GWEL an Mor five-star holiday park has been designed to work in harmony with its Cornish setting. And what a setting it is. Cottages are built in a Swedish wood cabin style, which gives you the feeling of being on holiday from the get go, and the view from ours was of the Cornish moors and the ocean. It was the kind of location that great holidays are made of, and as I ran from one side to the other, taking in the new view, I had the kind of butterflies that predict good things.
'Imagine being welcomed in the park reception by a wriggle-nosed, lop-eared rabbit that wants to sit on your knee and say hi'
A walk from the beach at Gwithian over the headland back towards Gwen an Mor, to see the local seal colony got us off to a flying start. We parked by Gwithian surfers’ beach and wind blew the Manc from our hair as we strode over the cliffs, looking for the colony. There was a sign telling you to be quiet as you peer down into their den, but they obviously can’t read as we could hear their barks from half a mile back.
The 45 minute seal walk was a taste of the South West Coastal Path, which includes 630 miles of coastal walks around the area, and offers a host of opportunities for days out. One hike, for example, takes you all the way from Gwen an Mor to Hayle. It’s just over 11miles and really easy to follow as you just walk along the path. For the really intrepid, the surfer-run Gwithian Academy of Surfing lies just back from the beach near the holiday park too (Redrussel House, Prosper Hill, Gwithian, Hayle, Cornwall. TR27 5BW. 01736 757579).
St Agnes is a 10 minute drive away, with plenty of options for pub supper or fish and chips in spooky old Cornish lanes and taverns. At the 17th century St Agnes Hotel (Churchtown, St Agnes, Cornwall TR5 0QP. Tel: 01872 552307), Molly, the resident chocolate Labrador roams around as you tuck into local fish pie, while knits are de rigueur and there’s dog-friendly accommodation upstairs.
This being Cornwall, the pasties at Philps Pasties (1 East Quay, Hayle, TR27 4BJ. Tel: 01736 755661) are another must for the tick list. Queues of cab drivers, builders, tourists and seagulls point to the fact that this is the pastie place. They do steak and cheese ones but we liked traditional best. Eating overlooking the inlet outside, you’re far enough from the sea not to feel blustered although I did get reprimanded by a local for feeding my pastie ‘handle’ to a passing gull. Ooops.
Speaking of animals, there is a veritable zoo just down the hill from Gwen an Mor. Run by animal man and local celeb Gary Zammit, creatures to meet include a kookaburra (be warned, this guy is LOUD), several owls, a mink (no fingers near the bars please), hundreds of hens and donkeys, baby field mice, friendly bats, and – the pièce de résistance – tame foxes called Todd and Meadow.
Foxes living in a shed a few metres from the holiday chalets is a one-off in the UK as far as I know – and feeding them dry dog snacks is the big reveal at the centre of competitively priced daily tours (£9 adults, £6 children, booking essential. www.gwelanmor.com/wildlife-activities.html).
Our two storey cottage, the Tregea VIP lodge, was a fine retreat at the end of the day – and easily big enough for a family of six. Downstairs were three twin bedrooms and en-suites, plus decking and a huge, ever-ready hot tub which bubbled away like a giant cauldron on the terrace. There was a spacious lounge upstairs too, with a wood burning stove, TV and DVD player, stacks of magazines, board games and open-plan kitchen.
Fired up on local rib-eye from the on-site Terrace Restaurant, my friend Neil built a fire at 3am on our first night. A testament, if you will, to the quality of the food. The restaurant serves reasonable wines and local favourites with a Spanish twist. Calamari and lemon tapas, for example, or local scallops with spiced lentils and chorizo. Obviously, there are destination places like Rick Stein’s restaurant in Padstow, or Nathan Outlaw’s two Michelin star place in Rock to check out while you are in the region, too.
And, of course, all the delights of arty St Ives are just 15 miles away from Gwen an Mor.
If I could have one gripe, it would be that the park feels a little densely packed. The chalets are close together which, removes some of the sense of privacy you get in more spaced out sites such as Center Parcs. But while space is at a premium, Gwel an Mor compensates with a personal touch. And the clientele were a classy bunch (present company excluded).
There’s a spa on site and a 90 minute pedicure was one of the most relaxing and fabulous experiences I can recall. Imagine being welcomed in the park reception by a wriggle-nosed, lop-eared rabbit that wants to sit on your knee and say hi, for example, or reception staff who go out of their way to help your plan your holiday itinerary. That’s the kind of thing that happens here on a daily basis.
With springtime discounts available (sign up on the website to keep yourself in the loop) and a sun-kissed hilltop setting, Gwen an Mor is the ideal spot to catch some early rays. There are no big hen or stag parties, thanks to the resort’s family-friendly booking policy, and some of the lodges are suitable for wheelchairs, too.
Ruth stayed in a Tregea Lodge VIP suite at Gwel An Mor, Feadon Ln, Portreath, Redruth, Cornwall TR16 4PE. www.gwelanmor.com. Tel: 01209 842354.
It’s a six-hour drive from the North West. Or you could fy from Manchester to Newquay and pick up a hire car.
Tell me you didn't study English?Read more
Soon to be foreign..NOT as of TODAY 19/09...!!!Was a student there and is a wonderful place...Read more
Wow! You’ve certainly done a great job by posting this bit of information for the benefit of us…Read more
I've just been there the prices were far too expensive no seasoning (salt/pepper)suppose to be…Read more