Stories of the Sea

Storm watching and sea swims at Velansaga

Friday afternoon found me eagerly driving west after work, winding my way through the lanes of Cornwall to the pretty Cornish village of St Buryan, some miles beyond Penzance.

I was heading to Velansaga for the weekend, a gorgeously palatial pad hidden away in the countryside yet just a short distance from the likes of Mousehole, Porthcurno and Sennen. Sleeping eight, it’s fabulous for families and friends alike, and with that in mind, I was meeting a couple of my friends there to enjoy a peaceful time away free from everyday life.

Set down a country lane, Velansaga proudly sits at the end of a shared drive, complete with spacious car parking area. Tucked away and completely private, entrance to this beautiful homestay is via an impressive, flagstone porch, leading into a startlingly beautiful hallway complete with floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking the garden and rolling countryside beyond. 

Taking our shoes off, our toes were immediately met with gentle underfloor heating through the limecrete flooring, inlaid with beautiful shells. Combined with the airy, peaceful space our troubles immediately slid off our shoulders as we padded around the house, oohing and aahing at the views, gorgeous furnishings, fabulous artwork (painted by the talented owner), and tactile wood used throughout.

Unusually, the house is C-shaped, with the open-plan kitchen/dining and second seating area at one end, and the formal sitting room and sunroom at the other. In between lies the hallway, a study, boot room, utility, and shower room. Climb the wide wooden stairs (with inbuilt yet tucked away stair gates, a thoughtful addition for families), and you’ll find four exquisite bedrooms, two bathrooms and a shower room, each beautifully decorated with stunning views over the countryside – with distant sea views on a clear day.

After we’d thoroughly explored, we bagged our rooms and met back downstairs, unwinding with a drink in the second sitting area by the kitchen. As the evening descended, we sat watching the ever-changing skies, moody and dramatic, and the wheeling flocks of jackdaws that undulated overhead.

After an easy meal of roast chicken around the huge dining table, listening to our favourite tunes on the excellent SONOS system we retreated to the glorious sitting room, where we whiled away the evening chatting and laughing before retiring to bed for the night.

The next morning, I woke up fairly early and opened the blinds to the floor-to-ceiling windows to make the most of the dawn and was delighted to spot a fox trotting through the field beyond the garden. I crept back to bed and watched for a while, before drifting back off to sleep in the sumptuous super king-sized bed. 

When we finally all got up, we had a leisurely breakfast and made use of the stunning baths and huge walk-in shower before heading out for an explore, before the arrival of the storm that was due in the afternoon.

First on our list was The Merry Maidens, a collection of standing stones just a few minutes’ drive from Velansaga. West Penwith is dotted with many ancient sites, and this is one which I hadn’t visited before. Dating back to the late Stone/early Bronze age, it’s considered to be the best-formed circle in Cornwall, with each of the 19 stones of equal height and equally distant from each other.

Set between St Buryan and Lamorna, it’s easy to reach with a layby nearby to park. Whilst the circle might not be as imposing as some sites, it’s very pretty and has a peaceful feel to the place. The name derives from the Cornish ‘Dans Meyn’ and the tale of the maidens turned to stone for dancing on the Sabbath was introduced by the Victorians as a moralistic Christian tale.

Next, we headed to the beautiful Lamorna Cove, just a short drive away. Accessed via a steep, narrow lane, this extremely pretty spot is tucked away, with the South West Coastal Path passing through it.

It was extremely wild when we arrived; waves crashed against the harbour walls and sea spray drenched my car, yet it was incredibly beautiful. We walked around the cove, excited to spot a lone seal bobbing in the water. 

 

After lungsful of fresh, sea salty air, we popped back in the car and took the road around to the iconic village of Mousehole. Parking up, the wind was picking up, so we buttoned up our coats and took to the wandering lanes down to the harbour.

With the harbour entrance shut in preparation for the storm, the harbour waters were calm in contrast to the huge waves that loomed beyond, whilst swirls of wind flung sand up across the road. We had a look around, popping into the boutique shops, before making our way to The Old Coastguard for lunch.

Warm and cosy, our table was perfectly positioned for sea views as we tucked into our lunches of mussels and fish and chips, gasping at the lashing wind and rain outside. With tasty locally sourced dishes and a fabulous location, The Old Coastguard is a lovely spot for lunch.

With full tummies, we gingerly drove back to Velansaga, pleased to be home in the warm, where we could safely watch the chaotic weather from the comfort of our sofas for the rest of the day.

The next morning dawned bright and beautiful, a stark contrast from the night before. Keen sea swimmers, we were determined to fit in a dip in this part of Cornwall, so we headed to Boat Cove that lies to the left of Pendeen Lighthouse.

Walking along the coastal path, we were bewitched by the stunning scenery; the oh-so-Cornish trio of sky blue, golden yellow gorse and lush grass.

The sun was actually warm as we changed, the dark rocks warm underfoot. Clambering down, we slid into the cool turquoise waters, the occasional wave tumbling over the looming rocks, reminding us that there was still a sting in the storm’s tail.

After our swim, we strolled along the clifftops to warm up, before heading back to Velansaga for lunch and a lazy afternoon. We found the stunning terrace a real sun trap, and even managed to sit outside for a few hours with a cream tea, listening to the birds wheeling above us – just bliss – and we even made friends with a furry little chap who meandered past.

Too quickly, it was time for us to leave this heavenly sojourn. An astonishingly beautiful home, this is a wonderful getaway for families or friends wanting to stay together, and new for this year it’s dog friendly too. With plentiful parking, huge living spaces, spread out bedrooms and lovely gardens, there’s oodles of space to call your own.

And although it’s peacefully tucked away in the countryside, it’s just a short drive from plenty of iconic coastal destinations such as Mousehole, Sennen, St Ives, Porthcurno, the Minack Theatre and Cape Cornwall – so you’ll never want for things to do.

Feeling inspired? Take a look at Velansaga here.

 

 

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