Stories of the Sea

Dolphins and deliciousness at Horizon Cottage

Friday night saw us whizzing towards the far West of Cornwall, windows rolled right down to let the warm May air blow away the fog of the working week. To say we needed this break was an understatement, and the call of a coastal retreat for a few days filled us with glee. 

Driving through Marazion and then Penzance, it was great to see the evening sun glitter on the sea, hear the mewing of seagulls and watch the majestic hulk of St Michael’s Mount pass us by. Soon enough, we entered the charming village of Mousehole, and made our merry way through the winding streets to the harbour car park.

Being an old village and built way before cars came along, there isn’t much in the way of parking, but if you’re lucky like we were you’ll find a spot by the harbour, or alternatively in the big car park before you get into the village. For £3 a day, it’s a real bargain too.  

We made our way to Horizon Cottage. In an elevated position above the village, it’s a charming short walk, passing cottages and gardens along the way up to the front door. We're pleased to note that it's only a short walk to the harbour and pub!

Step inside Horizon Cottage and the outside world falls away; this gorgeous haven is just stunning. The master bedroom, twin bedroom and shower room are on the ground floor, whilst wide stairs lead you up to the open plan living/kitchen area and further en suite double on the first floor.

We dumped our bags and made our way to the huge floor-to-ceiling window overlooking Mousehole, the harbour, St Michael’s Mount and the sea beyond. Mouths literally agape, we stood in silence for a few minutes, just taking in the awe-inspiring view before us.

Pulling my eyes away, I took in the rest of the room; shades of blue and greens subtly reflect the sea, whilst the immense wood burner would be ideal for cooler days (I imagine nestling close to this whilst a storm is in full flow outside would be divine).

The kitchen is astonishing – the copper worktops beautiful and tactile (I can’t stop running my hands over them) and the presence of a posh coffee machine a real delight. Being a keen cook, I loved the antique and vintage kitchenware dotted about, and the hefty range cooker and American-style fridge freezer.

I open the back door and make my way up the gorgeous tiered garden, landscaped with pretty terraces and even wider views from the top. There's plenty of seating plus a fire pit - this would be a lovely spot on balmy nights with a sundowner or two.

Tired after a week’s work, we make a snack, pour a glass of wine and settle in the two swivel chairs. As the hours before bedtime pass, the sun sets slowly and the sky changes from blue to pink and gold, and finally to an inky blackness dotted with silvery stars. The warm lights of cottage windows line the harbour and reflect in the wet sand, and our eyes follow the coloured lanterns of boats as they speed across the water beyond until our eyelids begin to droop.

Wearily we climb into bed, the huge bed super-comfy and swathed in white cottons and teal-coloured velvet, and fall into a deep sleep.

The next morning, as I snooze on, my other half creeps out of the house at 5.30am and runs from Mousehole to nearby Lamorna Cove. It’s a steep and challenging run, but an incredibly beautiful one, following the South West Coastal Path. With wild spring flowers everywhere and the day breaking in glorious colour, it’s a fabulous experience.

After a leisurely breakfast, we wander down into the village and have a stroll around, peeking at the pretty cottages, popping into the various art galleries and shops. The cobalt-blue sky slowly changed to an ominous dark grey, so we head to the Farmer’s Market where a few select stalls are selling fresh seafood, fruit, veg, meat, pickles, pates, pies and gorgeous Indian food.

We pick up a few goodies and head back out, where the heavens have opened so we walk around the harbour front to Pool Café for a coffee and cake. This cute little vintage-style spot has excellent sea views and is hidden away – a real gem!

The rain doesn’t stop, so we pick up a paper and head home for lunch and spend a lazy afternoon intermittently reading and gazing out to sea and watch as the clouds eventually disappear to be replaced with sunshine.

Later, we get our glad rags on and head to The Old Coastguard for dinner; a fabulous hotel with an incredible restaurant and a view to die for. It’s busy when we arrive, and I’m glad I booked as we settle at our table overlooking the garden and sea beyond. The menu is terrific and for starters I opt for tempura Mackerel with Alexanders, whilst the other half has rabbit pasta. For mains, we’re both tempted by the Primrose herd pork, faro, black pudding and chanterelle mushrooms. Pudding is rhubarb and lemon trifle and white chocolate, orange and peanut mousse which is stunning.

Full to bursting, we head out through the garden and down to the sea front, walking back into Mousehole and admiring the lights from the harbour as we go. It’s a calm, warm night again as we sit with a coffee, watching the night unfurl before us.

Next day it dawns bright and warm again. The lounge at Horizon Cottage gets the benefit of full sunshine in the morning, so we bask in the sunshine over breakfast before heading out. Today we’re walking to Penzance along the coastal path, via Newlyn – a walk of about six miles, there and back again. We’re not rushing (it’s too hot to be quick!) and it’s just gorgeous out with a slight breeze.

People might overlook this section of the coastal path in favour of more rural, idyllic spots, however it’s a real snapshot into Cornwall’s fishing past. Newlyn’s small port is bustling, even on a Sunday and we notice a vessel that’s come all the way from Lerwick in the Shetland Islands.

Passing through Newlyn, we stop at Jelbert’s for an ice cream. This hand-made, milky ice-cream is just delicious as we take a break in the shadow of the statue dedicated to all the fishermen who have lost their lives at sea.

Moving on, we stroll along Penzance’s characterful promenade, passing the incredible Jubilee Pool. A majestic Art Deco lido, it boasts a huge pool and gorgeous sunbathing area, as well as a fab café. Although the café’s open, the pool isn’t yet (it opens at the end of May to allow the sea water to be a little warmer), and I pledge to visit as soon as it is.

Penzance is quiet for a Sunday (most of the shops do tend to stick to traditional Sunday closing hours), but that’s fine with us – we grab a pasty for lunch before strolling through the older part of town and heading back to Mousehole.

We stop once again at Rock Café for tea and cake, when suddenly there’s shouts as a pod of six dolphins swim past us – so close we can see the sun shining off their glistening backs. It’s such a magical moment as we all stand there watching them swim off out to sea, and it’s a fabulous end to a perfect weekend.

Stef stayed at Horizon Cottage, a fabulous retreat for six in Mousehole, Cornwall. Outside of peak season there's a 'just for two' discount of 20%. It’s dog-friendly too. Take a look here for more information.

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