The Island. It has a sophisticated interior and wonderful views from its vantage point.

We moved further along the Cornish coast for a lunch stop at Godrevy Beach and brisk walk past the lighthouse to look at the seals. Then on to visit friends at Hayle for the night but the weather was still not on our side.

Being fully acclimatised to the Mediterranean climate, I still hadn't taken my coat off and seeing all those bodyboarders and surfers bobbing around in the water sent a shiver down my spine. So next day we hiked again - it keeps your temperature up!  

looepolperroThis time we started in Looe with a wander about and lunch in this rather busy harbour town before joining the South West coastal path from West Looe. This rises and falls close to the waters edge taking in impressive views, seals, wild flowers and passing charming Talland beach, where we sat in a converted beach hut for an icecream along the way. The end destination was pretty Polperro with its sweeping seagulls over a muddy (at low tide) tidal pool with colourful boats propped up and little fisherman's houses (many available for holiday rentals) piled up on the hillside, divided just by narrow alleyways and streams. There is limited road access so you can't help feeling that time stands still here - although its very touristy too of course. Go to the Three Pilchards pub and climb up to the beer garden above it for a pint of cider and a great view over the whole place.

The best option would be to take a boat trip back to Looe for the car, but this didn't work out for us. On both our coastal hikes, as we are 4, we took a cab back to the start for a reasonable fare - but public transport would be an option too.

padstowFinally - and very well timed - we had glorious sunshine for the weekend wedding we had come for. Parked up in a field with other guests, I threw on a bit of make-up found deep in my bag using the wing mirror for guidance and headed for the church at Little Petherick. Other guests, rather better turned out, stayed at The Old Mill House across from it. One friend had cycled all the way from Surrey to get there making use of the Camel Trail at the end (an 18 mile trail through beautiful Cornish countryside).

Although a little jaded from too much champagne, the next day we did our remedy - a bit of a walk - to cure all. There is a lovely route across the fields to Padstow which brims with holiday cheer and high quality restaurants thanks to the influence of Rick Stein, who has raised the bar there.

Hire a van near Newquay from Fistral Bays VW Camper Hire if you want to do some moving about like us. Or you could pick up a T5 (a new VW van) from Sidford, Devon from VW Camper Hire. Or alternatively, check out our Cornwall quirky accommodation options here.

Close to Looe is this great off-grid coastal house - The Old Coach House at the Labyrinth - for up to 8 guests.