Welcome to the second instalment of our family road trip around Devon and Cornwall. To read about our first week in South Devon then see the first part of our road trip here. We are now moving down into South West Cornwall and then heading back out, stopping at North Devon and the Cotswolds before heading home to York. There are many lovely places to visit in North Cornwall but we have previously visited there and so we fancied a tour around Southern Cornwall this time.
In this post I discuss traveling in a van as a family of 6, our road trip itinerary plus some more inspiration of places to visit in Cornwall from two fellow bloggers.
Ditching our car and tent after a week of camping in South Devon we left our car with the owners of Agnes the camper van. We came across Agnes (named after St Agnes) online from a company Quirky campers. Quirky campers acts as an agent letting out the vehicles on behalf of the owners. Agnes is a Citroen relay van so a bit like a large white Amazon delivery van but with much more charm inside! Agnes has a triple bunk and a table seating area that converts to a double bed
I researched campsites in South East and South West Cornwall and we booked 2 nights at the start and 2 nights at the end of the holiday in campsites with electric hook up. We then left 2 days in the middle of the holiday with a view of finding somewhere to park up for the night and have more of an adventure. There are so many lovely campsite in these areas and a few we would have loved to have stayed at, but covid-19 restrictions plus the demand for campsites meant we didn’t get some of our top choice sites to stay at. I tend to start searching by using the Cool Camping guide, googling hidden gem and quiet campsites in Cornwall. These searches then led to our family road trip to Devon and Cornwall.
Be warned we filled these days in Cornwall very full, maybe a bit too much at times but we wanted to see as much as possible as it’s such a long way for us to visit and we didn’t know when we would be back again.
We collected the van near Helston and the first part of our journey was at Penwarne campsite near the Helford River. This wasn’t really our kind of campsite but it did provide a base for exploring the Helford River and served nice pizzas.
We wanted a full day on the Helford River area and actually could have maybe had another day exploring this beautiful part of Cornwall. We hired a self drive motorboat for 4 hours and really enjoyed exploring the river which then ended with us swimming in the river to cool off! We moored up at Helford village and picked up some picnic lunch supplies, had a great cream tea at the Holy Mackerel tearooms and then dined out that evening after a little break in the van before dinner. We can highly recommend the Ferryboat Inn for dinner. All of these eateries and stores have good covid-19 measures in place.
We had to take a slight detour away from Lizard due to wanting to visit St Michaels Mount. With pre-booking for Covid-19 in place we could only get National Trust tickets to visit for this day. We would have ideally preferred to have explored Lizard further on day 2 and then moved on to this spot on day 3 and camped near here for a few nights but never mind.
St Michaels’s Mount was a fun visit. Do check ahead for tide times as you can see more if you have longer to spend there before the tide covers the causeway walk. Being able to only get the garden tickets we would like to return one day and see the castle. The grounds are perfect for a picnic with glorious views and the children enjoyed the walk back over the causeway discovering rock pools filled with sea life as the tide was gently coming in. There are plenty of toilets here but we did have to pay for the carpark despite it being a NT site.
We filled our day full and headed back towards Lizard point to explore further the most southerly point of Britain. I would say that it’s a bit of a let down on a busy August day and more of a ‘tick off you’ve been there’ landmark! There are toilets at this NT site.
Kynance Cove not far from Lizard is a National Trust beach and didn’t disappoint. The parking was free for us as members (for reference so is Lizard point). There was a bit of a trek down to the beach by either coastal steps or a rubbly path for pushchair/ wheelchair users but I would say it’s not the easiest path. We managed to take our stuff and Florence down in a beach trolley thanks to my husband’s determination! The walk down and up is well worth it, as the cove is just something else. The golden sand and the turquoise waters with rocks for children to explore around is pretty sublime. I don’t often swim in the sea but even I was tempted in. There is a really friendly cafe at the beach serving food and Roskilly’s ice cream. Top tip have an ice cream for the journey back up to keep everyone’s spirits up!
We then used the park up app to find a campsite to stay at for the night. There are a few fields around the peninsula where you can just turn up and pay a small fee to camp but we really needed to chill our picnic food with our plug in coolbox and so decided to try a campsite called Trerise Farm that was listed on the park 4 night app. Fortunately we got the last pitch for the night right next to some chickens, goats and sheep. This campsite would definitely be one I would book again as the toilets and showers facilities were very good and the general feel of the site was lovely. There is also a small campsite shop selling grocery essentials and locally produced meat.
We decided to stay at Trerise Farm campsite again for the night rather than finding another site further away around Lands End as we needed to be closer to the Eden project the following day.
Heading down to Lands End we stopped off at the amazing outdoor Minack amphitheatre. Around Porthcurno beach you can take a walk around the beautiful South West coastal path. Unfortunately we couldn’t get pre-booked tickets for the theatre but we absolutely loved the breathtaking coastal views there. Please note baby carriers only for this walk. There are toilets at Porthcurno beach carpark.
On the way back to our site we took a slight detour to end our day with a last minute trip for a dip in the sea at Coverack. This is a really lovely coastal village and one I would definitely visit again. There is kayak hire for a few pounds down in the harbour and it’s just a really pretty and quiet coastal harbour.
This was a bit of a drive from the site at about 1hour and 20 minutes in the van but it was the only time we could visit in our itinerary. We have been to the Eden project before and absolutely loved it, so it was a must to visit for us.
This time we were visiting with social distancing measures in place and we found them to be really beneficial as it was so much quieter. We got to explore the biomes with less crowds and eating out in the restaurant was also easier with less queues. I would say we were slightly disappointed that a lot of the outside attractions have been removed as other attractions are managing to still run things with covid-19. Also they weren’t taking part in the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme so lunch was full price but the cafe does some really reasonably priced food which they keep simple and we all enjoyed it. The Eden project is definitely one of our favourite UK attractions and we love that the kids are learning so much about sustainability whilst having fun. The rainforest biome was our highlight of the day. The kids also love the shop for spending holiday money in.
This evening was our first night staying on the west coastal side of Cornwall at Mount Pleasant Eco Campsite. This site is so different and has a real hip bohemian vibe to it. There are 3 areas to pitch up at this site and we were in the orchard. This was very close to the toilets and shower block and a little quieter than the other 2 areas, so suited us. On arrival we were pleased to see that a pop up restaurant was serving veggie curries so we gave the kids a quick pasta meal and we got our own grown up meal which was one of the best curries we have ever eaten and at a great price of £8 a box with samosas included. This site also has an on site vegetarian cafe and a rustic bar with an old fashioned (free to use) juke box. The kids loved exploring the site as there was plenty for them to see such as a bamboo hideaway in the trees, a tucked away small open air theatre area and more.
We decided to visit St Ives as I have seen so many beautiful photos on social media of this coastal town. On advice that parking in St Ives is difficult we took the South West train park and ride service into the town from St Erth train station. This is a really pretty coastal route with fabulous views of all the beautiful golden sand beaches around St Ives.
The kids enjoyed walking through the cobbled back streets behind the harbour and visiting some lovely quirky ships to spend their holiday money in. St Ives was bit busy for us to be able to socially distance well so after our fish and chip lunch in the harbour we headed back out on the train. Longing for a beach visit again we visited the National Trust Godrevy stretch of coastline so the kids could get some body boarding in. This was a really quiet and long stretch of coastline with rocky and sandy beaches along the South West coastal path.
Just before we head out of Cornwall and share our road trip camping spots with you, I thought it would be handy to add in some more ideas for days out in Cornwall from some other fellow bloggers.
Jemma from Thimble and Twig has a great 11 top family friendly things to do in Cornwall and has covered quite a few places we didn’t get chance to visit such as The lost gardens of Heligan, treasure trails around Bude (a place I would have loved to have had time to visit) and the National Maritime museum in Falmouth.
Chantelle from The English family shares their day out at Lappa Valley steam railway. There is lots of helpful information covering the attraction and visiting there with toddlers.
Chanetelle and family also visited the Cornish seal sanctuary which sounds like such a wonderful day out for kids of all ages.
We took our journey home in 2 parts to split the driving up over 3 days so that the kids had only a few hours at a time sat in the car and to avoid holiday traffic queues. On our journey down to Devon in part one of this post we set off at 4 am and did the journey in one day.
Our adventure in Agnes the van came to an end. After handing the van over we headed out of Cornwall for 2.5 hours to North Devon. With some family and friends to visit we took the opportunity to camp nearby at Branscombe airfield. This was a good base to then travel up to the M5 for the next leg of our journey back up North.
Branscombe airfield campsite excited the kids as they got to see some light aircraft take off next to the campsite field. The facilities were good here and the staff friendly. This campsite is close to Sidmouth so with friends to visit there it was great base.
After visiting Sidmouth beach for a few hot hours we made our way up the M5 to a site in Gloucestershire called Hayles fruit farm and this was our last stop before heading home to Yorkshire.
We loved this site it was surrounded by beautiful trees and cotswolds countryside (it’s right on the Cotswold Way national trail). Florence was pleased to see some chickens in the centre of the field. I was happy to see a good family shower / toilet room to clean away all the sand before a good night’s sleep. There is also a farm shop and tearoom on site.
I had always wanted to visit Warwick castle . I felt he attraction was slightly overpriced, however we made it more affordable by exchanging clubcard points. After a long queue to get in the pre booked entrance for bag searching and temperature checking we were in. Top tip – book ahead and be prepared for the queue! Highlights for us were seeing inside the very well preserved castle and the falconry display which was the best we have ever seen. A few other activities cost extra which we didn’t do and it was unfortunately just too hot to take the kids around the castle walls. Overall we enjoyed visiting there and it was a good stop off point for them having a few hours drive back that evening.
I do hope you’ve enjoyed reading all about our family road trip around Devon and Cornwall and back home again. If you’re looking to go camping rather than vanning you can find tips on Camping with kids on the 1st part of our Devon and Cornwall post.