Roseland & Veryan – Cornwall
Carrick Roads, the vast tidal estuary of the river Fal, is an oasis of tranquillity. Fringed by mature woodland and sub-tropical gardens, the deep river narrows into secluded creeks that are perfect for exploring by canoe. On the wilder coast, there are tucked-away coves for swimming and no shortage of places to eat delicous, fresh food.
Cross the river from the west on the King Harry ferry (always a treat) to visit Trelissick, a wonderful garden with magnificent maritime views. The staff will happily point you to the best tree for climbing. Lose yourself among giant tree ferns in Penjerrick’s jungly depths, or gaze out over carpets of spring bluebells in the parkland at Enys. At Kennall Vale, the wooded slopes are studded with the ruins of gunpowder mills that blew up in successive explosions on a devastating night in 1838. There is a silent quarry lake for swimming, and at night the sky is filled with pipistrelle bats.
To the east is Roseland, a long, thin pensinsula with secret creeks and waterside churches. At St Just-in-Roseland, a path winds down through ivy-clad tombs and luxuriant rhododendrons to the tidal creek with its charming Edwardian boathouse. The coastline around Portscatho is indented with pretty coves for swimming and wholesome local food abounds. Eat al fresco at the Hidden Hut beach shack, buy provisions for a picnic from the local produce market at Veryan, or take a canoe along the remote Ruan river creeks and lunch at the Kings Head in tiny Ruan Lanihorne.
In the countryside beyond sandy Veryan Bay, there is a network of lanes so deep, narrow and twisted, they seem to swallow cars and cycles whole. Caerhays Castle, spectacularly sited overlooking the beach at Porthluney, holds one of the finest collections of rare and exotic trees and shrubs in Britain and is well worth a visit, especially in spring. Stop off at a smaller garden café for cream tea then catch glimpses of tiny coves through hedgerows as you head on to dramatic Nare Head . Beyond Hemmick is a favourite family cove, and there’s a great secret beach at Portholland, accessible via a hidden path and ropes. Once round this headland you arrive at the long naturist expanse of Vault Beach, a truly wild strand that seems to invite you to collect driftwood for a fire and camp out under the stars.