The Cornish love being Cornish. I write this from my London bed, with a wooden ‘Cornish, born and bred’ sign hanging off one bedpost and looking at the mini Grey Goose bottles with Cornish flags sticking out of them. Just like the time someone told you Matt Bellamy from Muse does a really annoying inhalation before every line and you just COULDN’T STOP HEARING IT, I guarantee that from now on, you won’t be able to un-notice the sheer number of Cornish stickers you’ll see on cars across the South East of England. We’re bloody everywhere.
Most of us return eventually, and many of us return frequently. I fall into the latter camp and, as a woman in two long distance relationships (one with bae, who lives there; one with the motherland itself), I feel I have the perfect long weekend in Cornwall sussed.
Total write-off. It’ll take you a bloody long time to get there, no matter where you’re coming from (unless you’re our neighbours in Devon; but then again you wouldn’t come to Cornwall if you’re from Devon. Let’s just say we don’t like each other very much…). I have a theory that the trains immediately halve their speed once they hit the Tamar Bridge as an effort to keep the emmets (that’s our less-than-charming word for ‘tourists) out.
One of my favourite, relatively unknown Cornish gems is Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens. Landscaped by a local GP in his spare time, it’s a magical walk-through of nature and art. I love the fact that the steps on the pathways are reclaimed railway planks; and the bespoke camera obscura is awe-inspiring.
Meandering through the garden, it can feel like there are roughly zero people around (that’s my favourite type of crowd) and your only reminder of humanity is from the bold, abstract sculptures that peek through the fauna.
Finish your trip with a bottle of Polgoon cider in the sun, or peruse their adorable shop (unless you’re trying to penny-pinch; it’s deservedly not cheap, though I defy you to want to invest in one of the Rob Braybrooks woodcuts they sell).
If white sand and blue seas are your bag, drive 25 minutes from Tremenheere to Porthcurno beach. It’s a beautiful oasis enclaved in high cliffs and, despite all of its awards, it never feels cramped. If you’re feeling lazy, a sunny afternoon can be whiled away on the beach; but I would recommend walking around to Logan Rock, if only to see what an 80 ton granite rocking stone looks like.
The Minack Theatre is the jewel in the South West’s thespian crown. Often called one of the world’s most spectacular theatres, it is carved straight out of the cliff and has a panoramic view of the blue, blue Porthcurno waters.
Local’s tip: book weeks in advance, arrive early, and bring a pasty for your dinner. A torch won’t go amiss either; the price you’ll have to pay for watching a stunning sunset as the backdrop to the play is walking back to your car in the dark.
A Cornish summertime Saturday is best spent in the reputedly beautiful St. Ives. It’s all art, beaches and adorable ye olde shoppes (it’s terribly old school round there, so I’ll adjust my spelling to suit).
Local’s tip: you’ll never, ever get a parking space in St. Ives. I worked at the Tate during my university holidays and even arriving at 8am, it’s just a dead end. Instead, drive to Lelant and get the train. Aside from being cheaper, quicker and more convenient, you get one hell of a view of the wide stretch of sand that is Carbis Bay.
Have a picnic on Porthmeor Beach and freshen up with a little paddle. All of that time with the sea will leave you nicely inspired for a trip to the Tate St. Ives. Make sure you don’t miss the Barbara Hepworth Museum across town; it’s a real one-off. Based in her home, you walk through the museum downstairs, to the sculpture gallery upstairs but most breath-taking of all is the sculpture garden outside. Go, and then loudly recall your memories in the Tate Britain café in a few weeks when her first retrospective in 50 years comes to London – you’ll look achingly cultured, darlings.
It’s quite a drive, but head to Falmouth for your Saturday evening; the restaurant scene is top notch. Two of my favourites are Oliver’s, a tiny café-style restaurant with creative dishes dictated by what produce comes in, and Wildebeest a vegan joint. 100% of the menu is delicious.
Sunday morning & afternoon
Your whole weekend will have been gearing up to this: spend your Sunday at The Scarlet, Mawgan Porth’s eco-hotel. It’s undoubtedly the most tastefully luxurious hotel I’ve ever stayed at (the most distastefully luxurious being Caesar’s Palace in Vegas, a gawdy alter of sacrifice for all things frugal). My best friend and I go back time and time again; you’ll emerge a goddess from one of their spa day ‘journeys’ (and no, it’s not hyperbole… ok well it is, but I’m bloody well on board). Make sure you book your clifftop hot tub while the sun’s setting, and Jeeves will bring you a nice Kir Royale to top off your weekend.
Boooo, leaving time. Book a first class ticket on the 10:00pm Night Riviera. First class is a must unless you’re happy to sleep on an upright chair. £35 for a shared berth; £50 for a single. Climb into bed and just like that, you’ll be back in Paddington ready for work on Monday morning!