Sixty-six acres of lush wildflower meadows, ancient woodland and murmuring streams surround Coombeshead Farm, an off-grid country retreat deep in rural Cornwall. Pilgrims are rewarded with crisp West Country air, farm-fresh cuisine and starlit evenings.
The nearest regional airports are at Exeter and Newquay, both around an hour from the farm; Bristol Airport is a two-hour drive.
Exeter St David’s station, around 50 miles from the hotel, is well connected to major rail hubs around the UK. From there, you can travel onwards to Liskeard and Bodmin Parkway, but both trains are slow and overshoot Coombeshead Farm by some way, meaning you still have to find your way there from up to 20 miles out. Sure the countryside views are nice but, unless you’re a slow-travel fetishist, this may not be the transportation method for you.
Rural West Country destinations are notoriously difficult to reach by public transport. But that’s part of the appeal, right? Do yourself a favour and hire a set of wheels for your adventure. This will also open up day trips to Bodmin Moor and the cracking Cornwall coast. There’s free parking in the farm’s courtyard. Pro-tip: enter ‘Coombeshead Farm’ rather than the postcode into your GPS for the most accurate directions.
Worth getting out of bed for
There’s more than enough to fill a long weekend here without leaving the immediate environs of Coombeshead Farm. Skimming dreamily through book after book in the reading room, for example. Strolling the verdant paths of the farm’s 66 acres. Singing along with the birds as you frolic through the ancient Trelaske Wood, looking for all the world like a cartoon character from a 1950s Disney feature.
Drag yourself kicking and screaming from this rural idyll and you’ll find the very best of Cornwall within easy reach. Hike the foreboding wild landscapes of Bodmin Moor, just south of the hotel. Or board an old-fashioned steam train at nearby Launceston, to puff and chuff your way over the unspoilt Kensey Valley’s fields, meadows and viaducts.
The north and south coasts are both around 45 minutes away. Head north for picture-postcard Bude’s beguiling beaches. Or venture south to Fowey, where colourful houses crowd the waterfront and fishing boats bob gently in the harbour. It’s here that a young Daphne du Maurier was first inspired to put pen to paper, and it’s not difficult to see why. Seek out atmospheric sheltered coves along the coastline and take the ferry out to Bodinnick to spot her first Cornwall home: a whitewashed quayside building with brightly painted wooden shutters. Du Maurier was also known to take afternoon tea at the Fowey Harbour Hotel, so it would be frankly unthinkable for you not to also do just that.
Coombeshead Farm’s nearest pub is a mere 15-minute stagger along country lanes in the tiny village of Lewannick. With timbered ceilings and open fires, The Archer Arms is a great place for a pie, a pint and a natter with the friendly locals. Nominate your designated driver and take a spin up to The Springer Spaniel in Treburley, where you’ll want to sample some of those foaming local ales and ciders. This 18th-century inn with rustic bare-brick walls and exposed beams also serves up hearty gastropub fare such as roast beef and beer-battered fish and chips.
There’s a beautiful coastal path that winds from Boscastle Farm Shop on the north coast across dramatic cliffs and down to the cute fishing village below. Pause here for lunch at The Rocket Store, a tiny seafood restaurant with a menu that changes daily based on the morning catch, and where the fish is so fresh it might have leapt straight from the sea and onto your plate. Fuel up for the return leg back up the hill where you may well have recovered your appetite just enough to warrant a bonus cream tea at the farm shop restaurant.
It’s practically a criminal offence to go to Cornwall and fail to sample Rick Stein’s near-legendary fish and chips while you’re there. So, if you needed an excuse to visit the celebrity chef’s beloved Padstow, this is surely it. Stein’s Fish & Chips serves the usual traditional chippy fare with lashings of salt, vinegar and mushy peas, plus a small and somewhat unexpected range of curries for the more adventurous palate. Eat on the waterfront for the maximum Cornish (or Punjabi) experience.
Proximity to the Devon border makes for easy access to the likes of windswept Dartmoor and the sunkissed sands of the English Riviera. It also means the delicious prospect of researching for yourself which of jam (Cornwall) or cream (Devon) should be applied to a scone first when preparing a traditional cream tea. Restaurants, tearooms and National Trust cafés the length and breadth of these two counties will be only too happy to furnish you with the ingredients you need to help resolve this bitterest of rivalries. In other words: when in Cornwall, stuff yourself silly.
Liberty Coffee in nearby Launceston is worth a visit for its excellent range of speciality coffees, coupled with brownies, bakewells and teacakes baked on the premises, plus savouries including sausage rolls.
Head up to Electric Bakery in Bude for a cinnamon roll or bacon bap with coffee to go, then wander down to the beach for a dip in the Bude Sea Pool, a natural tidal lido at Summerleaze Beach.