It's March right now in the UK and although this usually means we start to see daffodils grow and the sun out to say hi, this year March greeted us with snow. So much snow, that the UK pretty much stopped working for an entire weekend. I am usually a big fan of snowy weather but when March hit and I was starting to mentally prepare for spring and summer, I was a little bit disappointed. In light of this, I wanted to share a story of summers past, when the nights were long and warm and the sun was beating down. When we took our little camper down south to explore beautiful Cornwall in its prime. Although we had made many visits to Newquay in the past for Boardmaster's festival, we never have explored beyond. I don't think I could have prepared myself for how magical Cornwall is. With every corner our little van turned came a view that took my breath away and with the weather at its peak during those few days there, our trip was actual paradise.
First off, meet the van. This is our 1996 VW T4 Caravelle; Oliver. Since adopting him, my partner Key has transformed him into a fully functioning camper. He has a rear kitchen unit turned fold-out double bed by night, drawers, curtains (made my Key's nan!), electric portable shower, gas hobs and anything else you might need to adventure around. We love nothing more than heading away and parking up against a beautiful backdrop. With this perfect set-up, it seemed only natural for us to adventure down south to Cornwall on a rare sunny weekend. In typical 'us' fashion, we opted for the 'plan as you drive' method. Armed with an atlas we headed on our way.
We chose Tintagel as our first destination. After an old fairground detour and a sunflower field pit stop, we arrived late on a warm Friday evening. Luckily, this was one the most motorhome friendly places we would find in Cornwall. All car parks offered overnight camping for £3.50. Spoilt for choice we picked our favourite which was a large field to the back of the town, resembling more of a campsite than a car park. Up early the next morning, we headed down to Tintagel beach. Here we explored an amazing cave and snapped photographs of the enchanting waterfall which flows down the cliff. This surreal place in the misty morning gave us a glimpse of just how mysterious and magical Cornwall is. We were having so much fun here but needing to move on, we climbed the very steep hill back to the village. On our way through we acquired a Cornwall essential: a body-board!
We made a short stop in Trebarwith bay, where Key managed to slip on a moss covered rock almost falling off the cliff into the immense waves crashing below. We sat on the cliff edge marveling at the beautiful blue water. We could not believe how blue it was!
After our short stop at Trebarwith Bay, we drove into Port Isaac and managed to find a free parking space (score!) With the sun out to play after a misty morning, we enjoyed a very picturesque stroll of this teeny traditional fishing village watching fishermen out to sea on their pretty boats. Port Isaac is full of little streets and quintessential Cornish cottages that lead down to the historical harbour and is not to be missed if in the area. It's honestly just too pretty to miss!
A short journey out of Port Isaac took us to Lundy Bay. This place is so tucked away we drove straight past it before noticing a small National Trust sign pointing in the opposite direction. A 15 minute walk through a small wooded area full of butterflies and other wildlife led us to the secluded Lundy Cove. Wasting no time we were straight in the sea, enjoying the clear blue waters for ourselves. It seemed Dogs also loved it here. We watched one in particular that kept diving in from the rocks. This is also where the body board got its first dip. Apparently seals can usually be spotted roaming the rocks. Unfortunately we saw no such visitors, but this just means we have an excuse to go back right? Lundy Bay was probably my favourite place of the whole trip. This was mainly because it was a hidden gem. Only a few people were here and we basically had the whole place to ourselves.
ST MICHAEL'S MOUNT
After some quick Pinterest searches, we learned about a place called St Micheal's Mount. It is a tidal island which is only reachable in the evening or very early morning during low tide. It's located in Marazion. Digging out the map, we worked it out to be 40 minutes away, so we chased the sunset there. We explored this historic island during golden hour and it was the perfect way to end a jam-packed day. Back at the van we played 'bat n ball' whilst cooking tortellini. We had hoped to camp up and stay here for the night as the view was great bur this was not to be. At around 9 o’clock we were kicked out of the scenic car park and began our very long search for a place to sleep.
After being asked to move on from St Michael's Mount, we had the big job of finding somewhere to park up for the night. We soon realised that Cornwall is not the best place to stealth camp (if you know otherwise, please let me know your secrets!). All car parks stated that campers were prohibited to park overnight. We eventually found Sennen Harbour. Obviously the sight of other campers excited our tired brains. Feeling relieved we parked up next to a fellow T4 camper and got some well needed shut-eye. We fell asleep all salty hair and sandy toes listening to the crashing waves We were woken early morning by the sound of fishermen starting work for the day and the sun shining through the curtains. We spent an hour or so watching them as the sun rose above us and we enjoyed the view of the beach below.
Not before long we were on the road again. Driving through Lands End (the most southern part of the country!), we reached Porthcurno Beach where we made pancakes out of the back of the van for breakfast and then headed down to the beach. The beach honestly looked like paradise, with its soft white sand and crystal clear water hiding among the cliffs. We spent the early afternoon baking away in the sun and dipping our toes in the water.
Next up was another favourite place on the trip which was an incredibly quaint boating town named Mousehole. The harbour was filled with a rainbow of quirky looking boats, floating on even more crystal-clear water. Enjoying Cornish ice-cream and salty chips, we watched kids practicing their diving skills from the quay side and paddle-boaters floating on the water. They were soon out at sea, relaxing and basking in the beautiful sunshine. It felt only natural to join in the fun and go for a swim. We definitely recommend visiting when you're down this way. We certainly haven't been able to get little Mousehole out of our heads ever since.
The final stop on our trip was Newquay. We headed to Fistral beach for some Boardmasters action. The abundance of stalls was great and we even managed to grab a few freebies. We also purchased the notebook in which this story was written first. As the sun set over the horizon, we snapped our final few shots of the trip, indulging in one last paddle. We headed home with happy hearts and sunburnt noses.
Cornwall certainly left an impression on us and exploring it in our little home on wheels made the trip all the more special. I hope this post inspires you to take a road trip of your own this summer and I hope if you do plan to visit Cornwall that you now know of some magical spots to visit.
This story was originally published in VWT magazine