It’s January, the parties with their popped-corks and sequins have been left behind, and the year spans out ahead, full of promise; days are slow, quiet and sometimes, dare I say – a little dreary. If like me – after the dizzying heights of festivities – rest and rejuvenation is at the forefront of your mind and you’re looking for an escape – somewhere to hit pause and take time for yourself – then a wellbeing road trip across Cornwall could be the answer.
The perfect antidote to January blues, an out-of-season road trip allows us to lean into slow days – in search of light, my mind wanders to the long expanses of sand, bringing me to the Cornish coast.
Cornwall may be at the end of the route, but this fascinating county is plentiful in its offerings, particularly for up-and-coming foodie destinations, dog-friendly travel, outdoor adventure and wellbeing culture.
Travelling by the sea offers escapism at its foremost – a South West 660 wellbeing trip across Cornwall will take you on the roads less travelled, to some of the most spectacular locations within Cornwall – following routes Seven, Eight and Nine – a meandering drive from St Austell, south to Falmouth, hugging the coastline through Marazion and heading west to St Ives, before travelling north, following the scenic route through Hayle and St Agnes, to Newquay and Padstow.
The route focusses on a restorative escape, spending time amongst nature, within places that nourish the mind, as well as the physical body; we discovered a plethora of natural landscapes, and experienced some of the most relaxing eco spas and wellness retreats – north and south – offering enviable clifftop and beachside locations, surrounded by captivating sea views.
Kernow – as the locals name it – is a special place for a wellbeing adventure, at the forefront is the stunning natural beauty of the county – known for its dramatic coastline, rugged cliffs and sandy beaches. Think salt-fresh hiking along the South West Coast Path, spectacular clifftop views, cold-water swimming – renowned for boosting both physical and mental wellbeing – and some of the most beautiful sandy beaches in the UK. There’s also a host of gorgeous spa hotels, many of which are eco-conscious, providing a holistic approach to wellbeing, using alternative therapies and ayurvedic principles.
Fill your cup, without filling your tank
In our super-smooth running EV Skoda ENYAQ – a car designed to make eco-friendly adventures easy and exhilarating – we began our South West 660 wellbeing adventure by picking up Route Seven – St Austell to Penzance – taking in the short but stunning clifftop bends of the B3273 to Mevagissey, hugging the Roseland Peninsula through picturesque St Mawes with its quiet coves and Monterey pines, to the artsy town of Falmouth.
A quick detour to The Hidden Hut, an unassuming wooden shed overlooking Porthcurnick Beach – the outdoor restaurant has no road access and is completely off-grid on the South West Coast Path – a relaxing spot with sweeping seas views, where walkers are rewarded with homemade Cornish pasties, hot crab soup, great coffee and sweet treats. The beach is dog-friendly year-round and great for a refreshing dip, or a jaunt around the rock pools.
Our first stopover was at St Michaels Resort – a great spot, superbly positioned, directly opposite Falmouth’s sandy Blue Flag Gyllyngvase Beach – popular for water sports, with dog-friendly Gyllyngvase Beach Café propped on the edge of the sands. After a blast of fresh Cornish air, it was time to restore a sense of wellbeing within the largest hydra-pool in the South West. There are also ten treatment-rooms, a private Rhassoul mud-room, herbal Finnish sauna, rainforest steam-room, Cornish sea-salt steam room and spa gardens with a red cedar hot, Finnish barrel sauna and plunge pool.
Falmouth itself is a vibrant town with lots of creative flair, shaped and influenced by its strong connection to the sea – combining fascinating maritime heritage with a rtistic and tech-led creativity, home to an array of galleries, independents, antiques and experimental arts and crafts workshops.
There’s a really brilliant foodie scene too – a trip on the foot-ferry over to Harbour House, Flushing is an absolute must! This fabulous, sustainably-driven Cornish pub is set on the waterfront with acclaimed chef – and ever-rising star on the foodie scene – Andrew Tuck at the helm. Andrew is known for his love of open-fire cooking techniques and innovative flavour combos. We tucked into to delicious, well-balanced dishes that showcase some of the freshest local produce – think beef tartare and pickled chilli with crusty sourdough made onsite, followed by monkfish, nduja and capers, smoked brassicas and ricotta ravioli with brown butter and pesto – keeping it sweet, we finished up with outrageously moreish sea-salted chocolate delice.
There’s also Sabzi, a superb deli set at the heart of the town, serving Middle Eastern cuisine, and Verdant Seafood Bar, serving delicious seafood small plates, locally brewed beers and specialist bottles.
Continuing on Route Seven, stopping at Marazion Beach to take in the vistas across to St Michael’s Mount – we picked up Route Eight – Penzance to St Ives – and headed west to Una, St Ives.
Una is a relaxed holiday resort comprising of a series of eco-lodges, designed around an Atrium with a spa, heated outdoor pool and award-winning restaurant – Una Kitchen, serving delicious wood-fired dishes that celebrate seasonality. Set within a rural environment, surrounded by greenery and traditional Cornish stonewalls at the edge of Carbis Bay, Una is a welcoming retreat within a contemporary space – the perfect base to relax and explore the Cornish coastline.
Porthkidney Beach, with its expansive white sands, is located two-minutes’ drive away; from St Uny’s Church at Lelant, we took the winding Coastal Path down through the dunes, with views across to St Ives and Hayle. For a longer stomp, walk four-miles into St Ives, where there’s the option to continue further along the six-mile stretch to Zennor or take in the scenes from Porthminster Beach across to St Ives Harbour.
Drive | Eat
Leaving Una, we took Route Nine – St Ives – Padstow – to Newquay, stopping at The Big Green Shed in Hayle, set in 36-acres of wildflower meadows and woodland with meandering paths throughout. The café is run by Ben Prior – critically acclaimed by Michelin – and his wife Lisa, with Ben’s protégé Archie Reynolds, creating some pioneering dishes. It’s a relaxed spot for an inventive lunch made with seasonal Cornish produce with sweetest handmade treats to follow – set in nature with covers both inside and outside overlooking the sunflower meadows. The prettiest rural grounds are part of The Woodland Collection Holiday Cottages, where there are also two secure dog parks to stretch your canine pals legs.
After lunch, we picked up Route Nine and continued to Tolcarne Beach Village – a stunning resort with an assortment of beach cabins and houses, colonial rooms and suites. Nestled at the bottom of the dramatic cliffs with its own private beach, Tolcarne is perfectly positioned for watching sunsets from your hot tub and waking to the sound of the waves. Spacious beach houses boast beautiful, rich colour palettes with a colonial style.
The Colonial is a brilliant onsite restaurant with a relaxed beachside vibe, serving lazy lunches and sunset suppers, alongside an imaginative cocktail menu. Being in Newquay, it’s all about the surf here – hire a body board and a wetsuit and make the most of The Atlantic ocean being right on your doorstep.
Drive | walk | eat
After an early morning surf, and indulging in a hearty breakfast, we continued north on Route Nine, snaking around the headland to Watergate Bay for a long beach walk across the two-mile expanse of tidal sands. Stopping for lunch at The Beach Hut – a laidback beachside hangout – we tucked into simply cooked, tasty dishes, with a view over Watergate Beach.
Drive | walk
Continuing around the headland from Watergate, the iconic structure of The Scarlet is instantly recognisable built into the landscape, boasting an inimitable cliff-top location with dreamy vistas, overlooking the golden sands of Mawgan Porth. We stop for a clifftop hot tub before heading to Bedruthen Steps for a blustery walk around the extraordinary sculptural rock formations.
For our final stopover, we step into the sea air at the sensory Spa Garden at Bedruthan Hotel & Spa, set on the dramatic clifftops, overlooking the Atlantic – it’ the perfect bolthole for a restorative getaway. Followed up by a healthy supper at the hotel’s newest foodie offering – Ogo, boasting a seasonal menu that showcases sustainably-caught fish and farmed meat.
It’s time to pack up our Skoda Enyaq – having been a brilliant insight into driving long distance in an EV – and with the pup safely strapped into the back, listening to the Skoda Happy Hounds playlist on Spotify – proven to calm anxious travelling dogs – we leave the north coast of Cornwall behind, following Route Nine to Padstow – offering up some of the best views along this wild stretch of The South West 660.
It may be Cornish soup weather (otherwise known as mizzle), but watching the stormy Atlantic breakers fading into the distance, provides the perfect way to end to our January escape.
A note from the author…
Natalie Millar-Partridge drove the Skoda ENYAQ – an award-winning family and dog-friendly model – combining cutting-edge technology with sustainable design. Featuring an 82kWh battery capacity, this electric marvel offers an impressive 125kW DC battery charging capability, which allows for around 260 mile-range on a single charge. With leather seats, a Cognac faux leather dashboard, and Piano Black décor, it delivers comfort and elegance while prioritizing eco-friendly credentials through its advanced electric powertrain.
‘Škoda is on a mission to make eco-friendly adventures easy and exhilarating for the everyday explorer. For further information surrounding the all-electric Škoda Enyaq, visit skoda.co.uk/electric to find out more.’