Why Cornwall in January is a special time to visit
December 30th, 2016
As the frost covers the moors in a sparkling blanket and the winter sun lights up the beaches, you may think Cornwall in January is even better than in the summer months. And with so few holiday makers there, it will feel as if you have the whole county to yourself when staying at our luxury cottage in Cornwall.
After the business of Christmas and New Year, a winter break in January with your loved one is just what you need to leave the stresses behind. Especially when relaxing in a hot tub, a glass of wine in hand!
Come to Cornwall in January and enjoy:
- Wrapping up warm and walking along the deserted beaches with your dog free to run about as he or she pleases. More often than not, you won’t see another soul the whole day!
- Warming up with a mug of hot chocolate at a local café or a pint in the local pub by a roaring fire and filling your belly with delicious hearty food after a trek through the frosty moors.
- Seeking out a gallery or museum when the weather gets too grim. Cornwall has many fantastic artistic centres to visit, such as the Falmouth National Maritime Museum, where you can stay warm and dry.
- Exploring the atmospheric fishing villages along the coastline, relax and do a spot of shopping in the January sales. The boutique and independent shops in the quaint little villages are great ways to while away a lazy afternoon.
- Visiting one of Cornwall’s historical locations, be it a medieval castle, Victorian mansion or copper mine. Many are open all year round and give you the chance to learn more about Cornwall’s rich heritage.
- Heading to the north coast to find a spot amongst the sand dunes and watch the wild sea whip up a storm and see the surfers tackle the cold and giant waves.
- Walking Cornwall’s woodlands and country trails with the kids and dog, see the bright red breast of robins and watch as nature starts to wake up from its winter sleep. Later in January, you might even see snowdrops!
- Waking up early to see the sunrise at 8 am from atop a grassy hill or beach cliff. Don’t forget your camera so you can capture the perfect moment of your winter break.
Image by: Jeremy Bolwell available under Creative Commons.
A history of Falmouth
December 29th, 2016
The site of the third deepest natural harbour in the world, Falmouth is a historic port town which today is also a big hit with tourists. In this article, we tell you the story of how Falmouth came about, as well as how it grew to become the thriving Cornish town that it is today, with thousands of people enjoying Falmouth holidays every year.
Falmouth’s foundation can be credited to Sir John Killigrew, who first created the port and the town upon land that he owned in the area in 1613, in the shadow of Pendennis Castle and St Mawes Castle. These two fortresses were built in the Tudor period, acting as defences for the Carrick Roads. Killigrew was inspired after Sir Walter Raleigh visited his home, the secluded Arwenack Manor House, and told him how the location would be the perfect place for a port.
Originally, the neighbouring settlement of Penryn was much larger than Falmouth, and had acted as the area’s main market town since the 13th century. The people of both Penryn and Truro objected to the granting of a charter in 1661 by King Charles II enabling Falmouth to grow as a port. In 1665, in recognition of the king’s charter, a church was consecrated in the town, cementing its growing status as a settlement.
Falmouth as a port continued to grow significantly in the late 17th century. Moving goods by sea was far more efficient and less dangerous than land transit, and so places like Falmouth became essential not only for transporting goods but also external communications. In 1688, it was designated as a Post Office Packet Station, responsible for shipping mail to and from the expanding British empire. With its packet station status, Falmouth had a 150-year monopoly on incoming and outgoing mail, with news from abroad often landing in Falmouth first before anywhere else.
One notable event that happened in Falmouth during this time was receiving the body of Admiral Nelson following his victory and death at the Battle of Trafalgar. The body was then transported to London from Falmouth in just 38 hours, compared to the usual seven days. Falmouth’s packet service came to an end in 1850, when the faster and more reliable steam propelled ships took the place of the wind-powered packet boats.
Another interesting event from the history books also took place in Falmouth in 1839: the Great Gold Dust Robbery. A clerk in one of the shipping offices, Lewin Casper, and his father Ellis, conspired to steal more than £4600 of gold dust being transported to London from Brazil. The robbery failed, and resulted in the pair being sent to a penal colony in Tasmania.
Despite the decline of the packet service, Falmouth’s port continued to grow rapidly, with a new dock being built in 1858. Over the next century, it continued to expand further with various wharfs having been added or extended. It was the railway system, however, which eventually arrived in Falmouth in 1863, which helped to make Falmouth the tourist destination we recognise it as today. Seaside resorts became hugely popular in the 19th century, and Falmouth capitalised on this by developing family bathing facilities at Swanpool, Gyllyngvase and Maenporth.
Image: Nigel Brown, available under Creative Commons
Why Cornwall is magical in the winter
Many people in the UK will leave their staycations for the summer, when the weather is, on occasion, warmer and brighter; however, these people tend to miss out on the magical side of Cornwall that can only be experienced during the winter months. With these great reasons, there will be no reason not to book your breaks in Cornwall during the winter:
5 Reasons to take your dog on holiday
December 23rd, 2016
You’ve probably already thought about taking little pup on holiday, but abandoned the idea after thinking of the added stress that comes with Rover bounding around from picnic to picnic scoffing sarnies, and conclude that it could intrude on your time of relaxation. Some of you may have even been reluctant to book some well-deserved time off because of fear of being separated from your beloved furry friends. Here are just five of the reasons you should check out some of our dog-friendly holidays in Cornwall this year and bring your companions along with you!
How to Spend New Year’s in Cornwall
December 22nd, 2016
Stuck for something to do this New Year’s? Treat yourself to a five star cottage in Cornwall for a fantastic holiday with family and friends, welcoming 2017 in style! Cornwall is a fantastic location, with lots to do throughout the year, and New Year’s eve is no different. Below we’ve had a look at some of the best events happening in towns and cities near our holiday cottages:
Fantastic Christmas and New Year offers at The Valley!
December 21st, 2016
Make the most of Cornwall’s mild winter climate and enjoy an unforgettable Christmas holiday on the beautiful Cornish beaches, walking through rolling landscapes or simply relaxing in a waterfront cafe in one the many picturesque fishing villages, all within easy reach from The Valley accommodation.
Cornwall’s most iconic foods
December 20th, 2016
Cornwall is one of the UK’s leading foodie destinations, not least due to its thriving restaurant scene, which you’ll find in several of the county’s coastal resorts, but also because of some of the classic delicacies first devised here. Here are just of the most iconic foods from Cornwall; many are even geographically protected under European law. Be sure to give some a try during your stay at our luxury Cornish cottages!
Cornish cream tea
Though the cream tea is also often associated with Devon, it is a popular treat in Cornwall. Depending on the county, the cream tea is served differently: in Cornwall, the strawberry jam goes onto the scone first, topped with a large dollop of clotted cream.
More than 60 varieties of cheese are produced in Cornwall but the Cornish Yarg is arguably the county’s most famous. Made from cow’s milk, this semi-hard cheese is often likened to Caerphilly, and has an edible rind formed from nettle leaves, which are first frozen to remove their sting. The recipe for Cornish Yarg is said to date back as far as the 13th century.
First created in Mousehole in the 16th century, stargazy pie is one of Cornwall’s most famous dishes. Beneath its pastry crust lies a combination of potatoes, eggs and pilchards. What really makes this dish stand out, however, is the fact that the pilchards’ heads are left to poke out of the crust of the pie. This is where the name ‘stargazy’ comes from, as the fish are said to be gazing at the stars.
Cornwall is ubiquitous with the pasty and the humble snack has seen a meteoric rise in popularity in recent years. A typical Cornish pasty consists of a pastry filled with diced beef, potato, onion and turnip, with the crust crimped on one side. Only pasties produced in Cornwall can be recognised as Cornish pasties, thanks to its Protected Geographical Indication. Pasties are now so popular that they contribute a staggering 5% to the Cornish economy.
The pilchard industry was second only to mining in the 18th and 19th centuries, with several lovely coastal villages that we enjoy today such as Mevagissey and Polperro sprouting up thanks to the pilchard fishing. Pilchards have recently been reinvented as the ‘Cornish sardine’, and you’ll now discover them at every food festival in Cornwall.
The saffron bun is another popular Cornish teatime treat, and is fairly similar to a teacake. Filled with currants, saffron buns should also contain saffron, one of the world’s most expensive spices, which gives it its distinctive yellow colour.
Also known as Cornish heavy cake, hevva cake also dates back to the times of pilchard fishing. When the clifftop lookouts saw shoals of pilchard approaching, they would shout “Hevva!” (“Here they are!”), and once the pilchards were landed, it would be celebrated by baking hevva cakes. Hevva cakes are made from lard, butter, flour, milk, sugar and raisins, and traditionally also have a criss-cross pattern on the top, representing the fishermen’s nets.
The Cornish fairing is similar to a ginger nut, though slightly more buttery, and is regarded by many as the traditional biscuit of Cornwall. They get their name from having been sold at fairs across Britain, especially during the Victorian era.
Although crabs are caught in many other spots across Cornwall, it is the crabs caught at Newlyn, near Penzance, that sets the standards for crab meat. They contain two types of meat: brown meat and white meat, which comes from the crab’s claws. White meat is perfect for crab sandwiches while the brown meat is slightly richer, making it ideal for stocks and soups.
A walk through Falmouth and a journey through time
December 19th, 2016
Falmouth is a town rich in Cornish history and culture, with many points of interest that are worth a visit on your Christmas Falmouth break. Taking a day, early on in your holiday, to wander the streets of Falmouth and gain a feel for the place is a good idea not only to familiarise yourself with your surroundings, but also have a better understanding of the Cornish lifestyle. Here are 5 places to visit in Falmouth by foot, so you can combine a journey through time with a fantastic family day out:
The National Maritime Museum
A Brilliant venue to explore how the people of Cornwall use small boats and discover the lives of a community that relies so heavily on the sea. The museum aims to provide a mix of conversation, research, education and entertainment remaining proud of its past and present, yet designed for the future. Head up to the top of their tower for unrivalled views of the river and town. Various collections are displayed all year round but if you’re visiting before the New Year, be sure to check out the fantastic Viking Voyagers exhibit!
Stroll along Grove Place, which is just opposite the National Maritime Museum, and you will come across Arwenack House, which was built 1385 and is the oldest building in Falmouth. Largely rebuilt by Sir John Killigrew in the 1560s, it was described as ‘the finest and most costly house in the country’. The Killigrew family were the most powerful family in Cornwall at the time and lived in the house for about sixteen generations.
The Seven Sisters
Stop for a beer at this incredible 17th century ale house where time seems to have stood still. The interior hasn’t been decorated since the 1950s, giving it an incredibly authentic vibe. The pub has seen many characters in its time, from salty sea dogs to royalty and everyone in between. Be sure to chat to some friendly locals about their experiences and ask about the famous key ring collection!
King Charles Parish Church
This beautiful church cannot be missed, right in the heart of the town centre. The church was built in the 17th century, shortly after the Civil War when the monarchy was restored and Charles II was crowned king. The elegant architecture tells a story of the history of Falmouth, but is also integral to everyday life for locals as they often host weddings, funerals, baptisms and many choirs and social groups as well as holding regular services every week.
Get active whilst on holiday with a hike up the 111 steps leading to the Moor, known as Jacobs ladder. With no real historical relevance, the steps were built by local builder and property owner Jacob Hambleton to facilitate access between his business and his properties. Build up your appetite for lunch by a trip or two up the steps, rest assured a decent Inn is located at the top offering homemade pub grub, good beer and a well-deserved rest!
This is an example of what you could get up to on just one day of your holiday in Falmouth. Book your holiday today and you have this and so much more to look forward to!
Image credit: Tim Green
Attractions in Cornwall that are open seven days a week!
December 16th, 2016
Just because it’s winter, does not mean the county of Cornwall goes into hibernation. In fact, winter is one of the best times to visit thanks to smaller queues, reduced admission prices and a more peaceful atmosphere for you and your family to roam without the hustle and bustle of the summer. These conditions also make it a fantastic time to bring your pooch on holiday with you so the whole family can be together. Be sure to check out our dog friendly holidays in Cornwall this year to make some memories you won’t forget.
Here are seven Cornish attractions that leave the doors wide open seven days a week. Check out these fantastic family days out that can be visited throughout the winter months…
National Maritime Museum, Falmouth
A fantastic, hands-on educational experience that is fun for all the family! Explore fifteen galleries spread over five floors discovering the past, present and future of our fantastic little island. You can even take a journey through time to the Viking world and find out what made them one of the most iconic cultures of all time, as well as the secrets behind their success.
Eden Project, nr St Austell
Feeling a bit down from the cold? Check out the tropical biomes at the Eden Project, full of fascinating plants and crops from tropical environments, each with their own story for you to get lost in. The Eden Project also has some fantastic thrill-seeking opportunities, with a zip-wire, gigantic swing and leap of faith also featuring in the activities available for visitors. Throughout the winter, an ice-rink is also present and available to book in addition to your general admission tickets.
Blue Reef Aquarium, Newquay
If the Atlantic Ocean is a little too brisk for you and your family this time of year, appreciate the sea from the comfort of inside this fantastic aquarium. You will make your way through over 40 naturally themed habitats, from exotic bays to the Cornish seas. The heart of the aquarium features an ocean tank, where you can observe loggerhead turtles, reef sharks and shoals of colourful fish from above the tank and below, in their iconic clear tunnel. The site is located on the fantastic Towan beach, perfect for a few post-aquarium selfies!
Seal Sanctuary, Gweek
In keeping with the aquatic theme, winter is pup rescue season for the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, making it a great time to visit the rehabilitation centre at its busiest. You will be able to fully gauge the scale of work they do to save the seals, but do be prepared to fall in love them yourself! Occasionally the seal sanctuary’s facilities and expertise are called upon to save other aquatic animals, so who knows what you might see there!
Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan
Don’t forget to bring your wellies on holiday, for 200 acres of garden is yours to explore! Step back in time and lose yourself in Europe’s largest garden restoration, which is rich in history, mystery and romance. A visit in the tranquillity of winter will inevitably let you forget the stresses of reality and simply relax in the peaceful, traditional garden that is bursting with nature.
Paradise Park and Jungle Barn, Hayle
This wildlife sanctuary is home to over 140 species, as well as more than 650 birds. Daily events include otter and penguin feeding times and whatever the weather, fun is guaranteed in the huge indoor play area! On Tuesday’s, Thursday’s and Sunday’s you can even indulge yourself in a traditional roast dinner from the Otter café, the perfect winter warmer for a cold Cornish day!
Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm, nr Truro
No one does cider quite like the Cornish, and home-made brews can make the perfect winter tipple to warm you up from the inside out! Come and see it being made at a real brewery, as well as saying ‘hello’ to the numerous friendly farmyard animals wandering around the place!
So, in many ways, Cornwall comes to life in the winter, and attractions and activities can be enjoyed at your own pace, without the hectic summer crowds. Book your winter break today, and check out any of these fantastic attractions and find some hidden gems of your own!
Ten interesting facts about Truro
December 15th, 2016
On the way to our self-catering cottages in Cornwall, you’re bound to pass Truro, the county’s only city, which is well worth a visit during a stay with us. Here are a handful of interesting facts about Truro, which are sure to make you want to visit!
The name Truro is said to have derived from the Cornish term “Tri-veru”, meaning three rivers. Three rivers can be found in Truro: the Kenwyn, the Allen and the Truro. The river Truro eventually becomes the River Fal. Another theory suggests that it derives from “Tre-uro”, meaning settlement on the river Uro.
The city once had its own mint, established in the 1640s by royalists to pay the troops. A silver crown minted in Truro can now be worth as much as £1400.
Truro’s cathedral is one of the newest in Britain, completed in 1910. It is one of only three cathedrals in the country to feature three spires, and took thirty years to build.
Truro is one of the UK’s smallest cities, with its population being just 20,000 in 2011.
You can find some beautiful gardens both in and near Truro, including Tregothnan and Trelissick Gardens.
Two other towns across the world have been named after Truro: Truro in Massachusetts, USA and Truro in Nova Scotia, Canada.
The oldest church in the city is the Kenwyn Parish Church in the northern outskirts of the city, dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries.
One of the city’s stand-out annual events is the City of Lights. This event takes place every winter, where a procession of paper lanterns light up the streets of the entire city.
Truro is home to more than 220 acres of land declared to be part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Royal Cornwall Museum can be found in Truro, displaying many important artefacts from Cornish history, including the Arthur Stone.
Image: Ignatius Wahn, available under Creative Commons