Cornwall LivingAutumn 2021
The season of the soul
We ask the experts about the current staycation trend, and why autumn into winter is a superb time to visit Cornish shores.
Summer 2021 has seen an extremely positive shift from the lockdowns and government restrictions that have characterised our way lives since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic. And whilst that didn’t mean we could suddenly ignore the dangers of Coronavirus – even now it is something we must continue to protect ourselves and each other from – it did open up the door for UK holidaymakers to make their way to Cornish shores, and it’s fair to say that summer 2021 was surely one of the busiest on record! But we are by no means experts, which is why we decided to take this opportunity to reflect and ask the opinions of those who are; to discern their views on the UK staycation trend, specifically here in Cornwall, and to find out whether it is one we can expect to continue. More than that, as the weather starts to cool, we wanted to curate an insider’s guide to making the most of our wonderful county, as summer turns to autumn, and inevitably winter.
Speaking first with George Edward-Collins, Managing Director of Cornish Traditional Cottages (corncott.com), we learn that the upward trend of UK staycations is, at least in part, a result of restrictions on those who might otherwise have travelled abroad for their summer breaks. With this in mind, he says: “Cornwall has been given a fantastic opportunity to showcase the county and its hospitality industry and, if we as businesses have got it right, then I think that we will see many who have holidayed here for the first time return and become regular visitors.”
Catherine Coad, Brand Manager for Cornish Horizons (cornishhorizons.co.uk), agrees, explaining: “Over the last 18 months, a wider group of people have discovered Cornwall and the benefits of holidaying in the UK. I think combined with these benefits, as well as the confusion and uncertainty of holidaying abroad, Cornwall is set to continue as a popular holiday destination for many, even as holidaying abroad becomes easier.
“We know from speaking to customers that many enjoyed their staycation to Cornwall so much, that they’re already planning their next UK break,” Catherine continues. “With our bookings for next year significantly up at this point in time compared to previous years, we certainly believe this trend will continue.”
So, what about an autumn or winter break in the Duchy? Surely once the weather begins to cool off, being so close to the sea loses its appeal? Wrong! As Phoebe from Housel Bay hotel (houselbay.com) says: “We celebrate every season here. Each season sees the vista of the Lizard peninsula transform, with something new to experience whenever you choose to visit.” In fact, this is true of the whole of Cornwall, and as long as you’re near the sea, Phoebe’s recommendations of stargazing, exploring secluded coves and soaking in the stunning winter sunsets and dramatic winter storms, are pastimes not just reserved for the UK’s most southerly point. Although it has to be said, on the Lizard, from your base at Housel Bay, they are especially spectacular!
“The thing we tell our guests about autumn is that it can surprise you,” says Phil Gendall, founder of Forever Cornwall Unique Retreats (forevercornwall.co.uk).
“The crowds will have faded away, so beaches are yours to enjoy, along with the last drops of summer sun and the warm (ish) seas.” Phil recommends making the most of the autumn swells, but also iterates if you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, that open-water swimming, with the right kit, is still an option – particularly on the south coast.
To put it a different way, as Catherine says: “It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit Cornwall; you will be sure to experience some of Britain’s best coastal towns, villages and attractions, including the Eden Project, Minack Theatre and so much more!” In fact, she continues: “Autumn is one of my favourite times of year in Cornwall. The county is quieter, the weather is still warm, and the countryside starts to embrace a vibrant golden glow, and there are many adventures to be had from wild swimming and woodland foraging.
“The winter is also wonderful, being able to enjoy rejuvenating walks along quiet sandy beaches before snuggling up in front of a roaring open fire to keep you warm. Although very different to a summer staycation, autumn and winter in Cornwall still have so much to offer.”
Indeed, no matter when you decide to visit Cornwall, no trip here would be complete without a trip to the beach. Among many others, Catherine recommends Rock beach and Daymer Bay, both of which “offer fantastic views across the Camel Estuary and to Padstow with plenty of sand at high tide and are both great spots for watching windsurfing.” She also suggests walking the South West Coast Path around to Polzeath, if you have time. “You won’t be disappointed!”
Louise from Escape to St Ives (escapetostives.co.uk), refers to the quieter pace of life that you can enjoy at this time of year, “where you can experience St Ives without the crowds and enjoy wave watching from a harbour front café with a hot chocolate.” Another great thing about this time of year, says Louise, is that “many beaches are open to dogs from the autumn onwards”, and if you are travelling with your furry friend, Cornwall is home to a wealth of dog-friendly beaches, venues
So, the beaches and coast paths are quieter, the water is yet to fully cool down and there is still plenty for both humans and hounds alike to do. What about the food? Well, whether it’s a hotel break or a self-catered stay that tickles your fancy, autumn-through-winter is a time for capitalising on the county’s famed abundance of seasonal meat, seafood and produce. For self-caterers, George says: “Local markets and farm shops are still open to source some exceptional produce to cook back at your cottage. Alternatively, there is always the option to eat out!”
If you are hoping to sample the county’s best restaurants during your time here, then we wholeheartedly recommend taking Phil’s advice: “Book, book, book ahead! The quieter months are when foodies roam Cornwall to experience the best Cornish seafood”, which means booking ahead to secure a table at your chosen restaurant is a must. “This is also a time when mussels and oysters are at their best,” says Phil, “so make sure you try some of these local delicacies.”
Onto the all-important accommodation and we return once again to Phil, who tells us: “A cottage with a woodburner will be the best decision you can make. There’s nothing like cosying up next to a roaring fire after a blustery walk or icy swim in the ocean. For dog owners, we recommend a cottage on the South West Coast Path, so you can reduce your reliance on the car and get walking!”
Alternatively, if you like having everything laid on for you, why not consider one of Cornwall’s incredible hotels? There are so many fantastic options to choose from, from Hotel Meudon (meudon.co.uk) in Mawnan Smith, to Bedruthan Hotel & Spa, to Housel Bay hotel (houselbay.com) which offers an unbelievable blend of contemporary luxury with fine dining thanks to Head Chef, Joseph Fallowfield, who draws on the region’s finest seasonal produce to deliver heartfelt plates of pure pleasure to those hoping to enjoy a proper taste of Cornwall. Some hotels even offer the best of both, with luxury self-catered accommodation on site benefitting from all the hotel facilities. A great example is Polurrian on the Lizard (polurrianhotel.com) with its fabulous self-catered Villas, as is the Falmouth Hotel, otherwise known as the ‘Grand Dame of Falmouth’, with its fabulous collection of contemporary lodges.
In short, and however you choose to stay, autumn and winter are wonderful times in which to visit Cornwall, perfect for foodies, dog-walkers and those who enjoy a quieter pace of life to the busier summer months. It’s a time for brisk walks in the day before putting your feet up by the fire, for wrapping up and braving the elements before retreating to your luxury Cornish accommodation – be that self-catered or one of the county’s many superb hotels. And while the sun may not shine quite so brightly during the cooler months, those who visit will almost unanimously agree that there is a whole different side of Cornwall to be discovered as the seasons inexorably shift.