I love that phrase ‘my happy place’, it conjures up memories with people I love, be it Liverpool, the Lake District (I went there so much growing up), the Ile de Re in France (where I sit penning this) or my much-loved Cornwall and Devon.
I’ve been going to Kingsand and Cawsand in South East Cornwall (they’re basically one tiny village on the border but in fact Kingsand is technically in Devon and Cawsand is in Cornwall) since I was 17. Every year various members of my family decamp to a house or two in these beautiful, sleepy hamlets that have just the right handfuls of good pubs, stunning beaches and lovely people.
I love going to far flung places – my South Africa trip at the start of this year is still a holiday that pops up in my memory on a weekly basis but there is something really magical about finding your happy holiday place right here in the UK. Kingsand and Cawsand are that for me.
This year we stayed in Tarkwa Cottage which has just been renovated (we’ve stayed twice before when it wasn’t quite as fancy) and it is honestly the seaside house of dreams. Set across four floors with direct steps down to the beach, this dog-friendly, hoards-of-family-friendly house is absolutely amazing.
The villages themselves are super cute, peppered with four great pubs, a deli, a café, three gift shops and a local (tiny) food shop so you can hole up here without needing to venture much further than your roof terrace or the beach.Brightly coloured chocolate box cottages line winding streets that give you glimpses of the sea as you wander around. If you get the weather the beaches are nice enough to swim, although I’m always with the trusty wetsuit!
My favourite pub is the Devonport Inn – renovated a few years ago this tiny place is about 20 steps from the beach and does the most fantastic afternoon teas and amazing gastro pub style food – think freshly caught mussels, plaice and fat steaks. I could die a happy lady sat in the window nursing a little Cornish cider and watching the boats go past.
The Halfway House is also a good choice for food – this sea trout was the freshest smoked fish I’ve ever eaten. This time we managed to see the local men’s choir who go there to sing every Wednesday. The sense of village community is a lovely thing to be a brief part of during a holiday here.
There are two walks I always try and do when I’m there – one is to Rame head, a BEAUTIFUL headland which has a tiny, old chapel at the top. The walk takes you along winding, coastal paths giving you glimpses of the sea and the mount ahead. When you get there you feel like you can do anything – you can see so much sea, the whole of Whitsand Bay and can look down to the waves crashing against the rocks right beneath you. I’ve done this almost every year since I was 17 with my Dad (apart from the odd year I’ve been too ill) and I will never forget the memories of walking this path year in, year out. There’s something quite emotional about reaching the top, looking down and thinking about where you’ve been and what you want to do next. I don’t care that I’m a bit sweaty and a lot windswept!
Another walk is to Mount Edgecumbe, a fancy Country Park just over the sea from Plymouth. I have always loved stately homes since being a little girl and this one is no different, except it has brilliant sea views and rolling hills. Worth going for the walks, the house and another cream tea.
There are loads of brilliant day trips from Kingsand and Cawsand be it Padstow (or PadStein as the mountain of Rich Stein restaurants and merch attests to), the Eden Project, Polperro, Fowey – the list is endless but the base really can’t be improved upon.
It’s fast becoming a tradition that on our drive home we stop off at The Canteen to cheer ourselves up. Sat high up above the villages overlooking the sea this café serves the best breakfast for miles – my veggie breakfast this year was delish.
Cornwall is such a special place but can be oversubscribed. Kingsand and Cawsand are popular (book accommodation well ahead to avoid disappointment) but they never feel rammed with tourists. I’d like to keep my happy place all to myself but it’s too good not to share. I can’t wait to go back for a sneaky autumn break in October.
If you do go, let me know. I’d love to hear your discoveries!