Insider Guide: What to do in Cornwall this Winter with Stephanie

Mother Iveys Bay 1

Tell us a bit about you…

I’m Steph, and I’m the Restaurant Manager at THE PIG-at Harlyn Bay. I joined the company in December 2019 and spent a few months training in all of the PIG hotels before moving back to Cornwall for the opening of Harlyn last spring.

I used to spend my summers in Cornwall as a kid, just around the corner from the hotel, and have always felt more at home here than anywhere else, so as soon as I finished University, I jumped at the opportunity to move down to Cornwall on a more permanent basis. I spent a couple of years working for Rick Stein in Padstow, then moved to London to work at Scott’s and The Connaught Hotel, both in Mayfair, before heading off for a year of travelling around the world. When I came home, THE PIG was the perfect opportunity to jump back into life in Cornwall!

Although Cornwall is best known as a summer holiday destination, autumn and winter can play host to some of the most beautiful days of the year on the South West coast. As the days become crisp and blustery, and the evenings draw in, the little harbour towns quieten down, and the crowds on the beaches disperse. It’s suddenly that much easier to secure reservations in the amazing restaurants we have on our doorstep, and the local pubs really come into their own, with the pool tables being brought back out from their Summer hiding places.

Great places to spend a day out

As a bit of a foodie, most of my wintery recommendations revolve around eating and drinking, however, a lot of the most popular tourist attractions in Cornwall do remain open over winter, often with subsidised ticket prices and smaller crowds. The Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project are both open every day, with slightly reduced opening times, and are perfect day trips from Harlyn, whether you’re away with friends, as a couple or looking for a family-friendly day out. National Trust gems Tintagel and Boscastle are also quieter than they would be during the summer months.

If walking is your thing…

Cardinham Woods is a must-visit during the autumn months and makes for some stunning photos as the leaves turn rusty and start to drop. There are a couple of different walking trails to choose from, the shortest one being an easy and flat 45-minute stroll, with the added reward of a hot chocolate from Woods Café at the end of your walk (also home to arguably the best homemade scones in the area)!

Cardinham Woods

If you’re looking for more local walks, we are extremely lucky to have some of the most beautiful coastlines straight out of our front door. Harlyn is one of the 7 bays, all of which are connected by the South West Coast Path, so you can wander for as long and as far as you wish. Mother Ivey’s Bay is my personal favourite beach as it’s a little more secret than some of the larger beaches in the area, and it’s the most sheltered if you’re crazy enough to venture out for a winter swim. If like me, you’re more of a spectator, I’d suggest walking to Harlyn or following the footpath around to Boobys Bay or Constantine Bay to watch the surfers catching the bigger winter waves. Local Tip: if the car park at Harlyn Bay is full of vans, it’s a great day for surfing!

Mother Ivey’s Bay

If you fancy a tipple…

When it comes to cosying up with a large glass of red after a day spent exploring the great outdoors, there are a few perfect options nearby. Wine bars Bin Two and 17 Duke Street are both great spots with exciting wine lists, conveniently located in the middle of Padstow, so perfect for a pre-dinner or post-lunch drink if you’re dining at any of the great restaurants the harbour town has to offer. The Old Custom House is my pub of choice, as they allow you to get your cider to take away, so you can drink it whilst crabbing, or with your legs dangling over the harbour edge.

Padstow

For the foodies

After becoming semi-famous on Caroline Quentin’s Cornwall series back in 2012, The Hidden Hut sealed their success this year when they were selected to cook a beach BBQ for the global leaders during the G7 summit in Carbis Bay. I can say without any doubt, it is definitely worth the hype and somewhere you must go if you have the time. Not the closest place to eat as it’s around an hour’s drive from the hotel, but it is absolutely worth the journey! They open between 11-3pm most days, but check their Instagram for updates, serving delicious takeaway lunch from 12pm. I’d recommend arriving earlier than 12pm, as the queues sometimes get pretty long from then onwards, and as they only sell what they have cooked, popular dishes can sell out pretty quickly. Picture – pots of chowder, and cups of homemade soup and stews with fresh bread and flatbreads, all served to take away and eat on the beach (be sure to bring a beach blanket!). If you arrive early there’s a nice coastal walk from Porthcurnick Beach to the town of Portscatho, and a lovely little outdoor coffee shop called Tatams on the front overlooking the sea.

Finally, if you find yourself in Cornwall on a Sunday during winter, then the only sensible question to ask is where to find the best Sunday Roast! Of course, I’m biased and would say that THE PIG Sunday Roast is pretty epic, but there are some other great local options too. For something rustic and homely head to the Golden Lion in Padstow, it is the local’s favourite and is often booked up months in advance. For a more gastronomic experience, find yourself a parking spot in Padstow and take the ferry over to Rock (you can drive around, but I think you’ll definitely have earned the roast a little more if you go for the full experience). There you’ll find The Mariners – Paul Ainsworth’s pub. Great all week round, but their roast really is something special. Be sure to order the Davidstow One-Year Vintage Rarebit and Cornish Tamworth’s & Sage Scotch Egg to nibble on while you wait. During the winter months the Padstow to Rock ferry times alter, so book an earlier table rather than later so you don’t miss the last ferry back!

St Kew Inn

Looking to dine out during your stay? We are pretty spoilt for choice with some amazing restaurants nearby, there are far too many to list, but I’ve managed to narrow it down to a Top Three!

  1. For epic meat and veggie dishes cooked over an open fire, the St Kew Inn is a rustic and homely pub serving up some magnificent food.
  2. Prawn on the Lawn have made quite a name for themselves in recent years (and rightly so!!), due to their amazing sharing concept seafood restaurant - expect to be blown away with everything from fresh shellfish, seared tuna, and whole roasted fish dishes to share.
  3. Their sister restaurant Barnaby’s sticks with the sharing concept menu, but places more of an emphasis on local meat and veggie dishes cooked with bold and exciting flavours, whilst still keeping a few fish dishes on the menu!

Prawn on the Lawn

Fancy a winter getaway to Cornwall? Book here.

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