Since September began, I've scoured the charts and forecasts for a hint of potential. That magic combination of swell and fine weather that make the seven hour journey west to Cornwall worth it. Finally the last week of the month, there was a glimmer of hope; a blocking high pressure over Europe and a little spinning ball of low pressure fuelled energy sitting out in the Atlantic. Ever since we lived in Cornwall many years ago, we try to go back twice a year, once in spring, and once in early autumn, before and after the busy tourist season, when the days are warm, nights cool, and the potential for good swell is high. We had missed our spring window of opportunity due to an ear infection, so when autumn looked set to deliver the goods we were determined to make the trip, no matter what.
Existing plans were cancelled, the van was prepped and packed, friends were contacted and accommodation was secured. We aimed to camp in the van for a few nights, sans roof top tent to make room for surfboards, and the rest of the time stay in one of Kudhva’s wonderfully curious off grid hideouts. With the moon and stars still shining on a chilly Wednesday morning, we filled the thermos with coffee, bundled our son Benji into the van, put the heater on full blast and headed out, destined to find some Cornish gold.
A few pit stops and many miles later, we made it to our favourite, ever dependable beach break where solid lines of swell and clear blue skies greeted us with just the slightest sea breeze ruffling the otherwise perfect scene. It's funny how travelling with a toddler in tow alters your priorities; normally when presented with such oceanic offerings, I can't get my wetsuit on quick enough. Clothes and towels fly in a mad frenzy and anything that isn't surfing gets immediately disregarded. This time however, I was more excited about getting Benji into his own little wetsuit and taking him down to the big blue Atlantic to splash in the whitewater for the first time. Maybe I'm getting old, or maybe the thrill of surfing isn't quite as strong as it used to be for me, or maybe sharing the joy that the ocean has given me with my son is the biggest thrill going.
After a few days surfing, swimming and spending chilly autumn nights camping in the van, we were looking forward to a couple of days of being able to take hot showers and the chance to get warm and dry. Nestled in a deep valley leading down to the rugged coastline of Trebarwith Strand, Kudhva occupies a former slate quarry, abandoned by industry and partially reclaimed by nature. Four tiny cabins stand high above the ground on stout legs, part robot, part animal in appearance, roaming amongst a dense green patchwork of willows, ferns and willowherbs. Each cabin houses the bare minimum needed to be comfortable, a built-in sofa, mezzanine bed, fresh linens and towels, a single candle for when darkness falls and huge windows for gazing at the stars. The great thing about a stay at Kudvha is that whilst being comfortable and cozy, it’s challenging and utilitarian enough that it still feels like an adventure. Kudhva requires a little more from you than your typical “glamping” venue and staying there really is an experience in itself, one which we hope to repeat soon - although next time maybe without the toddler…
We were stoked to find out our friends Dan and Amy and their one year old daughter had travelled up the coast and were staying nearby, so we made plans to surf together and met high on the cliffs before hiking down a treacherous path to a secluded beach. With Benji on my back and a surfboard under my arms I was relieved to make it down to the sand in one piece. Despite the tiny waves we surfed for hours, just us and the seals enjoying the glorious early autumn sunshine.
You never quite know what you’re going to get with a quick trip to Cornwall. Many times we have travelled west on the promise of good weather and waves only to find low cloud, onshores and disappointment. This time however Cornwall pulled through, delivering beautiful waves, early autumn sunshine, good company and good vibes. Pure Cornish gold.
With huge thanks to Louise at Kudhva for sharing her secret hideout with us!