It wasn't a great summer last year, especially during the school holidays. However staying at one of our Cornish cottages by the sea we did manage to get to the beach most days. Going on recommendations from holidaymakers and locals we discovered some fantastic locations that Cornwall is famous for. However it was not just the setting that that will make the day I am about to describe live on in our memories - rather our swimming partners.
The south-facing cove at Porthgwarra lies just a few miles from Lands End, close to Porthcurno and Minack, a real suntrap. Not surprisingly it is quite popular, although the day we were there it was just pleasantly busy: next to us three generations of a family enjoyed a sumptuous picnic; young children paddled on the water's edge and older children either scrambled on the rocks or walked up the steep jetty for an ice-cream at the nearby cafe. A few others were sea canoeing and it was they who drew our attention to some rather extraordinary visitors to this delightful spot. As they paddled out across the calm, emerald water two seals approached them, diving below the canoes to reappear on the other side their faces bobbing up from below the water bearing, I could swear, a cheeky grin. They were playing a game of hide-and-seek! One was quite large, the other smaller and we assumed it was mother and offspring. The larger one was bolder and more confident in its performance. This carried on for several minutes creating some interest on the beach, but after a while the seals swam off and the canoeists came back to land thinking the fun was over for the day.
By late afternoon the beach had begun to empty even though it was still hot. Deciding this might be our last opportunity to go for a swim whilst on our Cornish holiday, we plunged into the 'refreshing' water, quite tolerable once you'd immersed yourself. We had swum no more than 10 metres from the shoreline when we were rejoined by the seals. The younger one kept a discreet distance but the larger one swam close by, at one point emerging between us little more than an arms-length away. Was it seaweed I felt brushing my leg? I'd like to think it was the seal. We were euphoric as we came out of the sea, sensing the privilege of what we had experienced. Those seals appeared to have enjoyed playing games with the strange animals that had beached up on their shoreline that summer, before migrating back to their homes.
As I think back to that day on a cold, winter's evening, I wonder whether the seals are missing their playmates, or perhaps they're pleased to have reclaimed this beautiful stretch of Cornish coastline for themselves. So, if you are looking for Cornish holiday cottages by the sea, why not browse my selection to find something that catches your eye?
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Penmorvah Manor, Budock Water. View on map>