A post lockdown trip to Cornwall

My twitter bio rather immodestly proclaims that I’ve been to 100 + countries (true) and that I aim for 4 new every year. Well, Covid-19 has well and truly knocked that on the head for 2020 and like the vast majority of the country, this would be the year for a staycation, but where to choose for my first post lockdown trip. Petra in St Mawes Cornwall was hardly an original choice but I’m an East Anglia girl, preferring the big skies, creaks and marshes of Norfolk and Suffolk to Cornwall’s more dramatic coastline. However, I’m also an enthusiastic swimmer and with the Mediterranean kept for another year and the North Sea a murky brown, it was to Cornwall I headed in search of sparkling sapphire seas and sunshine. 

It’ll be full they said and finding somewhere to stay was indeed pretty much impossible but it helps to have a friend with a welcome spare room in Falmouth. Falmouth is the gateway to Fal River Links, a network of ferries, bus routes and train rides around the Fal River, an area of outstanding natural beauty. The St Mawes ferry (note it’s a public ferry not a pleasure cruise, so masks do need to be worn) connects the maritime fort of Falmouth steeped in history and heritage with the old-world fishing harbour of St Mawes.  

Shell petrol pumps in St Mawes St Mawes just oozed class, not surprising when it is home to a couple of the country’s most exclusive hotels and old-world charm (even the petrol pumps were from a bygone age – I expect many of my fellow Silver Travellers will be familiar with these Shell ones). It made for an especially relaxing day trip, especially with the non-social distancing crowds seemingly elsewhere.  

St Ives, the jewel in Cornwall’s crown needs no introduction, and is justifiably massively popular. It helps that it is easily accessible by train and caters for art aficionados with the Tate St Ives and Barbara Hepworth Museum, beach lovers and those seeking an adrenalin fix. To escape the crowds, I headed for the water and for a dose of the latter on a high-speed rib ride with Blue Thunder Ribs. It’s not just the young who are thrill seekers! The one-hour exhilarating ride took in seal island and views of the surrounding coastline and beaches but most fun was experiencing a mix of sudden acceleration, top end speed and G-force when cornering. A lot of families are taking multi-generational holidays this summer, having been separated for so long it’s a chance for everyone to get together. As a treat that would appeal to everyone, I can highly recommend a Blue Thunder Rib ride. Blue Thunder Rib ride, St Ives On my ride, there were whooping teenagers, younger children sweetly giggling at the thrills but having the most fun of all were their octogenarian grandparents.

I’d come to Cornwall in search of blue seas and was not disappointed. Who needs to go to Greece when the waters around St Ives were gin clear, although admittedly a tad colder. 

My trip wasn’t all beaches and on a day out to visit ancient Cornwall I discovered an unusual site, the Men-an-Tol, believed to belong to the Bronze Age. It consists of four stones, the most unusual being the stone with a large hole at its centre, said to have curative and magical powers attributed to it. Something we definitely need right now. Passing through the stone is central to the healing process, so I got down on my hands and knees and rather ungraciously squeezed my way through the hole. 

Blue water in St Ives Of the many gifts that Cornwall has given to the world, perhaps none is as much loved as the cream tea, second only to the pasty. Cornwall is full of providers of this delight but I like to think that Dolly my hostess for the week, has one of the best at her namesake tearoom Dolly’s. Dolly’s is a tearoom, wine house and gin palace in a gorgeous Georgian room, above the bookshop in Falmouth’s Church Street, serving  a whopping 300 + varieties of gin, everything from Bertha’s Revenge to Sacred Christmas Pudding. Yes, me neither, who knew such gins existed, if there’s too much choice, Dolly and her team will happily recommend a gin for you. Not only does Dolly’s serve a traditional cream tea but some imaginative alternatives. A vicar’s tea for two includes a cucumber and cream cheese sandwich along with a tomato and cheese sandwich with a vintage teapot of cocktails (what would the vicar say!) or a thunder and lightning cream tea with golden syrup instead of jam and yes, the jam should always go on before the cream.

Cream tea and gins at Dolly’s I’m writing this as Storm Francis rages across the country but let’s hope it’s just a blip,and we get to have an Indian Summer. In my search for sunshine and blue seas, I lucked out with the weather and whilst Cornwall is hardly a secret, swimming in the crystal-clear water proved a wonderful discovery. 

Visit www.visitcornwall.com to see all that Cornwall has to offer.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Original Cottages.

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Petra Shepherd

Editor of Silver Travel Book Club & Cook Club

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