When it comes to planning the perfect British seaside holiday with the family, taking a dip in the sea in October is not the first thing that comes to mind. But that’s exactly what happened when we headed to picturesque St Mawes on Cornwall’s stunning Roseland peninsula.
Despite bracing temperatures, the blue skies and crystal-clear water proved too much temptation for the kids, who couldn’t wait to get wet. And with our luxury accommodation just moments from the beach, getting them warm and dry again and refuelled with some delicious hot chocolate couldn’t have been easier.
St Mawes is located on Cornwall's stunning Roseland peninsula
We travelled as a family of four, with my four-year-old son and six-month-old daughter; meeting up with their grandparents and cousins aged eight and six, while their mum, my sister, prepared for the arrival of a new baby. We broke up our car journey from London with a stopover at the gorgeous Beckford Arms in Wiltshire, and a fun lunch break at the Miniature Pony Centre in Dartmoor, which included a quick pony ride and run around in the playground. And once we reached our destination it soon became clear that a week of Great British seaside fun had never looked more chic.
We stayed in one of the luxuriously appointed self-catering properties managed by St Mawes Retreats. Dreamcatchers is a fabulous five-bedroom property with sweeping 180-degree sea views from the terrace. With a fully-equipped, open-plan kitchen and living room – complete with log burner – and a separate snug, there was plenty of space for us all to spread out and relax.
Dreamcatchers is a five-bedroom property with beautiful sea views
Decorated with vibrant Designers’ Guild fabrics, the house is fully stocked with puzzles, games, DVDs, a Wii and even a dressing up box to keep little ones occupied, allowing the grown ups to enjoy some downtime and perhaps a soak in one of the two freestanding baths which boast sea views or another which has its own waterproof TV. Baby and toddler equipment such as cots, buggies, high chairs and sterilisers are all available, while the beds are Hypnos – ensuring the sweetest of dreams for tired parents.
The wonderful Amanda Selby at St Mawes Retreats caters for your every need, even arranging for a traditional Cornish cream tea with Champagne for guests to enjoy on arrival. Her top-notch concierge service can arrange childcare, private boat hire, beauty or massage treatments, a private chef, flowers, laundry, picnic hampers, sailing, art classes and even online grocery deliveries, meaning that all you have to do is turn up.
There are three stunning beaches at St Mawes
With so much to do inside, it took a bit of persuading to get the children out to explore, but once they discovered the village’s three fine beaches, there was no stopping them. After mornings of sandcastle building, shell collecting and rockpooling, we sampled delicious Cornish pasties at the St Mawes Bakery in the harbour, while watching passengers hopping on and off the Ferry to Falmouth. And the kids loved having a go at crabbing using just a bucket, a simple line and some bits of bacon from the local butcher.
The historic St Mawes Castle on the headland is one of the best preserved of King Henry VIII’s coastal fortresses and our little knights and princesses adored scrambling over the cannons and climbing the steep stone steps to the ramparts. The attractive shops, art galleries, restaurants and cafés of the village are popular with celebrity and royal visitors including the Queen Mother, the Queen and Princess Margaret. Other famous fans include Kate Winslet, Claudia Schiffer and Pierce Brosnan.
The children loved exploring St Mawes Castle
Older children can also enjoy St Mawes’ skate park, tennis court, nature trail and recreation ground – ideal for cricket or football. No seaside holiday would be complete without ice cream, so we took our hungry little explorers to sample the delicious Italian-style home made ice cream on the terrace at Olga Polizzi’s Hotel Tresanton, just a short stroll from Dreamcatchers.
We also loved our day out at the mysterious 200-year-old Lost Gardens of Heligan, where our city dwelling children got up close to farm animals, watched traditional wood turning and roamed through ancient woodlands and The Jungle – a sub-tropical canopy of exotic tree ferns, giant rhubarb and bananas, complete with a thrillingly bouncy rope bridge. With the fabulous Eden Project under an hour away and all that Cornwall has to offer in easy reach St Mawes makes the perfect base for a wonderful family holiday, whatever the weather.
A week at Dreamcatchers, sleeping 8 people, starts from £1500: www.stmawesretreats.co.uk