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Review: Porthcothan Mill Cottage, Near Padstow, Cornwall, UK

May 9 2024


A pair of original millstones stand by the entrance to this luxurious cottage that sits inland from the North Cornwall coast, west of Padstow and east of Newquay. But it is a mere five-minute walk, through a meadow designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to a surfing beach. Appropriately, it is a dog friendly beach for a dog friendly cottage.

Those millstones are evidence of a water mill whose history, so far, has been traced back to 1242. Then, it was given romantically as part of a marriage contract to one of Cornwall’s great families.

Just beyond the cottage’s existing boundary lies a narrow packhorse bridge that would have taken milled corn on the first stage of its journey to the old coastal road. An ancient leat, the watercourse that fed the mill through Tudor days, Stuart days and beyond, runs through the cottage garden, crossed by a narrow bridge. Inside, amongst the timbered beams and white-washed stone walls, dark wood antique furniture gives a nod to the cottage’s historic heritage.

The welcome

Although we are still over a hundred miles away, a text tells us that the cleaners have departed and that the cottage awaits us, a couple of hours ahead of schedule. Arrival instructions give us the code for a key box.

The cottage

Porch pegs for coats and drying shelves for boots signal that this is prime walking territory.

Then it is into a lounge with deep welcoming sofas, a wood burner, shelves of books and DVDs. The cottage is remote but a mobile signal can be accessed by tapping into the WiFi and a large television provides digital access to entertainment. A hefty, stable door separates the lounge from the kitchen.

An open plan dual aspect dining area is also lit by two skylights. The large table comfortably seats eight for leisurely lunches and lingering dinners. Porthcothan Mill Cottage invites guests to relax, to slow down.

Adjacent is a mid-20th century metal-finish retro kitchen. According to a framed advert of an endorsement from Gone with the Wind star Vivien Leigh, a WH Paul fitted kitchen was the thing to have. Obviously, amongst the shelves of recipe books, there is Rick Stein’s guide to seafood. Championing Cornwall’s local food heroes, Stein is seen as a culinary saint around these parts.

A twisting staircase leads upstairs to three bedrooms: two doubles and a twin. Driftwood, shell and wicker themed decor reminds us that the ocean is a short walk away.

Although the cottage is serenely snoozing through its fifth century, the bathroom with separate bath and shower is distinctly 21st century.

The location

Tucked away at the end of a lane, there is a far-from-the-madding-crowd feel to the cottage. You may hear owls tooting and perhaps see deer running through the valley: even though Padstow is just a 15-minute drive away.

Padstow is a foodies’ mecca with the opportunity to buy the freshest of fish, lobster and oysters.

Seafood sold by those fishmongers, along with bakeries and deli, invite you to self-cater in Porthcothan Mill Cottage’s superbly equipped kitchen. For the easiest of self-catering options, pick up some World Championship winning pasties. A dollop of clotted cream is a key ingredient in some pasties.

Of course, Padstow is Rick Stein land and his Sea Food Restaurant, is just one of Padstow’s many eateries. And with Indian and Thai options around too, there’s more to this pretty port than fish and chips.

North from Padstow, Martin Clunes’ portrayal of supremely grumpy Doc Martin has brought fame to Port Issac. Nor does Cornwall switch off its charm on the last day of August. In Spring and Autumn, when seagulls outnumber visitors on quiet beaches, when roads are quieter and parking spaces more plentiful, the county is often at its best. Those cycling the Camel Trail or walking coastal paths also appreciate the cooler temperatures.

From 5th to 8th December 2024, Padstow will host a Christmas Festival. Although the programme is yet to be finalised the emphasis is always on great food, great music and shopping at the Christmas market.

Other nice touches

An outhouse, with washing machine, has been converted into a useful facility for storing surfboards and cleaning up mucky dogs after cliff-top walks. The shower is the place to wash down salty, sandy wet suits.

When serving up the scones, that make up part of the welcome pack, remember that this is Cornwall: strawberry jam first, topped by thick luscious clotted cream.

Through the five-barred gate there’s plenty of parking for three or four cars, for friends or family meeting at Porthcothan for a coastal getaway.

The cost

Porthcothan Mill Cottage’s online booking calendar for 2025 is now available. Accommodation for six begins from £800 per week. Away from high season minimum stays of two nights are possible.

The best bit

Porthcothan Mill Cottage, and particularly its garden with apple and ash trees, is as much a dreamy state of mind as a luxurious sanctuary.

Throughout the day blue tits, robins, pheasants, red kites, butteries and a woodpecker family provide nature’s soundtrack whilst you relax on a sunny-lounger, enjoy an al fresco lunch at the picnic table or sit on the garden seat taking in the bucolic splendour.

The final verdict

Merely minutes from Padstow, the cottage is supremely well located for dipping into the many faces of Cornwall.

This is a place for letting go of the world and grasping what Porthcothan has to offer: walking, finally taking that surf lesson, cycling the Camel Trail, foraging for samphire to go with the hake you bought, catching up with family and friends for a short break or simply catching up with sleep under Porthcothan’s dark skies.

Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by Porthcothan Mill Cottage.

Michael Edwards

Michael Edwards is a travel writer from Oxfordshire, UK. Although Michael had his first travel pieces published nearly four decades ago, he is still finding new luxury destinations to visit and write on.

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