Romantic places in Cornwall to spend Valentine's Day

PUBLISHED: 11:41 18 February 2019 | UPDATED: 14:54 18 February 2019

St Michael's Mount. Photo credit: Benjamin Elliott

St Michael's Mount. Photo credit: Benjamin Elliott

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Mark Valentine’s Day in February with a slice of romantic Cornwall. Su Carroll suggests some places to take your breath away

For centuries lovers have embraced the romance of Cornwall – waves crashing on a deserted beach, the quiet rivers and creeks, the wild moorland. Writers, artists and even gardeners have fallen in love with the coasts and countryside of Cornwall from its natural beauty to the romantic notions found in novels, poems and paintings.

St Nectan’s Glen, Tintagel

St Nectan’s Glen near Tintagel is an unspoilt natural wonder – a sacred site with a 60ft waterfall at its heart, the Kieve. There are beautiful woodland walks and two further waterfalls, one of which has only been accessible since 2016.

There’s a magical air to the place as the River Trevillet makes its way to the sea and it’s a prime location for proposals… so be prepared to fall under its spell. St Nectan’s Glen is near Tintagel and its romantic Arthurian legend. Sadly, the closest you will get to Tintagel Castle is to gaze at it from a distance as English Heritage is installing a new pedestrian bridge and it is closed to visitors until the spring.

Lamorna Cove, Penzance

The Cornish light has appealed to artists for many years with its magical qualities. This light isn’t just a figment of the artist’s imagination – the clean air and the crystal waters refract natural sunlight in a different way to somewhere inland.

St Ives, Newlyn and Falmouth have all supported colonies of painters drawn together. Perhaps the most romantic artistic haven is Lamorna Cove which became popular in the late 19th and early 20th century with painters such as Laura and Harold Knight, Alfred Munnings and S J ‘Lamorna’ Birch, who adopted the name to differentiate himself from another artist.

The heady atmosphere has been captured in Summer in February, a film and a book about the true story of a love triangle between Munnings, his friend Gilbert Evans and artist Florence Carter-Wood which ends in tragedy.

Authors Derek and Jeannie Tangye had a more peaceful time at Lamorna, where Derek wrote the charming The Minack Chronicles. After their death, a trust took over the care of their land as a nature reserve. The 18-acres of Oliver land is preserved as a place for quiet contemplation among its abundance of flora and fauna.

Frenchman’s Creek, Helston

Daphne du Maurier was an author who understood about Cornwall’s natural beauty. She lived in the county for most of her life, including a manor house called Menabilly in Fowey and Bodinnick overlooking the river nearby. Cornish locations, particularly around Fowey where she lived, feature in her novels – The House on the Strand, My Cousin Rachel, Rebecca, Jamaica Inn and The King’s General.

Her historical romance, Frenchman’s Creek, is named after a real location on the Helford River. In the book an English Lady falls in love with a French pirate and the novel oozes passion. Daphne writes: ‘and through it all and afterwards they would be together, making their own world where nothing mattered but the things they could give to one another, the loveliness, the silence, and the peace.’

St Breward, Bodmin Moor

If anything has captured that wild romance of Cornwall recently, it has been the hugely successful television version of Winston Graham’s Poldark novels. Ross, Demelza, George and Elizabeth played out their lives against a stunning backdrop of the Cornish coast and moor. The BBC production was filmed extensively in Cornwall including St Breward on Bodmin Moor (where Will Young’s house stood in for Ross and Demelza’s home), the port of Charlestown and the coast at Porthgwarra, Botallack, Gunwalloe, Porthcothan, Porthcurno and Kynance Cove – which doubled as Ross’s beach at Nampara.

The ‘Poldark effect’ has boosted the visitor numbers to Cornwall, but in February you could pick any one of the beach locations and find them fairly deserted.

Lost Gardens of Heligan, St Austell

If beaches don’t make your heart skip a beat, then how about gardens? The Lost Gardens of Heligan have a romantic past – almost all of the estate staff wiped out during the First World War after which the gardens and grounds become neglected and overgrown until rescued in 1990 and restored to their former glory and beyond. Or Trebah, designed as a pleasure garden by wealthy Quaker Charles Fox and where camellias and rhododendrons will be in bloom even in February.

Trelissick, cared for by the National Trust, is still revealing its secret past. It has a forgotten room left untouched for 60 years as a secret tunnel from the cellars and a secret garden. Could there be a more romantic combination?

St Michael’s Mount, Penzance

And finally, if none of these strike a chord – head for St Michael’s Mount near Penzance. The view from the top is spectacular and it is said that touching the bedrock at the Mount’s highest point will make your wishes come true, especially before a proposal to marry.

What could be more romantic than a Cornish legend? 

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