Visit to Cornwall 2020

Cornwall is a feast for the eyes and the soul.

Find out more about my recent visit to Cornwall 2020 here…

We visit Cornwall every year with friends and stay in a campsite right next to the beach. This year however, things were a little different! Our usual campsite was closed due to the pandemic. Plus, our friends didn’t fancy venturing away from home. So we decided to go it alone.

The plan was to book some self contained accommodation, take our own food and spend the days surfing on quiet beaches, avoiding people as much as possible. We decided not to visit our favourite town of St Ives as we knew it would be ridiculously busy but we weren’t sure what the rest of Cornwall would be like.

If you’re desperate to get away, like I was, then Cornwall is a great option. In spite of all the panic in the news about how busy it is, we found it fairly easy to avoid the crowds and have an amazing time.

There’s lots of places to visit in the area, but as we were trying to be mindful of avoiding the crowds, we chose carefully. This is a very personal account based on our recent trip. Of course there will be lots of other places to visit that are quiet too! I’ve written them in the order in which we visited them – we had a week in the south with a caravan at Praa Sands and a week in a cottage near Wadebridge.

Here’s a few places to visit if you want to get away from it all in Cornwall.

Praa Sands

Our first stop was, Praa Sands. We love the very south of Cornwall, the rugged beaches and blue turquoise waters are all absolutely fabulous. We booked a static caravan on a Hoeseasons site in Praa Sands. The site was perfect. It was quiet, close to the beach and with great facilities. We even managed to use the on site pool – which you could book in hourly slots, with a maximum of 6 people at a time, so we pretty much had it to ourselves. The bar was open and very quiet and we were able to sit outside and enjoy a pint of cider, whilst looking out at the ocean.

The beach at Praa Sands is a long stretch of golden sand, with crystal clear water. It was so quiet there but it also has lifeguards so we felt safe in the water. I’m not going lie – we found surfing there a bit tricky at times and not as easy as our usual beach at Gwithian. My daughters board nearly knocked me out at one point!

From Praa Sands, you can walk the South West coastal path – there’s loads of fantastic walks to do and we enjoyed a 5 mile circular route along the coast. It was really quiet. We only saw a handful of people and enjoyed a picnic looking at the epic views (pretending to be waiting for Poldark – maybe that was just me).

Trelissick

We spent one afternoon mooching around the gorgeous National Trust property at Trelissick – you need to pre-book a slot online. The house isn’t open at the moment but the gardens, cafe and shop are all open. It was very quiet when we visited (it was raining!).

Porthleven

Porthleven was our first foray into a busier location. There were quite a few people mooching around the pretty harbour, so we didn’t stay long.

Kynance Cove

kynance cove

One of our favourite places in the area is Kynance Cove. It’s simply stunning. Run by the National Trust, the sparkling turquoise waters make you feel like you’re in Thailand (until you feel the temperature of the water!). The trick with Kynance Cover is to get there EARLY. Arrive by 9am and you should be able to park easily. It’s also important to be aware of the tide times here as there’s not much beach at high tide. We arrived as the tide was on it’s way out, which was perfect timing as we knew we’d have a good few hours to play and relax there.

kynance cove

It was quiet when we first arrived on the beach and we had the sea to ourselves for a while but it quickly gets very busy there, with people streaming down the hillside all day long. We left in the early afternoon as we knew the tide was coming back in and it was getting busier and busier. There’s a cafe, with outside seating and toilets too. There’s a bit of a walk from the car park – with a few different routes. Some take longer than others but the views are amazing.

kynance cove

Gwithian beach

Gwithian is one of our favourite beaches as it’s a brilliant place to surf and body board. The beach is massive so there’s plenty of space to sit and not be near anyone. There’s a National Trust car park at the far end of the beach but you need to get there early to get a space. There’s also parking at The Rockpool Bar, which is next door to the National Trust car park. If you’re looking for a tasty lunch or coffee and cake break, I can highly recommend the Hungry Horsebox on the beach.

Pedn Vounder

pedn vounder

I’m a bit torn about whether to post information about this place or not because I know it’s a ‘hidden treasure’ and those that know about it don’t like the word spread. However, I’m an adventurer at heart and when I first discovered Pedn Vounder beach online I knew I HAD to go there. I read all about it for years before actually going. I was very worried about the dangers and made sure that we were very well prepared. This little beach is truly magical. It’s tucked away at the bottom of a rocky hillside on the rugged Cornish coastline. The water is a million different shades of blue and green and so transparent. From above, it looks like you’re in the Caribbean.

pedn vounder

Before going to this beach, you must know these things. Firstly – check the tide times. There is NO BEACH there at high tide and you will get trapped if unprepared. Secondly, there are no life guards at this beach and dangerous rip currents. There’s also no phone signal, so you’ll need to be super duper careful in the water. Thirdly, although the walk from the car park at Treen is fairly easy, the final descent to the beach is tricky. The advice is to wear trainers and carry a rucksack, so that you have both hands free for the climb. Finally, it’s a naturist beach, so be prepared for an eyeful. It was certainly an anatomy lesson for the kids!

pedn vounder

One more thing – please respect the beauty of the area and take all your rubbish home. I’d hate to think that this post might encourage people to go and cause damage to this glorious spot.

If visiting this beach sounds like a pain in the backside then you can still visit the beautiful beach next door – Porthcurno which has easy access!

pedn vounderPort Isaac

We knew Port Isaac was going to be busy as it’s the filming location for Doc Martin, so we planned to nip there for a quick look around before having dinner in nearby Port Gaverne. It wasn’t too bad but we didn’t hang around for long. We’d booked a table at the Port Gaverne Restaurant and it was only our second time eating indoors since March. They had great social distancing policies and, as we were the first people there for the dinner service, it was really quiet.  The food was amazing too.

Porthcothan Bay

I’d spotted a picture of Porthcothan Bay on Instagram a few weeks before going to Cornwall, so I had it on my list as a place to visit. I’m so glad we did. It’s a super pretty bay with gorgeous clear waters and loads of space to sit. The beach was quiet by Cornish standards and so we felt really safe. We ended up going there a few times to swim, surf and bodyboard. There are lifeguards there. There’s also a lovely little café serving very tasty cakes and coffee (perfect after a couple of hours in the sea).

kynance cove

Wadebridge to Padstow on the Camel Trail

Every year when we visit Cornwall, we drive to Wadebridge and hire bikes so that we can cycle the Camel Trail to Padstow. There’s a wonderful, flat, 5 mile cycle path with views over the estuary to Rock and Padstow. The bike hire places have changed their methods and make sure there’s lots of social distancing and safety measures. We use Bridge Bike Hire. We took our own bike helmets (as advised) and the bikes were ready for us to collect when we arrived. The trail was much quieter this year and felt very safe. We stopped half way as usual for a cake / ice cream at the Atlantic Coast Express.

We were a bit worried that Padstow would be packed, so we’d planned to walk through and find a quiet place for a picnic. The town wasn’t as busy as usual but there were still lots of people around. We walked through Padstow and headed out of town. There are great views over to Rock if you walk along the coast. We had our picnic looking out over the water. Having never been there, we decided to get the ferry across to Rock (masks and hand sanitizers at the ready) to have a look around. The beach was lovely. We had a drink at the sailing club before heading back to Padstow to get our bikes for the cycle home.

Lanhydrock

We booked a parking slot at the National Trust property of Lanhydrock and had the most glorious sunny day to explore the gorgeous gardens and woodlands there. The gardens, cycle paths and café are all open. The house and play area is closed. Once again it was pretty quiet, with plenty of space to sit and enjoy a picnic away from others. The café had very safe policies in place. They only allowed a few people in at a time to order food to take away or eat outside.

beach photographer

Polzeath

The town of Polzeath is just around the corner from Rock. We wanted to find a thick wetsuit for my son as he was freezing in his old thin wetsuit. We’d been advised to go to a wetsuit shop in Polzeath. Boy, it was BUSY! The car park was packed and the beach was rammed. We didn’t spend very long there but managed to get a wetsuit! We then had lunch at The Pityme Inn which is part of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. It was fabulous (the Vegan burger was amazing!). If you’re planning on eating out, you’ll most probably have to pre-book a day or two in advance. We weren’t very good at thinking ahead and so lots of the places that we tried were fully booked.

cornish beachBusier places…

Of course, there will be plenty of places in Cornwall that will be very very busy. It’s probably best to avoid the big tourist towns like Bude, Newquay, Perranporth, Padstow and St Ives if you’re looking for a quiet break.

But, if you venture a little off the beaten track, it’s perfectly possible to find lovely quiet areas for a visit to Cornwall 2020.

 

I am a Cardiff family photographer, covering South Wales. I offer outdoor location family photo shoots and love the beach!

I’m fully booked for August and getting pretty booked up for September too, if you fancy an outdoor family photoshoot – get in touch.

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