Shake off those Winter Blues
February half-term is an oasis of fun, a chink of light in the darkest depths of winter. The days might be shorter than in high summer and the weather less reliable, but Cornwall is still the best place to be if you know how to enjoy yourself, with the added bonus that accommodation is generally cheaper than during peak season. Here are some suggestions:
Take a blustery stroll by the coast
The South West Coast Path is one of the most valuable assets we have in Cornwall, with a beautiful view around every corner. If you’re feeling cooped up, what could be more freeing and invigorating than a proper stank (Cornish dialect for a good old walk) in the fresh sea air? Gaze out to the horizon and breathe. Even if the weather isn’t great, there’s a lot to be said for being at one with the elements – get wet and treat yourself to a steaming hot bath later. Remember, the beaches are less busy at this time of year, and with fewer restrictions on four-legged friends, this is the perfect time to enjoy some of Cornwall’s glorious wide-open spaces. Many car parks are run by the National Trust, and as such are free to members.
Snuggle up with a hot chocolate
The best thing about winter is it offers the perfect excuse to stay indoors and indulge in life’s simplest pleasures. Find yourself a fabulous café, pub or hotel with a sea view and a log fire (the Bedruthan’s Tranquillity Room is a personal favourite), order the works – whipped cream and marshmallows, you know you want to – and relaaaaaax. If the weather is particularly bad, this is the ideal way to watch a storm, through picture windows in the smug knowledge that you are warm and dry with a ringside seat for the best show in town.
Always have a wet weather plan
There are lots of indoor options available. There’s a museum for any interest, and most put on special activities in school holidays. Why not shiver your timbers at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, or explore the Egyptian Gallery at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro? If you have young children, they can let off some steam in a soft play area – Lappa Valley, near Newquay, has just added one’s to its offer, with the added attraction that you have to reach it by steam train. The Eden Project’s skating rink remains open until February 2022. Or head into town and see what’s on at the flicks – most of Cornwall’s cinemas are run by local chains, so you’re supporting local businesses.
Head for the National Trust
The National Trust's properties offers the best of both worlds, because there are inside options – including lovely tearooms – as well as outdoor splendour, not all of which involves payment – the wider Trelissick estate, near Truro, offers some fantastic woodland walking by the banks of the Fal, and bare branches means better views of the King Harry Ferry and the huge international ships moored in its deep waters. Some properties are even accessible by rail, with a short walk – the footpath from Bodmin Parkway to Victorian Lanhydrock is especially lovely, while a trip on the Tamar branch line from Plymouth to Gunnislake crosses the spectacular viaduct at Calstock, a pretty village from where you can follow the river to Tudor Cotehele and its historic quay.
Take a walk in the woods
Cornwall boasts some beautiful woodlands. Cardinham Woods, near Bodmin, are managed by Forestry England and have several circular walks and cycle tracks. There’s also a handy dog wash facility if your pooch is magnetically attracted to muddy puddles, and you won’t be able to resist the delicious treats on offer at Woods Café. Alternatively, visit historic Tehidy, near Camborne. Once owned by the Basset family, and on the fringes of the richest square mile in the world at Cornwall’s industrial peak, it’s now in public ownership and managed as a country park with a café and picnic area. Tehidy has over nine miles of paths and 250 acres of peaceful woods and lakes to explore. It’s extremely popular with families, and its cheeky squirrels will charm your little ones.
Book a spa day
Admit it, you’ve been dying to have a massage for months. Or maybe you just fancy a dip in the infinity pool, or a lounge in the jacuzzi. There are so many luxurious options to choose from in Cornwall, book one now! If you have children aged between five and 15, Una St Ives offers kids’ manicures, pedicures and mini-facials, so you can enjoy this special time together.
Enjoy your accommodation
If you have booked into one of Cornwall’s many hotels or self-catering establishments, and you have the space to do so, why not spend a day making the most of the facilities? The most thoughtful will have shelves groaning not only with board games, but also with books of local interest. These will enable you to make plans for when the sun comes out again, and you might even discover an author you’ve not read before – Derek Tangye, or AL Rowse.