Travel - A Cornish Campervan Adventure Part 1

October 14, 2014

Ben never wants, or asks for anything for his Birthday so I always use it as an excuse to treat him to a trip away for his Birthday instead. His Birthday falls at the end of August but I wanted to avoid the school holidays so I booked us a week away at the start of September instead. We'd been lucky and had quite a busy year for international travel with trips to Paris, Santorini and the Maldives so wanted to stay in the U.K, plus September is usually a nice time of year weather wise. The last time we'd been to Cornwall was when we got engaged, two September's before, and we'd had a late summer heatwave and stayed in a gorgeous Mr & Mrs Smith hotel in St Ives which had been amazing so I was keen for our trip to be different this time so we wouldn't be disappointed or perhaps have too higher expectations. A camper van. That's what we'd hire for our accommodation!

It would be a completely different experience, and as long as the weather was on our side, a good one! I looked up a few different companies and settled upon O'Connors Campers in the end as they seemed the most well-equipped, friendly and had a nice choice of vintage VW camper vans to hire. They were also based at the top of Devon in Okehampton which would be handy to drop our car off after the motorway and pick up the van before setting off on a circular trip of Devon and Cornwall. I was super excited but thought I'd better check with Ben that he would be happy to drive it before I confirmed our booking, luckily he was and he loves anything old and cool like a vintage VW. It suddenly dawned on me that I wouldn't have any luxuries of a boutique hotel or cottage that I'm used to when we go away, this would be almost camping!! I got a little freaked out and hoped I'd enjoy it {in the end I need not have worried for an instant we had such an amazing time}. I put the trip to the back of my mind until after our wedding and honeymoon and then got focused on the planning. We get bored fairly easily and the whole point of a camper van is so that you can drive to a different destination each day and then pitch up for the night at a new base so we decided to go for a different area and camp-site each night rather than one place for the whole trip which in the end worked really well. I chose and booked all of our camp-sites a few weeks before on a website called Cool-Camping which was invaluable. We chose our favourite place in Cornwall that we wanted to visit and based our search around there; Salcombe, Fowey, St Ives and Padstow which went in a big loop around the coast and would finish back at Okehampton to drop Barbarossa, our campervan back. Cool-Camping had great reviews of each campsite and only pick their favourites in the area so you can be sure to get good showers, views and location. And so begins our travelogue if you'd like to have a read and a look:

We drove down to Devon on a sunny Monday morning and picked up Barbarossa, the grey 1965 vintage split screen VW. Sure it wasn't as colourful as some of the others but we chose it for the windows and roof that opens up fully, it's made for couples and summer adventures.

We drove straight to Salcombe, I was so excited to get to the beach after being stuck in a car for four hours on such a glorious day. It took Ben a little getting used to driving such an old van, it had no power steering and slightly dodgy brakes! After a few grit your teeth and hold on tight moments, we parked at the top of the hill in Salcombe and walked down towards the town and sea.

The views were gorgeous, blue skies, countryside and the sea in front of us. We'd been to Salcombe for a few nights back in 2010 so it was nice to return. It's a nice seaside town with a Jack Wills kind of vibe, the shop was founded here and it has all your yachting types and shops like Seasalt and Quba ubiquitous in the Cornish fishing villages with money. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the shops, looking at the harbour and watching the ferry but we were conscious it was our first night at a campsite so we didn't want to get there too late. We bought some dinner supplies and headed back up the hill again to the camper van to head to our first camp site.

Our first camp site was called Karrageen in nearby Hope Cove. It was gorgeous, a big field with hedgerows to pitch up in and we had a spot with an electric hook-up and drinking water right next to us. I think it was about £20 a night and you had to pay 40p for a shower token but we couldn't fault the facilities {and I'm a bit OCD about cleanliness}. Going in September just outside of the real peak summer season meant the campsites were fairly quiet and adults only. It was a beautiful evening, so warm and the blue sky was unreal.

We opened the roof up and relaxed in the sunshine. 


I loved the cream interior and the set-up, it had two seats in the back with cooking facilities that folded down as a mattress for a bed at night. The fabric for the curtains was cute with beach huts. It was equipped with everything we needed, pots and pans lived in storage underneath the seats and they even gave us tea towels and washing up liquid! 

We cooked on the stove {sausages from the Salcombe} and set up the table inside before setting up the bed and curtains for the night.

September sunsets are gorgeous and the owner of the campsite told us about a field with views across to the sea.

It was so peaceful, no traffic, no trains, no people. Just us, the birds singing and the sunset.

The next morning, the sunrise and birds woke us up and we cooked breakfast and got packed up early to maximise our time in Fowey about an hour's drive down the coast.

It was another gorgeous day and warmed up really quickly. Fowey was a town we'd never been to before but it was recommended by Ben's mum who goes to Cornwall every year.

The sea and sky were so gorgeous and tranquil, we felt like we could have been on a Greek Island not in England.


We walked to Moneypenny beach, which although was covered in seaweed, was still beautiful. And then back into the main town to explore.

Fowey's such a sweet old fishing town with lots of boats in the harbour still today. It has cobbled streets, good restaurants and shops.

Around lunchtime we drove onto Polkerris Bay, a beach with an amazing restaurant called Sam's on the Beach. They have a few other branches but this was our favourite with the best views and an amazing menu.

We grabbed a sunny table at the front near the sand and shared some yummy potted prawns to start with, truly in the holiday spirit. We couldn't believe how hot it was and also how quiet, I'm sure this beach would have been heaving just a week or two earlier in the school holidays.

We both ordered sardines that were served with the most delicious ratatouille I've ever had, salad and foccacia bread. One of the best lunches with the best view we'd had in a long while.

Our next camp-site was just twenty minutes on from Sam's on the beach at Polkerris, The Meadows at Pentewan Sands. A cute, bunting filled site with the friendliest owners. 

Pentewan Sands beach was gorgeous, and again so quiet! September is the time to go away in the UK.

As gorgeous as the beach was, we had had a lot of sun and there's only so much you can do at the beach so we decided to go to the nearby Lost Gardens of Heligan for the afternoon which was gorgeous but in hindsight we could have spent a whole day there, it was huge. It felt like we walked for miles around the different sections, vegetable patches, flower gardens, jurassic tropical gardens, fields with piglets and sheep, it goes on. Well worth a visit though.

We got back to the camp-site and discovered a mobile wood fired pizza van had set up there as they do each Tuesday night for the season, so we ordered delicious pizzas and sat by Barbarossa in the sunshine. 

Our feet were aching but it was such a nice evening we couldn't resist walking to the beach along the river. The sky was so pretty and the sun set as we walked back.

The next morning, keen to get to St Ives and have a full day, we again got up fairly early before the best day of our trip. 

Part Two coming up next week with our days in St Ives and Padstow filled with photos! 

R <3 xx 

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  1. Cornish Campervan Adventure!! That’s superb my dear! All the pictures are saying it all. Well I also want to go on an adventurous trip with all my friends. We would like to hire the finest campervan hire Australia services for our trip!


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