Cornwall – The Perfect Winter Getaway
Love heading to the coast in the summer months? Ever considered a seaside break as winter beckons? Frosty footsteps, deserted pathways and breathtaking views…yes there are many reasons to love a winter staycation. Henry Turner headed to North Cornwall to find out more…
Cornwall is an undoubtedly beautiful place to visit in the summer. Vast coastal stretches, chocolate-box towns strewn over cliffs and a jagged coastline of secret bays and coves. Yes, we all know what a hotspot it is in summer, but how about exploring these magical places undisturbed and uninterrupted in the quieter months? Off I went then to the Roseland Peninsula, to see what North Cornwall had to offer the world-weary walker looking for some real fresh air…
The beaches – FISTRAL
In the summer, Fistral beach is a Newquay hotspot, attracting surfers and families alike, all keen to take in its beauty and the awesome spectacle of its waves. At low tide in winter Fistral is silvered by a hazy light and the breath-taking expanse of sand the beach is an altogether different affair, where crabs and gulls on the beach outnumber people and an ethereal feel pervades. Four legged friends can come with you too, as the bans are lifted on dog walking from October-Easter.
With huge cliffs cascading into smaller pools from Pentire Point to Towan Head, the opportunities for walking are ample. A walk at shoreline will confirm why this is one of the UK’s premier surfing beaches – most likely you’ll have to shout against the wind as you marvel at the neoprene-encased surfers braving the waves even in the coldest of temperatures. Even if you don’t enter the water yourself, you can experience a taste of the adrenaline vicariously – and then leave them to their extreme form of exhilaration as you retreat back to the comfort of your hotel.
We stayed at the stunning Headland Hotel, a grand Victorian redbrick mansion is set on a cliff-top overlooking Fistral. The hotel is a wonderful characterful blend of old-world grandeur and modern comfort – the sea is an unerring panorama for the rooms, the hotel a fortress standing strong against the windy bay. After a walk, it makes the perfect base camp, the welcoming embrace of its lobby warming the bones and the lovely soothing qualities of its spa really did beckon.
The food at the hotel is also excellent, from the afternoon teas to the superb seasonal a la carte menu, it can be hard to muster the desire to walk when surrounded by such delightful trappings… but walk on we did, after a drive to the other side of the peninsula in search of yet more lovely beaches.
The beaches – CARNE
The Roseland Peninsula is one of Cornwall’s stunning jewels – a characterful treasure trove of those things than make Cornwall so special. Secluded creeks, beautiful gardens and hidden churches offer plenty of places to discover. The Nare Hotel is ideally placed to explore all of these. It sits above the beautiful Carne beach, allowing guests to dine with and wake up to panoramic views across the bay. Luxurious and comfortable, it’s a hotel that knows exactly how to ease residents into a state of relaxation, the gentle wash of the tide and the call of sea birds creating a gentle soundscape. It is easy to see why it continues to win so many accolades.
Every day guests are treated to an afternoon tea, allowing a moment’s quiet to take in the glory of the surroundings. The restaurants here attract diners from around the area too – The Dining Room offers a traditional table d’hote menu, which changes every evening and The Quarterdeck is a more relaxed a la carte menu. Both are superb and we certainly filled our boots. Walking in winter burns a lot of calories you know!
The beaches – PORTHCURNICK
Although the South West coast path will lead you to many of the Roseland’s beauty spots, and pretty much guarantee rosy cheeks and a healthy glow, Porthcurnick takes the crown for a winter walk. It really offers a sense of the true character of Cornwall devoid of either overly-touristy or mundane main streets, and full of sea, sand and simple pleasures – the good life! Park at the edge of Porthscatho then take Coastal path in a north easterly direction to the tiny Porthcurnick beach which – in contrast to its cousins up the coast– is bordered by snow-white cliffs and utter isolation. Your only company might be a group of seals!
The Headland Hotel comprises of 96 beautiful bedrooms, 39 private cottages, a Surf Sanctuary and state-of-the-art spa. An overnight stay costs from £160 per room (two sharing), including full English breakfast and use of the spa.
The Nare Hotel, located on Cornwall’s beautiful Roseland Peninsula. Prices start from £290 per night (two sharing) including a full English breakfast and complimentary Cornish cream tea.
Both hotels are members of the Pride of Britain Hotels Collection. Call Pride of Britain Hotels on 0800 089 3929 (www.prideofbritainhotels.com) for more details.
Winter Walking Tips
Avoid overheating – It can seem strange to think about over-heating in winter, but sweating is one of the easiest ways to get cold when out walking. So breathable layers are crucial in helping you cope with this. Merino wool base layers are the best as they naturally wick sweat away from your skin. And a breathable jacket is the icing on your layer cake, too.
Beat the wind – A strong wind can often make it feel colder than it actually is. The best way to beat windchill is with a wind-stopper. A lightweight windshell, or softshell jacket can be the perfect solution.
Stay Warm When You Stop – The moment you stop, be it to check your map, take a swig from the flask, or to soak up a spectacular view, you start cooling down. Staying warm is always better than cooling down, then trying to warm up again. So take a tip from the pros and cover-up before you get cold. Carry a lightweight down (or synthetic) insulated jacket with you in your bag, great for whipping out when you stop. They pack up really small and weigh next to nothing – perfect additional winter warmth.
Switch to mitts – A top tip from the professionals is to wear mitts. The heat from all your fingers will work together, like a little pack of penguins, sharing the warmth between them. If you need to use your hands a lot, it can be a good idea to wear a liner glove beneath the mitt to keep the elements away when your mitts are off.
Turn the heating up – What better way to stay warm than to start off toasty? Heat your base layers, gloves and hats on the radiator before you put them on and you’ll be cosy all day. And when you stop for that hot chocolate, simply stash them inside your jacket to keep them warm. That way, when you’re heading back out there, you’ll be warm and toasty.