Now that Portugal’s all-too-brief status as the UK’s green destination of choice has been revoked, the Government is encouraging us to take our summer holidays in dear old Blighty. Frustrated by not being able to get to France we decided to give Cornwall a go, and managed to find somewhere to stay… in a tin hut on a farm.
Not having thought about it until it was far too late, our week away co-incided perfectly with the G7 Summit (if that is what it was) in Carbis Bay, St Ives. Fortunately we chose to be in Polzeath, in north Cornwall – far enough away not to be affected by the motorcades and road blocks.
Many’s the pint of Sharp’s Doom Bar I have consumed without concerning myself with what the Doom Bar is or was. One might surmise that it is a sandbank – which indeed is the case. At low tide it is a huge permanent feature at the mouth of the Camel estuary, at Padstow. At high tide it is not so easily spotted so must be a hazard to shipping, if less so than in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Rock-Padstow ferry has to make quite a detour to avoid the similar Town Bar a little further upriver.
I had only been to Cornwall once before: camping near Marazion, back in 1994! I have nothing against Cornwall but it is a long, long trip from London; you are only halfway there when you get to Somerset. It took nearly six hours to make it as far as Exeter, where we sesibly stopped overnight. The traffic coming towards us along the M5 was even heavier and slower, which made me wonder how long the return journey was going to take.
One continuous jam from Exeter to Bristol
I suppose you could call staying in a shepherd’s hut, with TV and WiFi, glamping.
I call it affordable. And it was very pleasant staying in the middle of nowhere, having the place to yourself, with the birds singing and the cows munching away behind the hedge. Challenging (for me at any rate) coastal walks and a bike ride along the Camel valley to the vineyard; profusion of wildflowers like I’ve never seenbefore; mostly sunny weather and never actually rained on.
Whilst the nearest pub was decidedly old-school, with only basic pub grub, we did find some memorable places offering excellent food: the Cracking Crab at Polzeath and Pilchards at Port Gaverne to name but two. And how disappointing to have to admit that Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant at Padstow was worth the money!
On that last trip, nearly three decades ago, we drove all over the peninsula to St Ives, Zennor, St Michael’s Mount, the Minack Theatre, Tintagel, Mousehole, Chauster, Land’s End… This time we made the decision to stay local and I’m very glad we did. The Camel Estuary (as in Camelot – highly debateable, but good for tourism) and the South West Coast Path have plenty to offer.
So no complaints. We had a great week in a beautiful part of the country. But I’m picturing what it could be like later in the summer. All those single-track roads you crawl along, a prayer on your lips, hoping that a tractor is not around the next bend. Every pub and restaurant fully booked. Can Cornwall accommodate everyone who would like to go there? Obviously not. And it’s not just Cornwall.
The trouble is, everyone wants to go to the same places
Cornwall and Devon, West Wales, the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, Scottish Highlands and Islands. Patriotic or not, millions of Britons choose to take their holidays abroad very year. If that’s not going to happen this summer there will be some very busy roads and a lot of people paying through the nose for a shepherd’s hut, if they are lucky enough to secure one. We shall see.