I read this on-line on an Irish paper
Getting a Cornish high
WE DROVE away from the southern town of St Austell, along the meandering Cornish roads with their dense, untamed hedgerows and brambles. We passed the hamlet of Gorran Haven on our right, and there it was. The idyllic, medieval fishing village on Cornwall's southern coast.
Mevagissey, our base for our Cornish adventure, is a gem of a place. The village sits snugly into the surrounding rocks. A maze of cobbled streets, blind alleyways, and ancient fishermen's pubs nourish the senses as you wander towards the busy twin harbours. This is where fishermen have landed their catch since the first pier was built in the mid-1400s.
An assortment of colourful boats now bob gently in the waters, secured by the huge stone walls that protect them from the unpredictable Cornish seas. The directions to our rented house took us up the steep, high-hedged lanes to the clifftops that overlooked the village.
Thrillingly for us, Mevator House had its own private cove with astonishing views of the ocean, and of the waves that roared up and down the beach. The screeching chorus of seagulls brought to mind Hitchcock's film of Daphne du Maurier's The Birds. It was a vibrant soundtrack to our breakfasts.
Cornwall is Daphne du Maurier country. Her presence is felt in the estuary village of Fowey, and on the haunting, misty moors of Bodmin, featured in Jamaica Inn. It's said that as she wandered in the bluebell woodlands one evening, she came across a desolate manor called Menabilly. She was so captivated that she moved in, and it became 'Manderlay' in her famous book, Rebecca.
In the 19th century, plant-hunters brought back seeds from around the world to the mild climate of Cornwall. That legacy can be seen on visits to the great gardens of Bonython, Trewithen and Heligan, among others. The Eden Project is just eight kilometres inland from Mevagissey. It was built in the millennium to celebrate biodiversity and the environment.
Here, the vast greenhouses, called 'biomes', recreate some of the world's climates and accommodate over 100,000 species of plants and trees. The waft of sweet-smelling flowers in the temperate dome overpowered our senses; if we closed our eyes, we were sipping red wine near a Provencal lavender field.
A large part of the Cornish coastline is accessible to walkers. On a slow day, we took to the cliffs behind Mevagissey for a long ramble through the woodlands and rugged hills beyond. Cornwall is blessed with a rich range of wildlife. Accompanied by five buzzards which hovered in the skies above, we followed the signs and had an incredible afternoon, finishing in the small village of Portmellon. The Rising Sun Inn was tucked into Portmellon cove, just a few metres from St Mawes harbour. We drank local ale, a sweet accompaniment to the succulent monkfish and John Dory.
Cornwall is a magnet for tourists who adore food. The North Cornwall village of Padstow has been nicknamed 'Padstein' since TV chef Rick Stein opened his restaurants and cookery school there. This month, superchef Jamie Oliver was set to open a branch of his 'Fifteen' restaurants in the surfing town of Newquay.
The tin-mining area of central Cornwall isn't part of the usual tourist itinerary, but we heard more delightful Cornish accents here than anywhere else. For those who become giddy at the sight of charity shops and car boot sales, Redruth is the town. After an afternoon's rummaging, we travelled through the cathedral town of Truro, following the sun back down to our little haven in Mevagissey.
Getting there: Daily flights leave Dublin for Newquay with Air Southwest (www. airsouthwest. com), with fares from around 30.
Mevator House in Mevagissey www. mevagissey. net/mevator contact clintredman@hotmail. com for rates & availability.
For the adventurous, stay in a Mongolian yurt on the edge of Bodmin Moor (www. yurtworks. co. uk) or to get really close to nature, sleep in a tree!
See: www. mighty-oak. co. uk.
Another option is Trenython Spa and health resort (near the Eden Project) www. trenython.co. uk.
Things to do:
Avoid the crowds at the Eden Project by visiting in weekdays, and keep your ticket if you want to revisit for free within a year. And don't forget to bring a camera. www. edenproject.com.
Walk the golden strands of Perranporth, one of the most beautiful surfing beaches in Cornwall. That and more on www. cornwallbeachguide. co. uk
Visit the breathtaking clifftop outdoor amphitheatre of Minack Theatre in Penzance, www. minack. com
Where to Eat:
For opening times of Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant along with details of his cookery school, www. rickstein. com
Rising Sun Inn, Mevagissey . . . www. risingsunportmellon.co. uk.
Fifteen in Cornwall opened on 18 May, www. fifteencornwall. co. uk.