The start of eachday was a similar pattern. A lie in, a cup (or two) of tea and baking something fresh for breakfast: scones, pancakes or – most perhaps decadently – raspberry muffins. With the kitchen windows thrown open, a gentle breeze and a new favourite cookbook this proved a satisfying way to (slowly) wake up.
Most days I stayed in and around Coombe. Opposite Hawker’s Cottage is an orchard, and a stream divides the hamlet roughly in half: a walk from the orchard to the old mill takes you over a small bridge, the murmuring sound of running water a far cry from the Heathrow aeroplanes I usually hear when walking out of my front door.
Each day I walked to Duckpool, a rocky cove only ten minutes away. Without any knowledge of geology I couldn’t say what the cliffs are formed of, nor how old the stones beneath my feet were; but I can confidently say that Duckpool quickly became one of my favourite places in Cornwall. The word ‘picturesque’ is overused, but it is more than appropriate for this particular National Trust-owned beauty spot. Slowly meandering from rock to rock, watching braver souls than I swim or surf, I eventually sat, mesmerised afresh each day. I quickly found a favourite spot from which to watch my fellow beach goers, or to read. When, eventually, I began to feel in need of another cup of tea, I slowly returned to Coombe, taking great pleasure in the cow parsley-lined amble home.
The rest of the day would bring more reading, this time while from the sitting room window seat or an armchair, or perhaps another walk – Duckpool being just one spot on the marvellous South West Coastal Path. At some point cups of tea turned into gin and tonic, lemon martinis (thank you Nigella Lawson) or white wine. Each evening we returned to Duckpool to watch the sun set, the summer solstice marked with a bottle of local cider.
When I did venture beyond the serene landscape in this corner of north Cornwall, it (usually) wasn’t far. Tintagel boasts a spectacularly positioned castle, is famous as the (possible) birthplace of King Arthur and is perhaps a half hour drive away – as is Boscastle. My one proper day trip was to St Ives: a whole morning in Tate St Ives, an afternoon potter around the Barbara Hepworth Museum, and a Cornish pasty on Porthmeor Beach in between. Bliss.
Coombe has been a popular spot for visitors for many years, recommended in guidebooks to Cornwall since at least the 1890s: Ford Cottage was once a tea shop, serving refreshments to tourists and walkers. Today the hamlet is a haven of peace and serenity, a restful spot for a truly excellent Landmark escape.
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