Thursday, 9 February 2017

Winter in Cornwall & Polperro Off Season

Winter in Cornwall

Some time ago, upon meeting somebody for the first time, I was asked, "yes, but have you spent a winter in Cornwall yet...?" 

We had- and had loved it too- but I suppose I can understand a little bit her implication that winter here is an ordeal. It can be very wet and stormy, and can seem entirely different from endless summer days. 

Spring Flowers in Polperro
Spring Flowers in Polperro

Quick Guide to A Cornish Winter:

It is well worth visiting Cornwall out of season- it is still just as beautiful but has the advantage of being a lot quieter. Here are some quick tips:

Dress well:

The weather here is extremely changeable so I always opt for light layers which I can adjust as necessary. Good footwear is essential on slippy surfaces, as is a waterproof top layer as you can almost bank on getting wet at some point.

Take provisions:

In the summer there is an abundance of cafés, and in some places this is the case in winter too, but not always. A hot flask and some sandwiches is never a bad idea. 

Travel with care: 

In my experience the Cornish can be a little gung-ho when it comes to driving (if also quite courteous too). Factor in narrow lanes with Cornish hedges (aka jagged walls, eager to burst any passing tyre), cyclists, tractors, roadworks, oncoming headlights and potentially horizontal rain... it can be challenging even when you are accustomed to it. So, my advice here is to just take your time and don't be intimidated, and consider using public transport for more-major destinations. The trains here are good, and the fact that they run at a leisurely pace gives you a great chance to soak up the scenery.

Take bad weather seriously:

Storms do batter the South West of England. The ensuing rough seas and blustery weather can be exhilarating. However, they are also dangerous, and it is essential to take care. One thing to love about Cornwall is that there are rarely any railings, and no busy-bodies telling you what you can and can't do. However, just because you can stroll onto an exposed quay in a storm it really doesn't mean that you should. And yet... people still do! Is that shot for Instagram really worth it...?

Be Flexible:

If I was renting a cottage here in the winter, I would definitely plan some indoor things to do, but seize every opportunity to soak up the wonderful light when it does show itself. Spring does appear to come early here too, despite the stormy weather, so don't forget to look for the signs.

Spring Flowers in Polperro
Spring Flowers in Polperro

Things to do on a cold day in Polperro:

The village of Polperro is situated along a deep shady valley, and as such it can feel pretty chilly there, even on a summer's day, let alone in the winter when seemingly everything is shut anyway. So, if you're planning a winter day-trip I've put together some highlights: 

Polperro shuts for the winter
The Prettiest 'Closed' Sign

The Shell House:

A must-see at any time of year. This stunning property just appears as you walk around Polperro harbour. Entirely free to marvel at, but you can leave your donation in the box. 

The Shell House Polperro
The Shell House Polperro

The Shell House Polperro
The Shell House Polperro

Watch the water

The river flows right through the centre of Polperro- right up against the buildings. It is also a working harbour, so there's plenty of boats to watch, as well as swans, ducks, and all sorts of other birds.  The tide rises and falls rapidly in the harbour, so this is the perfect place to just be present and watch life unfold in front of you. There's such a meditative quality in doing this. 

House on the Props, Polperro
House on the Props, Polperro

Polperro Harbour
Polperro Harbour


Follow the coast path in either direction to get a fuller view of the stunning coastline. To the west you can walk up past the historic Net Loft and onto a rocky outcrop, from which the views both back into town and out to sea are just beautiful. As well as being scientifically proven to make you feel good, walking will help you stave off the cold. 

The Coast Path Cornwall
The Coast Path

But if you don't fancy this, you can explore the beach below with its caves, rock pools and steps carved into the stone. 

Cornish Light
Cornish Light

The sea pool:

Ok, so in this picture the tide is in, but you can just make out the outline of the naturally formed sea pool. I admit that I did not swim in it on my recent visit, but with a warm wetsuit there is no reason why you shouldn't take advantage of its emptiness in colder months. 

The Sea Pool Polperro
The Sea Pool

And if all else fails, there is always 

Roly's Fudge

There is nothing like a sweet treat to warm yourself up on a winter day, and who can resist that wonderful smell...? The best fudge comes from Roly's, and the branch in Polperro has the friendliest service too. If you are spoilt for choice then do try the sea salt flavour.

Roy's Fudge Polperro
Roy's Fudge Polperro

Enjoy your visit, and please let me know if you find my tips useful 

Cornish Cottage
Cornish Cottage


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