Going to Cornwall on holiday is now firmly set in our annual family traditions as it was in my own childhood, it’s a place that feels like home whenever we visit, a place that can be horrendously busy if you head to the hotspots but full of glorious scenery and a place where memories are made. I can still remember the smell of the wetsuit rental shop tucked away on an industrial estate in Braunton we’d visit to get out wetsuits for the week, that mix of neoprene with salt and board wax which tell you you’re officially on holiday. I remember taking a rowing boat out on the Bude canal with my brother and annoying all the fishermen as we struggled to row in a straight line, I also remember the journeys down from Oxfordshire where turning off the M5 felt like you were almost there but in reality it was a long way yet. There is another reason why Cornwall will always be a special place for me, Tintagel castle was the place that I proposed to the lady of the manor. A time that feels like a lifetime ago but was a big moment in this adventure we’re on together and that’s good enough reason on its own to go back every year.
But go back we will and with Matilda and Henry loving it as much as we do I don’t think we’ll get much choice in the matter any time soon. Easter is the time we tend to go, risky weather wise but no matter what the weather we know we’ll have great fun and so I thought I’d share with you our top 5 places to visit.
The Eden Project
The Eden Project could well be our favourite place in the UK to visit, we’ve now been 5 times in the past year (thanks to the annual pass which is the same price as day entry) and each time have discovered something different and are yet to be bored, parents or children. ‘The domes’ as Matilda and Henry call them is just fabulous, no cheesy gimmicky rides or activities but so much to keep the children engaged and interested from the short cuts designed just for kids on the walk down to the amazing rain forest walk for those who like heights. There’s the story teller in the Mediterranean biome who we listen to while eating lunch and the ride on the tractor train to get back to the exit. The list could quite honestly go on and makes no mention of the seasonal activities they put on or the wonderful and varied food options. For adults or older children there is plenty of education on the plants and the environment and this year ‘the seed’ a stone sculpture that took my breath away. They also sell a mean latte and some of the best ice cream you can buy (it is Cornwall after all).
If you’d asked me 5 years ago if I’d go on holiday in a static caravan the answer would be an emphatic no, but Mother Iveys is a caravan park like no other. First there is no onsite bar/kids club/evening entertainment, there’s a small shop that sells the essentials and fresh pasties every lunch time and that’s it. But what it does have is a beautiful, well looked after park and its own beach. Yes that’s right, it’s very own little sandy cove complete with waves to surf and rock pools to fish in. The sand is a bit course for optimum sand castle building but it’s manageable and you won’t find a quieter corner of Cornwall on a hot summer’s day. We haven’t yet been there in peak season when the camping field is also full but for an easter break I thoroughly recommend it and it was great value at £350 for the week. Just don’t go booking our caravan, we’ve stayed in it the last 2 years and intend to make it a trio of trips next year.
Rick Stein’s fish and chips
Everyone knows that it’s the law that whenever you are next to the sea you must eat fish and chips, they taste better and have zero calories when eaten this way. Padstow is a hectic little village even on a wet day so we tend to avoid it, but head down at 5pm for when Rick opens the doors of his chippy and it’s a different place. The hype should be believed when it comes to this place, I’ve not had fresher or crispier fish and chips. Always a good choice of fish cooked to order with small fish bites for the kids to eat which work much better with our 3. The only thing I will dock marks for is that for whatever reason there are no benches near the shop to sit and eat on, we tend to back the car into a space and sit in the boot instead (a time where we really miss the fold down tailgate of our old Outlander). Not ideal but no one wants to drive home and eat them off a plate do they?
We stopped at Lanhydrock on our way home to let the kids have a run around and break up the journey and in doing so added another entry to our growing list of favourite National Trust properties. We didn’t have time to properly explore the house itself but did have a nice walk around the grounds and gardens. The key things to know about Lanhydrock is that there is a great playground (Henry loved the bucket on a pulley to lift sand up and down), the café sells a mean piece of carrot cake and if you’re feeling energetic you can hire bikes to cycle around the many trails in the grounds.
We discovered this tucked away beach last year while taking the scenic route one day while the kids napped, Porth Cothan is a tiny hamlet with not much apart from a car park and a few houses. But wander the short walk over the dunes and you have a lovely little beach that at low tide is 3 times as long as it is wide and has a little stream running in from the right. Perfect for some sandcastle building and futile attempts to damn the stream, plus a paddle or surf if you’re brave enough. Not a surfers beach but enough for children and a lot quieter because of it. There’s a great little shop at the top of the dunes selling good coffee, the obligatory ice cream and the usual assortment of beach paraphernalia. Plus if you’re staying at Mother Iveys it’s a short 15 minute drive away.
I could go on and list another 10 or 20 things to see or do (the Lost Gardens of Heligan would be no. 6), but instead I’ll say this, if you haven’t been to Cornwall before or even recently then add it to you list of family friendly destinations. It’s definitely not a cheap place to go in the height of the summer, but the Easter holidays for me is ideal. Sure you’ll likely spend part of the week putting on sun cream and another part wearing hat, gloves and rain jacket, but providing you like being outdoors there is always something to do. Besides a pasty tastes good no matter what the weather.
Who else has a favorite place to visit in Cornwall?