Cycling Cornwall’s hills

Pointing to the Cornish hills

Pointing to the Cornish hills

Some people’s idea of a holiday is lying on a beach.  Or nursing a beer or Barolo savouring a lovely meal. I like all those things. But this year, I added 4,380 feet of cycling up Cornish hills to my holiday mix.

Last week, we returned to one of our favourite places: Mawgan Porth, on Cornwall’s Atlantic Coast. It’s a wonderful spot, with a stunning beach bisected by the river Menalhyl. We stayed at The Park holiday resort (I blogged about this special place on our last visit in 2012), which is an easy 10 minute walk to that beautiful beach.

This year, I was determined to bring my bike, after rediscovering my love of cycling since the beginning of June. Back in 2002 nearby St Columb Major was the first night’s stop on my 16 day Land’s End to John O’Groat’s bike ride. Those first two days in the West Country 12 years ago almost brought me to my knees, with the constant, killer climbs out of the river valleys. This time, I was pleasantly surprised. I hardly noticed the climb out of Mawgan Porth along the Vale of Lanherne. My ride to St Columb Major and back via Newquay airport involved 900 feet of climbing in just over 10 miles. The reward? The glorious swoop down to Mawgan Porth from Trevarrian.

Racing down to Mawgan Porth

Cycling to Mawgan Porth, 36mph, July 2015

I loved those morning bike rides. As I cycled along the Vale of Lanherne on Tuesday, I met a woman walking a horse. She thanked me for stopping to let her pass, explaining that the horse had only ever seen one cyclist. I smiled to myself, knowing that I’d stopped for the two of them two days before. (I encountered them a third time on my return!) That same ride, I met overtook a young couple running – in both directions. I revelled in the (relative) fitness I had gained in all my June and July bike rides, including that fastest century. It made those hills so much easier.

Beach boy, Mawgan Porth, July 2015

Beach boy, Mawgan Porth, July 2015

Cycling was just one of the pleasures of our week in Mawgan Porth. As you can see from the shot above, Owen, 7, loved the fabulous beach. We splashed in the waves in our wetsuits and he enjoyed his bodyboard. I loved seeing the stream of people heading for surf school with King Surf. If I were younger, I’d be very tempted to join them next time…

My bike at The Park, waiting for our next adventure

My bike at The Park, waiting for our next adventure

Finally, here’s my video of my downhill rides into Mawgan Porth from west, east and south…

We love Cornwall, Mawgan Porth – and The Park

Cornish delight: Mawgan Porth

We’re packing up to go home after a wonderful week’s holiday at Mawgan Porth, on Cornwall’s Atlantic coast. This is a very special place in a very special Celtic part of Britain.

Karen and I both have special childhood memories of Cornwall. Prompted by those memories, we brought Owen to Looe for his very first holiday, when he was nine weeks old.

We first stayed at Mawgan Porth in 2011, and loved the place and the experience. We were very lucky with the weather last year, spending most days in the pool and on the beach. We saw more rain this year, but we still enjoyed time on the beach as the rain cleared and the sun came out.

This is the classic family holiday spot. Small children enjoy the same kind of seaside summer fun as as their parents and grandparents. Timeless pleasures – splashing in the sea and rock pools; building sandcastles; relishing an ice cream as the day draws to a close.

You can’t catch me Dad!

We stayed at The Park, a lovely holiday village just 10 minutes’ walk from the beach. We discovered The Park when staying at its sister site in Dorset, Greenwood Grange. The owners took over a few years ago and have made huge improvements. We love the cafe-restaurant, with its great value homemade food (do try the halloumi cheese, haddock and lamb burgers if you get the chance).

There’s also a wonderful indoor pool next to the cafe – we had it to ourselves on Friday morning – as well as a heated outdoor pool. Our only serious criticisms? The sofa in our cottage has seen better days, and the cafe-restaurant was closed for a whole day for a wedding, which hardly seemed fair to everyone who had spent good money booking a week’s holiday.

Judging from our experience over the last 12 years, Cornwall has become a place to enjoy wonderful food and drink as well as seaside fun. Back in 2001, we discovered magnificent food at Barclay House in Looe under Nick and Kelli Barclay, who now run the Blue Plate Restaurant in Downderry near Looe. This week, we had a great lunch at Fire at Mawgan Porth and a delicious lunch at the Falcon Inn at St Mawgan, as well as our meals at The Park.

We hope to return to Cornwall in 2013.

In praise of August bank holiday

After the rain: sun, sea and sand at Mawgan Porth

The weather forecast was awful. August bank holiday Monday was set to be a washout. Wind and rain would keep everyone indoors. Not the best weather to mark the first full day of our Cornish holiday.

The reality was much better, showing you should never allow a weather forecast to rule your life. Monday dawned as wet as expected, but the middle of the day was much better. True, the afternoon was very rainy, but the evening made up for it. A gloriously sunny vista over Mawgan Porth beach, with magnificent reflections at low tide. A lovely end to the day.

We were lucky to be staying at The Park, Mawgan Porth, with its wonderful indoor pool and cafe-restaurant. While the rain was falling, Owen swam a pool width for the very first time. What a wonderful way to spend a bank holiday!