10 great activity holidays in Cornwall

Art hotel in Penzance

Artist Residence, a quirky hotel which opened in April 2011 in an historic Georgian building, has eight rooms decorated by young Cornish and British artists. There's The Artist's Studio with a "floating" bed and blackboard doors for guests to add their own doodles, a nautical room with recycled furniture, and Urban Splash, a room designed by Jo Peel of The Scrawl Collective, complete with silver carpet. Its location on Chapel Street, Penzance's oldest street, is also home to some great galleries and antique shops – check out The Penzance Art Club, with its friendly cafe and live music, The Exchange and Stoneman Gallery. There's also the nearby Penlee House Gallery and Museum, which specialises in west Cornwall's art and history.
• 20 Chapel St, 01736 365664, artistresidence.co.uk. Doubles from ?80-?140 a night

Stay in one of two converted miners' buildings at Okel Tor Mine in the Tamar Valley, the hub of Europe's 19th-century copper industry. The Smithy and the Count House, once the workshop and office of a Victorian mine, are now cosy ivy-clad cottages, with log-burning stoves. This area of outstanding natural beauty is scattered with evocative tin mining engine houses and chimneys, and you can explore them on foot or by canoe (canoetamar.co.uk). Morwellan Quay living history museum (morwellham-quay.co.uk), a world heritage site just over the Devon border in Tavistock, makes a fun family day out – ride an old narrow-gauge mine train deep underground into an old copper mine and visit the working Victorian farm, forge and pottery.
• 07976 799663, tinmine.com, from ?215 a week, sleeps two

Stay in a vintage Romany caravan near Penzance
Vickers Zebra vintage caravan

Glampers are spoilt for choice in Cornwall, with all manner of tipis, yurts and eco-pods to choose from. Demelza Farm's twist on the trend is a collection of vintage Romany caravans – not the wooden horse-drawn wagons, but more spacious models built for the Romany communities from the 50s onwards. Restored interiors are charmingly chintzy with lace curtains and retro furniture, and include wood-burning stoves and gas cookers. The site, on Martin and Lucy's organic farm, has a central camp fire and composting toilet, and a caravan is currently being converted into a shower and wash room (opening in May). As well as the many fine beaches around Cornwall's western tip, the surrounding countryside is rich in ancient sites; walk to Celtic burial chambers of Mulfra Quoit, Zennor Quoit and Men-an-tol, and Chysauster Iron Age settlement is in nearby Newmill. It's a short walk to Zennor village or a drive to St Ives or Penzance.
• 07810 007308, demelzafarm.com. Caravans sleep four and cost ?500 per per week available from 1 April to 30 September

This two-night stay at the Lugger Hotel in the fishing village of Portloe, on the south coast, includes one morning fishing for your dinner with local fisherman, James. You'll join him on his boat to pull up lobster pots and fish for sea bass and mackerel on the Roseland Peninsula, before heading back to the hotel kitchens where you will be taught how to prepare, cook and dress your lobster. Then all you have to do is tuck in and enjoy your day's work.
• 01872 501322, luggerhotel.co.uk. From ?220pp for two nights, including breakfast, dinner, fishing trip, lobster cooking with chef, and meal served with a bottle of muscadet. Lobster Catch & Cook runs from April-September

The Olde House, near Chapel Amble in north Cornwall, has just opened three new public footpaths on the 500-acre working family farm. Guests can walk straight out of their front door on to circular routes that now link up with existing paths into the neighbouring wetlands of Amble Marches and beyond. The farm has been in the Hawkeys' family for three generations and is home to more than 750 sheep and 250 cattle – and guests can help look after lambs and baby goats in the pets corner. Accommodation is in 30 self-catering holiday cottages and you can relax after your stomp in the heated swimming pool and sauna. There's also a tennis court and adventure playground. Marsh Cottage, sleeping up to eight in three bedrooms, is available throughout March 2012 at the reduced rate of ?380 per week, or ?180 for a two-night weekend break.
• 0844 770 0420, theoldehouse.co.uk

Learn about wild food and bushcrafts on a kayaking and foraging course on Cornwall's south coast. Wild food expert Chris will take you out to catch a fish supper from your kayak, then forage on the shore for shellfish and seaweed. Then you'll strike camp at a beautiful wild camping spot and put your fire building skills to the test when you cook your supper in the open air.
• 01326 378826, seakayakingcornwall.com. A two-day break costs ?225, including transport from Falmouth, kayak instruction and all equipment. The next weekend is 21-22 April 2012

You won't need a board or wetsuit for this Cornish surfing experience – just a head for heights. A series of rope bridges, swings, ladders and zip wires weave up 50ft through the woodland canopy in the heart of the Tamar Valley. It will take you about two hours to climb and wobble your way around the course – which is dizzying despite the safety harness – and if you still have the stomach for it you can give your nerves a final test on the tree jump, a 40ft leap of faith from a treetop platform.
• 01822 833409, treesurfers.co.uk. Ropes course adults ?25, children ?21; tree jumps ?7 or ?12 for two jumps. Stay at Old Solomon's Farm (oldsolomonsfarm.co.uk, ?32pp per night B&B), an eco-friendly sheep farm on the banks of the Tamar

Cornwall is famous for its magnificent gardens, that thrive in the mild Gulf Stream climate. Many are a legacy of the Victorian plant collectors and are home to an abundance of rare and exotic plants, and are well worth a visit. With spectacular views over Mounts Bay, Trengwainton's National Trust walled gardens are particularly splendid in spring, with an abundance of magnolias, rhododendrons and camellias in bloom. Look for rare species such as a two-metre African busy izzy and the eccentric walled kitchen garden that was built by Sir Rose Price to the dimensions of Noah's Ark. Nearby, just west of Penzance, visit Trewidden, home to spectacular 150-year-old tree ferns and the largest camellia collections in the country.
• Stay in the Secret Garden Caravan & Camping Park within the walled garden of Bosavern House (01736 788301, secretbosavern.com, caravan or tent pitch ?15.75 for two); or in the house itself (01736 788301, bosavern.com, B&B from ?36pp per night). Further information: gardensofcornwall.com

Falmouth has some of the best sailing waters in Europe and this spring a fleet of 100 boats will compete in the Finn Gold Cup, a qualifier for the London Olympics. It's a chance to see some world class sailing, and if you fancy learning the ropes yourself Falmouth School of Sailing run a two-day beginner's course, where you'll take to the waves in a dinghy and learn the basics, from manoeuvring the boat to trying rope knots as well as some theory back on dry land.
• 01326 211311, falmouth-school-of-sailing.co.uk. Prices start from ?165pp for two days. Stay at the newly refurbished Highcliffe B&B (falmouth-hotel.co.uk, doubles from ?78 a night)

Cornwall's newest surf school is opening this Easter at Barefoot Kitchen in Mounts Bay, and they're celebrating with a mini-festival of acoustic and jazz music on 7 and 8 April. Sound Wave will be opened by Glastonbury godfather Michael Eavis and bands such as Sea of Bees and Newquay-based singer-songwriter Neil Halstread will play on the clifftop overlooking the bay. There will also be taster surfing sessions down on the beach while lessons at the new school will take place at Church Cove and Dollar beach, just down the lane. The instructors are Cornish locals, including pro surfer Amy Brock Morgan and Paul Stainsby, an experienced naval surf instructor. The National Trust is opening a new low-key campsite at working Chyvarloe Farm specially for festival goers (tents and camper vans only – no hook ups).
• 01326 240517, barefootkitchen.com. Surf lessons: ?35 per two-hour session. Children over 8 only. Family tickets (family of 4) ?100. Group Sessions, ?35pp for two-hours (maximum 10 people). Book in the cafe or online from 7 April. Sound Waves tickets: adults ?45 two-days, ?30 Sat, ?20 Sun; family ?100/?70/?50; children under eight ?10. Chyvarloe Farm camping (01326 558423): ?10 per pitch


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