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Staycation 2020: Get away from it all on a glamping break in Cornwall

With staycations all the rage this summer, a holiday under canvas is a great alternative, says Sarah Marshall


Ger interior at Fir Hill Estate

Ger interior at Fir Hill Estate

Press Association Images

Ger interior at Fir Hill Estate

If you're looking to take some time away from the chaotic digital world and reconnect with nature, there's one standout option: a back-to-the-wild glamping getaway.

Thwarted by travel restrictions and encouraged by good weather, a surge of holidaymakers have opted for a holiday under canvas this summer. Demand has resulted in more campsites popping up and seasons being extended. After months of uncertainty, domestic travel businesses are finally finding their feet.

One of the latest sites to open is Fir Hill Estate, situated a 10-minute drive outside Newquay, on the edge of Porth Reservoir in Cornwall. Spread across the 62-acre historical family estate, Mongolian Gers (a type of yurt) come equipped with a traditional firepit, barbecue stove and cooking facilities.

What's the story?

The estate was purchased by Charlie Hoblyn in 2012 and since then he's worked hard to restore it from ruin. With astonishing ambition and dogged determination, he's completely transformed the far-reaching grounds, which now comprise majestic woodlands, a renovated barn with cosy leisure areas and even a beautifully restored orchard with more than 200 fruit trees.

What's even more special is Charlie's approach to sustainability. The site isn't connected to mains services. Instead, it relies solely on solar thermal panels, a biomass generator and borehole and spring water supply for everything.

There's plenty to explore on foot or by bicycle and a variety of activities, such as fishing, birdwatching and stargazing around the campfire, can be enjoyed without even venturing off the grounds. A seasonal highlight includes picking the estate's cherries, apples, plums and damsons throughout May to September.

What can you do in the area?

Also known as the surfing capital of the UK, Newquay offers some of the best wave-catching opportunities all year round. If you're new to surfing, you might want to settle for either Towan, Great Western or Newquay beach, but if you're up for more of a challenge, head for the impressive waves at Fistral.

There are plenty of spots to rent out wetsuits nearby, if you haven't got one to hand. I'd highly recommend Slide & Glide, where you can hire a wetsuit for a daily rate of £5. The friendly staff have excellent local knowledge and also offer a range of customised surfboards, designed specifically for the surf around the area.

Need to brush up on your surf skills with the help of a friendly instructor? I'd highly recommend Newquay Activity Centre (newquayactivitycentre.co.uk) on Towan beach, which offers a range of other outdoor activities too, including stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking and coasteering. (Taster surf lessons from £35pp.)

If lying flat against the waves is more your thing, try the incredible selection of wooden bodyboards at Dick Pearce & Friends (dickpearce.com). Dick and co. have been handcrafting their so-called 'bellyboards' for decades using sustainable materials and their slick design means you're guaranteed a thrilling ride in the tide.


Sunny day in Newquay

Sunny day in Newquay

Press Association Images

Sunny day in Newquay

What to eat and drink

Cornish pasties are delicious at any time of year. The distinctive D-shaped delights come with an interesting past. Many years ago, miners in the region needed something substantial to fuel their physically demanding jobs, but the snack had to be convenient to eat as they risked contaminating their food with poisonous chemicals on their hands.

The large crust of the Cornish pasty provided a solution: the 'handlebar' was easy to hold onto and could be discarded afterwards, so the miners didn't fall ill.

If you're looking for a traditional, locally produced pasty to sample, try Morris Pasties (morris-pasties.co.uk). The recipe for their hand-crimped beauties is held secret with the family solicitor.

For bigger meals, one spot worth visiting is Bush Pepper (bushpepper.co.uk) in the heart of Newquay. Chef Chris Brookes creates Australian-influenced cuisine using some of Cornwall's finest ingredients. Nothing beats their delicious Dukkah Eggs on toasted sourdough, using Cornish free range poached eggs, dukkah, smashed avocado, halloumi and a wedge of lemon. A great morning fix before heading out for a surf. (Evening menu options from £17 and a bottle of wine from £18).

After a long day of exploring, head to the Carnmarth Hotel (carnmarth.com) for one of their signature Cornish Bramble cocktails while soaking up the stunning ocean views. (Mains from £12 and cocktails from £8).

This cosy spot overlooks Fistral beach, whose wild waves give way to a gently lapping tide beneath the sensational Cornish sunset. A perfect end to a glorious glamping experience in a town full of character, in a county brimming with beauty.


A five-night self-catering break in a yurt (sleeping six) at the Fir Hill Estate (thefirhill.co.uk; 07831 800 701) costs from £600. For more information on Newquay, visit newquaybid.co.uk.

Belfast Telegraph