Cosy Winter Retreat to Kestle Barton
At the start of December, I had the pleasure of spending a weekend at the wonderful Howthere Barn, part of out collection of properties at Kestle Barton, on The Helford. Having read up on the barn and Kestle Barton, I felt very lucky to be spending a couple of days in such a stunning property with beautiful surroundings, and despite having lived in Cornwall for many years, the western side of The Helford is an area I’ve yet to explore so brought my walking boots ready for a weekend of adventure!
It is always such a great feeling driving the lesser used Cornish roads – the sense of escapism and leaving all trace of household jobs, work pressures and day-to-day responsibilities behind is so invigorating. As darkness fell, we navigated the country roads to find Kestle Barton, unlocked the door to Howthere and were simply taken aback with the layout and style of it. I knew that all of the properties had been architecturally restored, and of course the photos showcased the showstopping interiors but somehow seeing the barn in person just blew me away. As the only two sleeper in Kestle Barton, I wasn’t expecting Howthere to be perhaps smaller, but the high ceilings, super king bed on a large mezzanine and huge leather sofa assured me that we wouldn’t be short on space! Being nearly six foot tall I was also delighted to see a bath with sides high enough to have a proper soak in after a country walk too – I was in heaven!
After a glass of wine and some reading by the roaring fire, we headed off to bed, ready to explore the next morning. We’d already decided on a brunch of gourmet sausage rolls from the famous Gear Farm – as a relative local, I’d heard the legends of this small farm shop and their pasties, sausage rolls and other local produce so I was itching to see what the hype was all about. Let me tell you, that pork and cranberry sausage roll was the BEST sausage roll I’ve ever had. I will most certainly be finding more excuses to travel down to that neck of the Cornish to sample more pastries!
After brunch, we got our wellies on, the OS map out and set out to test the walk to Helford Village. Expecting it to be a bit of a trek, I had a water bottle, backpack and jumper at the ready, which all proved unnecessary (as did the map!). The footpath leads out of Kestle Barton, past some of the bigger barns and is then very well signposted. We wandered down through the neighbouring field, out into thick woodland where we followed the stream all the way along (about 10 minutes) before reaching the first houses that make up Helford Village. I couldn’t believe it was this close – from Howthere to The Shipwrights (the Helford Village pub), in total it must’ve been a 15 minute walk. We made a pitstop for a pint of Cornish Tribute (what else?!), and set off in search of Frenchman’s Creek – Daphne du Maurier’s inspiration. We followed the river inland, occasionally crossing over fields studded with what will soon be blooming daffodils. We walked for miles without seeing a soul, just watching ducks paddle in the river and being joined on one of the hidden beaches by a collie who was desperate to play fetch with seaweed. Idyllic simply isn’t good enough for the atmosphere. It was overcast but still, and the water was a stunning shade of dark turquoise. We barely heard the sound of a car, let alone saw one as we meandered along the footpaths back to our retreat.
Upon our return, we made a cup of tea and went to explore the gardens of Kestle Barton – famously glorious in the Spring and Summer. With it being December, not much was in flower but it didn’t detract from the neatly pruned shrubs and immaculately mowed lawns – you could just imagine the scents and sights that come to life in the summer. Having said that, we wandered the gardens without seeing another soul. We watched robins darting here and there, and blackbirds hopping around in search of worms as we idly strolled the lovely grounds.
As the walk into Helford Village was so short, we’d decided that, despite the darkness creeping in by about four, we’d walk to The Shipwrights and get dinner. I was a little sceptical about a woodland walk at night, but armed with wellies and torches (and the courage from a glass of prosecco!) we set off. Once at the pub, we sat out in the covered section of the ‘beer garden’ (in reality, it is much more than a beer garden – think a waterfront terrace with plenty of seating and coloured fairy lights lighting up the water) and enjoyed a drink before heading inside for tea. Expecting a menu of pub classics, we were delighted with the choices (and prices!). A Thai seafood curry of dreams, and the biggest portion of fresh moules frites I’ve ever seen meant we finished our meals in awe of what this little village pub could do. It was utterly delicious and we will be back! I’ve also heard wonderful things about The Yard at Trelowarren, so if you’re staying at Kestle Barton then do give that a go too.
We set off via the road to walk home as the heavens opened. Normally I’d be swiftly returning to the pub to call a taxi, but I felt so peaceful that the feeling of big drops of rain falling just seemed to make our weekend even better. Plus, we knew it wouldn’t take long to dry out by the woodburner! The next morning, with a five year olds’ birthday party looming, we were very sad to be leaving lovely Kestle Barton – and a quick flick through the guest book suggested we weren’t the only ones to feel this way on departing Howthere Barn. We will definitely be back to these amazing retreats – perhaps next time we’ll come later in Spring and wander the gallery, or discover a new walk from Kestle Barton…either way, I’ll be singing its praises for years to come. If you’re after a relaxing escape for two, look no further than Howthere Barn.