Cornwall is taking the lead when it comes to being green. Eco-friendly hotels and restaurants serve walkers, surfers, cyclists and those visitng the superb beaches and cultural offerings
Go Green in Cornwall
The main attractions are mostly outdoors in Cornwall. It’s the walks, the views, the beaches, the gardens. The great outdoors is truly great here and it’s wonderful to see Cornwall taking the lead in protecting the environment. The eco-friendly developments are inspiring; it’s an ethos that sits nicely alongside the beautiful environment we enjoy every day.
Another thing that’s interesting about Cornwall is the way the food culture is developing. The focus on locally-produced quality produce is sharp and the opportunity to meet the people producing the food is incredibly interesting for visitors. You can get great quality food in London or any other big city but you’ll rarely be able to meet the people who keep the buffalos that produce the mozzarella or the cows that produce wonderful meat.
Quite often people travel to a resort and just don’t see outside it. Everything is catered for you on-site but you end up having a totally vacuous experience; you don’t see the local people, or how they live, or what beats at the heart of the community. You can get that in Cornwall though. You can immerse yourself in the local culture and find out what the county is really about.
There are lots of cycle trails in Cornwall and getting about by bike is an environmentally friendly way to see this part of the world. A delightful trail runs on a disused railway track from Bodmin to Padstow.
If we’re talking green and Cornwall then the Eden Project (Bodelva, St Austell; 01726 811 911; www.edenproject.com) deserves a mention. It’s a really good educational experience with lots of interesting things to see and do. It also features an ice skating rink during the winter months, which is a lovely thing to do.
The walk from Caerhays to Portloe is a stunning coastal experience and takes up to about two hours. It’s not a flat route but my 80-year-old mother has done it. It takes in The Ship Inn in Portloe (01872 501356), which is a really nice pub that isn’t pretending to be anything it’s not. Portloe itself is a tiny fishing village and a stop at The Ship Inn for fish and chips is a worthy reward after your walk.
There’s another lovely walk from Mawgan Porth to Bedruthan Steps. The steps have been created over thousands of years by huge rocks coming away from the cliff. Local legend has it that a giant called Bedruthan used the stacks as steps to traverse the bay. It’s an easy walk down there, taking in beautiful views as you walk along the cliffs, and takes about an hour there and back.
Carbis Bay to St Ives is another walk I’d recommend. In St Ives you’ll find the works of sculptor Barbara Hepworth at the Trewyn Studio, which is run the Tate St Ives (Porthmeor Beach; 01736 796226; www.tate.org.uk/stives). Her works are displayed inside and out and the gardens are lovely. The Tate is also worth a visit and features modern Cornish art in a beautiful building.
There are so many beaches on the north coast that are great for surfing and they boast the loveliest scenery.
Hemmick Beach is a tiny beach that you have to walk to. A lot of people avoid it for this reason so even in the height of summer it never gets packed. There’s a narrow lane leading to the beach but you can’t park on it (there is a National Trust car park much further up the hill you can use; it’s about a fifteen minute walk from there).
Near Padstow you’ll find a lovely beach called Hawker’s Cove. You park in Padstow and walk to it; again, it’s nice and quiet for that reason.
Where to stay
My hotel, Scarlet Hotel, is based on Mawgan Porth Beach, which is good for surfing. The Scarlet is a peaceful haven for guests and we want our visitors to feel at home. There’s sophisticated art on the walls, bright airy spaces where the outdoors meets the indoors and no children to interrupt what is a very adult experience. Some of the artwork is by young local artist called Adam Halls. The design director saw his unusual and interesting work, which incorporates recycled material, and thought it fit in with the ethos of the hotel. It can be seen in the Retreat at the Scarlet.
For a more family-orientated break we also run Bedruthan Steps Hotel & Spa, which is just across a tiny lane from The Scarlet. It features four different pools and lots of play areas for the children. Both hotels are run in a very eco-friendly way and we always think green. The Scarlet also offers an electric car charging point. Rooms at The Scarlet cost from £180 bed and breakfast per room and prices per person for dinner, bed and breakfast at Bedruthan Steps start from £79.
The Pedn-Olva Hotel is a bigger hotel sitting right on the edge of the sea in the centre of St Ives. It offers amazing views thanks to its location and is quite a different experience for Cornwall. It’s a hybrid experience you don’t often get, combining a beachfront location with a town centre location. Prices start from around £65 bed and breakfast.
The Gurnards Head is near Zennor, way down west. It’s a nice traditional pub out in the countryside that has retained the charm of days gone by in Cornwall. The food is superb too.
Another hotel that is really nicely run and boasts superb eco-credentials is the Primrose Valley Hotel. It’s on Porthminster Beach in St Ives. They use local products with a green emphasis and do what they can to reduce their environmental impact, without impacting on the quality of a guest’s stay.
Where to eat
Number 6 in Padstow (Middle Street; 01841 532093; www.number6inpadstow.co.uk) is home to a great chef. I really like Paul Ainsworth. He presents good, simple, down to earth food, which is also reasonably priced. He’s just a chef without an ego and the restaurant is unpretentious yet modern; it’s only a small place and it’s tucked away in the backstreets of Padstow.
Ben Tunnicliffe, our chef at the Scarlet Hotel (01637 861800), used to work for The Abbey – a Michelin starred restaurant in Penzance. His food is modern and delicious and it’s less than twenty pounds for a three-course lunch.
The Porthminster Beach Cafe (01736 795352; www.porthminstercafe.co.uk) is right on the beach and offers incredibly good seafood alongside wonderful sweeping views of the bay. It’s another site that really considers the environmental impact and has really sound policies on recycling and sourcing locally.
If you’re on a self catering break my best advice is buy local. Don’t just get an online supermarket to deliver to you – get out there and taste Cornwall through its marvellous produce.
Making your own Cornwall
My main advice for visitors to this beautiful part of England is just stop off at places; get out there and discover the real Cornwall. Go somewhere, take your first left, then the first left, and see where you end up. You’re guaranteed to find a warm welcome wherever you land.