Why I love Cornwall in autumn and winter

Why I love Cornwall in autumn and winter

I’m standing alone on Praa Sands beach, just me wrapped up against the chilly wind and Max the dog. The sun is a glittering, sharp yellow-white, the sky the palest blue. The tide is out and the deep golden beach is stretched in front of me, pebbles glistening like stars in the sand. In front the beach is empty, behind me nothing but my boot prints, Max’s paw prints and one lone surfer in the sea. This is Cornwall in winter. 

For me, nothing beats being buffeted by gusty, salty winds whilst clambering the heather-strewn coastal path.

I’ve been visiting Cornwall my whole life, whether to see my grandparents when I was little (I’ll never forget the long car journey in the middle of the night, my poor innocent parents believing we’d sleep the whole way – we didn’t), or travelling the Paddington to Penzance train to stay with my sister who (wisely) moved down here to study and never left.

Cornwall has always had a hold on me I could never break. Travelling home after a week away I’d always be heartbroken, palpably feeling the sea air leave my lungs, longing for the time I could go back. I’d always dreamt about moving down one day but kept putting it off. Finally, one day I found myself packing my bags, saying goodbye to my friends and heading just about as far west as I could go without getting my feet wet, and I’ve never really looked back.

I arrived in spring to the golden welcome of gorse in the bushes – everything almost preternaturally bright and welcoming – and enjoyed a long summer of hot sand between my toes. It was the arrival of September, then October and then the rest of the winter months that was a revelation for me.

For me, nothing beats being buffeted by gusty, salty winds whilst clambering along the heather-strewn coastal path. Watching the angry slate-grey sea and wheeling gulls whilst munching on a hot pasty gets my vote too. How about exploring slippery, narrow cobbled streets of little fishing villages and the independent shops of seaside towns, then stumbling into a steamy tea room for a well-earned cream tea?  Yes please.

So what will you find in the autumn and winter months? September sees Cornwall saying goodbye to families as school begins and hello to couples who want to make the most of the late summer but without the crowds. The September sun is still warm, perfect for time on the beach and in the sea, and a spot of al fresco dining.

October is generally a lot quieter (apart from the half term blip) and usually the weather is good - think crisp sunny days and cooler nights - what better reason do you need to get your wood burner going? The night sky is incredible at this time of year, and whole hours can be spent gazing at wonder at the Milky Way. It's also the time a lot of the beaches lift their dog ban, so it's much easier to bring your doggie along too - take a look at our dog-friendly retreats here.

November brings squally seas - ideal for a bit of storm watching, finding (and staying in as long as possible) ancient inns and pubs for a local brew and listening to live music. It's also easier to book long leisurely meals in many of the excellent restaurants - Cornwall really does have more than its fair share of talented chefs. 

December heralds the arrival of the Christmas lights. Nothing is prettier than seeing little fishing villages bedecked in jewel-like displays, glittering and reflecting in the water. Mousehole is particularly famed for their show (they even have a legend built up around them). You'll find plenty of festivals and fairs going on across Cornwall at this time of year, and because Cornwall holds on tightly to its traditions you'll find some older, pre-christian events too such as Montol in Penzance. This festival celebrates the arrival of the Winter Solstice and takes place on 21 December every year with lanterns, strange costumes and beacons being lit.

January brings new beginnings, and what better way to stick to a healthy kick-start to the year than walking the coastal path or exploring the countryside? The air, blowing in from the Atlantic, is some of the purest in the country and full of negative ions (good for you, apparently). 

February brings the first signs of spring. Being so far south, things start a lot earlier down here. So if you're feeling the winter blues, head to Cornwall and the sight of snowdrops and spring flowers will definitely cheer you up.

So that's why I love Cornish winters. Yes, the weather can be unpredictable, and Cornwall does enjoy A LOT of rain. But there can be days of the clearest skies you’ve ever seen with a light so beloved by artists. And when you catch one of those days, there’s nowhere else on earth you’d rather be, trust me.

Feel like booking a winter break? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Cornwall here.

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