By Terry Willey
For more then 20 years, whilst our three children were growing up, holidays in Cornwall were a regular treat. The county offered so much for a special family holiday, and to this day it remains as attractive to us as it ever did.
Cornwall – or Kernow in Cornish – is known for its wonderful rambling and farming fraternity along with some of the most beautiful beaches. These are some of the features that attract so many thousands of tourists each year. Cornwall Council continues to tastefully improve the county’s roads infrastructure and access through Bodmin Moor past Brown Willey – the highest point in the county, standing at 420 metres above sea level.
Our focus over the years has always been around Cornwall’s northwest coastline, stretching from Padstow to St Ives and taking in some of the best beaches and the most rugged scenic coastline in England. The Cornish climate is recognised as one of the sunniest and mildest in Britain, with a subtropical climate that allows for palm trees to flourish widely, nurtured by the longest hours of sunlight in the UK. Cornwall’s capital city of Truro is well worth a visit for its beautiful Cathedral and bustling commercial centre.
A second home
These days, Cornwall is considered as our second home as our daughter has settled in the county and we have three true Cornish grandchildren who were all born in the main hospital in Truro. We noticed that it didn’t take long for our daughter and her children to develop a true Cornish accent! The county seems to offer a wonderful environment for growing children, with many reluctant to move away once they reach adulthood.
I am going to concentrate on the northwest coastline where we are regularly stationed at the infamous Headland Hotel – in my view, one of the finest hotel locations in England. The Armstrong family who own the hotel have over the years respectfully developed it with magnificent additions so that nowadays you can book dedicated storm-watching and ballooning stays or simply watch the surfing, where serious and competent surfers throughout the year arrive from all across the UK and overseas. From trekking along the coastline, to observing birds, sea creatures and other wildlife, there is no end of things to make a holiday here special.
In 1987 the film maker Jim Henson Productions took over the entire Headland Hotel to make the film ‘The Witches’, adapted from Roald Dahl’s book and starring Anjelica Huston and Rowan Atkinson.
On a recent visit it was interesting for us to note that although some 37 years have passed since the film was released, it still forms very much part of visitors’ discussions to this day, and the hotel reception has produced a brief history of the filming that took place there.
The Cornish coastline
Moving westwards along the north Cornish coastline brings you to the beautiful beach of Perranporth and further on, to St. Ives – a uniquely beautiful harbour and something of a centre for Cornish art and crafts.
Here and in Padstow just to the east, you can spend hours viewing the most wonderful paintings from local artists and sampling the delights of the infamous Cornish pasties. I recall on one visit sitting with my family on the harbour wall along with many others and relishing a Cornish pastie lunch. However, be warned as the large Cornish herring gulls can time their attacks on your pasties with perfection as I have observed on many an occasion! Precious pasties are often snatched from individuals at lightning pace by these expert gulls – causing great amusement but huge disappointment if your lunch has been removed from you!
Turning eastwards from the Headland Hotel you’ll enter the vibrant town of Newquay and taking the ‘through traffic route’ you embark upon the most beautiful coastal scenery to Bedruthen Steps and Watergate Bay and extending your trip to Padstow. This is another excellent harbour destination is now one of the catering points of one of our famous chefs Rick Stein who has his own restaurants in the area and where fresh fish can be purchased directly from the local fishing outlets landed directly in the harbour. Padstow again offers many fine art shops and where many talented local artists exhibit their works for sale. I noticed some rivalry between the local harbours and towns, but despite this keen competition, the warmth of the welcome right across the county from the Cornish people never ceases to hearten me.
It’s own country
Ironically, each time I return to Cornwall I feel as if I have left England as the place is so uniquely different – and in fact many Cornish people would say, “well you have!”. With its own flag and language and its formerly close ties with the Celtic nations during Roman times, it is not at all surprising that such a proud partisan attitude prevails.
A regular turn of phrase for the Cornish is “A proper job” and they certainly do fulfil that in this most beautiful county!