I was tweeting the other day, keeping an eye on our favourite hashtag #dogfriendlycornwall and stumbled across a twitterer who was after recommendations on dog friendly things to do in Cornwall over Christmas. They’re staying in St. Just, so I thought I’d put together a little guide to our favourite things in West Penwith – if you’ve got any other suggestions please post in the comments below.
A very tasty gastro pub, slung out on the far west coast of Cornwall, just a short walk from the rocky promontory that lends it its name. The Gurnard’s head is hard to miss, it’s on the winding, narrow road that runs the breadth of the coast, and you’ll find it on a corner with its name painted on the roof. Inside there’s a comfy, carefully rustic bar, a formal dining room, a nice garden (should the weather permit) and rooms to stay the night upstairs, and aside from the dining room the whole place is dog friendly. When we went we took Black Dog into the bar, for pints of cloudy local cider and plates of figs and ricotta and pan-fried bass. Delicious.
Reputedly the best pub in St. Just. The King’s Arms is dog, family, tourist and local friendly – which makes for a good, welcoming mix of characters. They have a hearty pub menu on offer, which spans a lot of tastes and price ranges. And importantly the beer is good – check out the pumps for a range of locally sourced ales on rotation.
McFaddens Butchers & Bakers
I’ve been reliably informed (by my other half) that if you ever see a little white flag hanging in the window of McFaddens Butchers in St. Just, you’re in with a chance of bagging one of the best Scotch eggs in the country. McFaddens make theirs fresh on the premises and on bake day you can catch them still warm from the oven. I’d eat mine in the fresh air whilst strolling around the Plain-an-Gwarry, a medieval playing place found just by the main square.
West Penwith is not short of beautiful beaches – in the winter they’re all dog friendly and ready for the taking, from Zennor through to Sennen. But our favourites are quite often secret little coves that are far from the tourist eye. Like Porth Nanven, just outside of St. Just. It’s reached via a wiggly little lane that runs steeply downhill at the end of the Cot Valley, lined lusciously with semi-tropical flora. And it’s sometimes referred to as Dinosaur Egg Beach, because of the perfectly circular boulders and stones that project from the cliff face and litter the beach. It’s not a big beach for dogs to run, but it’s only ½ a mile from St. Just so is quite a good walk on foot from village to beach and back again.
A truly local beach, this little beauty is quiet in the height of summer let along in the depths of winter. It’s about a 20 minute walk either north on the coastal path from Pendeen Lighthouse or west from Morvah. A river tumbles down from Morvah right onto the beach, huge smooth rocks protrude from the sand and a modest bay sweeps up to steep, fern clad cliffs. It’s a good walk for the dog and on a clear day you might even catch glimpses of the Isles of Scillies on the horizon.
It’s a manageable trek up onto Carn Galver – a huge stony spine that cuts through the headland not far from Castle Rock where the cliffs crash down into the sea. And if you make the walk up on a clear winters day you can understand why it was chosen as the site of a Neolithic settlement – it’s one of the highest points in West Penwith and as such has unrivalled views, all the way to the sea on virtually three sides.
Not specifically dog friendly – as it can get very busy, but it’s a ‘not to be missed’ date in the Cornish Christmas calendar. Mousehole Lights started off life in 1963 with some simple strings of lights. Today people travel the country over to visit this little Cornish fishing village, where 7,000 bulbs and over 5 1/2 miles of cable tumble down through the village to the harbour and the sea. You couldn’t find anywhere else more Christmassy or more Cornish at this time of year.