Sometimes, you just need to get out of the everyday grind that is city life, and go somewhere a bit more peaceful. And where could be more peaceful than a cottage on a farm in a quiet corner of north Cornwall?
With a few equally work-weary colleagues, I headed to The Olde House in the village of Chapel Amble (I kept wanting to call it Ambridge, I’ve obviously been listening to too much Radio Four). Close to Padstow (where we stopped for a quick wander, sadly too late to eat at one of Rick Stein’s restaurants), it’s set in the rolling countryside and accessible via lots of country roads (not a motorway in sight).
The Olde House is a series of self-catering cottages set on the 500-acre Penpont Farm. Arriving at dusk, we were impressed with the cute cottages we could see, but with not much light left (and unlike in the city there aren’t buildings lit up all over the place here) we headed straight to our home for the weekend – Poppy Cottage, which had curtains decorated with poppies – ultra cute!
Having spent hours and hours (and hours) in a car, we discovered a tray of fresh baked scones awaiting us, with jam and clotted cream in the fridge. For four ravenous, tired people, it was the perfect snack to scarf down sitting at the gorgeous wooden kitchen table as the sun completely set.
Following a late night of lazing around the living room of the cottage, eating and chatting, we woke up the next morning to find the sun shining and a dog or two racing about in the back garden we shared with a few other cottages – all fitting in perfectly with the old farmhouse and the farm buildings despite being much, much newer.
The fields stretched out as far as the eye could see, and there were plenty of sheep milling about.
|Two of the recently-born lambs at The Olde House|
They weren’t the only animals we encountered – there are plenty of chickens wandering around the site, and a farm dog or two.
Set on a working farm, The Olde House gives visitors a hands-on experience, if they want. The farm is home to hundreds of cows, and to even more sheep, and when we visited it was lambing season. Because of the mild climate, Penpont Farm is able to lamb in November and March.
Andrew, the owner of The Olde House, was kind enough to ring us when a sheep was about to give birth, and we got the chance to help bring a couple of little lambs into the world, which was an exhilarating experience.
The Olde House is located not far from the water, so on the advice of the owners (and armed with a map they provided us with), we took ourselves off for a coastal walk. We parked at Port Quin (or Portquin as it was spelt on one roadsign I saw) and there discovered a beautiful cove, a bit like something from a Famous Five book by Enid Blyton, but without the smugglers.
|The cove at Port Quin|
As the tide was out, we headed down to explore, spending far too much time leaping across rocks (covered in oyster shells) and heading into two caves (fulfilling my childhood fantasy of being part of the aforementioned Famous Five). Dark and echoey, one had a natural chimney in it, and for a moment it was easy to forget there was a whole modern world outside.
It was then onto the coastal path, where every step brought us yet another spectacular view of the blue-green sea.
We headed to Port Issac – a 2.5mile walk from Port Quin if you believe the signs there, and a 3mile walk if you believe the signs at Port Issac. I say three miles.
The coastal path is not an easy walk, but even as spectacularly unfit as I am, I managed to traipse along at my own pace, enjoying the scenery and only getting slightly out of breath at all the steps there were to climb (the key is to let others in your group go ahead of you and pretend to be admiring the view when they ask why you’ve stopped – easily believable with the view you get).
|The view from Port Issac|
We encountered a number of other walkers as we traversed through fields, up and down hillsides, and over a gorgeous little river at one point, before the small town of Port Issac, full of narrow streets, stone houses, and little shops and cafes, came into view.
With the sun shining brightly down, the town was bathed in a pretty light, enhancing its beauty. We popped into a gallery selling beautiful jewellery, paintings, photographs and more, and a little sweet shop, where we bought some delicious fudge, which came in a variety of flavours.
The day’s walking left us hungry, so it was back to the cottage for a hearty dinner. It’s not just the great setting that makes The Olde House a great destination – it’s the attention to small details and the little touches.
In addition to the scones on arrival and the call from Andrew, this can be illustrated by the way the kitchen was well equipped. Not only were there the usual crockery and cutlery, kettle and toaster, we also discovered the cupboards had things we never thought we’d need, but ended up using, from a cheese grater to egg cups to a toast rack (the latter two coming in handy for long, leisurely breakfasts).
|Poppy Cottage at The Olde House|
For children, there is a fun-looking play area – we were tempted to try it out but figured it would be best left to actual children, rather than children at heart.
And to help you unwind and relax any aching muscles from all that walking, there is a swimming pool, jacuzzi and steam room on site.
Packing up our belongings, including our muddy boots, on our final day, we left The Olde House with wistful sighs, already missing the peaceful surroundings, and the gorgeous views. One last picture turned into 10 last pictures, before we finally drove off, our weekend having met its goal – to relax us and take us away from the pace of city life for a few days.
The Olde House, Chapel Amble, Cornwall, PL27 6EN