Head west for an adventure in Cornwall
I’m in Cornwall and, not unusually, I’m looking at horizontal, lashing rain. My love affair with this county has always been somewhat soggy.
Although it’s June, I would invariably be looking through a plastic, misted-up tent window wondering if it will ease up enough to dash through sodden grass to the chilly shower block.
But this time it’s different. I’m still watching the rain, and also a fretting, tearing Atlantic seething with dark intent under gun-metal skies. But I’m viewing it from a warm, luxurious suite in the Llawnroc Hotel, on the South Cornish coast.
This hotel is a five-minute walk away from the beach at the pretty Cornish fishing village of Gorran Haven, 11 miles from St Austell, or just over three hours by road from Gwent.
From the sea Gorran Haven looks as if its cluster of houses once slid down the steep-sided valley in a huddle and come to a sudden halt at the water’s edge.
On land, you drive down the eastern side of the Roseland Peninsula, the lanes getting narrower and their wildflower-covered banks getting higher, until you come to this whitewashed fishing village in a little cove between two small, sandy beaches, with beautiful coastal walks in either direction.
The area is embarrassingly rich in flora and fauna.
The 18-room Llawnroc (read it backwards) has been open a year and perches on the headland like a luxury liner that called into the port and somehow never left. It is stylish, in taupes and monochromes, and the rooms, some with sea views, are opulent, contemporary and spacious.
I liked the luxurious, walk-in shower with two heads, the bed big enough to throw a party on, the ‘pillow menu’ and the high-powered reading lights by the bed.
There is a iPod docking station, flatscreen TV, and a PS3 for games or DVDs.
It seems a cool, quiet world away from the ‘normal’ hustle and bustle of daily life and a perfect place to unwind.
Manager Jessica Bryant and her friendly staff aim to create a relaxed atmosphere for their guests. Downstairs there is a television lounge/library and a gorgeous terrace with a sea view.
The hotel’s trump card is its Gwineas Bar and Bistro. Its freshly cooked and locally sourced food at reasonable prices seems to go down well with both visitors and local residents.
If my delicious Mevagissey scallops starter (£7.95) and crab linguini main (£14.95) were anything to go by, it’s no wonder. My companion said her Cornish fish soup with aioli and Davidstow cheddar croute (£6.95) just melted in the mouth and her main course of sticky pork belly with chorizo, celeriac slaw and rosemary paprika roast potatoes (£12.95) oozed with flavour.
With it we had the house white, a crisp and citrussy Chilean sauvignon blanc (£16.95).
In addition to the daily specials menu ‘Gwineas Classics’ include Mevagissey Rattler (the local beer) battered Cod with homemade chips; spring vegetable and Blue Horizon cheese risotto; and for steak-lovers sirloins and rib eyes.
If you think choosing from the food menu is difficult, you are spoilt for choice on the ‘what to do’ menu. From surfing to sailing, horseriding to horticulture, country homes to Cornish towns and ports, you are spoilt for choice, and the hotel will help with directions and ideas.
And after an absorbing day exploring this beautiful, fascinating area, what better, more comfortable place to come back to – even if just to enjoy looking out at the rain and reflect that you’re glad you didn’t bring the tent this year.
Ticket prices quoted are for adults but most attractions offer concessions.
• Charlestown: Tall ships are usually moored at this historic little port. Plenty of restaurants and a shipwreck and heritage centre. Charlie's tea shop has superb cakes.
• St Austell Brewery Visitor Centre, 63 Trevarthian Rd, St Austell PL25 4BY. firstname.lastname@example.org; 01726 66022.Adult ticket £8 incl a pint of beer or soft drink. Steep staircases.
• Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum and Country Park, near St Austell,www.wheal-martyn.com; 01726 850362.Walk through 26 acres of woodland and the remains of Victorian china clay works.Admission £8.50 adults.
• Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, Saint Austell, Cornwall PL26 6EN.www.heligan.com; 01726 845100 Open daily.Once derelict country house estate and gardens have been beautifully restored. Adult ticket £10.
• Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall PL24 2SG, www.edenproject.com; 01726 811911. Stunning gardens and biodomes, including a rain forest. Open daily, adult ticket £23.
• Gorran Haven: www.gorranhaven.org.uk. Check out the Coast Path community cafe for excellent snacks, including mackerel pate. Other beautiful Cornish villages nearby include St Mawes and Portloe, and the rather more touristy Fowey and Mevagissey.