Winter is the BEST time of the year to visit Cornwall, especially if you’re looking for a romantic break.
Cornwall in Winter has an enchanted air. There’s a beauty and a magic to the white frosty fields and the mist that clings to the rivers in the morning, while the sunrises and sunsets are spectacular. Our Summer visitors have all gone home, leaving behind them beautiful empty beaches, deserted cliff paths, quiet cafes, and quaint old pubs where there’s always a seat by the fire.
Cornwall in Winter is empty, peaceful and still, leaving room for Kernow’s magical, romantic side to emerge. Winter is when mysterious, old Cornwall unfurls – the land of Dark Age saints, giants and mermaids, smugglers pirates and piskies and legendary lovers like Lancelot and Guinevere and Tristan and Isolde.
If you’d like to discover the delights of Cornwall in Winter, here are five deeply romantic things to do in the Duchy during our alleged ‘off’ season.
Wrap up warm, hold hands and go for a walk…
Put your wellies on and clear your central heating head with a romantic stroll. Even in the dead of winter, there’s a mildness about the Cornish climate that beckons you outdoors. You’ll find our first daffodils are out in December, the camellias bloom by Christmas, and the Cornish spring arrives in February.
Chances are that whichever beach, cliff path or moor you’ve chosen to explore, you’ll have it all to yourselves. This way, you can gaze in uninterrupted rapture at the beauty of the sea, the sky and each other.
One of Cornwall’s most romantic walks is from Boscastle to Valency Valley and Fire Beacon Point. It’s a hike – 5.4 miles to be precise – but so worth it, especially if you line yourself up with a hot chocolate as your reward at the end (see below). This walk takes in coastal views, a waterfall, picturesque Boscastle Harbour, a wooded valley and the remote church of St Juliot, rebuilt by Thomas Hardy doing his day job of architect. It was here he met his first wife, Emma, and their romance led to the novel, A Pair of Blue Eyes, and some of his better poetry.
Take a look at some other romantic walks around the north coast of Cornwall that are even more spectacular.
Hunker down with a hot chocolate…
Warm yourselves up after your bracing beach walk, cliff path jaunt or moorland trek with a steaming mug of hot chocolate in a beachside café where you can sit back and watch the waves together. Some of the choicest hot chocolate in the world is served up here in Cornwall. Here are a few favourites:
The Blue Bar, Porthtowan
Indulge in a mug of white choc mocha and drink in the laid back beach atmosphere at the same time. Perched right on the shoreline, The Blue Bar is a great place to while away a winter afternoon.
Sat Nav: TR4 8AD
Gylly Beach Café, Falmouth
This uber trendy café overlooking Falmouth Bay has a heated veranda so you and your beloved can sit outside together even in the depths of winter. From here, you can enjoy some stunning views of the Lizard peninsula.
Sat Nav: TR11 4PA
Seaton Beach Café near Looe
This charmer of a café sits right on the beach in the little village of Seaton. Sit inside by the wood burner and watch the fire, or go outside to see the winter surfers brave the water.
Sat Nav: PL11 3JQ
Porthgwidden Café, St Ives
This little beauty nestles on the beach beneath the steep grassy slopes of St Ives Island – a rocky outcrop that juts into the bay – and offers uninterrupted views across the water to Godrevy Lighthouse. Sip your hot chocolate and watch the fishing boats come and go, and gaze across to the lighthouse silhouetted against the winter sky.
Sat Nav: TR26 1PL (closed on Mondays)
The New Yard Restaurant, Trelowarren
Need a more booze-infused beverage to warm you up after your bracing walk? The New Yard Restaurant at Trelowarren serves a fabulous boozy hot chocolate with a splash of Baileys or Cherry Brandy – guaranteed to bring the colour back to your chilled cheeks.
Bedruthan Cocktail Bar
Throughout hot chocolate season the cocktail bar will be serving indulgent espresso cups of rich chocolate laced with a shot of booze and topped with cinnamon cream, a toasted homemade marshmallow and sugar dusted popcorn.
Why are the dancing flames and the glow of firelight so romantic? Apart from casting a flattering rosy glow and making us feel warm and safe, they reconnect us with our primal instincts – to bond, mate and make our contribution to the future of the species.
A fire offers the two of you a shared focal point that invites conversation and intimacy, rather than stifling them as, say, watching TV together often does.
So, if you’re feeling romantic, get thee to a Cornish fireside fast. An impromptu straw poll of Bedruthan’s Facebook friends produced the following recommendations for you:
- Adam Clark: Travellers Rest, Trevarian or Driftwood Spas, St Agnes
- Jo Riley: Woods Cafe, Cardinham Woods
- Amy Vercoe: Woods Cafe, Cardinham Woods
- Tania Wright: Lewinnick Lodge, Newquay, Woods Cafe, Cardinham, and Lakeside Cafe, Newquay
- Jenny Bradshaw: Lewennick Lodge, Newquay
- Jo Riley: St Kew Inn, St Kew
- Andrea Thirlaway: Coast Coffee Bar & Bistro, The Lizard,
- Taor Morris: The Ferry Boat Inn, Helford Passage
- Barbara Robinson: The Smugglers Den, Cubert
- Amanda Riddell: Bridge on Wool, Wadebridge
- Lucy Gilbert: Lusty Restaurant , Lusty Glaze, Newquay
- Sarah Drew: Heligan Cafe, Lost Gardens of Heligan
- Pamela MacLeod Was Parker: The Bowgie, Crantock
A spa day together – or, even better, a spa break – is a great way of tuning out the rest of the world and focusing on each other. The warmth, peace and quiet of a spa encourages you both to relax and just be together. Many spas have specially designed couples suites with double baths and dual treatment areas, and offer couples massage lessons too.
Winter in Cornwall is the perfect time and place to take a spa break together if you choose one with a sea view. Both Bedruthan Spa and the Scarlet Spa offer panoramic views of the crashing Atlantic, so you can relax and contemplate together the drama and beauty of the ocean in Winter. At the Scarlet, you can even enjoy a cliff top hot tub together as you sip Champagne as you watch the waves.
Winter is, without doubt, the best – the only – time to explore the atmospheric narrow streets of our coastal villages. You can relax and do a bit of shopping free from the crowds and busy roads of high season. You can browse antique shops together at a leisurely pace, pop into a local restaurant or potter around the local museum. Good ones to explore include:
Wander this archetypal moorland village together and be charmed by its village green and the part-Norman St Protus and St Hyacinth Parish Church, described by Betjeman as dazzling.
Allow yourselves to be entranced by the charm of this north coast harbour with its 16th Century quay and 14th Century cottages that cling to the hillside above the fast-flowing River Valency.
Unspoilt Chapel Amble is at the head of a once tidal stream in the Parish of St Kew. It has post office stores and a good pub. A two mile stroll upstream will bring you to a wooded
Picturesque Charlestown is enclosed in its own Georgian time capsule. A favourite of TV and film location scouts, you may well recognise it from Poldark and The Onedin Line. The Shipwreck and Heritage Centre is worth a wander round together.
Constantine is a charming, unspoilt corner of Cornwall dotted with picturesque cottages, woods, wild flowers, historic quays, National Trust gardens – and all within walking distance sandy beaches. For 500 years, the church has looked out over the glorious landscape of the Helford River and its romantic hideaway creeks.
This fishing village was a favourite smugglers’ haunt with its large sheltered beach. The harbour, inn, cafe, shops and art gallery are all worth a visit, as are the ancient megaliths, and giant’s quoits at nearby Rosenithon.
This north coast hamlet shelters at the bottom of a steep, gorse-clad valley and grew up round a small bathing cove. Strangles Beach is overlooked by High Cliff, at 731 feet the highest sea cliff in Cornwall, but beware the loose stones – walking here can be very dangerous. The tiny St Genny’s church has rare altar tabernacle that’s worth a visit.
One of those well-kept Cornish secrets, Gorran Haven keeps itself to itself, tucked away as it is on the south eastern tip of the Roseland Peninsula. Most visitors to the county never find it. A lane winds downhill into the valley and to a small harbour and expansive sandy beach. Cliffs tower on either side, adding to the tucked-away romance of the place. Towards the harbour and the old part of the village are narrow crooked streets and charmingly dishevelled cottages and there’s a good pub in the village where you can stop for a drink.
The romance of the name ‘Lostwithiel’ is born out in its architecture. This quiet, charming 13th Century town was once the capital of Cornwall. You can see its former majesty in its Tudor bridge, Guildhall, Old Duchy Palace and St Bartholomew’s Church. Restormel Castle, to north, was besieged in the Civil War, while Braddock Down, to east, was the site of the Royalist victory. The village contains a number of picturesque granite cottages and a 15th century church with a turreted tower. St Cyor’s Holy Well, under a stone canopy at the lower end of the village, is now dried up but still worth a visit, and there’s a local vantage point at Helman Tor.
Portloe, tucked way down on the Roseland Peninsula, is one of the few fishing hamlets that survived the touristification of Cornwall in the 1950s and 60s. Stoutly-built cottages cluster on the shores of this small Cornish cove and along the lower slopes of its sheltered valley. The National Trust own much of the surrounding land and there are walks to suit everyone – along the Heritage footpath to Nare Head is particularly beautiful with its kaleidoscope of ever changing seascapes.
The dramatic rock stacks at Bedruthan Beach, Mawgan Porth, testify to the power of the waves that have carved out their towering and impressive forms for millions of years.
In really wild Winter, nothing beats the elemental thrill of watching huge thundering seas crash relentlessly on Cornwall’s dramatic coast. Perhaps it’s the humbling sense of our own insignificance that does it. Like cosying up in front of the fire, storm watching puts us back in touch with our primordial urges to find safety and shelter, and – most importantly of all – to find refuge in romance from the spectre of our own mortality.
For a really romantic storm watching experience, try the Ship Inn at Porthleven, The Queen’s Hotel in Penzance, The Minack Theatre Café, Bedruthan Hotel & Spa or the Scarlet Hotel, both in Mawgan Porth.
For the ultimate winter experience, escape to the north coast of Cornwall on a two-night retreat on our Winter Romance Break including unlimited time in our sea view spa, boozy hot chocolates on arrival, a complimentary sea view upgrade and plenty of space to explore the beauty of Cornwall in winter.