Spending Diary: a couple’s five-day trip to Cornwall

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I spent five days in Cornwall with my partner, balancing Cornish pasties, ice creams, seafood and cider with refreshing swims in the Atlantic and coastal walks with spectacular views. Our trip was in August, so Cornwall was bustling with fellow tourists and, like much of Europe, it’s a month you’ll pay higher than average prices. We lucked out with pre-trip expenses, borrowing my dad’s car and staying in my parents’ holiday lodge free of charge, saving us precious pennies on accommodation and transport (minus petrol). 

Pre-trip spending

Train: £91.30 for two return tickets from London to my hometown in Somerset, bought with 26-30 railcards saving a third on the cost. In my hometown we picked up my dad’s car and hit the road.

Towan beach © Louis Austin / Lonely Planet

Snacks: It wouldn’t be a road trip without snacks. We stopped off en route and purchased two coffees, Wine Gums and Twirl Bites for £8.20.

On the ground

Saturday

2pm: We arrived in Cornwall early afternoon and, although it rained the entire journey, the sun decided to come out just in time. We headed straight to Crantock beach, a few minutes’ drive away, for a walk and a swim in the sea. As National Trust members, parking was free. 

6pm: We headed back to the lodge to freshen up for the evening, and then ventured out to a charming little restaurant called The Boathouse. It’s in a quaint little harbour in Newquay and serves fresh fish and seafood, which is a must when visiting Cornwall. We shared seabass croquettes to start (£12.50) and, as we were on the coast and it was our first night, we splashed out on a Fruits de Mer platter for our main, consisting of mussels, crab, lobster and monkfish, with skinny fries and bread for dipping. The main came to £50 and with wine the total bill was £88.50. The other side of the harbour is a stretch of beach with long waves perfect for surfing. We watched people surf until sunset before making our way back to the lodge. 

Fresh seafood was on the menu for dinner © Louis Austin / Lonely Planet

9pm: On our way home, we stopped off for a pint of Cornish cider at a pub only a stone’s throw away from the lodge, which came to £7.50

Sunday

10am: After a morning run along a coastal path near Crantock, and breakfast at the lodge from the well stocked fridge, we were ready to head out for a day trip to St Ives. 

11am: We drove to a small village called St Erth, parked for free at the train station and caught a train into St Ives for £5.30 for two return tickets. It’s only 15 minutes on the train, with stunning coastal scenery and sea views, and saves the hassle of driving into this extremely popular town. It was a tip we received from a local and it paid off massively. 

The dreamy view of St Ives from the train © Louis Austin / Lonely Planet

1pm: Once we arrived in St Ives, we headed from the train station to the town centre and mooched about to get our bearings, before grabbing a Cornish pasty (£3.50 each) to eat in a park near St Nicholas Chapel, which had panoramic views of the town and the ocean. With full bellies, we were ready for an afternoon of culture, and purchased two combined tickets to visit Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, for £14.50 per ticket. The afternoon drew to a close with a Cornish cream tea, which is a scone with cream and jam and coffees, coming to £8.50 in total. When in Rome!

6pm: We stopped at Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm on the way home and picked up some Rattler ciders – £10 for 8 bottles – to stock up the fridge. That evening we went to a local pub called the Bowgie Inn which has gorgeous views of Crantock beach. I had homemade lasagne and a shandy (I was driving), Andrew had fish and chips and a glass of wine, and we watched the sun go down, all for £35.90

Cornish pasties and cream tea made for perfect Sunday food © Louis Austin / Lonely Planet

Monday

9am: Making the most of the blue sky, we started the day with an energising swim in the sea at a beach called Polly Joke, a 10 minute drive away, and paid £1 for parking. Afterwards we headed back to the lodge and cooked eggs and bacon (which were left in the fridge for us) for breakfast. We grabbed two coffees and some biscuits from a local shop for £5.55, before heading out on another day trip, this time to Land’s End. Parking cost £6 while we soaked up the dramatic scenery; we saw the wild Atlantic ocean, deep blue in colour, crash into beautiful cliffs and even caught a glimpse of the Isles of Scilly in the distance. Tourism has transformed Land’s End and it now feels a bit like a theme park, however, the natural beauty is outstanding.

Louis at Land’s End © Louis Austin / Lonely Planet

2pm: Next stop, Porthcurno beach, which is a 20 minute drive along the coast. We parked in the beach car park for £2.10, picked up two Cornish pasties for £9, and sat on the beach and watched the waves roll in. You can’t visit Cornwall without eating Kelly’s Cornish ice cream and on our way back to the car we each had one: mint choc chip for Andrew and salted caramel for me, for a total of £5

8pm: After heading back to the lodge and enjoying a Rattler cider, we decided to have a slightly fancier dinner than the night before. We went to a restaurant called Lewinick Lodge, nestled on cliffs overlooking the ocean and Newquay’s Fistral beach. We both had tempura fish with samphire and curried mayo to start (£7.50 each). I had Cornish crab linguine for main (£18.50), Andrew had crispy panko monkfish (£19.50), and we washed it down with a carafe of rosé. The bill came to £72.50

Dessert before dinner? It is a holiday after all! © Louis Austin / Lonely Planet

Tuesday

Total: £50.10
 
10am: We had a lazy morning at the lodge, nipping out for two butter croissants and two coffees, which came to £5. We then headed out to explore Bedruthan Steps, a stretch of stunning coastline featuring giant rocks and breathtaking cliffs. Again, parking was free with a National Trust membership. 
 
1pm: We then carried on along the north Cornish coast to the picturesque town of Padstow. We were extremely lucky to find a parking space as it’s notoriously tough to park in high season and it cost us £3.50 for a couple of hours. First things first: food! We headed to a lovely little pub called The Harbour Inn and had cheese and pickle sandwiches, and Andrew had a pint of Cornish lager. In total it came to £17.30. You would think we’d be full up but, after a stroll around the pretty fishing village, we picked up some cakes from Rick Stein’s Patisserie (a custard tart and a blondie), for £5 altogether. 

Bedruthan Steps was Tuesday morning’s stop © Louis Austin / Lonely Planet

 
6pm: After eating out the past three nights, Andrew volunteered to cook us dinner at the lodge, so we went home via the supermarket Morrisons and bought two sea bass fillets, green beans, corn on the cob, a lemon and new potatoes. It wouldn’t be a holiday without wine, so we picked up a bottle of rosé and headed back for a cosy last night in. The shop came to £19.30. 

Wednesday

9am: It was sadly time for our Cornish bubble to come to an end, but not before heading to the beach one last time. Parking at Crantock beach was free as it’s a National Trust beach. It was windy and drizzly so we opted for a stroll rather than a swim, and picked up two coffees on our way back to the car (£5.60). We used up the last of the fridge supplies for our breakfast and managed to make two ham and cheese sandwiches for the journey too. 

Just enough time for one last walk on the beach before saying goodbye © Louis Austin / Lonely Planet

12pm: After packing up and waving goodbye to the lodge, we headed to a petrol station to fill up the car ready for our drive home. This came to £50.10. Once back in my hometown, we used our return train tickets back to London. 

The final tally: £498.15

Notes:
This was the total cost for two people for a five-day trip to Cornwall, so works out at just over £249 per person. Although we were very lucky to save on accommodation and borrow a car for the trip, we did enjoy some extravagant dinners and could have been more budget conscious. 

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