Cornwall LivingIssue #81
Stay in Cornish luxury
We discover the Cider Barn, one of Cornwall’s most prestigious self-catering properties for 16, that takes care of both its guests and the environment.
I have lived in Cornwall all my life and it never ceases to amaze me that after all these years I’m still finding new, undiscovered places. And so it is when I set off to discover the Cider Barn, a unique, eco retreat nestled deep in the Cornish countryside, yet only a 20-minute walk from the beach. I love the anticipation and journey to a new place and this promises to be a great one! My route takes me through Par and then out on the winding road that leads on to Fowey. However, I’m not destined for this well-known Cornish harbour, as a hidden turn off takes me down a private country lane and the further I drive, deeper into the lush Cornish landscape, the more I am certain this is going to be a wonderful discovery.
My destination is the Cider Barn, an exclusive holiday property, sleeping 16, which has been lovingly restored and beautifully decorated by owners Graham and Heather. At the end of the lane a large gate opens on to an expansive parking area where I am met by Graham. As I step out, what takes me most by surprise is the air of quiet. No road noise, no voices, just the whispering of a gentle breeze in the trees and the sound of birdsong.
Set in five acres of land, the grounds, ponds and orchards are on the Rashleigh Estate, with its nearby house Menabilly, the one-time home of Daphne Du Maurier and the inspiration for Manderley in her novel Rebecca. The history and provenance here is tangible, making you feel special from the moment you arrive. The Cider Barn and the owner’s Mill both nestle below
us in a natural bowl that is surrounded by trees and low hills. This explains the peace – the topography creates a very private area that feels miles away from anywhere.
DON’T TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT
This glowing review from a previous visitor to the Cider Barn says it all:
“We had a fantastic week here. Graham and Heather were so welcoming and couldn’t do any more to make our stay any better. The house is stunning, finished to the highest standard and easily accommodated 16 of us with lots of space in both bedrooms and living area. The open plan kitchen, dining and living room area with its wood burner and endless log supply are great. The outside kitchen with wood fired pizza oven was fantastic fun. The pool is as big as our local swimming pool but a lot warmer, with the hot tub like a bath! Fowey and the surrounding area with its coastal walks are beautiful and the beach at Polkerris with its pub on the beach should not be missed, food there is really good. Can’t recommend this place highly enough, we will certainly be going back!” – Andrew R.
The Cider Barn has been a labour of love for Graham and Heather. Having lovingly renovated their own Mill, they wanted to create a haven for visitors to the barn so that they too could enjoy this little piece of Cornish heaven. It’s hard to know where to start – this is one of those places where I want to run around like an excited child, taking in everything all in one go! Graham suggests we start by strolling down to the front door of the barn and taking a moment to drink in the view. We stand on the paved patio area and look out across the ancient orchards in front of us – it’s believed that cider was made here for the Tywardreath Priory up until its dissolution in the 16th century, hence the name the Cider Barn.
Grounded by the peace and the view I feel my shoulders drop and my cares slip away and can imagine that arriving here for a holiday would be very special. Even an after dark arrival is memorable here as Graham explains that in the evening the barn is lit by concealed, soft lighting that emphasises the beautiful old stone and granite. I could stand here forever with the autumn sun on my face but I tear myself away to explore the Cider Barn properly.
The hardwood front door opens with a satisfying weight to reveal the open-plan ground floor. Making full use of the substantial internal space, Graham and Heather have created an expansive kitchen, dining and living area. The centre of the kitchen is dominated by a large island unit, which doubles as a breakfast bar with high stools. They say ‘the devil’s in the detail’ and that’s certainly the case here. It’s no mean feat to cater for 16 but it’s made easy here with not one, but two ovens and two dishwashers! It’s sometimes the case that large holiday homes can sleep the full party but struggle when it comes to seating. Not the case here, the dining room table is simultaneously vast and impressive. The sleek glass top sits on two enormous, upturned teak roots, creating a fantastic centrepiece to the room.
A central wooden staircase separates the dining area from the cosy living space. Three ‘sink into’ sofas surround a central fireplace that sparks our conversation about the barn’s eco credentials. Graham explains that the fire is not just for aesthetic purposes; while it burns bright in the winter months it helps to top up the hot water supply as the barn is, for all intents and purposes, off-grid.
A solar heating system sits on the barn’s roof, supplying a state of the art internal heating and cooling system that keeps the barn warm in winter and cool in summer. This also filters all of the air that comes into the barn, so that even when you’re inside you’re breathing fresh, clean Cornish air. All impurities, including pollen, are removed making this a great place to stay for allergy sufferers. Water comes from the Mill’s own spring while the wood for the fire is coppiced from Graham’s own trees, a supply he maintains by replanting every year.
But you would never know that this technology was in play; control panels are hidden away, as is any superfluous cabling and in the main living area there’s not a screen in sight. But don’t despair, film buffs can get comfy on one of the biggest sofas I have ever seen in the TV snug room that is hidden away at the far end of the barn – great for movie nights or to entertain the children.
Local artwork adorns the walls while carefully chosen lighting and accent ornaments complement the calming, neutral colour schemes. I’m intrigued as to where the inspiration for the barn’s interior decoration has come from as it all has such synergy. Graham tells me that it has been entirely furnished from the family’s business Rustic House – an interiors company specialising in bespoke wooden furniture.
The elegance and comfort extends upstairs. Seven of the bedrooms are on the first floor, with the other on the ground floor and all combine comfort with style. Each piece of bedroom furniture has been handmade from reclaimed wood and even the doors are crafted from 100 year-old teak. Heather has added her personal touch to each of the rooms with splashes of colour and the en suites and family bathroom are exquisite.
And that’s just the inside of the barn! Outside this wonderful holiday home just keeps on giving at every turn. The patio is replete with the highest quality teak steamer loungers topped with thick, comfy cushions. Here you can lie back and relax in the calming countryside and if the spectacular summer we had this year is a promise of things to come then the wonderful outdoor kitchen, complete with wood-fired pizza oven will come into its own. The outdoor kitchen and seating area is equipped with everything you would want to cater for 16, including a fridge, sink with hot and cold water and a full set of crockery. Enjoying some al fresco dining is certainly on the menu at the Cider Barn.
And if the weather’s not so kind then guests have the use of the indoor pool, also off-grid and heated via a sophisticated combination of heat pump and solar panels. Or why not let the therapeutic bubbles of the hot tub massage away your cares? With little to no light pollution in this hidden retreat, after-dark soaking in the hot tub is the perfect place for some Cornish stargazing.
I don’t think I would want to venture far from this haven of calm, relaxing on the patio with a good book and the birds for company would suffice. However, should you feel the need to explore you can take a 20-minute stroll along the Saint’s Way to nearby Polkerris beach, one of Cornwall’s prettiest stretches of sand, or head to the sailing mecca of Fowey in the opposite direction. Both boast some great places to eat, serving the freshest seafood and local Cornish tipples.
The Cider Barn is welcoming, luxurious and calming in equal measure. Attention to detail is second to none and hosts Graham and Heather have thought of everything to make your Cornish stay perfect. Raising the bar when it comes to self-catering luxury for a large group of family or friends, this is the ideal eco ‘away from it all’ escape.
If you like what you see when it comes to the Cider Barnís interior furnishings then visit www.rustichouse.co.uk to browse their full range of beautiful pieces. Or, while staying at the Cider Barn, pop along to the nearby Rustic House showroom and cafÈ in Par where you can enjoy a freshly brewed coffee and some delicious homemade cake while you shop.
"We had a fantastic week here. Graham and Heather were so welcoming and couldn't do any more to make our stay any better. The house is stunning, finished to the highest standard and easily accommodated 16 of us with lots of space in both bedrooms and living area..."