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A winter evening in Durgan on the Helford River

January 20, 2020 No Comments

As a winters day draws to a close, a hush envelops the Helford. The only sounds are those of waves rocking pebbles on the shore and a cormorant splashing as he catches dinner in the last of the light.

All year round, the hamlet of Durgan on the Helford River has an enchanting draw- nestled as it is against the water, cocooned by woodland. Durgan was originally a collection of fisherman’s cottages, and protected from over development by the hard work of the National Trust, it timelessly remains one of the most idyllic waterside villages in Cornwall with just 17 properties.

Guests staying at our cottages in Durgan often regale us with stories of swims before bed or of taking their morning coffee down to the water, enjoying the peace and quiet before the day ahead.

Upriver from Durgan you’ll find the villages of Helford Passage and Helford, along with various inlets and creeks like Frenchman’s Creek, made famous by Daphne Du Maurier in her novel of the same name.

On a clear evening the crisp light that you only see in winter makes marvels out of the everyday, and even things like lobster-pots become beautiful. The waters of the Helford River run clear even in the winter.

The occasional walker will pass by with a nod and a smile as if to say ‘we are both here, both so lucky’… and aren’t we just.

Holidays on the Helford River are inspiring and rejuvenating all year round. To see our cottages in Durgan, click here and start planning your holiday to this beautiful and secluded part of Cornwall.

Porthtowan Minehouses

March 14, 2016 No Comments


You might find it hard to believe, but spring is just around the corner. Despite the mild chill that’s still in the air, we’ve already been taking advantage of the bright sunny days that are being sent our way. Last weekend, when the grey clouds lifted we took ourselves to Porthtowan, a small town nestled within some of the most stunning coastline that our fine county has to offer.

The remains of the mining industry dot the landscape as you drive towards Porthtowan. Like scars on the landscape, chimneys stand like bare trees on the hillsides. It’s an area steeped in mining heritage.


Porthtowan itself fighting against the tumbling dunes that continually blow through the town. As we got closer to the car park we found half the road and pavement completely covered with sand. It’s all part of its charm.


On the beach families and dog walkers stretched their legs and splashed around in the sand.
But our mission wasn’t to stroll on the beach. We we’re heading East, up the steep assent from the beach and onto the coastal path.

As we came to the brow of the next headland and stood high above Chapel Porth beach, the reason for our visit made itself known above.
The remains of Wheal Coates, or more accurately Towanroath engine house, will be familiar as the image that graces a thousand postcards, but nothing beats the real thing.
Wheal Coates mine was opened in 1802 and miners worked in its tunnels up to 1889. Towanroath Engine House was built in 1872 to drain the seeping sea water from the 600 feet deep mine shaft.
What if this was the view from your work window?
In reality, the 138 men of the mine were working in tough conditions. The fragile mineshafts extended far beyond the shore line. As storms raged, miners could hear huge boulders being dragged across the seabed which was only feet above their heads.

Next, we took a short scramble up the hill to two more engine houses: the Stamps and Whim engine houses. They were used to hoist and crush tin ore from the shaft below. As you walk around this site the remains of an old boiler pond can be seen. There’s also a calciner, where the ore was roasted at hight temperatures to drive out impurities – in this case arsenic.

As we turned around to head back to Porthtowan we caught sight of the ocean spray rising over the coastline (and met a friendly dog bounding towards us.
On our return we tumbled into Porthtowan’s famous Blue Bar for a much needed refreshment. Roll on the rest of spring!


Trerice in November

November 2, 2015 No Comments


This weekend Debbie ventured over to Trerice near Newquay in the November sunshine (where did October go?).

Run by the National Trust from now it is only open at the weekends throughout the winter.

Read more on the website here.

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Filming for Rosamunde Pilcher at Trengwainton Garden

July 20, 2015 No Comments

WP_20150719_003 WP_20150719_005 WP_20150719_006 WP_20150719_008Debbie had a lovely surprise this week when she went to visit Trengwainton Gardens near Penzance and they were filming for Rosamunde Pilcher in the grounds. At least they had some brilliant Cornish sunshine all weekend.




Glendurgan Gardens, Mawnan Smith

June 16, 2015 No Comments


For those of you who have stayed in, or are looking to stay in our Durgan holiday cottages, Glendurgan Gardens is right on your doorstep, burying its rich roots under your holiday home and imprinting itself on the shoreline. For the rest of you, this National Trust property is located between Falmouth and Port Navas, on the Helford Estuary right next door to Trebah Gardens and a stone’s throw from the Helford Estuary.

For myself, it’s a place that I couldn’t recall ever having been before last weekend; which is a shame really. A proper case of living somewhere without really taking the time to visit what’s around you. And what’s more, Glendurgan has a proper maze! Something that really excites the child in me

As you walk into the garden you are greeted by stone foxes, all gleeful expressions and jaunty body language, beckoning you in like characters from Alice in Wonderland. From here the paths began to curl and crook their way down into the valley.

The smells are the first thing you noticed as you descended into the sheltered valley. The scent of honey is thick in the air, prominent amongst the other sweet aromas of primroses, orchids, violets and Granny’s bonnets all bustling for space in the hedgerows. But the big draws are the exotic and frequently giant plants that give the space its air of wonder. Giant rhubarb plants live in the jungle-like lower valley and spiky arid plants bask in the sunny upper slopes.

The paths that criss-cross the gardens are mostly wheelchair and pushchair friendly, making this a great and easy afternoon out for families.  As you snake your way round you come across a tiny hut-like school room with a thatched roof perched atop it, a replica of the first school that was built in the area in 1829.

From here you can wander down to the main attraction – the maze. 180 years old, the maze was the brain child of Alfred and Sarah Fox, the original owners of the gardens and was inspired by a similar maze at Sydney Gardens in Bath – apparently, every child who cheated by breaking through the hedges was fined a shilling. On our trip we ended up chasing each other round the cherry laurel plants, racing to find the centre. One of us eventually gave up. The other didn’t – I’ve not been beaten by a maze yet.

To extend our day out we took the coastal path, at the bottom Glendurgan, round to the Helford Passage and to The Ferryboat Inn for lunch, before exploring the second half of the garden on the way up. As regular readers will know, we end up at The Ferryboat a lot, as do most of you lot and we have a feeling there might be a new chef in town. We’re not sure if this is a good or bad thing as yet, as we were given just one new potato each and the advertised ‘scallops’ ended up just being a single ‘scallop’. The rest of what we ate was excellent though – a beautiful combination of hake, scallops and crab. Hopefully, these are just teething problems though, and didn’t end up spoiling an otherwise fantastic family day out.

Bedruthan Steps Beach

December 24, 2014 No Comments

Bedruthan Steps

Bedruthan is one of the county’s more dramatic beaches. Having been compared to California’s Big Sur, it is dwarfed by spectacular rocky stacks, which punctuate the beach. It is said that the outcrops were put there by Bedruthan, a giant, and used as stepping-stones. At low tide the beach stretches for over a mile with plenty of nooks and crannies to explore.

The area around Bedruthan and Carnewas is ideal walking territory. Within two short miles of Bedruthan Steps there are two Iron Age hill forts and six Bronze Age burial Barrows. There are stunning cliff-top views past the stacks and at high tide you can watch the waves crash against the rocky outcrops in dramatic fashion. With this in mind, the National Trust has created ‘The Piazza’, a viewing platform on the cliff edge.

The beach gets its name from the steep steps taking you down to the shore. Carved into the cliff face, the 149 steps can be an interesting challenge; it’s worth it, but not for the faint of heart.

Next to the viewing platform sits a National Trust shop and café for refreshments, as well as parking. The food is excellent and good value; especially the Hunters Lunch. There is a second car park: the Carnanton Estate Car Park. This second car park has picnic tables, which are perfect for a lunchtime picnic, overlooking the spectacular scene below.

The huge scale of the rocks gives the beach an almost mystical feeling. You can explore the large cave next to the foot of the steps, stroll around the stacks or use the beach’s clean, pristine sands to sunbathe on.

It is worth noting though, that there is no swimming from the beach – there are strong currents, which make it a dicey prospect for all swimmers – but there are lots of sandy rock pools for the children to paddle in.

Lying between Newquay and Padstow, Bedruthan Steps is perfect as part of an exploration of the north coast. This part of the Cornish coastline is particularly beautiful with numerous small coves culminating in the spectacular steps themselves. Not as crowded as Newquay’s own beaches, it is the perfect place to experience the ‘rugged Cornish coastline’ in all its glory.

Trengwaiton Gardens near Penzance

July 12, 2014 No Comments

Trengwainton Gardens were given to the National Trust in 1961, 25 acres of fairly level paths, mostly accessible to wheelchair users.

Many Cornish gardens are at their best when the rhododendrons and azaleas are in bloom and I am sure this garden would have been beautiful in the earlier months too.  But  I visited this garden in July and was impressed by the cottage garden planting, especially the kitchen garden with all the traditional cottage garden flowers – Sweet peas, Hollyhocks, Corn flowers to name a few and a variety of vegetables.

From the terrace you can see for miles across the sea from St Michael’s Mount to The Lizard.

Small shop and pleasant tea house and walled tea garden – a sun trap.

Trelissick Gardens and House

June 2, 2014 No Comments

Trelissick Gardens in Feock is run by The National Trust, a beautiful space with stunning views of the water and displays of interesting plant species. Until recently the house has not been open for guests, however this April some rooms in the house have opened to the public, The National Trust are fundraising to restore the buildings furniture. The view from the house is stunning, come rain or shine I don’t think anyone couldn’t appreciate that view!



Visit the National Trust website

Cornish Gardens in Spring

February 19, 2014 No Comments


Spring is when the gardens in Cornwall are at their best. People flock to see the beautiful rhododendrons, camellias, azaleas and magnolia all in bloom, and they are a spectacular sight!



Trebah Garden

Just on the outskirts of Falmouth in the village of Mawnan Smith, Trebah has its own private beach on the Helford River, the wonderful Planters Café, beautiful gardens and a great gift shop. With fun for all the family the different walks around the garden can keep you busy for hours.

Nearest Cottages:

The Haven



Glendurgan Garden (National Trust)

Leading down through beautiful gardens with a brilliant maze into the hamlet of Durgan. Glendurgan is a National Trust garden and has a wonderful open air café.

Nearest Cottages:

Rose Cottages



Trelissick Garden (National Trust)

On the River Fal with stunning views out towards Mylor Harbour and the sea, Trelissick has plenty to keep you occupied for a day out! With an art gallery selling local work, a second hand bookshop with some hidden gems, and that’s not even mentioning the garden.

Nearest Cottages:

Creek House


Carrick Treath


Enys Garden

Known locally for its stunning displays of bluebells, Enys Gardens is found near Mylor and Penryn.

Nearest Cottages:

Acorn Cottage


Cavinack Cottage


A little further away

Eden Project

One of the UK’s biggest attractions and it’s down here in Cornwall! About a 45 min drive from our cottages with the three iconic biomes, a brilliant café, shop and restaurant. A must see for many when visiting the area.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Also about a 45 min drive from our cottages but with 200 acres of beautiful gardens to explore it’s worth the drive. An incredible garden that was lost and has been brought back to life.