If you’re craving a Cornish break this summer, but want to escape the crowds, then the Roseland Peninsula might just be the perfect getaway. Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Cornwall, here you’ll find quaint fishing villages, stunning coastal walks, and blissfully uncrowded beaches.
The “jewel in the crown” of the Roseland Peninsula is the tiny fishing village of Portloe, which provides a perfect base for exploring this spectacular region. We spent a night in Portloe last summer and woke up to turquoise sea views and the sound of seals barking – who says you need to go abroad to discover paradise?!
Where to stay in Portloe
There are only a handful of hotels and holiday cottages in Portloe, but the location of The Lugger Hotel, right on the water’s edge, is impossible to beat. Back in the 17th-century, The Lugger was a smuggler’s inn specialising in the import of French brandy. Today, this beautifully renovated, boutique hotel is more famous for its gourmet food and sea views, but its historic charm is still firmly in tact.
The Lugger has a two AA Rosette restaurant on site and an outdoor terrace with spectacular sea views – perfect for a cocktail at sunset! The hotel is also dog friendly in most parts, so our Golden Retriever, Marnie, was able to partake in some 5* pampering too.
For a completely different perspective of Portloe, take a short walk up from the harbour to the headlands and enjoy picture-perfect views back towards the cove and Portloe’s colourful cottages. The South West Coast Path joins directly from here and you can follow the trail right along the Peninsula.
The best things to do along the Roseland Peninsula
Relax at the beach
The Roseland Peninsula is home to some of the best unspoilt beaches in Cornwall; most within a 15-20 minute drive of Portloe.
Porthcurnick Beach is a great place to start. This sandy bay is located just a 15 minute walk from the quaint village of Portscatho, where you’ll find parking, shops and cafes. But save your lunch plans for The Hidden Hut, a quirky cafe on the sand dunes of Porthcurnick Beach, serving up fresh sandwiches, soup, seafood and – of course – pasties to go. The Hidden Hut even hosts feast nights on the beach throughout the summer so keep an eye on their website to see which events are coming up!
Towan Beach (not to be confused with Towan Beach in Newquay, in North Cornwall!) is another must-stop along the Roseland Peninsula. This part-sand, part-shingle bay can be accessed as part of the South West Coast Path, or if you’re visiting by car, there is a pay and display car-park at the National Trust’s Porth Farm, just a few steps from the shoreline. There’s also a lovely little cafe at Porth Farm called The Thirstea Co. where you can grab a takeaway coffee, or enjoy some home-made treats in the tea room.
Both Porthcurnick and Towan Beach are dog-friendly all year round, so you can let your pooch paddle and run free! Portscatho Holidays provides a useful guide to dog-friendly beaches on the Roseland Peninsula, if you’re looking for more inspiration.
Hike the South West Coast Path
The epic South West Coast Path runs right along the Roseland Peninsula, so it would be a crime not to get your hiking boots on whilst you’re here. You can make your walk as short or as long as you like and the official website provides excellent guidance on the various sections of this spectacular trail. Always be sure to check the trail conditions before you set off.
If you only have a couple of hours to spare, the walk from Carne Beach to Portscatho is a lovely short hike, taking in several picturesque beaches along the way. Feast your eyes on dramatic coastline and fill your lungs with sea air, as you make your way along this secluded part of the trail.
There is parking at the National Trust’s Carne carpark, located just above the beach. From here, it’s a short walk past the luxury Nare Hotel (where you can enjoy a cream tea with phenomenal beach views) before you officially join the South West Coast Path. Skirting along the coast and through woodland, you’ll soon come to the secluded Pendower Beach and Porthbean Beach, before arriving at Porthcurnick 20 minutes later.
Another 15 minutes and you’ll arrive in Portscatho – your quintessential Cornish village, with white-washed cottages, quaint galleries and a pretty harbour. Reward yourself with an ice cream before heading back (or continue along the trail, if you’re feeling adventurous!)
Visit historic Charlestown
Located a little further up the coast, just outside of St Austell, is Charlestown – a 200-year-old fishing port and a UNESCO world heritage site. If you’re a fan of Poldark, you’ll no doubt recognise the harbour as one of the filming locations used in the TV series. Unfortunately, this does mean it’s become a bit of a tourist trap, but it’s still a fascinating place to explore, with its classic tall ships and pristinely preserved port.
There are plenty of coffee shops and ice cream parlours with views of the harbour, but if you want to escape the crowds, Charlie’s Coffee House in the village is a lovely, dog-friendly stop serving up classic Cornish cream teas and pancakes.
We only scratched the surface of the Roseland Peninsula, but there is so much to explore in this beautiful part of Cornwall. Whether it’s rugged scenery, unspoilt beaches, or idyllic villages you’re after, this is the perfect alternative to some of the busier destinations in the North.