cornwall

Minke Whale off Cornwall

Wild about wildlife

31Aug

Anyone who visits Cornwall comes to see the sea, but the amazing animals that populate this beautiful coastline can be a little bit more elusive. Here are some hints to get close to the beautiful ocean wildlife whilst visiting Cornwall.

Atlantic Grey Seals play on rocks

Atlantic Grey Seals play on rocks

Some marine mammals are quite easy to see – grey seals are abundant around the coast and there are great spots to view them from land and sea. They tend to roam around good feeding grounds and haul out at their favourite sunning spots. St Ives Bay has good sources of fish for the seals, and some inaccessible coves that they can retreat to.

Chy an Carrack’s best vantage point is the master en suite, the highest window, from where you can often see seals bobbing around the rocks of Porthminster Point, just below the house.  Keep an eye out for seals around Porthminster Beach, the Harbour and Carbis Bay Beach and on coastal walks.  If you head to Godrevy Point at the other end of the bay there is a haul out cove just around from the lighthouse, peek down the sheer drop from the cliffs above and you are bound to see a few sunning themselves below (more than 100 have been spotted at one time). Even newborn fluffy white seal pups appear during the autumn breeding season. The Cornish Seal Sanctuary, near Helston, rescues many seal pups in autumn and winter and at their rescue centre you can see the work they do and get close to the seals.

Dolphins in the Atlantic Ocean

Dolphins in the Atlantic Ocean

Why not get out onto the sea?  You can take a boat trip to “Seal Island” from St Ives Harbour. Try taking a SUP or kayak out from one of the beaches and if you are lucky you might get close and personal – we had a seal pop up and say hello whilst bodyboarding at Carbis Bay beach last week. They are more likely to be around early in the morning or in the evening when the beaches are less busy.

Dolphins appear regularly but are more elusive than the seals. Chy an Carrack has a great panoramic views of the bay so keep your eyes peeled and get the binoculars out for a closer look if a pod of dolphins does appear, again morning or evening are good times to look. They are also regularly spotted at Porthmeor and Sennen beaches, and known to enjoy a bit of surfing.

The biggest marine life to spot are basking sharks and whales. Basking sharks are gentle giant filter feeders that appear in spring and summer when the plankton blooms – they are easiest seen from headlands like the Lizard or Land’s End. You have to be very lucky to see whales from land, but if you do you certainly don’t forget it – the author having spotted a pod of four enormous whales one winter from Godrevy Point.

Perhaps the best chance to get to see the elusive marine wildlife is to go on a dedicated wildlife cruise, when you might get to see seals, dolphins, the bizarre sunfish, sharks and even whales.

Ocean Sunfish surfaces

Ocean Sunfish surfaces

The south coast is a good cruising location and specialists such as AK Wildlife Cruises run year round excursions from Falmouth and through the year spot a wide variety of these amazing creatures, as well as a wide range of beautiful seabirds. Read more about the thrill of an ocean safari in this great article by Charlie Elder here.

Ocean sunfish and minke whale pictures (taken off the Cornwall coastline) courtesy of Charlie Elder, journalist, photographer and author – check out his beautiful photos and books here.

Marvellous May

22May

May is the month when you really start to feel summer in on its way, days lengthen, the sun shines and you can feel the warm sand beneath your toes.

There is plenty to do in St Ives – here’s our guide to making the most of May!

With the warm weather its the perfect time to get into the water – try stand up paddle boarding from the gentle beaches of Porthminster below the house or Carbis Bay just along the coast path.  Surfers can head to Gwithian across the bay or Porthmeor, St Ives. Both have excellent surf schools so if you have never surfed or SUP’d before why not book a lesson?

Patrick Heron – Azalea Garden: May 1956 – Tate
© The estate of Patrick Heron

Tate St Ives launches its main summer exhibition in May (til 30 Sept ’18) and this year the Patrick Heron retrospective brings a life-affirming splash of colour and energy.  The internationally renowned post-war artist was based on the wilder side of St Ives, near Zennor, surrounded by dramatic landscapes and perched overlooking the sea.

Over 300 working artists open their studios to all from 19-28 May 18 in Open Studios Cornwall.  There are many based in and around St Ives and it is a great chance to meet contemporary artists and learn about their skill, book into a workshop or pick up something special.

St Ives Food and Drink Festival (11-13 May 18) – set on the golden sands of Porthminster Beach – just below Chy an Carrack, you can pop down for local and fusion food, chef demos and sample some cracking Cornish beer and spirits.  Our favourites this year were Tarquins Gin Bar and the fish burgers!  Local boy Tom Brown, previously head chef at Outlaws at The Capital, who has just opened his own new London venture Cornerstone, did a great demo scallop dish.

If you want to make the most of the light evenings and the best local seafood – why not have a beach barbecue?  Mackerel fillet burgers are highly recommended as a quick and easy supper, that taste even better on the beach. Just add ciabatta, crisp lettuce, tomato slices, spring onion and a parsley, tarragon and Dijon mayonnaise to raise them to a sublime seaside feast, whilst the sun sets over the waves.

 

 

 

St Ives Food and Drink Festival - credit Lizzie Churchill

St Ives Food and Drink Festival Will Tempt Your Tastebuds

03May

Its fast becoming one of Cornwall’s culinary highlights – the St Ives Food and Drink Festival – and this year looks to be a winner!  Set on the glorious sands of Porthminster Beach on 13 & 14 May 2017, we can guarantee you will catch the mouthwatering aromas from Chy an Carrack’s front door!

Fresh Lobster - credit Matt Jessop Visit Cornwall

Fresh Lobster – pic Matt Jessop Visit Cornwall

Featuring demonstrations from the best Cornwall based chefs including well known names Nathan Outlaw, Jack Stein, Ben Prior and Mitch Tonks, celebrity chefs such as Frances Quinn (Bake Off winner) and Jane Devonshire (Masterchef winner) plus guest chefs from the area’s top restaurants including the Porthminster Beach Café, the Alba, and Rick Stein Restaurants there will be skills and brilliant food abounding.

Some of the regions best food and drink producers will be at The Market to display the fantastic array of produce and beverages this county has to offer – be ready to take home a good haul!

To get a flavour of the festival why not check out this tasty Cornish lobster recipe from the Porthminster Beach Café cookbook – Cornish Lobster with Vanilla Mayonnaise & Citrus Salad.

Plus there are street food stalls, kids activities, music, a food trail through the town and much more.  Not to be missed!

Find out more here.  Check our online calendar for availability and prices for the weekend.