Compass House, St Ives

Not many places combine coast and culture with the aplomb of St Ives. The best thing about staying here is that, after ticking off sights such as the Tate, you have time to enjoy the town’s other charms- eating freshly caught crab, exploring artists’ studios among the cobbled streets- when the day- tripper have gone. The beaches are among the UK’s best, and on a sunny day the turquoise water can look like the Caribbean.

Description: Compass House, St Ives

Compass House, St Ives

Compass House in the only property actually on Porthminster beach. The Edwardinan weatherboard villa is pristine and light- filled, with a veranda encased in glass so you can play lord of the manor whatever the weather. All the usual amenities are here, but the views are the star attraction. Being situated directly above the famous Porthminster Beach Café means you can people- watch from your garden and run down for sustenance as soon as you spot a free table on its terrace. You cannot park outside the house (parking is up the road in the station car park), but that is a small price to pay for being able to step from the front gate straight onto the sand.

Description: Porthminster Beach Cafe, St Ives

 Porthminster Beach Cafe, St Ives

Sleeps six in three bedrooms

Price from $1,370 a week

Contact 0844 800 2813;

Little Ship, Coverack

Description: Little Ship, Coverack

Little Ship, Coverack

This picturesque thatched cottage was once used as a chapel for worshippers deemed too lowly for the local Methodist church, and an old pew sits in the beamed kitchen. The two- bedroom thatched house scores highly on quaint charm, with floral sofas, toile de Jouy curtains and pretty quilts. The garden leads to the coastal path those winds through the village of Coverack. It is set on the Lizard Peninsula, one of Cornwall’s least developed areas and a place with a much stronger edge- of- the- country vibe than Land’s End.

Description: The beautiful Helford River.

The beautiful Helford River

On the beach, which is small enough to be almost covered at high tide, the salt- sprayed Harbour Lights café is a great spot for a fresh crab sandwich after serious rock- pool exploration. Further afield, the Helford River is Swallows and Amazons come to life. You must spend at least a day there. Either hires a dinghy explorer or diver to Helford, six miles away, and take the tiny boat across the water to the Ferrbot Inn for Lunch.

Sleeps four and a baby in two bedrooms

Price from $603 a week

Contact 01326 331331;

Farthings, Readymoney Cove

Description: Farthings, Readymoney Cove

Farthings, Readymoney Cove

You cannot find anywhere around Fowey that does not claim some kind of Daphne du Maurier connection. But Readymoney Cove’s link to the author is stronger than most: du Maurier moved here in 1942, and wrote Hungry Hill while living in Readymoney Cottage, one of only eight houses in this tiny hamlet. Just opposite it, and overlooking its garden from the kitchen, is Farthings, a slightly higgledy- pigged, 200- year- old former pilchard store, which has been converted with families in mind. There’s a bunk room and a small cabin room, and the open- plan kitchen’ living room upstairs is stylish but unfussy enough to be child- friendly. The tiny balcony is great place for admiring the views over breakfast, contemplating the history of smuggling that gave this pretty, shelters cove its name (smuggled goods would be sold for ‘ready money’). Nowadays, the only activity on the water is at the swimming platform about 200 metres off shore. It can be dominated by shrieking kids- perhaps yours, if you are staying at Farthings- but take a solitary swim through the mist first thing in the morning and it is easy to see why du Maurier fell in love with the place.

Description: Readymoney Cove

Sleeps six in four bedrooms

Price from $1,157 a week

Contact 0844 704 4987;

Getting to Cornwall

Flybe ( files to Nequay from Edinburgh, Gatwick and Manchester, BMIbaby ( from East Midlands. First Great Western (www.first and Cross Counrty ( pffer train services.

Journey time flights to Mewquay take between 1hr 5mins and 1hr 45mins; the train from London Paddington to Penzance takes 5 hrs 30 mins

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