For our summer holiday this year, we decided to return to Cornwall, somewhere we haven’t visited for almost a decade.
It’s a special place for us. It’s where we had our first holiday as a couple 13 years ago. And it’s where we holidayed with treasured friends after university.
So, almost a decade since our last holiday in Padstow, we returned to Cornwall with the children and a mission to fill our days with fun and places that made us stop and smile.
We stayed in Hengar Manor Country Park near Bodmin, which proved a great location to see the great things Cornwall has to offer.
Its location meant we were able to visit 10 places during our Monday to Friday stay. Here’s what we did and saw.
Disclaimer: Although these days out were fantastic fun, I can confirm that either we or one of the children had a tantrum at each lovely location due to tiredness/lack of food/sheer grumpiness.
1. Sandymouth Beach, near Bude
Our first outing of our holiday was to Sandymouth Beach near Bude. A National Trust beach, it is surrounded by stunning cliffs and has a myriad of rock pools to explore.
Our children loved the small waterfalls dotted around the beach and using the pebbles to decorate their sandcastle creations.
It has ample parking, a lovely cafe overlooking the beach and well-tended loos.
Car parking is free for National Trust members, and £5.50 for non-members.
After our visit to Sandymouth, we decided to head into Bude itself for a stroll and a look around the lovely local shops.
And we also stopped for delicious fish and chips near the sea.
3. Porthcothan Bay Beach
Based near Padstow, Porthcothan Bay Beach is a stunning beach encircled by dramatic cliffs. It’s been featured as Nampara in Poldark, which is testament to how beautiful it is.
The children loved exploring the swirling streams on the sand and paddling in the clear sea.
There are chargeable car parks nearby and loos (you’ll need 20p to go though as the local town council runs the toilets after funding cuts by the local authority).
After drying (and sand-dusting) ourselves off, our next stop was nearby Padstow where we whiled away a few hours exploring its shops, beach and harbour. We stopped for a Cornish cream tea and popped into Rick Stein’s bakery to lust after the delicate patisserie goods and doorstop bread loaves.
Rebuilt in 1881 after an extensive fire, Lanhydrock country house in Bodmin is presented with artefacts from the time meaning stepping over the threshold is like a walk into history.
The children loved exploring its 50 rooms and a spotting quiz kept our five-year-old enthralled as he tried to spot the items on the quiz sheet. Highlights included the vast kitchens, the nursery and seeing family photos and portraits of the Agar-Robartes.
Staff and volunteers dressed up in period clothes adding to the historic feel and we were lucky enough to hear a harpist perform during our visit.
Outside, the gardens and grounds are beautiful. Roses, topiary and wild flowers and a higher garden where the children loved hiding. Our daughter declared: “Flowers are my favourite,” as we left.
Parking and entry to Lanhydrock is free for National Trust members, but chargeable for non-members.
6. The Eden Project
In our previous visits to Cornwall, we had never made it to the Eden Project so it was on our wish list for this break.
With its aims of education and promoting environmental sustainability, it was somewhere we wanted to take the children to.
We started the day at the journey into space section. The astronaut training-style bouncy castle was a hit followed by the exhibition that walks you through the nine planets of the solar system. Our five-year-old loved hearing facts about each planet and the interactive rooms.
The highlight for us was visiting the rainforest and Mediterranean biomes. Filled with plants, fruit and vegetable plants and flowers from across the world, they featured walkways and bridges that take you high up in the biomes giving you a great view of the environments.
Sculptures and hands on activities caught the children’s imagination meaning they didn’t want to leave.
As a family-friendly venue, the project has plenty of places to eat, free water stations and all the facilities you need.
It isn’t a cheap day out, but it’s a unique charitable project on a huge scale, which is a must visit if you’re in these parts. You can save 10 per cent by booking online in advance.
You can also donate your entire entry fee to convert it into free access for a year, which is a good option if you’re a regular visitor to Cornwall. And children aged under 5 go free. Our entry fee was roughly £60.
7. Fistral Beach, Newquay
Newquay has been on my ‘to visit’ list for many years so we were lucky that the sun shone for our visit to Fistral Beach.
A massively popular beach with surfers and families alike, it has everything you’d expect including shops, bars and cafes for visitors.
With lifeguards on patrol, and notorious rip tides, bathers and surfers are told to stay within the yellow and red flag areas to stay safe.
With such dramatic views and a huge expanse of sand, we loved it here.
There’s free parking along the esplanade, but there are plenty of car parks in the area too.
The lovely village of Perranporth has an enormous beach and a huge expanse of sea.
With rock pools and dramatic cliffs, the children loved exploring it and sandcastle-building there. We had ice creams on the beach and the children buried themselves in the sand.
Perranporth itself is kitted out for visitors with pretty shops and cafes serving delicious food. There’s ample parking and facilities including showers to wash off the sea and sand.
This National Trust property offers a 18th century house, gardens, wooded walks and incredible views of land and sea.
You can follow the woodland walks down to catch the ferry to Falmouth, wander through the hydrangea garden (some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen) or take in the views of the Fal Estuary.
Visitors can also explore many rooms of Trelissick House. Sit in the dining room and take the views of the sea. Take in the artworks and sketches sitting delicately on pretty period wallpaper. And read about the fortunes and fall of the original owners.
I particularly liked the exhibition about this, including period clothing dotted with golden coins, a visual way to tell the story.
We ate at the cafe, which offered delicious food and healthy options, which is perfect when you need to take a break from the cream teas!
A great few hours out!
Parking and entry to the house and gardens are free for National Trust members, but chargeable to non-members.
10. Summerleaze Beach, Bude
For our final day in Cornwall, we headed back to Bude for a visit to Summerleaze Beach. It’s near to where we first holidayed as a couple and is another huge beach filled with rock pools.
It’s also home to Bude Sea Pool, an open air swimming pool which provides perfect views of the beach and beyond.
A popular spot, it’s advisable to get there early as the nearby car parks fill up fast.
Where are your favourite days out in Cornwall? I’d love to hear your ideas!