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Secret Garden, Bosavern House, St Just, Penzance, Cornwall
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Secret Garden, Bosavern House, St Just, Penzance, CornwallThe greatest difficulty this small campsite could ever encounter is living up to its name. After all, those two simple words,'secret' and 'garden', when put together promise so much: your very own slice of Eden-like paradise full of natural pleasure.

The fact that this tiny campsite is situated on the mystical far-western edge of Cornwall, where travellers only find what they earnestly seek and don't just drop upon by mere happenstance, only adds to the anticipation and allure of this vision of your own private Eden. And the way to the Secret Garden is indeed enchanting, along the rugged coast westwards, fleeing the crowds of St Ives, or across the empty granite-strewn hills, escaping any Pirates of Penzance.

The sign outside Bosavern House - where Secret Garden hides - stating there are cream teas available, is yet another promising prospect for keen gastro-campers. But this doesn't look like .1 place where there is, or can be, a campsite - it's a rather grand-looking old granite mansion.'Where's the campsite?' you ask the distinguished-looking chap who comes to the door.'It's in the garden round the back', says he, and your little heart dares to wonder if all those wild imaginings of a secret garden can really be true.

Secret Garden, Bosavern House, St Just, Penzance, Cornwall


Then reality sets in as you push past the hens, and brush off the embrace of the palm trees and other exotic plants. There it is — the Secret Garden. But what's this - other campers taking up residence in the form of two tents and two campervans? So you aren't the only Adam or Eve to make it here after all.

Drat. In fact, there are 12 spacious pitches (each equipped with a hook-up) within this lovely little oasis of vegetational tranquillity, lining the garden's hedges and edges, and quite often in high season they are all occupied. But even though it may not be solely yours, after a day or three has passed and the outside world is just a distant memory, the realisation gradually dawns that this garden campsite in all its hidden-away, intimate glory, is indeed a secret. And a perfect one at that.The onsite facilities are colourful, spotlessly maintained, and there are pleasing touches to provide a homely feel, with the lounge in the main house open for campers' use, alongside the library and bar.

The secretive feeling stays once you step outside, too, with little-trod footpaths leading off towards the coast. One such magical trail leads to Porth Nanven, through a mile of scenery that you never want to end, and this is yet another seemingly undisclosed place, despite being just a few miles from the tourist throng at Land's End, with its dramatic cliffs, breathtaking views, and attractions.

Another footpath strikes out across farmland, before burrowing its way through dark, damp, overgrown tree-tunnels to the cliffs, and to Cape (Cornwall: one more well-kept secret. It's fortunate the Cape doesn't poke out into the Atlantic just a little further, or it would have been Land's End, and this beautiful, empty place might have ended up being smothered by visitors' enthusiastic footfall. As it is you can stroll here from your Secret Garden, enjoy a swim in the cove or tidal pool, watch the fishermen winch their boats up the steep slope from the sea, then wander back to the campsite for a cream tea in the garden... And all without encountering more than a handful of other retiring and secretive folk.

Does the Secret Garden live up to its name? As Churchill (the dog that is) would say,'Oh Yes!'

Secret Garden, Bosavern House, St Just, Penzance, Cornwall


COOL FACTOR A secret campsite, hidden away in secret Cornwall.

WHO'S IN? Tents, campervans, caravans - yes. Dogs, groups - no.

ON SITE This place is genuinely the garden of Bosavern House so, as to be expected, the ablutions block is small, providing toilets, free showers (1W, 1M), laundry, and a washing-up sink. It's a homely place, and the proprietors will even cook you breakfast if you possess the personal organisational skills to have ordered it the night before. No campfires.

Secret Garden, Bosavern House, St Just, Penzance, Cornwall


OFF SITE There are many remnants of Cornwall's mining heritage scattered about on both the moors and cliffs hereabouts (see also Beacon Cottage, p46). The Levant Engine House (01736 786156; see www.nationaltrust.org.uk) - a very beautiful 4-mile walk along the coast path from the Secret Garden - contains a functioning Cornish Beam engine, which is in steam several times a week in summer. About 4 miles in the opposite direction is Sennen Cove, with its stunning beach and serious surf action, while a bit closer to the site (a mile away) is Porth Nanven, where a bracing dip awaits the adventurous. Less than a mile from the Secret Garden is Land's End Airport, where there are pleasure flights and regular flights to the Scilly Isles (08457 105555; www.ios-travel.co.uk). The Scillonian is operated by the same company as the flights, and sails to the Scilly Isles from Penzance. Between St Just and Penzance are the exotic (and slightly secretive) gardens at Trengwainton (01736 363148; see www. nationaltrust.org.uk), where plants that grow nowhere else in Britain thrive in the shelter of the walled garden.

FOOD AND DRINK For gargantuan classic Cornish cream teas look no further than the front garden where, from 2.30 until 6pm, the fat factor is put aside.The Cornish Hevva cake, with clotted cream and strawberries, is sublime. Local pubs in St Just (Уг mile away) include the Commercial Hotel (01736 788455; www.commercial-hotel.co.uk), where the food is unquestionably good; the Star (01736 788767; www.thestarinn-stjust.co.uk) - an ancient, atmospheric inn with no food; and the Wellington Hotel (01736 787319; www.wellington-hotel.co.uk), which might be described as decently predictable. The Queens Arms (01736 788318; www.queensarms-botallack.co.uk) at Botallack, another mile down the road, is also fairly ordinary in the food department, but has a good selection of local ales and hosts a Beer Festival every September. For that extra-special treat, the Victoria Inn (01736 710309) at Perranuthnoe is a bit further away, but the contemporary food is as remarkable as the ancient surroundings.

Secret Garden, Bosavern House, St Just, Penzance, Cornwall


GETTING THERE Follow the A30 towards Land's End, and turn right a few miles short of it, on to the B3306 after passing Crows An Wra. Bosavern House, and its Secret Garden, is on the right after 2 miles.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT The summer-only Coast Bus (no. 300, operated by First from April-October) can be boarded at Penzance (where there's a train station) and passes the site. It's also a useful means of reaching walking expeditions on the coast path.

OPEN 1 March-31 October.

THE DAMAGE Tent plus 2 people £15 per night; additional person (over 2 years) £3.20; hook-up £4.20.


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