People flee to Cornwall, on the south western crag of the UK for many reasons. Rolling green fields. Beaches with proper surf and sand. Friendly folk. Good food. Cream tea. And a little dose of escapism.
The thing with escape is, there’s no time to waste. Even if you’re doing nothing, you want it to be the best possible nothing.
If what you need is a perfect 24 hours in Cornwall, here it is; sorted.
10 am – Pick up a car at the airport and drive down to St Ives for The Tate and Cream Tea
About an hour’s drive south from Newquay airport, St Ives is Cornish charm personified. It ticks all the boxes; beautiful beaches, harbour port as well as cobbled streets selling all sorts of tat. The bonus being it’s also home to the Barbara Hepworth sculpture garden and an arm of the Tate Museum. And it’s home to one of the best cream tea’s in Cornwall.
It’s perfect mid-morning fodder. Park your car up at the all day carpark beyond the Tate. Spend an hour or so wandering around. Then find your way down to the waterfront and scout for The Tea Room.
A cream tea is a perfect thing to share. Scones are made fresh each day, there’s Rodda’s clotted cream and local Bodington preserves. As it’s Cornwall, it’s jam first, then cream. Don’t spoil your appetite too much. Or if you do, walk briskly up the hill to the car- next stop is lunch back up in Watergate.
Nb, despite being tempted to, you don’t need to have a 40 minute detour to see Penzance. There are no pirates there. Promise.
For more on St Ives and the best cream tea in Cornwall, go here.
2 pm Late, light antipasto lunch at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen at Watergate Bay
Set above the white sands of Watergate Bay Beach, Fifteen feels more like a sleek hotel restaurant than a noble social enterprise. If you’re canny, you’ll have booked ahead of time and will be able to enjoy it in full force; from one of the tables that look out through the floor to ceiling windows.
If like us, you did not, you’ll still get glimpses of the beach and can be consoled by knowing there’s plenty of excitement on the plate.
This place carries Jamie Oliver’s ethos of simple Italian with just the right amount of cheek and charm.
The fifteen trainee chefs, between 16 -24 are visible both in the kitchen and on the wall near the entrance, where photos and stories of overcoming circumstances are up for celebration.
More than 80 per cent of the produce on the menu is local to Cornwall. There’s a £28 three course menu available at lunch, but really, it’s hard to go past the antipasti platter.
At £9.95 per head the antipasti platter comes groaning with food. Melon that’s drippingly ripe, cippolini onions that are soft, dark and sweet, splodges of caponata, roasted fronds of fennel, eggplant and roast beetroot all cuddle up with pockets of cured meats, cheeses and a ball of burrata that would set you back £6 at Borough market alone.
With a sneaky glass of pink wine, the sound of seagulls and the satisfaction that comes from supporting something good, it’s hard to think of a better lunch.
On The Beach
Cornwall , TR8 4AA
Ph: 01637 861000
3pm Check into The Scarlet
It’s only a ten minute drive, if that from Watergate Bay to your dream Cornish escape hotel.
This is a place purpose built for babymoons and couples retreats (there are no children permitted at The Scarlet). As I stood in the lobby, next to the glow of a fire, looking out at the galumphing high tide at Mawgan Porth it’s hard not to feel romantically inclined (which should be interesting, considering I researched this trip with my best friend, while our husbands were off drinking beer).
It’s easy to relax at The Scarlet; it’s what it was designed to encourage- from the retreat terrace on the roof complete with blankets for snuggling, through to the games room with billiards and board games.
The 37 rooms are set for adult entertainment; there are four moods of lighting and open plan showers and baths. It’s a good thing these best friends are fairly comfortable with each other (we later discover there were modesty screens available on request).
Our afternoon involves nothing more strenuous than a quick dip in the indoor pool, while we look out over the natural reed filtered pool outside (very pretty, but a touch cold). Later we take our complimentary pots of tea in the ‘relax’ room while the wine for our BYO dinner chills in the fridge at the bar (there are no minibars in the room).
Cornwall. TR8 4DQ
(nb, I was a guest at the Scarlet).
7 pm- Dinner at Jon’s Bistro at Bre Pen Farm
Jon’s Bistro is a wee thing; sits on the other side of the Mawgan Porth beach slope from The Scarlet, about a 25 minute walk down and up two steep hills. Or it’s four minute drive.
In summer months from Thursday to Saturday the Bre Penfarm shop is transformed into a stellar bistro that seats just 18.
Jon’s is unfussed and relaxed, with a 1950′s farmhouse to the flooring and bathrooms and a dash of Cath Kidston to the pistachio polka-dot tablecloths. Out the window are chickens and sheep. Much of the produce that ends up on the plate comes from the adjacent paddocks, often picked just hours before. Beyond the decor, it’s cracking value (at £20 plus free BYO for three courses) . The food meanwhile is restrained, but ambitious. All of the notes it aimed for on our visit, it hit.
It’s two choices for each course, seasonally inspired. If there’s Bre Pen Farm Lamb, with garlic scrape jus, artichokes and turnips on the menu, you’d be a fool not to pick it.If you want to eat local food, beautifully prepared, in relaxed company, you can’t do much better.
Read more about dinner at Jon’s Bistro at Bre Pen here
Jon’s Bistro at Bre-Pen Farm
Bookings: Ph 01637 860420
Mawgan Porth, Newquay
Cornwall TR8 4AL
9.45 pm – have a drink in the bar at The Scarlet, or take them up on one of a wide range of DVDs they’ve got for complimentary borrowing. Then sleep.
We *may* have chosen to revisit the delights of ‘A League of Their Own’. Don’t judge us.
9 am – delivery of the newspaper of your choice and the tea or coffee of your choice to your room
Nb, the newspaper will find its way onto your bill at The Scarlet. The tea or coffee will not- and you can choose what time you want it delivered.
9.30 am Breakfast at The Scarlet
There’s no sad scrapings left to swelter on a buffet at The Scarlet. The included breakfast is a three course a la carte affair. It starts with local cloudy apple juice in a carafe, waiting for you on the table. It’s as welcoming as the sight of the waves pounding onto the beach below you. There’s the option of bloomer toast and jam with coffee or tea as an entry point. My advice is save room for what comes next.
Fruit poached in Earl Grey syrup is a sticky, semi virtuous delight, that’s taken to an even loftier place by requesting a small bowl of natural yoghurt on the side.
Eggs come beautifully poached, with roasted mushrooms and spinach and a gleaming ray of hollandaise. For those who like those sorts of things, there are also kippers.
10 am- activities at The Scarlet – The Spa
You could pass your morning with a brisk walk along the cliffs (and even borrow Jasper the hotel dog) or with 25 minute drive to Padstow for lunch at one of Rick Stein’s many establishments (locals jokingly refer to it as Padstein). Instead we choose a different kind of journey at the Scarlet’s spa. After diagnosing our ailments (read: London) we’re ushered into a seaweed bath in a cauldron on the cliff top, while the wind from the coast nips at our face and we sip sparkling water (though plenty of others will go for champagne). Soon we feel as soft as squares of tofu bobbing in a bowl of miso soup. We’re then massaged and rubbed, sent on guided meditations before being directed to the deep relax; a dark room of hanging tents where we curl up in foetal position semi conscious. There may be no children at The Scarlet, but suspended in canvas pods with blankets we’ve reverted straight back into the womb.
We could have stayed there forever, were it not time to fly back.
They say parting is sweet sorrow. Believe me when I say that 24 hours in Cornwall probably won’t be enough.
For more on Rick Stein’s St Petroc’s Bistro in Padstow, go here
We flew from Gatwick into Newquay airport (a 50 minute flight). We hired a car at Newquay Airport from Blackbird Car Hire- who were cheap and terrific.