Archive for cornwall

Cornwall by Car, Bus and Train

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Printed on the back of our breakfast menus, our Top Ten Day Trips from Looe have proved so popular with guests staying at Polraen Country House in the Looe Valley that we thought we’d share our recommendations so you can plan ahead.

Cornwall With and Without a Car

Explore Cornwall by trainBe adventurous!  Why not explore Cornwall by car, bus and train.  It’s rare to find hotel accommodation in Cornwall in such an idyllic rural location enjoying the convenience of both bus and train services.  Our suggestions include days out from Looe with and without the car using Polraen Country House near Looe as a touring base for Cornwall and Devon. At Sandplace in the Looe Valley, Polraen Country House benefits from Western Greyhound No 573 hourly bus service and the scenic Looe Valley Line train giving easy access to Looe, Polperro, Liskeard and beyond.

Touring By Car

Whitsand Day out from LooeWithout negotiating any narrow back lanes, it’s a direct route from Polraen’s car park to the A38 via Morval on the A387. In less than 10 minutes, you’ll be on a fast road heading east to fantastic beaches at Whitsand, the Rame Peninsula and Devon or west into deeper Cornwall.

Exploring By Looe Valley Line Train

Just a 2 minute stroll to Sandplace Station, guests really appreciate our proximity to the scenic Looe Valley Line. 5 minutes to Looe or use it to connect with the mainline at Liskeard. It’s perfect for day trips by train to St Ives, Falmouth, Truro and Plymouth. Cheap day returns and group/family discounts make the journey easier, faster, and far more relaxing than by car. It’s less costly too (no fuel or parking charges).  A year round service Mon-Sat and from May 18, a Sunday service too.

 

Travelling By Western Greyhound Bus 573

Polperro Harbour Explore Cornwall by busWestern Greyhound bus number 573 runs from Polperro via Looe and Sandplace through the Looe Valley to Liskeard and beyond to Pensilva up on Bodmin Moor. It stops on request right outside the hotel and honours senior citizen bus passes so if you qualify, enjoy ‘free’ trips too. We’re happy to assist with directions, timetables & loan Ordnance Survey maps.

Top Ten Day Trips from Looe

  1. Looe to Polperro Cliff top walk (on foot and by bus)
  2. Eden Project via Bodinnick Ferry and Fowey (by car)
  3. Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Victorian port of Charlestown (by car)
  4. Lanhydrock – a gem in the National Trust portfolio of historic houses (by car)
  5. Days out by train to St Ives, Truro, Falmouth, Penzance, Plymouth (by train)
  6. Whitsand Bay & the Rame Peninsular – the beaches & villages of Cornwall’s ‘forgotten corner’ (by car)
  7. North Coast to King Arthur’s Tintagel, Boscastle and Rick Stein’s Padstow (by car)
  8. The contrast that is Bodmin Moor, granite formations, ghosts and Bodmin Jail (by car or by bus)
  9. Discover grey seals and amazing wildlife on  visit to Looe Island (by bus/train and boat)
  10. Go on a mackerel or deep sea fishing trip from Looe (by bus/train and boat)

Full details and a print friendly download available here.  At Polraen, we know that a little bit of local knowledge can go a long way in making the difference between a good holiday and a great one. We are more than happy to assist you during your stay, with suggestions on things to do, places to visit and how to get there. Why not book your holiday in Looe now?

New Year in Looe

Friday, December 6th, 2013

New Year in LooeI love this time of year. When you live in Cornwall, you just have to scratch the surface to find there are so many things to do – and in Looe, there are so many events and festivities in the build up to Christmas and the New Year.

New Year in Looe

Of course, New Year in Looe has become famous for its fancy dress and fireworks display so if you haven’t made plans for New Year’s Eve and fancy a short break away, come and join us in Cornwall. We’ve got some late availability at Polraen Country House for 2 night minimum short break stays over the New Year in Looe from £90 per person.

December Munchtime Express

We had the pleasure of joining the Munchtime Express on the scenic Looe Valley Line on Tuesday with wonderful food free of charge courtesy of Nick Barclay at Blue Plate Downderry.  Over a 5 week period Nov-Dec, 5 of our best local restaurants serve free samples on the train of their wonderful food. This annual event has become so popular you have to book in advance. It’s a lovely scenic return journey on the Looe Valley Line travelling from Looe to Liskeard and back (passing Polraen Country House at Sandplace en route). So you’ve missed it in 2013 but plan it for next year!

New Year in Looe with Fireworks

So what else in December before the New Year celebrations? Well here’s the latest list of events courtesy of the local Tourist Office. If you want to keep up with the latest information on New Year in Looe and what’s going on,  we recommend you like the Love Looe Facebook page

LOOE & AREA DECEMBER 2013 EVENTS GUIDE DECEMBER

  •  3rd Munchtime Express Looe Valley Line
  • 4th Christmas Carols at Millpool Centre Pelynt Male Voice Choir
  • 6th Santa Arrives Memorial Steps, East Looe 6.30pm
  • 6th Santa’s Grotto & Festive Events West Looe Quayside Centre 5pm
  • 7th Dickensian Day Rose Garden 10am – 4pm
  • 7th Polperro Christmas Fayre & Carols with Keltique Big Green 2pm
  • 7th Polperro Lights Switch on 6.30pm
  • 8th Carols with Porthpyra Singers St Martin’s Church 7pm
  • 8th Craft Market Quayside Centre, West Looe 11am-3pm
  • 8th Wood Watch Walk Kilminorth Woods
  • 14th Produce Market Quayside Centre, West Looe 10am-2pm
  • 14th Fireworks Fundraising Coffee Morning Guildhall Tearoom 10am
  • 14th Santa Fun Run Starts West Looe Quayside 11am
  • 14th Keltique & Rame Choirs Riverside Church 7pm
  • 14th & 15th Nativity Display St Martin’s Church
  • 15th Christingle St Martin’s Church 4pm
  • 15th Christmas Open Day, Monkey Sanctuary 11am – 4.30pm
  • 16th Keltique Candlelit Concert St Nicholas Church West Looe 7pm
  • 19th Pub Carols with Keltique Around East Looe
  • 20th Sheila’s School of Dance Christmas Show Looe Bay Holiday Pk
  • 21st Sheila’s School of Dance Christmas Show Looe Bay Holiday Pk
  • 21st Produce Market Quayside Centre, West Looe 10am-2pm
  • 22nd Craft Market Quayside Centre, West Looe 11am-3pm
  • 22nd Polperro Fishermans Choir West Looe Quayside Centre 7pm
  • 24th Crib Service St Martin’s Church 4pm
  • 24th Christingle Riverside Church 4pm
  • 24th Christmas Holy Communion St Martin’s Church 11pm
  •   24th Christmas Holy Communion Riverside 11.30pm
  • 25th Christmas Holy Communion St Nicholas Church 9.30am
  • 25th Churches Together Christmas Lunch Looe Academy
  • 31st Looe New Years Eve Fireworks E. Looe Beach 6pm & 12 midnight
  • 1st Jan New Years Day Swim East Looe Beach 11am (TBC

Love Looe Logo

The Beautiful Looe ValleyThe South East Cornwall Walking Festival 2013 taking place in September in and around Looe in Cornwall – what a brilliant programme of walks this year!

In the walking festival, alongside tried and tested favourites, such as a visit to the Duloe Beer & Cider Festival, this year’s week long programme of escorted walks from Sat 14-21 September, introduces some more eclectic interests such as foraging for edible plants along the South East Cornwall coast and seashore and a guided tour with archaeologists conducting the first archaeological dig to be carried out on the Hurlers Stone circle on Bodmin Moor since the 1930s.

The walks explore a truly diverse and beautiful rural landscape with a chance to appreciate some ‘off the beaten’ track gems. These idyllic locations are within an area of countryside in South East Cornwall along the coast from the popular fishing and seaside town of Looe to Polruan on the Fowey River, and inland across verdant pastures of the Looe River valleys running up to Bodmin Moor.

East Looe River ValleyWalking of course can be a solitary pursuit but to be escorted by local experts sharing their insight and specialist knowledge in local history, wildlife, conservation and archaeology is a real bonus. Although all these walks are free of charge, many are led by experts in their field and any donations will go towards local charities or the project running the walk eg Looe Marine Conservation Group or Mapping the Sun Project.

Accommodation for the South East Cornwall Walking Festival

If you need accommodation, Polraen Country House in the Looe Valley, is an ideal base for the Walking Festival. You can book bed and breakfast but with a fully licensed bar and restaurant service serving home-made dishes and blackboard specials – you have the convenience of optional evening dinner Wed- Sat. Some of the walks start from Sandplace Station on the scenic Looe Valley Train Line just 400 yards from Polraen so it is an ideal base to explore whether you come Trenant Bridge, Looe Valley, East Looe Riverwith or without the car.  Double rooms are priced from £80 per room per night including Full Breakfast, free parking and Wifi.  To book rooms at Polraen, check availability here

South East Cornwall Walking Festival Programme

For the South East Walking Festival, download the full list of walks here

Looe Music Festival – September 2013

And if music rather than walking is more your cup of tea, remember the Looe Music Festival takes place in September the weekend of 27-29 September.

 

 

Cornwall Spring Flower Show at Boconnoc

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

Boconnoc DaffodilsWent to the Cornwall Garden Society Spring Flower Show at Boconnoc today (Sat 6th April) – an annual pilgrimage with my Mum. We were blessed with clear blue skies, lower than average temperatures but no wind chill so the weather was perfect.

Buy your ticket in advance if you want to save a £1 but the £7.50 entrance charge at the gate is well worth it – for a Cornish version of the Chelsea Flower Show or Hampton Court Flower Show with an emphasis on daffodils, which is no surprise at this time of year.

The backdrop for the event is amazing. Boconnoc is situated about 10 miles north of Looe and Polperro, just off the B3359 and near the A390 towards Lostwithiel.  It’s one of Cornwall’s old country estates with gracious sweeping lawns, sheep grazing on pastures, Victorian follies, rhodedendron ‘trees’ and an impressive Cornish country mansion. The event itself is charming. Marquees and outside displays with lots of nurseries plying rare and exotic species alongside more familiar plant types with alpines and rockery plants going for a song.

Amongst the ‘other’ stands were garden ornaments, solar powered fountains, antique edwardian garden implements, garden furniture, garden sculptures and pottery, garden tools and of course, Cornish food and drink at very reasonable prices.

All in all, a great day. I came away with a few additional shrubs, alpines, and perennials for the Polraen Hotel garden (always manage to find a new space for a new arrival). Best I think to set a budget before I go next time………… Also signed up for a monthly donation to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust while I was there. A lovely day. I’ll be going next year. The first of many ‘Things to Do‘ in and around Looe which I recommend to hotel guests and love to do myself…..

April 3 nights for the price of 2 offer at Polraen Country House

Take advantage of our April 3 nights for the price of 2 offer on double and twin rooms and enjoy a short break from £84 per person for a 3 night stay at Polraen Country House.  There are so many fantastic gardens in Cornwall which are wonderful particularly in spring.

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Help for Heroes Lifting Spirits in the Looe Valley

Monday, December 10th, 2012

At our charity fundraising night at Sandplace in the Looe Valley, we raised £454.50 for Help for Heroes – the British charity providing direct, practical support to wounded, injured and sick service personnel, veterans, and their families. 1940′s crooner Andy Marshall entertained local residents during a Gourmet Bangers and Mash meal at a community based fundraising event ‘Crooning for Christmas’.

Help for Heroes Crooning for Christmas Event at Polraen, Looe, CornwallThrowing the doors open in aid of Help for Heroes, we decided to support this worthy cause  for the second year running. Our hotel, Polraen Country House Hotel at Sandplace, is an ideal venue to host a community party, and we were supported by fellow Sandplace residents including Adam Grundy and Caroline Foster, (seen here with 1940s Crooner Andy Marshall, dressed as a Land Army Girl).

Planned some time ago to foster community spirit, the event brought out the best of British in the face of adversity as it couldn’t have taken place at a better time to help lift the spirits of local residents. The previous two weeks had been a frustrating time for everyone in the Looe Valley.  An unprecedented combination of scheduled roadworks and a landslide in Looe following recent heavy rains had isolated communities severing bus routes and creating traffic chaos on the back lanes as we were  forced to cope with ‘rat run’ detours. We’re pleased the scheduled roadworks on the A387 are now complete and the road is now fully open between Widegates and Sandplace. Not only was this event for a really worthy cause, it helped us to send out a strong message that businesses in the Looe Valley are open for business as usual, including Sunday roast lunch. We’re particularly relieved the public transport is back on track. The Looe Valley train is running and the 573 bus has resumed a service from Looe, detouring via Widegates and Morval to reach Sandplace, Duloe, St Keyne and Liskeard.

We owe a lot of thanks to Andy Marshall, 1940′s crooner, a brilliant talent with an amazing voice, who generously travelled up from St Columb Major near Newquay to Croon for Christmas at Polraen. Thanks Andy!

 

Crooning for Christmas in aid of Help for Heroes

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Crooning For Christmas in aid of Help for HeroesOnce again, our Sandplace community here in the Looe Valley in Cornwall felt it was time to foster some local community spirit. So we’re throwing the doors open at Polraen Country House on Friday December 7th for a Looe Valley community fundraising night in aid of Help for Heroes. Having raised over £440 for the Help for Heroes charity last year at a similar event, this year we fancied some live entertainment so we’ll be ‘Crooning for Christmas’ with all proceeds from the evening going to ‘Help for Heroes’once again.

Why Crooning for Christmas? Well on a recent visit down to Truro for the Cornwall Food & Drink Festival, I discovered a very talented guy called Andy Marshall singing some Frank Sinatra favourites and it occurred to me that he was just the ticket for an event at Polraen Country House. Talking of tickets, at just £12 per head, the night includes a Gourmet Bangers ‘n Mash meal, with live entertainment from 1940′s Crooner Andy Marshall and a prize draw for Sunday Lunch for 2 at Polraen. Raffle tickets will also be available on the night.  Tickets must be purchased in advance from Polraen (first come first served with only 40 available so please book soonest on 01503 263956).

And now to give credit where credit is due. The effort involved in organising this has been shared among a few Looe Valley residents including this brilliant poster by Adam Grundy. We don’t necessarily want it to be a ‘one off’, so along with Derek, Terry and Caroline, we’ve agreed that if it’s well supported by friends and neighbours, Martin and I are quite happy for our facilities at Polraen to be available for other such good community based causes. Sometimes just for fun and to socialise, perhaps on other occasions to discuss topics that affect our community and the Looe Valley.

We’re open to ideas. Oh and if you can’t come, please donate a raffle prize from the larder or wine rack or donate via our Help for Heroes Charity page. Hope to see you.

 

 

Looe Raft Race at Festival of the Sea

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Looe River entranceLooe’s Festival of the Sea

One month earlier in 2013 taking place:- 1st and 2nd June  - A fantastic weekend to visit Looe if you’re planning a last minute weekend break.

Expect to be entertained at Looe’s annual homage to its maritime heritage and Cornish roots, with just about everything to do with the sea on the agenda including the funniest silliest wackiest Raft Race ever. Taking place on Sunday afternoon, and guaranteed to make you laugh, come rain or shine, you’ll see rafts made out of empty bottles, barrels – anything, including the kitchen sink. Many taking to the waters of the Looe River on their home made vessels will be bombarded with water bombs and abandon ship or possibly sink before the half way mark. All proceeds from the race go to the RNLI.

Grazing on the Quay

Photo Courtesy of Looe Festival of ood and DrinkEnjoy all manner of food from the sea – another great feature of the weekend, both Sat and Sun, is the daily tasting from 11 am each day, with the ever popular ‘grazing on the quay’ providing succulent taster dishes from some of Looe’s finest restaurants and food suppliers including crab from Nippers Shellfish and paella from Simply Fish.  Sample the best of local food and drink in stalls set up along the harbour side of the historic fishing port of Looe.

Music

As you stroll along the quay with the aroma of a fish bbq courtesy of Pengelly’s wafting on the breeze, music by local groups and artists will lift your spirits, even if the rain tries to dampen them. If you enjoy music, check out the Looe Music Festival in September.

Looe Marine Conservation Group

We’ll be there with a show and tell stall to introduce you to a few creatures from the rocky sea shore around Looe – crabs, limpets, starfish, anemones. Crabbing from the Looe quayside is always fun with the kids and there’s a neat little leaflet about crabbing in Looe which you can get free of charge from the Looe Tourist Office and from retail shops in Looe which sell the crabbing kits.

Life Boat Station

Take a tour around the lifeboat station, experience their simulator and talk to the crews. The raft race prize giving  and closing ceremony is 5pm at the lifeboat station on Sunday.

For further information on the Raft Race in Looe: contact: 07747488488 Email: vicky@skiphiredpw.com OR Dave Peat 07747488488

Looe Food Festival Accommodation – Special Offer

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

LOOE FESTIVAL OF FOOD AND DRINK: 23 AND 24 JUNE

Check availabilityA great weekend for foodies to take a shortbreak in Looe and we have two rooms available at Polraen Country House at short notice!

This year sees the very first Looe Festival of Food and Drink open it’s gastronomic doors to Looe and South East Cornwall. Whether it rains or shines, you’ll be able to sample delicious Cornish food and drink, talk to local food producers and learn how to cook something new and delicious with cooking demonstrations from top chefs from our best restaurants. Everything will be under cover in a custom designed marquee on the Millpool car park beside the Looe River.  The festival is free to enter and there’ll be plenty of tasters.

Photo Courtesy of Looe Festival of ood and DrinkAt Polraen Country House, we have a double and a king available over this weekend (£87 – £96 per night with extra nights available). So you can enjoy our quiet location with free parking and free WiFi at Polraen Country House in the Looe Valley, waking up to our full range of breakfast choices using local produce relaxing in the conservatory overlooking our award winning garden. Then you can head into town to literally ‘graze’ on tempting tasters from land and sea in the marquee tents at the Festival throughout the day (Sat & Sun).   We’re just 5 minutes from Looe and the sea with convenient bus and train links on the Looe Valley line so if you fancy sampling some of the local beer and cider, you don’t need to worry about taking the car.  You can add extra nights for a  longer break with optional evening dinner Mon-Fri.

So don’t wait, don’t hesitate, don’t bother to look up the weather forecast, just BOOK NOW now before it’s gone

 

One natural, one man-made – both inspiring!

Great coverage by the BBC presenting the joint delights of the Cornish countryside and coastline in one great episode of Countryfile.  Marine Conservation efforts in and around Looe and Cornish Mining Heritage were both featured on  Sunday night (26 Feb). The media interest reflects a growing awareness of the need to protect and conserve our marine habitats and gives deserved recognition to the Cornish mining industry under its World Heritage Site status.  (Not sure how long these links to BBC iPlayer will remain live but here they are for a few days at least. )

Watch the clip of :  Ellie Explores a Wreck. As marine conservation volunteers in Looe, my daughter and I were particularly interested to see the coverage having attended a conference for marine conservation volunteers the day before, organised by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. The programme exposes the plight of sea creatures trapped in a fishing net which has got caught around the sunken frigate, HMS Scilla in Whitsand Bay – a popular dive site.

Heading west from the  marine habitats of South East Cornwall, the Countryfile episode encompassed the Cornish mining industry – each in their turn contributing so much to the essence of what makes Cornwall’s landscape unique. Tin mining followed by clay  sculpting the shape of inland Cornwall while the coastline provides many of the magical memories and recreational activities that  visitors recall of their Cornish holiday.

And what lies beneath the waves? Incredible beauty and marine wildlife in abundance that we must protect.

Inspired by these two topics, I’ll shortly be giving each greater exposure on the Polraen website with pages of useful information for visitors so watch this space for interesting places to visit when planning your next holiday. As a taster:

Marine Conservation

Take a look at the exciting programme of mainly free events and activities developed for 2012 from rockshore rambles to seal trips and foraging walks. Details can be downloaded via the Cornwall Wildlife Trust website: the YourShore leaflet gives details of events  organised by the Looe Marine Conservation Group and by the 4 other Voluntary Marine Conservation Areas throughout Cornwall.

Cornish Mining Heritage

There’s so much more to know about the contribution Cornwall and Cornish miners has given to the world! South Africa without rugby? Football without the Mexican wave? From Cornish pasties to tracing your ancestors, take a  look at a new interactive website developed by the World Heritage Site organisation. It brings the story of Cornish mining to life and highlights some really interesting places to visit like the historic port of Charlestown, the clay pits at Wheal Martyn, Caradon Hill mines, and Morwellham Quay . Most are  free and most are all weather attractions – but don’t save them all for just a rainy day – they’re well worth slotting into your sight seeing plans.

 

Hot Air Balloon Flight over Cornwall by Gill

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Hot Air Balloon Cornwall

Finally, I did it! Flew over our beautiful county of Cornwall on the evening of Tuesday  24th May in a hot air balloon reaching three and a half thousand feet!  It was a birthday present from my husband Martin (big birthday 2 years ago - not telling!) but after about 6 or 7 attempted flights which were cancelled due to bad weather, the forecast was OK as long as the wind calmed down below 12 mph. It’s been a very windy May and nothing was necessarily guaranteed. And even at 7.45 pm, we were still studying the tree tops! Thankfully our Virgin Hot Air Balloon pilot Mandy was taking nothing for granted.

All 12 passengers + pilot and ground crew had met at 6pm outside the Butchers Arms pub at St Ive between Liskeard and Callington, near one of Virgin’s hot air balloon launch sites, but take off from that location in the prevailing wind conditions would have meant a short flight, most probably ending up wet in Plymouth Sound! So we drove with balloon and kit north across Bodmin Moor and took off from a farmer’s field at Lewannick, near Launceston. Spreading out and attaching the red ‘envelope’/balloon to the wicker basket  - we then helped inflate it – a noisy affair with two huge fans blowing cold air into the balloon (250k cubic feet I think) then noisy blasts of butane fuelled hot flames to lift the envelope. A quick practice on bracing yourself in the landing position – and thankfully no discussion at all about what to do if things go wrong!!

Hot Air Balloon take offAnd then take off!! An amazingly fast ascent and, (according to my video which you can see on Facebook)  I appear to find God, “Oh my God!” appearing to be the only words I could utter to describe both the serene experience, the breath taking excitement tinged with fear and the awe inspired by the overwhelming beauty of the countryside fanning out like a patchwork quilt below. Cornwall must be one of England’s most verdant counties.

I was alone, most passengers were with a partner, yet few words were said, especially at the start. The sense of the moment is so intoxicating. A feeling of vulnerability and the need to hold on to the internal ropes did not pass easily. But after 7 or 8 minutes into the flight, you acclimatise to the strange oddness of being above the world in a wicker basket, able to touch the air with nothing to separate you from the ground below. Its calm, serene, exhilarating. Other than the occasional roar of the butane flames to keep us up, the silence was permeated by the occasional barking of dogs and the bleating of sheep. Slightly alarmed horses fled across fields and children appeared in back gardens to wave. As we were swept eastwards, we could see Roadford Lake to our north, Plymouth to the south east and Colliford Lake or Siblyback behind us. We flew over Stoke Climsland and skimmed the treetops of the Tamar Valley as we made our descent after an hour’s flight, with the sun setting on the horizon.

Driving in hot pursuit, and seen by me on the chase, was my husband Martin and daughter Amelia, keeping up with the Virgin crew to meet us as we landed near the pretty village of Horsebridge with its 15th century bridge spanning the Tamar River. We had an OK ‘two -bump’ landing in a recently mown field, but not before the pilot decided to avert and jump the hedgerow to avoid a bull in full panic mode in the chosen field. I’m left wondering whether Virgin have ever given it a second thought that maybe RED was not the choice of corporate colour on certain occasions!!

The whole experience was completed with a glass of champagne and a certificate to prove it! So if you ever get the chance do it, it’s well worth it. Virgin are currently offering morning balloon flights in the South West from £89 or £109 for a Weekday Anytime flight.  You have to get up VERY early for a morning flight and given the number of times they get cancelled in Cornwall (slim peninsular, surrounded by sea!), it’s probably worth the extra £20 for the convenience of an evening flight. If you want to know more information or book, visit Virgin Hot Air Balloons.