Autumnal Escapes

Starlight and sumptuousness at Smugglers, Bodmin Moor

Starlight and sumptuousness at Smugglers, Bodmin Moor

Leaving work early one wintery Friday in December, I was beyond happy to have some time out on the wilds of Bodmin Moor for a weekend of total luxury.

With clear instructions guiding the way (a must when it’s pitch black along country roads), we found ourselves slowly meandering across the wilds of the moor in search of the farm that’s home to Smugglers, our retreat for the weekend.

As we passed streams and wild ponies lurking in the dark, Smugglers appeared gloriously lit in front of us – a welcoming sight in the darkness. As we made our way through the main farm, we were warmly greeted by owners Sue and Steven who took us to Smugglers, set away in front of the farm with nothing but the moor in front of it. Being just before Christmas, Sue had been a busy bee adding some festive joy with pretty lights by the entrance and stepping inside we were delighted to find even more decorations and a lovely tree to welcome us.

After showing us briefly around and explaining how to use the hot tub, Sue and Steve left us to it (although we knew they were on hand should we need them) and we had a good explore.

Smugglers is a gorgeous retreat for two; think a luxurious chalet-type homestay with simple yet stylish décor and the highest quality furniture. It’s also a designated ‘NotSpot’ meaning there’s no WiFi so a perfect retreat to purge yourself from social media (although mobile reception is good here should you need it).

We were pleased to spot the massive wood burner, although it was cosy without it on. We had also been left the loveliest welcome hamper full of goodies such as homemade biscotti, prosecco, choccies, fudge, pate, milk, bread and butter as well as a bunch of gorgeous spring flowers. Even the Christmas tree had chocolate decorations on it!

Being quite late, we made a simple supper, lit the log burner and relaxed on the sumptuous chairs, enjoying the peace and quiet with nothing but the crackle of the fire to listen to.

Next morning, we awoke to the jaw-dropping views outside. With just the wild moor in front of us where you can see Roughtor, Brown Willy, Garrow Tor, Alex Tor and King Arthurs Hall in the distance (but close enough to walk to), this is a nature-lovers paradise with just the sheep, flocks of wild birds and the occasional hawk and buzzard overhead to keep us company. Outside in the garden we spotted the wood-burning hot tub – something we’d try out over the weekend.

After breakfast and fresh coffee, we decided to hop in the car and head to Padstow just a short drive away – about 40 minutes. It was the weekend of their Christmas Fair, so we took the park and ride which was far and away the best option on such a busy weekend. The weather wasn’t great, but the town was bustling and brim-full of foodies – we managed to spot Rick Stein signing books just two minutes after getting off the bus!

We headed to the main tent where all the exhibitors were set up. It was busy and bound to get busier, so we trotted around looking at (and tasting) all the goodies on display, showcasing the best of Cornwall’s amazing producers. We bought lots of things, both for us and for Christmas presents, and stopped off for a hot chocolate and mulled wine for a quick break – delicious!

When we had peeked at all the stalls, we headed out and had a look around Padstow which looked beautifully bedecked with its Christmas lights and the shops looked particularly inviting with their festive displays. There were singers singing sea shanties, whilst we caught glimpses of running Father Christmases who were bravely doing the Santa Run. Feeling peckish, we found a fab pizza restaurant in the heart of the town called Embers. We bagged a window seat and munched on tasty fresh pizzas as we people watched – a perfect spot on a grey, drizzly day (or ‘mizzle’ to us Cornish folk).

After lunch and with full tummies we walked around to the far side of the harbour and back, then caught the bus to the car and headed home as the afternoon closed in dark and wintery.

Back at Smugglers, it was lovely to be greeted by the twinkling lights and a warm, cosy home. We lit the wood burner, opened a bottle of wine and nibbled on the goodies left for us in our welcome hamper and other bits we had bought in Padstow – just perfect.

The immense bath had been calling me, so I ran myself a bubbly bath and wallowed for a good hour. Incredibly deep and right up to my neck, it was pure bliss and I just about pulled myself out before falling into the super-comfy king-sized bed and asleep.

The next morning, we awoke to better weather so decided to make the most of it by relaxing at Smugglers and lighting the wood-fired hot tub. After a tasty cooked breakfast (local sausages, bacon and eggs of course!), we explored the garden and lit the hot tub.

Smuggler’s is dog-friendly and with a fully-secure garden for them to explore then stunning walks from the house across the moors, it’s a perfect spot to bring them.

We sat and read and gazed out the window and sporadically checked the hot tub (there’s something fun about running in and out, checking the temperature slowly rise). It had been ages since we’d had a day of doing nothing except relax, and it was just perfect.

When the hot tub was ready, we ran out and jumped in (Bodmin Moor is a little chilly in December!). Wallowing in the warm, still waters looking out over sheep, moors and tors as the wind swept around us and the crows bickered and danced above us, was utterly lovely and a totally unique experience and something I’ll not forget for a long time.

Back in the house, we warmed up and watched a Christmas film to get us in the mood for the Christmas season ahead whilst munching on the lovely homemade biscuits Sue had left us with cups of tea.

Unfortunately, due to work commitments we had to leave on the Sunday evening, so we packed our bags, loaded up the car and said a sad goodbye to Smugglers, Sue and Steven – we really didn’t want to leave. Back out on the moors, we passed ponies silhouetted against the dramatic late afternoon sky before slowly making our way back to the main road and back to reality.

Smugglers is a beyond beautiful home stay and one which I will honestly never forget. Not only is it beautifully designed, super-cosy and utterly romantic, the owners are incredibly thoughtful and provide everything you need as well as being discreetly nearby should you need them. The location is just magical – you will be hard-pushed to find a more hidden-away getaway, totally unspoilt and with the most incredible, dramatic views and walks right on your doorstep – a perfect getaway whatever the season.

For more information on Smugglers, take a look here.


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