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!!