Family travel diary: Half term holiday exploring Cornwall’s north coast from The Towans to Fistral beach

For half term we were meant to be in the Lake District; a holiday I had been waiting for as Ben, my husband, is from the Lake District and spent the first half of his childhood there, but I am yet to go. However, it was cancelled only two weeks before the summer half term as there was a water leak in the property we were staying in. They were unable to repair all the damage in time for our stay, so refunded us our money.


It was only a couple of weeks until the half term and with travel abroad still banned, EVERYONE in the UK was going on holiday to the UK. It was short notice to book somewhere and I was up until the early hours searching for a week away that didn’t cost the Earth!

Luckily, it all planned out really well. We had decided to relocate and move to Cornwall and had put our house on the market. We were actually discussing whether it would be better to have a holiday to Cornwall in case we needed to house hunt, so we took the cancellation of the Lake District holiday as a sign we were supposed to go to Cornwall.

I think the world and it’s wife (or the UK and it’s wife) were going to Cornwall in half term!

There wasn’t a single property left on Airbnb which is my preferred way to book accommodation, but luckily I stumbled across Cornwall Cottages and found the Gwel An Koos holiday cottage in Bodmin available for the entire half term. What a find!

Phew! Half asleep I entered my card payment details and hoped it really was available. They emailed the next day to confirm it was and we were booked. Panic over. We still had a family holiday for half term and if we needed to house hunt in Cornwall we could. Ideal.

And we did sell our house just days before the half term, so we had a mad rush of checking Cornwall for properties for sale and booking viewings whilst we were there. Amazingly we found a property in just a few days and all being well with our full mortgage application we’ll be moving to Cornwall in a few months. We cannot wait to move and relocate. So exciting!

Our holiday was therefore part looking for houses, but also part holiday and exploring more of the north coast of Cornwall with the kids in-between viewings, using our holiday cottage in Bodmin purely as a base. We are yet to explore Bodmin, the woods and moors.

7 night family holiday to Cornwall – photo diary

Here is a photo diary of our trip and all the beaches we visited.

If you’re looking for places to visit in Cornwall then I have some great recommendations from our holiday.


Kids in Bongo campervan off on holiday on the motorway, wrapped in blankets as it's 5am
We left home at around 5 am! Ben set an alarm for 4 am and woke everyone up. He was determined to miss the crazy half-term traffic heading down to Devon and Cornwall on the Saturday of the half-term, so made us go so early. It was really surprising how many cars there actually were on the road at this time, obviously going on holiday too with their caravans and roof rack storage. We weren’t the only crazy ones! The kids were troopers and got up without fuss, excited to snuggle up in our Mazda Bongo and be on our way.

Porthtowan beach

Houses on cliff and beach view from a carpark at Porthtowan beach in Cornwall
Our first stop was Porthtowan Beach. We couldn’t check in to our holiday apartment until 5pm and we were at this beach before 9am! We had a house viewing this day in Chacewater, so we decided to check out one of the closest beaches which is why we ended up here. A lovely small beach with a scattering of unique houses on the cliff. We wandered across the beach and the kids splashed in the water for a while. We also grabbed a vegan friendly coffee at the cafe and noticed afterwards they do some incredible looking fruit smoothies that other customers had. If we go back I’ll be trying the smoothie for sure!
Reuben, our 6 year old, in the distance heading to the sea and waves at Porthtowan beach
Reuben looking like a little dot as he heads off towards the sea!
6 year old and 9 year old playing in the sea on a rocky pebble beach at Porthtowan beach in Cornwall with surfers in the background
The kids are so happy just playing with sand and rocks and splashing in the water. We are looking forward to lots of simple outdoor family time like this when we move to Cornwall.
My husband in sunglasses taking a selfie at at Porthtowan beach in Cornwall with the kids playing near him
Ben is happy to be at the beach too!
My 9 year old daughter smiling for a portrait photo at Porthtowan beach in Cornwall
After a few rainy weeks in May, being so cold we still had our heating on at home, it was great to arrive to sunshine in Cornwall and wear our summer clothes.
My 6 year old son smiling for a portrait photo at Porthtowan beach in Cornwall
Cool dude πŸ™‚
my two children running away from the sea in the shallow water playing at Porthtowan beach in Cornwall
Running away from the waves is one of the kids favourite things to do at the beach!
Me sat on a rock looking out to sea and watching my children splash in the sea at Porthtowan beach in Cornwall
Taking a moment to watch the kids having fun.
My six year old reuben hugging a shark shaped water pistol at Porthtowan beach in Cornwall
Arg, the gift shop. The kids love gift shops, but we really hate all the plastic tat that inevitably ends up breaking and in the bin. Or played with once and chucked in a toybox never to be seen again. A waste of money and so wasteful and bad for the environment. I came to a compromise and the kids did too by allowing them metal and wooden buckets only, plus these plastic shark water shooters. Reuben would not let go of some water pistols, but all the plastic water pistols we’ve previously had at home end up breaking really quickly and going to landfill. Not good. I thought these shark shooters looked less breakable as they don’t have small parts and so should stand the test of time. Hopefully they will last years and not days.

Perranporth beach

View of Perranporth beach in Cornwall from inside our campervan after parking nearby
Aah, Perranporth beach, a place we have been to several times before as a family and Ben is very familiar with Perranporth…

This grass carpark is great for parking and seeing the views!
My husband and kids sat on a bench Perranporth beach in Cornwall
The famous Sully bench! Well, famous to us πŸ™‚

Ben’s grandparents moved to Perranporth from Truro when Ben’s Dad was around 16 and they lived here until they were too old to look after themselves. They loved Perranporth and this bench up above the beach and near the toilets (!) is in memory of them and their love of Perranporth.

Ben spent many summer holidays as a child with his grandparents in Perranporth and has fond memories.
Memory bench with words In memory of grace and lawrie sully who loved this place Perranporth beach in Cornwall
In memory of Grace and Lawrie Sully who loved this place.
Cliff steps down to Perranporth beach in Cornwall
These steps to the far left of Perranporth beach, when looking out to sea, are great fun to climb down. They end up on the rocks and then you climb over the rocks to get to the beach. Just be careful as they can be slippy!
Kids playing in water and making sandcastles at Perranporth beach in Cornwall
The kids love to build trenches from the rivers of water to sandcastles. They will do this for hours, Ben too!
Hilltop view of Perranporth beach in Cornwall
Aah, Perranporth. Around 2.2 miles of sand, waves, sand dunes and beautiful walks.
Kids splashing in the pools of water on the beach at Perranporth beach in Cornwall
Super shark shooters and lots of pools of water for the kids to play in.
Family walking along the sand dunes at Perranporth beach in Cornwall
I left them digging trenches and playing in the pools to explore so of the surrounding dunes and cliffs. Soon they came up and met me for a walk over the sand dunes.
Kids playing in giant hole in the sand at Perranporth beach in Cornwall
The kids playing in a giant hole on the beach in some windy sand! All kids need – a giant hole on a beach. Entertainment for hours! Until Reuben fell in and got a mouthful and noseful of sand. Oops!
Horse rider riding horse on the beach with the sun setting at Perranporth beach in Cornwall
A horse and its rider enjoying the beach at Perranporth too.
Kids playing with sand at Perranporth beach in Cornwall
We went back the next day and the hole was much smaller than before πŸ™‚

One good thing about Perranporth is the sand is really sandy – great for sandcastles and playing!
Geese and Goslings in Perranporth by a lake
A lake in Perranporth not far from the beach, great for stopping on a bench or having a picnic. We got to see a family of geese and their goslings!
Eating vegan hotdogs in Perranporth
We noticed a takeaway with lots of vegan food options and Bella wanted to return for her birthday for a vegan hot dog! They were delicious!
Kids sat on a bench eating vegan hotdogs in Perranporth
Girl climbing a climbing frame at a play park in Perranporth in Cornwall
Not too far up from the beach is a kids playpark. We viewed a house not far from here and the kids had a good play before.
Exercise equipment in a play park in Perranporth in Cornwall
Fun for adults at the park too!
Perranporth Cornwall
Off to view a house. The park is behind us and some outdoor tennis courts.
Girl having hair wrap in Perranporth in Cornwall
Bella’s birthday and she wanted a hair wrap.
Smiling girl with hair wrap braid in Perranporth in Cornwall
Happy birthday Bella and happy hair wrap πŸ™‚

Godrevy lighthouse, seals and cliff walk

Smiling girl with large sea view behind near Godrevy lighthouse in Cornwall
Beautiful Bella with views of The Towans and St Ives in the distance. We are off to walk along some cliffs to see Godrevy lighthouse and the views.
Beautiful sea view from the cliffs with St Ives in the distance
The sea is such a beautiful colour along the north coast of Cornwall. It always surprises me how blue it is.
 Godrevy lighthouse in Cornwall
Godrevy Lighthouse.
 Godrevy lighthouse in Cornwall
The nearest cove was packed with people, so we escaped up to the cliffs and enjoyed the views of the lighthouse.
Sunbathing on the cliffs near Godrevy lighthouse in Cornwall
A perfect quiet and relaxing spot away from the crowds.
Godrevy lighthouse in Cornwall
Mummy hugs.
Seals on the beach in a cove near Godrevy lighthouse in Cornwall
Seals! Can you see them? There were around 15 seals on the beach in a row. Larger black seals and smaller white seals. We were so lucky to see them on this protected beach (no humans allowed), as when we came back past after a short walk there were no seals to be seen!
Protected seals on a beach cove near Godrevy lighthouse in Cornwall
Can you spot all the seals? Amazing cliff views here too. It makes me realise how we really are just living on land jutting out from the sea! Quite amazing and potentially so fragile.
The Towans in Cornwall
Views of The Towans beach across the fields. Beautiful!

The Towans

The Towans beach in Cornwall
Wow, what a beach! One of the locals told us he goes to Hayle when the beaches at Perranporth and Newquay get too packed in the holidays and I can see why. There were a lot of people at The Towans beach, but it didn’t feel like it as it’s such a vast beach everyone is really spaced out. The beach is really long. Upton Towans beach is around 3 miles long, although some websites say 4 miles. When the tide is low all the Hayle beaches make one massive long sandy beach!
Kids splashing in shallow waves at The Towans beach in Cornwall
Sparkling clear water!
The Towans beach in Cornwall
The kids had lots of fun splashing around in the sea, whilst we walked along the beach.
Rock pools at The Towans beach in Cornwall
Lots of warm pools of water near the rocks to explore and cool off in.
Sand dunes The Towans beach in Cornwall
We found a parking spot on the road and crossed the sand dunes to the beach.
nature reserve at The Towans beach in Cornwall
Before the sand dunes was some sort of pond and protected nature reserve.

Holywell beach

sand dunes on Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
Wow, wow, wow! Holywell beach! My favourite of this trip and one we’ll be visiting lots more as residents of Cornwall in the not-so-far future! Sand dune mountains here! They were so high everyone was sliding down them on surfboards and bodyboards!
Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
Lots of lovely greenery around this beach.
walking up sand dunes Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
Up and over the sand dunes to find the main beach!
Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
Looking cool. What’s over the top?
sand dune mountains Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
So many sand dunes! Sand dune mountains!
Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
Here we come!
amazing sea view out to two rocks at Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
Aaaah, bliss! Love the rocks in the water. What a view to surprise us.
Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
Holywell beach, Newquay, Cornwall. What a great find!
kids having fun filling buckets with sand at Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
Fun times with their new buckets.
river flowing on Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
Wading through the fast flowing river and cooling off our feet!
walking Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
Off for a cliff top walk to see the views from up high.
Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
Amazing sand dunes.
Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
Sand dune mountains.
Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
We had such great weather for the week. Only one spot of rain.
Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
military sign at Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
Crazy warning!
Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
Holywell beach, Cornwall
Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
Love the rocks and the amazing sea colour.
Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
A beach we will be so fond of when we live in Cornwall.
kids splashing in the river at Holywell beach near newquay cornwall
A river runs along the sand dunes at Holywell Beach with giant patches of reeds, down to the beach and sea. There’s a large spot of sandy beach by the river and it’s the perfect place for the kids to play in shallow water.

Newquay and Fistral Beach

oak and maple juice smoothies plant based eats newquay cornwall
Luckily we noticed this dinky plant based foods and smoothies cafe as we walked through Newquay. It was nearly lunchtime and we were hungry, so we stopped and had a smoothie each. They were delicious! Oak & Maple offer a smoothie/juice delivery service in Cornwall so I’ll be checking this out when we move to Cornwall πŸ™‚
Newquay and Fistral Beach
We stopped on Fistral Beach to do some moving house admin as we had an offer accepted on a house whilst walking to the beach! Hopefully we will be moving in 3-4 months if everything goes to plan!
Newquay and Fistral Beach
The kids enjoyed a play on the beach whilst we rang estate agents and solicitors!

Bella’s 9th birthday

siblings smiling for the camera holding a birthday present
Whilst in Cornwall it was Bella’s 9th birthday!

She had a bit of an extended birthday as she saw some family before we went and some when we returned. Plus she picked a few things to do on holiday and decided she was having a two day birthday so opened half her gifts the day before!
birthday girl opening presents happily
Bella got a disco light for her bedroom and was super excited! You can see it on Reuben’s face!
9 year old birthday girl opening presents with smile
More presents for the birthday girl, on her actual birthday here!
kids in bongo with vegan pizza from st agnes takeaway
Birthday pizza at Bella’s request. We found a takeaway in St Agnes that did vegan pizzas and drove to a sea view to eat them. They were delicious!
vegan pizza with jackfruit from st agnes pizza takeaway
Me and Ben had a vegan pizza with jackfruit – yum!
girl freezing cold on cliffs at st agnes
Bella and Ben got out to see the views at St Agnes. You can see our black Bongo in the background.
perranporth hair braid by beach
After St Agnes we stopped at Perranporth beach where Bella got a hair wrap as a birthday treat.

Portholland (south coast)

West Portholland, Cornwall
Lots of rocks to explore at West Portholland beach. A small cove Ben has fond memories of from his childhood, staying with family and friends nearby. A small beach and rocks to climb and explore, but do not ignore the signs about the dangerous rocks as the cliffs are gradually falling down.
rock climbing West Portholland, Cornwall
King of the castle.
horse walking into sea West Portholland, Cornwall
Amazingly a horse rider came for a dip with their horse whilst we were at West Portholland beach. I’ve never seen a horse go so far into the sea before.
horse swimming West Portholland, Cornwall
Bella having fun splashing in and out of the water with the horse behind her.
horse in sea West Portholland, Cornwall
An interesting horse ride πŸ™‚
horse in sea West Portholland, Cornwall
This is one of my favourite photos from this holiday πŸ™‚
West Portholland, Cornwall
West Portholland, Cornwall

Tintagel Beach

Tintagel beach in Cornwall
After checking out of our holiday cottage, we went to Tintagel for a brief look before heading home. The actual castle ruins and bridge can only be accessed if you book a ticket in advance, but we just wanted to see it from afar and see the beach. Tintagel Beach is an amazing little spot which feels like it could be a pirate cove! There are rocks all around, a waterfall running down the cliff, castle ruins above and caves to explore.
Tintagel beach in Cornwall
Walking down the steps to Tintagel Beach.
Tintagel beach in Cornwall
This waterfall was amazing, coming down the rocky cliff to the sea.
Tintagel beach in Cornwall
Such a cool place. Back to the sea the water goes.
Tintagel beach in Cornwall
Tintagel beach. Waterfall, castle ruins and Merlin’s cave.
Tintagel beach in Cornwall
Tintagel feels very private.
Tintagel beach in Cornwall
Lovely water and scenery at Tintagel cove.
Tintagel beach in Cornwall
Looking out to sea.
waterfall running down cliffs to beach at Tintagel beach in Cornwall
Cool waterfalls on Tintagel beach.
merlins cave Tintagel beach in Cornwall
Merlin’s Cave goes all the way through.
merlins cave Tintagel beach in Cornwall
A grand opening to Merlin’s Cave at Tintagel, Cornwall.
Merlins cave Tintagel beach in Cornwall
The kids didn’t want to go too far into Merlin’s Cave!
Tintagel beach in Cornwall
Time to head home after lots of fun adventuring in Cornwall for 7 days.
But not before we stopped to check out this huge caterpillar, or ‘centipeter’ as Reuben told us several times it was called!

Until next time…

Our next trip will be a weekend camping trip to Lynmouth in Devon. It’s one I had accidentally booked for the Easter holidays when I thought camping had opened back up, but I didn’t realise the toilets and showers weren’t allowed to open, so luckily they changed the date for us! Keep an eye on our family travel diary for all our days out and travel adventures.

Check out the Eden Project in Cornwall if you’re looking for more things to do!

13 thoughts on “Family travel diary: Half term holiday exploring Cornwall’s north coast from The Towans to Fistral beach

  1. Wonderful to see reference to Lawrie Sully. He appointed me to my first job in local government in 1967 and taught me so much. I left Cornwall in 1976 and last met him in Truro in the 1980s. I retired from a senior position in Surrey in 2008 and continue to live here but often think about how much my career was aided by the high standards he set. It has been a pleasure to find your blog.

    1. Oh, what a find! Lawrie was my husband’s Grandfather. We often visit Perranporth where my husband has fond memories of visiting Grace and Lawrie. We hear stories of their time in Truro from Ben’s dad.

  2. That’s a shame you never got to go to the Lake District but Cornwall sounds fab and it looks like the weather was good too

    1. I know! The owner has promised me a good discount whenever we can rebook, so hopefully I will finally make it to the Lake District soon πŸ™‚πŸ€žπŸΌ

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