My most favourite holiday destination is Cornwall. The sea is definately in my blood and I adore the rugged Cornish coastline. One place I keep coming back to is the lovely traditional fishing village of Cadgwith. I stayed in a cottage called `Seawatch’ to celebrate my 40th birthday a few years ago with a few close girlfriends. I have since introduced Mr Smiles to Seawatch and we decided to come back again for Christmas as we both now love the area so much.
Standing just above Cadgwith Cove is a row of terraced Coastguard cottages, built in the 1880s to combat smuggling. Seawatch is one of those cottages converted into a beautiful and tastefully furnished house, with the extensive sea views that the coastguard needed. Seawatch is the best holiday cottage I have ever stayed in. Mr Smiles and I dream of a place like this – away from it all with a short walk to the friendly local pub The Cadgwith Cove Inn.
When we move house we would like an attractive entrance area like this where you can comfortably take off your muddy boots and coat or contemplate your next walk with the useful map hanging above the chair.
The house is decked out with a tasteful nautical theme and I liked looking at the many paintings by local artists hanging on the walls. Our bedroom had sea views and a pretty Victorian fireplace. The original look-out is furnished with a chair and telescope.
As it was Christmas we spent many a cosy hour cuddled up with a book or a game of scrabble with a glass of mulled wine or Belgian Beer in front of the roaring fire. Mr Smiles was very contented!
The house was even furnished with a small illuminated `Christmas Tree’ for us to arrange our Christmas presents round. The housekeeper had left us a bottle of sparkling Cava for Christmas day and a festive poinsettia plant. It’s the little touches like this which make a holiday special. I must admit though I was glad of my running head torch when we arrived as we had a power cut and I needed it to unpack and find the candles!
The house enjoys a long, south-facing garden with fantastic sea views. This time we didn’t take advantage of the outside seating as it was Winter, but I have fond memories of the garden in previous Summers. I spent a very relaxing afternoon sketching the `Idyllic View’ and numerous afternoon teas were consumed outside with my girlfriends for my 40th birthday celebrations. We had all bought home-made cakes with us on that occasion.
As it was Christmas Mr Smiles was very happy to put his feet up. I on the other hand tend to get stir crazy if I don’t get out in the fresh air. On our second day I took myself off for a run along the coast path to Kennack Sands and back. I took up running last March and love it! I may not be the fastest runner out, but I adore the exhilaration of running cross country with the wind in my hair. I adapted a published walk to make a slightly longer circuit.
Cadgwith to Kennack Sands Circular (5 miles)
I started in Cadgwith walking up the road as it curves past The Cadgwith Cove Inn.
I took the first turning on the right and followed the coast path onto the cliffs towards the old coastguard signal station (known locally as the huer’s hut). I continued along the coast path climbing up to Kildown Point. The path curved around the deep hollow of Kildown Cove and then up to Enys Head with views of Kennack Sands in the distance. I must admit the Cornish coastal path has much more of an incline than the gentle rolling hills of Oxfordshire so my run consisted more of a gentle jog/walk, sliding in the mud and being buffeted by the wind. Exhilarating at the top though!
I turned right down the steps and over a bridge and out amongst the ruins of Poltesco serpentine works at Carleon Cove. The Poltesco works operated from 1855 until 1893 on the site of former pilchard cellars. The round, roofless, building housed a capstan, a man powered winch used for hauling boats up the beach. The ruined buildings are the remains of the Victorian serpentine factory, which made ornate polished stoneware, including mantelpieces and vases. This was once a bustling and noisy place, employing 20 men, with workshops, showrooms, a forge, boiler house and water wheel. Flat bottomed barges ferried goods out from the quay to waiting ships.
The serpentine pebbles,rocks and boulders on the beach at Carleon are beautiful with lovely greens, red, yellow and white lines running though them. It was a magical moment. The sun was shining and surfers were enjoying the waves. I had a little sit down to take in the view.
After my sit down I missed the coast path so did a little unneeded detour up to Poltesco and back down the valley and onto the coast path. Oh well a little extra exercise meant I could have a mince pie with a big dollop of brandy cream when I got back! The coast path skirted the golf course of Sea Acres caravan park. The views from the top down to Kennack Sands were breathtaking.
I must admit Mr Smiles and I didn’t really take to Kennack in the Summer. It was packed with loud unruly holiday makers and we prefer a bit of peace and quiet. In the Winter it is a different story. There were a few dog walkers and surfers but the vast sandy beach was largely unspoilt and there for me to enjoy in peace. Stunning!
I then climbed up the wooded valley to Gwendreath Farm and then over the fields to the hamlet of Kuggar. My route kept to the footpaths so avoided the road to Kuggar. I did encounter an enormous stallion which seemed to be rather attracted to my flourescent yellow jacket and seemed to want to charge at me. I decided that calmly walking at that point was probably the best course of action. I did check my route and I was on a clearly marked footpath. I think in hindsight perhaps the horse thought I would feed him, but I had nothing to offer!
My route followed the road and then through the wooded valley back in a loop to Poltesco. I passed the medieval Poltesco Mill and then up a steep hill to Ruan Minor. I remembered the hill from the previous Summer. I was walking with Mr Smiles and needed a lot of encouragement to keep going as I was unfit and overweight. It made me feel good that I was jogging up the same hill now! My run then took me past the chapel and to Ruan Minor. I then followed the wooded valley back to Cadgwith and my longed for mince pie!
The Cadgwith Cove Inn
The inn is at the heart of the community in Cadgwith. It’s the kind of pub we like – where the locals are still welcome and not pushed out by invading tourists. If you like fancy gastro food then it may not be for you. As the Inn is at the heart of a fishing community fish does feature strongly on the menu. I really like freshly caught fish and the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming. I came back from a bracing Winter walk one day and tucked into a fantastic seafood chowder. We even had a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings on Christmas Eve which was excellent. We felt slightly self-conscious pulling Christmas crackers and wearing party hats in the middle of the pub when others were just having the regular menu. However after drinking a glass of wine we felt at home! In previous years we have chatted to one of the former fishermen Sharkey and heard his tales of the sea. The Cadgwith Singers meet one night a week in the pub and there is folk music on another.
We really appreciated the fabulous Nautical Christmas lights all around the bay. On Christmas Day there is an annual Christmas Day swim in fancy dress. This year the sea was far too rough to swim but the whole village turned out in fancy dress and then had a swift pint in the pub to warm up. What a lovely atmosphere! Mr Smiles felt the real ale was well kept, but there could have been a bit more choice with a Guest ale.
I loved the mulled wine and found it very warming whilst taking photos at dusk down on the beach.
On Christmas Eve we enjoyed Poldhu and Church Coves. The sun was shining and the sea was making waves of sea foam which had the appearance of festive snow. We warmed up with coffee and a cake in the handy cafe afterwards.
I also have fond memories of Coverack Harbour. Before I met Mr Smiles I used to take myself off to Coverack YHA on a weeks windsurfing holiday with Robin Hobson at the Coverack Windsurfing Centre. I no longer windsurf but it brought back memories walking round the bay.
I was amazed how calm Coverack was compared to the rough sea at Cadgwith and Poldhu. Sadly Roskilly’s ice cream shop was shut for the Winter. I always had an ice cream as a `reward’ for a days windsurfing. I’ve just found my diary for June 2001 ` I’m getting into the habit of having a yummy ice cream every day. The ice cream shop is just up from the windsurfing centre and sells amazing ice cream made at a local farm with 30 different flavours to choose from. My favourite is orange and mascarpone with a dollop of cornish clotted cream on top for good measure.’ My love of ice cream hasn’t changed then! For my 40th birthday whilst staying at Seawatch I was photographed enjoying a delicious ice cream too!
However that was high Summer and this was Winter. We had a roaring fire to get home to and a nice meaty sausage with red wine gravy and mash. Yum! I hope you enjoyed my pictures of our Cadgwith Christmas. Happy New Year!