Winter Wonders: our favourite things to do in Cornwall in Winter

Winter might be thought of as the low season but here at Pengelly Retreat we have been busy with lovely guests all year round. And some might say that it’s the guests in the know that visit Cornwall in the winter months as you get the most amazing places pretty much all to yourself. Yes the weather can be stormy but we do get our share of gorgeous crisp sunny winter’s days here. And you can be sure of blowing away the cobwebs if you visit at this time of year too!

So to celebrate the winter months and those intrepid visitors who aren’t put off by cold and frosty mornings, here’s some of our favourite things to do in Cornwall in the winter months:

A cold and frosty morning by the lake

Winter welly walk on the beach – Cornwall boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Bold statement, but I don’t think anyone would disagree! And while the summer months draw the big crowds, the winter months are the best time for getting these beautiful expanses of sand, sea and fresh air to yourself. We love that we can be on a beautiful north or south coast beach within 15 minutes’ – being in the middle has it’s benefits! So pull on those wellies and get a lung full of fresh air. We are big fans of Gwithian & Godrevy on the north coast and Praa Sands and Poldhu on the south.

Dreamy Godrevy Beach in winter

Cold water swimming – open air swimming is all the rage at the moment with a list of health benefit as long as your arm. Amongst other things, plunging into cold water can help relieve anxiety and depression – and help you sleep better too (although best to check with your GP before taking the plunge). Now I’m going to be completely honest here, there is no way I’m going to leap into cold water in the middle of winter. However Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jim both swear by it. So you can’t argue with that. And where better to test it out than a beautiful Cornish beach – or the even more freezing at this time of year wild swimming lake at Pengelly Retreat!

Get those wellies on for a beach walk!

Chilling out in a cosy pub or restaurant – if you’ve had enough of the bracing fresh air, then how about spending some time in one of Cornwall’s lovely pubs or restaurants with some hearty food to keep you toasty warm. We really like Sunday lunches at Kota Kai in Porthleven, Trengilly Wartha near Constantine, Heron Inn at Malpas and Pandora Inn at Restronguet. Porthleven is one of our favourite places if we’re wanting to pop out for a meal, it’s only 10 minutes’ drive from us and there’s a whole range of cafes, restaurants and pubs to choose from. Also a great spot to watch the intrepid surfers catching the waves by the pier, even on the chilliest winter day.

Porthleven potter

Hang out in St Ives, without the crowds – we do love beautiful St Ives and it’s only 20 minutes’ or so drive from Pengelly Retreat. But for us it’s a bit of a no-go zone in the summer months as it gets so busy. In the winter it’s a fab place to visit, parking is easy-peasy (something you won’t be saying in the summer) and there are lots of independent shops and galleries to browse around in the charming cobbled streets. The Tate St Ives is a always a winner on a rainy day, potter round the exhibits, enjoy the views of Porthmeor Beach out of the windows and head up to the cafe for a well-earned cup of tea and a scone.

Porthmeor Beach, St Ives on a stormy day

Catch a movie at the artsy Newlyn Filmhouse – Newlyn is a one to watch on the up and coming lists. Traditionally a bustling fishing port there’s been a recent burgeoning of eating places, shops and galleries here. The Newlyn Filmhouse is a great place to head off to on a winter’s afternoon or evening for a meal at the restaurant/cafe. After refuelling, head into one of the plush cinema rooms to curl up on a very comfortable chair (or sofa!) and watch a movie. It’s so posh, they even have a no-rustle policy with only drinks and ice cream allowed in to the cinema rooms. Ideal for those of us who get a bit annoyed by someone crunching through a large portion of popcorn during the crucial bits of the film…

The tranquil Boat House on a sunny winter’s afternoon

We hope that’s given you some winter inspiration for your next Cornwall visit. If you fancy a winter – or indeed a spring, summer, autumn – stay in one of our lovely lakeside houses, then head to our availability calendars now to check out which dates are still free. We’re booking up fast for 2020 so you need to get in there to get the dates of your choice! Look forward to seeing you soon and look out for the next Postcard from Pengelly.

Wildlife & Autumn Wonders at Pengelly Retreat

Our first summer season has rushed by and we are now into one of our favourite times of year here at Pengelly Retreat. Autumn! I keep seeing the hashtag autumn vibes on social media at the moment and it always makes me smile because I love this time of year.

Autumn at Pengelly
Autumn sunrise over the lake from the Boat House

We’ve had a real mixed bag of weather in September and October with some gorgeous hot sunny days and some days when the rain just didn’t seem to stop. But this means the gardens and land are looking lush and lovely, with all those autumn red, orange and yellow tones coming through. 

Jim has been hard at work on the land as usual with his latest project planting a wetland garden round the oxbow lagoon, just beyond the Boat House. He’s planted umbrella grass, irises and reeds, sown bog meadow mix and planning to put in silver birch trees and gunnera plants. We can’t wait to see how it looks next spring. He’s also made a new compost area so we can properly compost our leaves and leftovers.

Planting done.. what will it look like next year?!

The wildlife has been flourishing too. We’ve got a hedgehog hibernating in the barn – it gets quite feisty if you go near it and hisses, so no photos. Jim and Aggie have built a beautiful hedgehog house by the stream in hopes a hibernating hedgehog might move in but no luck yet.  Picky customers those hedgehogs!  

Autumn sun over the Sail House

Lucky guests staying at the Sail House yurt have been enjoying watching a kingfisher who likes to perch near the lake looking for fish.  Apparently you can watch him from the comfort of the bed in there – now that’s luxurious bird-watching!  We also had a couple of sets of guests earlier in the season spot an otter in the lake.  We are thrilled that an otter has visited our lake at Pengelly Retreat.  

We’ve had quite a few guests try their hand at fishing for the wild brown trout in the lake during their stays – catch and release policy.  All I can say is those brown trout are VERY clever and you have to be a top fisher-person to catch them.  There’s lots in there, but the only guest who had much success was a pro fisherman who competes and wins in high profile competitions.  This doesn’t seem to put other guests off from trying, we all like a challenge!

Peaceful cloud reflections over one of the pools at Pengelly Retreat

We’ve been busy throughout the year and are already rapidly booking up for next year which is great.  Thank you very much to all our lovely guests who’ve stayed with us so far in our first year of running Pengelly Retreat and we look forward to meeting all those who are booked in with us for the future.  If you’d like to squeeze in a stay at the Boat House or the Sail House this year there’s still a chance!  We have a few dates available in November and first half of December, take a look at our availability calendar for details and prices.  

Happy Halloween everyone and look out for your next Postcard from Pengelly 🙂

Pengelly Retreat’s Guide to Busy Season in Cornwall

Yep it’s August and we are fully into crazy busy season here in Cornwall! August is great because there is so much going on from festivals to outdoor theatre, concerts, craft markets and country shows. You name it, it’s happening – and the buzz is amazing. But it can also be a bit tricky working out which are the best spots to avoid the crowds.

I don’t like to state the obvious here, but if you’re looking for peace and quiet then staying at Pengelly Retreat is a winner at any time of year, including August. We are located in gorgeous 5 acres of private land, lakes, gardens and meadows. And we have just 3 guest accommodation here so plenty of space to roam about, relax and enjoy without it feeling ‘busy’. Our lakeside houses in particular are super-private with lots of space around them and not overlooked by any other property. Bliss! Only thing is, you need to get your booking in early as we are full, full, full until well into September.

sail house

Other than staying at Pengelly Retreat, here are our other top tips for getting the best out of busy season in Cornwall:

  1.  Make sure you book ahead for meals out to avoid that really annoying “sorry we’re completely fully booked today” moment. We love eating out in Porthleven, which is a lovely Cornish harbour just 10 minutes’ down the road from us. Kota Kai is one of our favourites there, a bistro with great views over the harbour and a tasty Asian-Cornish fusion menu with plenty of fresh seafood.
  2. Which brings me neatly on to my next tip: go to Porthleven not Padstow in August! Padstow, lovely as it is, is full to bursting in August, it’s so well known these day.  So make like a local and head to Porthleven instead. It’s a bit like Padstow – it’s a picturesque Cornish harbour with cafes, shops and restaurants around it – but not as crazy-busy.  There’s even a Rick Stein restaurant there, as well as plenty of other eating & drinking options.     
  3. Don’t go to St Ives, unless you are very brave.  Ok so you can go to St Ives in August but it is going to be really busy.  My best advice is to avoid driving into St Ives as you’ll get stuck in traffic and have a hassle parking.  A more civilised option is to catch the branch line train from St Erth into St Ives – it’s a lovely 15 minute train journey along a very pretty bit of coastline.  There’s now a lovely big new car park at St Erth station so you’ve a good chance of getting a space, especially if you arrive fairly early in the morning.  And pack a picnic so you can find a spot on one of the beaches for your lunch without having to tangle with crowds in cafes.  
  4. Try and do the opposite of what everyone else is doing.  So on a hot, sunny, beachy kind of day avoid going to the beach and instead go to one of Cornwall’s gorgeous great gardens.  They are so beautiful and cool and shady on a hot day, perfect for a peaceful wander.  The gardens still get busy but they won’t be nearly as busy as the beach when the sun is shining.  Trengwainton near Penzance is a lovely one with lush tree ferns and cool water flowing down the hillside.
  5. If you are heading to the beach then go off the beaten track and steer clear of the best known beaches.  Kynance and Porthcurno are rightly famous beach beauties but they can get very packed in August and parking is limited.  Try one of Hayle’s beaches instead, where there is miles of golden sand and various different car parks to try.  If you head to Godrevy fairly early in the morning or later in the day then you’re likely to find a space.  Or go a bit leftfield and head for North Quay in Hayle where there is free parking along the road.  From here you can walk along a stretch of river estuary beach until you come out on a wonderful sweep of golden sands, part of St Ives Bay.  

So there you have it, my top tips for August in Cornwall.  Just don’t tell any one else!!

Summertime at Pengelly Retreat

Can you believe we are into June already, summer is well and truly here at Pengelly Retreat. The gardens, meadows, land and lakes are looking absolutely gorgeous and are once again full of wildflowers, birds, butterflies and dragonflies. This really is my favourite time of the year – apart from the occasional hayfever sneeze attack that is!

Sunny skies over the Pengelly Retreat Boat House

We’ve been so busy with happy guests staying in our 3 accommodations – the cosy Mill Annexe and our lakeside Boat House & Sail House – that I haven’t actually written a Postcard from Pengelly since January. Whoops!

My excuse is that in January we opened our beautiful Sail House yurt to our first guests and then mid-March we unveiled the rather lovely Boat House cabin too. And since then we literally haven’t stopped! At least not long enough to sit down at the laptop and type a blog post.

Looking lush: the Sail House in June

We’ve been so happy to get all the lovely feedback from those who have stayed with us in 2019 so far. Here’s what a recent visitor to the Sail House wrote in the guest book… These really make me smile when I read them – holiday bliss all round!

A little piece of heaven on earth

We still have a little bit of space in June, July and August – so if you are flexible on dates then take a look and snag yourself a piece of paradise in Cornwall this summer. Alternatively for the savvy traveller this is the best time to book up for autumn – equally lovely and a lot less busy on the beaches once the school holidays are over. So take your pick from the best dates in September, October and November now.

Wildflower meadow behind the Boat House

We look forward to seeing you at Pengelly Retreat soon – come and stay soon before we put the prices up 😉

The Sail House is Launched

Bless her and all who Sail in her!

At last!  After all those years of dreaming, planning and, constructing, the good news is the Pengelly Retreat Sail House is finally launched and open for business.  Hooray.  Over New Year, we had our first two sets of Air BnB guests come and stay in this luxurious double-yurt with it’s natty ensuite bathroom, cosy underfloor heating and gorgeous lake views.  And… they loved it!

The Sail House looking lovely in the winter

It’s so great to finally welcome guests to come and stay in the Sail House.  We think that it is beautiful and unique.  But sometimes you just need to hear someone else tell you that it really is!  So thank you to our first sets of guests and for all your lovely feedback and encouragement.

Inside the Sail House – yes, that is a bath tub you see in that there ensuite!

We are now in that nervous ‘early-days’ stage where we would love to get more guests booked in, more reviews on Air BnB and generally get the word out.  So if you, or any one you know, enjoys peace and quiet, lakeside views, wild swimming (yes even at this time of year), then we’ve got the perfect wild but cosy and comfortable Cornish getaway.  Just click on the link to book a stay, either on our website or on Air BnB.  There are also some really low introductory prices available at the moment so it’s a positive bargain too.

Even I can’t kill these plants (hopefully)

The Boat House

And how about the Boat House, that rather wondrous architect-designed wood cabin at the other end of the lake?  Well, the big news is… it will be open for business by the end of February.  Or possibly the start March….  One or the other.  But it is looking amazing!  We are so excited about this one.  The exterior is up (umm if you don’t include doors and windows), Jim has been painting the interior in Annie Sloan chalk paint (darling) after we agonised over 3 different kinds of white.  Who knew that was even possible?  The glass balustrade is up on the veranda (building regs – check!) and it is looking beautiful.  Here’s a recent pic of the exterior, yes it’s coming on!

The beautiful Boat House under a blue sky

The Mill Annexe

We’ve surprised ourselves even with how successful the Mill Annexe has been.  We stayed busy all through November and December and have had a fair few bookings through January.  We’ve closed it temporarily for a bit of re-painting TLC and will be opening up again from next week.  There’s availability again over the next few weeks, so if you are looking for a cosy place to stay in Cornwall at a price that is a total snip, book yourself a bargain on either our website or Air BnB.

What’s going on in Cornwall?

Well Christmas was a blast as ever down here.  I have never know such a chrimbo-loving county:  christmas lights up in all the villages, shows, fairs, markets, events…  It really is a great time to come and visit with so much on, no wonder we were booked out in the Mill Annexe all month.

Eden Project Domes lit up for Xmas (above), Xmas Markets and Lights (below)


We’ve been lucky with some sunny winter days before and after Christmas, the perfect time to enjoy the beaches without the crowds.  These pics are of St Ives in late December.   Lovely and quiet.  And sunny!


January and February are quieter months down here, ideal if you like to get away from it all.  And for the hardy types, the winter chill doesn’t stop the water sports – the surfers are out every day at Gwithian & Godrevy beaches (15 minutes’ to the north of us) and our amazing guest Wendy was out on the Pengelly Retreat lake swimming and paddle boarding during her stay in early January.  What a legend!  Click on the video link to below to see the photo evidence…

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Cornwall is also at it’s most dog-friendly in winter with the majority of beaches lifting their beach bans through the cooler months.  As for us, we are doggie-friendly all year round with 1 well-behaved pooch welcome in each of our accommodations.  As Cleaning Manager (yes, that is my new job title) I am now also something on an expert on the furriness of the different kinds of dogs who come to stay with us.  I do love the -oodles, labradoodles, cockerpoos and the like.  Those lovely non-shedding beasts!  But we welcome all kinds of dogs (and humans) to come and stay.  Have a look at this pic from our Instagram account of a recent guest, who was most well-behaved and didn’t shed a bit:

All of which gives me just enough time to sign off and leave you with a dreamy shot of winter skies above the Boat House.   Happy new year to you all and make it your resolution to come and stay in gorgeous Cornwall soon.

I’ll be back with more news in my next Postcard and meanwhile keep your eyes peeled for our pics and stories on Instagram and Facebook.








A Boat House is Born! And a Website too.

So much has happened since I last wrote a blog that I hardly know where to start.

Well, how about the fact that we now have a brand spanking new Boat House.  Ok the beginnings of it at least.  When I last wrote we’d just had our beautiful Sail House yurts constructed.  While at the other end of the lake, our Boat House was still just a twinkle in her umm Architect’s eye.

But now ta-daa here she is.  Complete with local family of ducks.

I would like to say that everything is 100% ready and now unveil the finished product with a huge flourish.  But as you may have spotted from the above photo, we’re not quite ready for guests yet.  These things take time – you’ve seen Grand Designs right?  And so our Boat House is still in her ‘developmental period’ (technical term).   However we are hugely excited to be progressing with the build at last.

The Boat House Build

It all started back in May with the arrival of some ginormous steel girders which form the base of the Boat House.  These were man-handled into place by Jim, Billy and Ross plus a smaller digger and a trailer.  No please don’t mention health & safety.  Fortunately all went well and no one had a girder fall on their foot.


To me.. to you…

Then the construction began in earnest.  Billy & Jim covered the girders in waterproof paint, laid the wooden floor joists down and built the timber wall frames and roof.


Be careful Billy!!

Since then things have continued apace with the roof tiled in slate and insulation and weather-proofing (the blue bit) to make sure this little house keeps cosy in winter and cool in summer.  There’s even a velux in the bedroom, our first window!


It’s still a shell of a building at the moment but the views from the (currently window and doorless) living area out across the lake are just jaw-dropping.  It’s such a peaceful feeling being on that balcony looking out over the lake, watching trout swim below the water and dragonflies and swallows dancing above.  Still lots of work to come but this Boat House is going to be a real beauty.

Sail House Update

So how about the Sail House you ask.  That’s all finished and kitted out now?

Well, no not exactly.  As with much else in Cornwall that will be happening ‘dreckly.  So far the electrics have gone in and Jim has completed the underfloor heating and laid this beautiful wood laminate floor.  Which does look rather fine, if you can just focus on that and ignore the general building mess and gubbins in the picture.

What a lovely wooden laminate floor!

The wood burner is in and so is the gorgeous free-standing bath tub.  I use the word ‘in’ loosely here – as in, the bath tub has been placed ‘in’ the yurt.  Nothing is actually plumbed in yet.  That’s also happening dreckly.

Meanwhile I have put together a design for the layout and have my list of interior fittings and fixtures to purchase. We’ve also chosen some gorgeous pieces of sycamore wood to construct the kingsize bed from.  The aim is to complete all ready for actual guests from November this year.

Did I mention the Website?

So what’ve I been doing over these interim months while Jim’s been busy moving steel girders and huge truckloads of soil about?  Lazing around in a sun lounger and do interior designering?  Sadly I don’t actually own a sun longer.  I really need to get one…  No I’ve been mostly writing content and working on our fantabulous website which is now fully fledged, up, running & ready for bookings.  As you’ll obviously having spotted if you’re reading this blog post.

Jim doing some ‘actual’ work

It’s been a learning curve for me, this is the first website I’ve ever launched and the world of social media is still something of a mystery.  I’m definitely not from the tech generation – when I was at university only IT students actually had email addresses (crazy new-fangled idea).  And no one I’d seen had a mobile phone.  Except Michael Douglas in Wall Street.  I also clearly remember in one of my early jobs that paper memos were still a ‘thing’.  This is quite odd as I’m pretty sure we did have emails at this point…

Luckily we have some very talented friends to help us.  Rich created our beautiful logo and branding (  This cleverly encapsulates some of the things we love about Pengelly: the swallows that dip into the lake, the brown trout which leap out of the water, the dragonflies that dance above.  While Pat ( designed and created our fabulous website and has also shown the patience of a saint with my endless lists of questions and ideas.  We are thrilled with the results, thank you very much to both.  And if you are in need of amazing branding and a website then you need look no further.

.Alongside website-ing, I’ve been trying to inform myself about all things Social Media by watching seminars on Youtube.  I have so far learnt that video is the future (isn’t that a bit 80’s?) and Facebook is going to be all videos by the year 2020.  Or something.  Well there you go – a free top social media tip from me

While I may not be quite ready to run my own Youtube seminar as yet, I have got Pengelly Retreat set up on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  And over the coming months I will be sharing lots of news, offers and general excitement.  So click on the links and follow us – you’d be crazy not to!

Mill House & Annexe

We’ve also been keeping busy with lots of guests to our Mill Annexe over the past few months, plus a busy July & August of whole House rentals.  I’ve got to hand it to Air Bnb, their marketing reach is phenomenal and we’ve enjoyed hosting visitors from all over the world.  Here are just some of the lovely comments we’ve had recently:

“This is an absolute gem. A dream home in a private paradise.”

“Ruth’s Place is lovely, welcoming and relaxing. The grounds are wonderful, we saw a Heron, bats, ducks, jumping fish and lots of cute tiny frogs! There are many beautiful spaces to sit with a book or just emerse yourself in the sounds of nature.”

“Beautiful house on stunning grounds. Kids love it to bits. Wouldn’t go anywhere else in Cornwall ”

I’m also pretty pleased with myself for achieving Superhost status on Air BnB.  I’d like to think is much like being a Superhero, but umm in the world of holiday rentals.  Air BnB describe a Superhost as ‘ a host who goes above and beyond’ and who hits the required targets, including 5 star rating, quick response times and happy clients.  And as some of you may know, I do LOVE a target.  So I am super-grateful to all our guests who have enjoyed their stays at Pengelly and given us such lovely feedback.  Thank you.

Here’s a bit of stat-age for you all.  Apparently 13 recent guests have said our Mill Annexe is “sparkling clean” and 90% rated it as 5* for value for money.  I am particularly thrilled about the cleaning feedback as I have recently discovered I have OC-cleaner tendencies.  Who knew.  Look out Kim & Aggie from How Clean is your House (not my Aggie – she is definitely not displaying OC-cleaner tendencies). Anyway nice to see that this has been noticed by happy guests.

Summer turns to Autumn

As interested as you are in my cleaning stats, I thought I’d leave you with a few lovely pictures of our land, flowers and gardens that I took today.  It does feel like autumn is round the corner with leaves starting to falls and the nights going chillier.  We’ve all got the ‘back to school’ feeling with Aggie back at pre-school and us back to business after our August travels.

Although it’s officially autumn, we are still enjoying some gorgeous sunshine here. The dragonflies are having their final late summer hoorah before they disappear for the cooler months.  The wild mint is growing with wild abandon round the lake edges, September is a lovely month for this.  And there are some gorgeous red flowers blooming by our ponds.  Tell me if you know what these are!

Happy autumn and ‘back to school’ to you all.  I’ll keep you on posted on our news on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram (go on, click on the links!!) and in my next Postcard from Pengelly x