The Valley in Cornwall: The Modern Family
Cornwall reminds me a bit of California. There are long sandy beaches, golden-haired surfers and a focus on fresh, seasonal food. There are bits that are distinctively different, like the coastal cliff walks, hedgerows and of course the ever-present pasty.
The weather is variable. You can have glorious sunshine, making you think you ARE abroad. Or it could rain. Which it did on our last trip. In that case, it’s still magical!
We stayed as guests of The Valley, 5-star cottages and leisure facilities set in the countryside between Truro and Falmouth. They are centrally located and a good base to explore both the North and South Coast. Our two-bedroom cottage, The Gallery, was comfortable with a full kitchen and included lots of little extras like fresh flowers, Villory and Boch china and a cafetière (good coffee is my weakness). The layout was very livable and practical (see our tour below) with two nice outdoor seating areas – a patio from the living room and a deck off the kitchen. The girls had a good time making a little hideaway in the Harry Potter under the stairs area. There’s full washing facilities right in your cottage too – perfect for extended stays.
The gated community has extensive leisure facilities. There’s an indoor and outdoor swimming pool AND hot tub. We tried them all. For little ones there’s a great play area with climbing frame and a football pitch. There are two tennis courts and if you forgot your racquet and balls – you can borrow them from the main office.
The Azur Restaurant is on site too, right next to the swimming pool. The restaurant serves excellent locally inspired dishes, such as Fresh River Fall mussels in a white wine and cream sauce with warm bread and Roasted St Anthony Goat’s Cheese with organic Cornish green in a balsamic reduction. It’s a really handy option. Had a big Sunday lunch? Order a few light bites (salt and pepper squid, Cornish free range goujons or a trio of artisan Cornish cheeses with oatmeal biscuits, red onion chutney and crisp apple) and have it delivered to your door!
Here’s a little tour of our cottage, come and take a look.
Staying at The Valley, you could get lulled into a such a relaxed state you won’t want to leave, but you should because there so much to do! One of the best parts of the stay was the discreet 5-star service from the staff. Each morning we got a note through with the day’s suggested day out (Cherie suggested the Eden project and trying out the zip wire if we’re brave enough and visiting Padstow to try crabbing and get Rick Stein’s fish and chips).
On our first day, we concentrated on the South Coast. The National Trust’s Trelissick Gardens is just a short drive (7 minutes tops, maybe?) from The Valley. While the extensive gardens of exotic and rare plants have been opened to the publish since the 1950s, the house recently opened and is a nice peek into life in a Cornish country estate. As an aside, armed with a National Trust family membership, you could do a whole tour of their properties – there are at least 12 in Cornwall!
From Treslissick Gardens, you can catch the King Harry Ferry (I love that name, you need to hear it in an American accent) ) for the 7-minute journey across the Fal Estuary for the Roseland area. This was just like stepping into the 50s and a Mallory Towers adventure. Drive a few miles to St Mawes and check out the small harbour side village. We had a fabulous (and good value) pub lunch at The Rising Sun and then headed over to St Mawes Castle, which was built by King Henry VIII.
On our 2nd day we visited St Ives on the western tip of the North Coast. An enclave for artists – it’s a quaint seaside resort with loads of white sand beaches, turquoise inlets and of course The Tate. Our gardener Paul is from St Ives and he gave us loads of tips on things to do, including insisting we did the coastal walk from Carbis Bay to Porthminster Beach.
Below are some of my favourite pics – have a look and let me know if you have any questions about the area.
IF YOU GO:
The Valley Bissoe Rd, Carnon Downs, Truro, Cornwall TR3 6LQ, United Kingdom +44 1872 862194 www.the-valley.co.uk Luxury self-catering cottages and leisure facilities in stunning countryside between Truro/Falmouth that make an excellent base for exploring the north and south Cornwall coast.There’s an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, play area with climbing frame, football pitch and tennis courts.
Cafe Azur, at The Valley. Located next to the outdoor swimming pool, the restaurant serves excellent locally inspired dishes. We had Fresh River Fall mussels in a white wine and cream sauces served with warm bread, and Roasted St Anthony Goat’s Cheese with organic Cornish green and a balsamic reduction. Kids portions are small, so if you have over 10s, make sure they order from the main menu.
Pandora Inn Restronguet Hill, Falmouth, Mylor Bridge, Cornwall TR11 5ST +44 01326 372678 www.pandorainn.com This place is awesome. Reasonably priced fresh seafood in a 13th century inn. After your meal, go crabbing on their popular pontoon – you can purchase everything you need right on site!
Trelissick Garden Feock, Truro, Cornwall TR3 6QL, United Kingdom +44 1872 862090 National Trust www.nationaltrust.org.uk/trelissick-garden/ Gorgeous extensive gardens with exotic and rare plants and a view down to the Fal estuary. The house recently opened to the public and is a rare glimpse into life into a Cornish country estate.
King Harry Ferry This cute crossing connects St.Mawes and the Roseland Peninsula with Feock, Truro and Falmouth. Avoid congested roads by boarding the ferry and enjoy the river crossing whilst taking in the scenery.
St Mawes www.stmawes.info Holiday destination on the Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall. Mainly consists of a row of quaint tourist gift shops, pubs, a cafe and restaurants.
The Rising Sun, The Square, St Mawes, Cornwall TR2 5DJ +44 01326 270233 www.risingsunstmawes.co.uk Pub with an excellent value Sunday lunch. Great views too. Make sure you get a pint of St Austells.
St Mawes Castle English Heritage, Castle Dr, St Mawes, Cornwall TR2 5DE +44 0870 333 1181 www.english-heritage.org.uk St Mawes Castle and its larger sister castle, Pendennis, were built as part of a defensive chain of fortresses by Henry VIII to protect the south coast of Cornwall.
Eden Project Bodelva, Cornwall PL24 2SG, United Kingdom +44 1726 811911 www.edenproject.com We didn’t go on this trip, but in past trips it’s a nice day out. Be warned – it can get crowded!
St Ives 4-golden sand beaches, surfers and artist studios galore. Plus The Tate. What else could you ask for?
Paul’s cliff-side walk from Carbis Bay to Porthminster Beach Go to Carbis Bay: it’s less than 2 miles away from St Ives. The objective is to walk back to St.Ives via the cliff top path. As Carbis Bay is on a main road, the bus service is pretty frequent. If you prefer to drive – aim for Carbis Bay Tesco. This might sound a bit odd, but it is large and everybody will know it (in fact if you have a coffee there the view is good); you can also, presumably, leave the car there for a couple of hours. However, as it’s such a short distance, I recommend you take a taxi. In Carbis Bay, say to someone you want to go down to Carbis Bay Beach (it’s quite steep) and walk back along the cliff path to Porthminster Beach at St.Ives. In good weather this is really lovely. What you do after that will depend on how you feel. Porthminster Beach is undeniably a super beach (as indeed is the one in Carbis Bay), and it has such a strong family connection for me; my mother was brought up in one of the houses just a matter of yards back from the sand. There is actually an award winning Fish Restaurant literally on Porthminster Beach. In the heart of St Ives’s itself, ” The Seafood Cafe” is an attractive and less expensive place.
I think The Valley’s is a very nice place and I would definitely come here again. I liked the swimming pools (the outdoor one was a bit cold) and like how everything is close together and we can walk around and explore. I borrowed some games – there were loads to choose from – and I could have borrowed movies too. The clotted cream fudge in the kitchen was GOOD.
Note: Our accommodation was provided by The Valley for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own and my family’s.