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Visit the real Poldark country

June 6, 2018 No Comments

The popular BBC1 show, Poldark, returns to our screens this Sunday, 10th June at 9pm.  The series showcases some of Cornwall’s most spectacular rugged landscapes, stunning beaches and historic buildings.

If it’s just too tempting and you feel the yearn to follow in Ross and Demelza’s footsteps, firstly call our friendly team to help you find the perfect base for your break, then read on for our handy list of beautiful filming locations and must-see attractions to visit during your holiday.

 

Botallack Mine – Wheal Owles, on the Tin Coast, near St Just

The abandoned buildings, owned by the National Trust, were the perfect location for the Poldark family mines. The ruined engines houses, part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage site, are set on the side on the cliff with breath-taking views.

Read more at the National Trust website/Botallack.

 

Charlestown Harbour, St Austell

Built in 1792 by Charles Rashleigh, Charlestown is still a working harbour for china clay exports. Now privately owned the port has been used in well over one hundred shows and films. It’s just like stepping back in time as you walk along the flagstones and explore the 1939 Tall Ship “Kajsamaoor”.

Read more at Charlestown Port

 

 

Wheal Coates, St Agnes Head

Wheal Coates Engine House is perched on the side of the cliff at St Agnes over looking Chapel Porth. This is Poldark country at its best with purple heather, yellow gorse and miles of ocean.

Visit Wheal Coates’ National Trust website

 

Bodmin Moor

A great place to stop on your way to Falmouth. Used as the location for Ross Poldark’s cottage, Nampara, and the dramatic horseback scenes.

Read all the Poldark filming locations at the BBC website.

 

 

 

Poldark Tin Mine, Wendron, Helston

Although the Poldark Mine has not featured in the current series it was seen by millions all over the world when it featured in in the original BBC drama in 1970s. The only complete tin mine open for underground guided tours for a real atmosphere of times gone by.

Opening times and prices are available on the Poldark Mine website.

 

Cornish Sea Salt Company

September 29, 2015 No Comments

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The story of Cornish Sea Salt starts on the windswept coastal paths of the Lizard Peninsula and the exposed remains of an Iron Age salt works. Tony Fraser, Cornish Sea Salts founder, was exploring the site when somewhere in the back of his mind a light bulb went off. So with little experience, but determination, a great idea and a little investment, The Cornish Sea Salt Company was born.

11 years after their first production and sales, Cornish Sea Salt is going from strength to strength. They’ve new products in the pipeline – not all of them food based – are selling in Waitrose, are exporting to 16 different countries and are looking to break into the American market next. We even spotted their eye catching logo on the shelves of a tiny deli near Beatrix Potter’s house in the Lake District.

We here at Cornish Holiday Cottages were lucky enough to be invited on a tour of Cornish Sea Salt’s factories last week and found ourselves fascinated by an industry that hasn’t been present in Cornwall since the mid 1800s.

Director Philip Tanswell was our guide for the day and is a wealth of knowledge on all things salt: from the beginnings of the company, the content and purity of the water, the engineering involved in salt’s extraction to the minerals in, and the taste of, their products. We’re not going to lie, some of the more technical aspects may have flown over our head, but we’re now considering ourselves bonafide experts on all things sodium chloride.

The salt works are a 20 minute drive from Helston, down some of the smallest country lanes on the Lizard, winding down to the coast. As we arrive, we pass an old MOD building which is where they used to test torpedo speeds during World War II and the now defunct Dean Quarry.

As we pull up to the plant, a mere 8 metres from the sea shore, Phil explains to us the unique qualities of the salt extracted at the site. With currents coming in off the Atlantic and the cleanliness of the water, the salt is naturally white: there’s no bleaching in the Cornish Sea Salt process. Water is pumped into the factory from a small pump nestled into the coastal rocks and from there is sent through a series of pumps and into the salt extraction units. This bit is hush hush and is the main difference between Cornish Sea Salt and their competitors.

From there we donned hairnets and boiler suits – plus a very flattering beard mask for myself – before we were ushered in to the evaporation room. Here there are trays of briny water evaporating away for salt extraction. There are several different types of salt extracted here: on the surface you get the light, fluffy gourmet flakes, which are perfect for sprinkling over your food; next you get the more cube-like crystals, soft and perfect for crumbling into recipes and as a table salt.

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One of the unique selling points is the natural and environmentally friendly nature of their product. The company has a very good idea of the mineral content of the waters they extract from and as it’s an unrefined product it’s all in the tub, along with the salt. This means that it retains over sixty naturally occurring trace elements such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.

One of the tanks had turned a milky colour. It’d been over-evaporated and when this happens the salt is useless or bittern. It happens occasionally. Phil tells us to dip our fingers in: the flavour is incredibly bitter and, to paraphrase, is akin to horse-urine. Not that any of us on the tour have any experience in that department. In comparison the rest of the tanks have a mild, smooth saltiness to them – much like the final product.

From here we were driven to their mixing and packaging plant.  A farm building that is close to bursting at the seams with activity. It’s a sign of a company that are good at what they do – and getting better. They have a passion for all things salty. They also have a community spirit and are looking to make connections with other local businesses, such as the Cornish Seaweed Company.

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Although they aren’t open to the general public, a coastal walk along the coast from Porthallow to Coverack will take you right by the factory, as well as the towering port walls of and abandoned quarry port.

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To sample some of Cornish Sea Salt wares and taste what all the fuss is about head to almost any local deli near our holiday cottages, Waitrose, or maybe even you own local deli.

 

The International Sea Shanty Festival

June 13, 2015 No Comments

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The Cornish love a good song: any excuse to dust off the pipes can and will be taken. In The Blue Anchor in Helston, the regulars are even prone to spontaneous bouts of beautiful, melancholy harmonising as they prop up the bar. Music and song has always been an important part of the county’s culture: whether it be miner, fishermen or farmer, after the work was done there were always stories to tell, songs to sing and a few pints to drink.

 

In celebration of this we have the International Sea Shanty Festival in Falmouth this weekend. Expect over 40 shanty groups, 22 venues and 250 hours of shanty singing. The town will be filled with music, singing and infused with a great community spirit across the weekend, from Friday 12th to Sunday 14th June. Groups come from far and wide including Netherlands, France, USA and right across the UK.

 

There are 51 acts taking part which had to be whittled down from over 100 bands applying to take part. The event is completely free with special stages on the Events Square and Custom House Quay. Other venues will include pubs, churches, Falmouth Art Gallery, the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club and Princess Pavilion.

 

Town manager and Shanty committee chairman, Richard Gates told The West Briton: “We were really pleased with the number of groups wanting to take part and it was a very difficult process to slimming down the programme.

“The interest alone really signifies the festival’s growing success and its position as one of the biggest and best festivals of its kind in the world.”

 

Some even say that it is the biggest festival of shanties on the planet. Maybe Mr Gates is just being modest.

 

The Festival was founded in 2003 by Falmouth Shout, a group of singers whose mission is to keep alive the history of Tall Ships and the days of sail by performing sea shanties, songs of the sea and Cornish songs. It provides a platform where that heritage of storytelling through song comes alive. It’s a great way to soak up the true atmosphere of Falmouth’s seafaring past and you’ll find it hard to stop your feet tapping along to the infectious rhythms. Especially as it now takes place alongside the Falmouth Classics Regatta; a must for boat lovers and a great way to bring the town and sailing scene together.

 

The Festival’s aims are to raise money for the RNLI and to preserve and promote the maritime heritage of the area and a lot of the fundraising is done by the Skinner’s Brewery mascot, Betty Stogs, a large Cornishman in drag, wielding a bucket in one hand and a pewter tankard in the other.

 

Writing this has had Cornish Holiday Cottages wondering about the origin of the word shanty, being educated sorts. Its origins are a little hazy, but it is often said to have come from the French word, chantez, the imperative form of the verb “to sing”. With the rhythmic beat keeping the teamwork synchronized, singing shanties helped sailors go about their tasks on board like hauling ropes or raising the anchor.  The perfect accompaniment to a sailing regatta then.

Why we surf

April 27, 2015 No Comments

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Surfing is an absurd idea really. You strap yourself to a board and throw yourself into the water, fight against the waves as they push back, impeding your access to the ocean, all in the name of taming one in an effort to find yourself back where you started. The average time of the ride? Six seconds.

And before that there’s the constant monitoring of the surf reports, chasing the right conditions up and down the coast, the measly one foot waves, the cold and choppy waters and the struggle into what is essentially a neoprene onesie. There’s also the waiting: the time sat in the water waiting for the perfect set. But there’s something that keeps us going back for more. Some go as far as to call it an addiction.

So why do we do it?

We’re not sadists. Riding a wave is like the Perfect Storm. A simultaneous occurrence of events that provide an opportunity to become One with Nature while experiencing the magical feeling of flying we imagined as kids along with the sense of achievement that we crave as adults. Total fulfilment on all levels; hence the addiction.

You are literally riding the Earth’s energy in its raw natural form. The molecules of water that make up each wave have travelled across the ocean and you can feel that energy beneath your feet as you piggy back its last step towards the land.

There are a number of stages to catching a wave. First there’s hope: as in I hope that I’m paddling hard enough to even catch this wave. Next comes disbelief: from ‘I’ve caught it!’ to ‘yes, I’m standing!’ Then comes the ecstasy: it’s like floating on air and those 6 seconds elongate, become minutes before you slow and the moment’s gone. You can even have fun with the wave, gliding along it, twisting the board in the water, changing direction.

Eventually it dies though and you begin to sink back into the water. And it’s time to do it all again.

I’m not the best surfer out there. There are times when I just haven’t got the strength to push myself up and stand on the board. It tests your fitness and improves your strength and agility in a way that the gym with its strip lights, blaring dance music and smell of sweaty feet simply can’t. It’s gloriously exhausting.

Surfing can also be contemplative. Sitting out back, waiting for the next set as the sun begins to set is as far from the worries of modern life as you can get. You are physically separate from the land, your own little island. It puts it all into perspective, draining away any of the days negative energy.

There’s no greater feeling than surfing and that feeling of being part of the ocean, really riding on top of the world. Surfing’s freedom, adventure and creativity rolled into one. It is thrillingly surreal. There is weightlessness that exists as you are moving quickly but are standing right on top of the water. The power of the wave pushing your board combined with movement across, up and down the face as you gain speed is the thrilling aspect. Yet you are right in the middle of nature – feeling the air, hearing the break of the wave as water sprays around you and perhaps the sound of a seagull. That’s the surreal part, something you don’t normally experience in a lot of other outdoor sports.

Beach Safety

April 7, 2015 No Comments

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We want all our Cornish Holiday Cottage guests to enjoy their time on our beautiful Cornish beaches. That’s why we are profiling some of our favourite beaches in the run up to the summer. But while you may have found the factor 50 at the back of a kitchen draw, dragged out from the garage and practiced sucking in your gut in front of the mirror (don’t worry, you’ve still got it), there’s still a lot to keep in mind. Especially if you’re a parent: there are the buckets and the spades and the extra clothes and the sun tent and the wind break and the sandwiches…the list goes on. But above all else there’s the safety of you and your children, both in and out of the water, to consider.

A friend, who used to spend the summer lifeguarding while we were at university, came to the pub one evening fuming. He was the angriest I think I’ve ever seen him. That day at work, on a not particularly rough day, he had to rescue two young children from a rip current that was slowly dragging them out to sea. As he told the story he made it absolutely clear how close to exhaustion these children were when he got to them. He didn’t think they’d have lasted much longer.

Once they got back to dry land, he looked for their parents. They were right at the back of the beach sunbathing. The mum was asleep with her iPod on. That is what had made my friend angry – how oblivious she was to her children’s safety. She had come incredibly close to losing both her children and wasn’t aware that anything had happened.

A little closer to home is the small scar I have on my nose. It’s been there since I was 4 or 5. On Mother’s Day my parents and I had gone out to Praa Sands for the day and we were strolling along the beach. That was it. Just walking and throwing the odd stone, when a wave lunged at us, knocking my parents over and dragging me back out with it. Apparently, it took two more waves crashing against the shore to pull me from the water. If wasn’t for good luck and quick actions, I wouldn’t be here now.

It’s not just children that need to be careful: last year three adults lost their lives trying to help some surfers who’d got into trouble on Mawnan Porth beach. Anyone can get into trouble.

There are lots of good guides to beach and water safety, including this leaflet from the RNLI. http://www.visitnewquay.org/dbimgs/Know%20Your%20Flags.pdf

But here are some of our Cornish Holiday Cottage tips to go through before heading out into the rolling waves.

  1. 1.       Know your swimming limits

If the water looks too rough for you, then you are right. Always be cautious and don’t put yourself into a dangerous situation. Take note that we’ve said ‘know’ your limits, not ‘push’ your limits.

  1. 2.       Recognise Rip Currents.

Rip currents or undertows are channels of water flowing from the beach and back out to sea. All the water that is pushed in by waves has to go somewhere and this water is pushed to the side by the next incoming wave, until it finds a passage back out. This is normally where the water is at its deepest and is made more so by the outgoing water channel.

You can usually see rip currents by watching the water for signs – are there areas where the waves aren’t breaking or where the white water vanishes? That’s where the water is pulling back out and is deeper. It might even look like the calmest, safest bit of water. Guide your children away from that area. Most probably, the Lifeguards will have spotted it before you and put up flags as guidance.

The BBC have created a handy video on rip currents: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-25559412

  1. 3.       Know how to escape a rip current

If you try to swim back to shore you are going to make no progress and just exhaust yourself.  To imagine what it’s like, picture trying to swim against the current in a swimming pool’s wild river, only stronger. It’s an easy fix though, so don’t panic: swim parallel to the shore. Chances are the rip is only a few meters wide and once you are out, getting back to dry land should be easy.

  1. 4.       Make sure there’s always someone to watch your children

You can’t always watch your children: we all need a pee break. But don’t just assume that someone else is going to be watching them (this is a problem in groups). There are three other adults around, so someone’s going to be watching them, right? Everyone else is probably thinking the same thing. Ask someone to specifically keep an eye out – and threaten them with the sharp end of your plastic spade if they stop before you come back.

  1. 5.       Talk to the lifeguard and read the signs

The lifeguards know the beach and the ocean better than we ever will. In the space of one summer they might spend more time in the ocean than some people will in their entire lives. So, they may only be nineteen years old, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re doing.We don’t always know best. Some locals have even been part of surf lifesaving clubs from an early age – they’ve been training for this job for years. Say hi, ask them where the safest spots are and if you’re not a particularly strong swimmer, ask them to keep a keen eye out for your children.

  1. 6.       The difference between playing and being in trouble

Children make a lot of noise when they’re playing. They don’t when they are struggling in the water. When someone is in desperate need of help in the water, they are often struggling for breath. They cannot scream for help. When children get quiet in the water, you get to them and find out why.

  1. 7.       Be cautious in unfamiliar waters

Even if you’re a strong swimmer, make sure you know what you are getting into. I’m a big fan of coasteering, which sometimes involves jumping from 10 or more metres into the sea. I always check the depth of the water before I jump in a new place. That goes for any reason you are using the water. Ask the locals and look for potential problems. If an area is free from other swimmers, then there might be a reason. There might be rip currents, sewage run offs or something else that you are not aware of.

 

Be safe over the upcoming months. Once you know what you’re looking for, staying safe on the beach becomes second nature.

The Joy of Sailing

January 5, 2015 No Comments

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Casting off from Mylor Harbour and sailing out into Falmouth Bay is one of life’s great pleasures. The feeling of escape associated with the slow shrinking of land into the distance, is like nothing any land-dwelling activity can offer. Sailboats conjure up romantic visions: blossoming sails arching in the wind or silhouettes of boats against the fading sun at dusk make it easy to think about chucking it all in and heading off into foreign seas.

In reality though, a sailboat is a few tons of fibreglass and steel you do need a little bit of skill to operate. We have a boat in our family. What started off as Dad’s little retirement project quickly became a family affair: he’s the skipper and we’re the crew, mostly. There have been some epic adventures around the Rock of Gibraltar and there have been many a leisurely day spent cruising the Carrick Roads and Helford River. There have also been the days where I’ve nearly run us aground cruising up the river, paying too much attention to the wind direction instead of the depth gauge.

My favourite part of sailing is pushing the boat as fast it will go. Essentially making a boat go at speed means trimming the sails so they are the right shape and angle for the wind that’s pushing across them. There are a variety of ways of controlling the sails: bending the mast, flattening the sail bottom to make it curve and hook the wind or a billion other things. But the best thing is that you are reacting to the environment around you and harnessing its power. It makes you feel awake, alive and in tune with your surroundings.

Sailing involves so much more than just understanding how a boat uses the wind to move through water. Sailing requires a certain appreciation for what’s around you. If you don’t respect whatever amount of water you’re sailing in, whether it’s a pond, river, lake, or ocean, nature will not be nice just for you. The trick to treating your surrounds with respect while sailing is to constantly stay vigilant so that if the wind begins to shift, you can stay on top of it and alter your course accordingly so that you aren’t caught off guard later. Of course, it’s not hard to keep your eyes peeled when you are surrounded by such beautiful views.

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At Cornish Holiday Cottages, one of the joys we take from boating is the opportunity it gives us to connect as a family. There’s no TV or internet out at sea, there’s no mobile phone signal. There’s just us and none of the daily clutter that widens the gap between us. Some of the most memorable parts of sailing as a family are of us drifting, sail down, as we tuck into lunch under the sun, nothing but the sound of the waves lapping at the hull and the lulling rock of the boat.

Boat ownership has allowed us to avoid the holiday throngs of Falmouth in August, too. While most were fighting through the street traffic during the Tall Ships weekend we were at sea, racing the ships, drawing up alongside them and, later on, admiring their hulls, anchor down, with a bottle of Prosecco, celebrating a birthday.

If you’re keen to get some sailing in yourself whilst in your Cornish holiday cottage, there are many places you can charter a yacht or get involved in a sailing course. Falriver.co.uk have a pretty good guide for boat hire.

There’s not only boat hiring though, for those of you wanting your first foray on the waters, there’s the Mylor Sailing School, who offer introductory courses, helping you to get afloat.

Or if you really fancy a treat why not go for a trip on a beautiful old sailing boat, Pinuccia is owned by the Tresanton Hotel in St Mawes and runs half or full day sails from May to September (photographed at the top).

 

Crabbing in Falmouth: not just for children!

September 27, 2014 No Comments

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Our top tips for places to go crabbing in and around Falmouth. Grab a bucket and line and visit one of the local butchers to grab some bait!

1. The Harbour! There are many quays in Falmouth with perfect spots for doing a bit of crabbing. (Photographed above)

2. The Pandora Inn at Mylor, enjoy delicious food on the pontoon and you can crab while you wait! Crabbing lines and bait are sold inside.

3. Castle Beach, get your hands dirty at low tide and enjoy some rock pooling.

4. Flushing Quay, enjoy the views of Falmouth from Flushing.

5. Mylor Quay, the perfect spot for sitting and relaxing by the quay.

 

Best Bait Tip: Visit one of the local butchers and try and get an old ham bone. The crabs love it, although you may need a larger net!

Polo on the Beach at Watergate Bay

July 7, 2014 No Comments

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This weekend was the annual ‘Polo on the Beach’ at Watergate Bay on the north coast of Cornwall.

A free event with activities for all ages, from ‘welly wanging’ with Joules, to Land Rover Experience. A brilliant location to see the horses and there was even a flash mob in the middle!

Read more about the event here.

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The Red Arrows at Gyllyngvase Beach

June 9, 2014 No Comments

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Every year the Red Arrows visit Falmouth in August as part of Falmouth week. However this year we are lucky enough to be graced with their presence twice in one year! In Falmouth week the streets of the town are lined with people, and being built into the hillside great views can be had from all over the town. This time however the event took place at the beach as part of the finale of The Pendennis Cup (which brings lots of beautiful yachts to the area for a week of racing). The Red Arrows kicked off their season in style over Gyllyngvase beach, doing their incredible stunts over the lined up boats in the water. A great day had by all, we’re just glad the sun stayed out!

Thanks to The Pendennis Cup and The Red Arrows.