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Beacon Cottage Farm, Beacon Drive, St Agnes, Cornwall
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Beacon Cottage Farm, Beacon Drive, St Agnes, CornwallCornwall offers the perfect seaside sojourn for all makes and models of human holidaymaker: surf dudes and dudettes; sand fortress construction engineers (junior or senior); cute-village viewers; ice-cream lickers; and suckers for scenery will all find what they crave when taking a break by the briny in England's south-western corner.

But Cornwall is not simply one place; its north and west fringes are so very different from those on the south and east.The south of the county is sheltered, lush, and very lovely, in a mild-mannered sort of way, with thatched villages sheltering by wooded creeks among the green folds of the rolling countryside - it's many a gentlefolk's dream of the perfect holiday destination.

Beacon Cottage is on the other side of Cornwall, on a hillside directly facing the wrath of the Atlantic, amid some of the wildest, roughest, and most dramatic seaside scenes in Europe. This is not a nice place, but an awesome one, where the raw, windswept, surf-washed seaside is, for many, the very essence of Cornwall.

That Beacon Cottage is knocked about by the wind on this rocky, empty, and very beautiful section of Cornish coast just makes it even more awesome. The campsite itself is superb, with a choice of pitches either facing whatever the weather can throw at them in the roomy Ocean View field, or sheltered from the elements in the more intimate orchard around the back of the farm. The facilities (which are top notch) are nearer the latter. So where you end up pitching your tent is a question of priorities: room with a view, or shelter and facilities close by?

Beacon Cottage Farm, Beacon Drive, St Agnes, Cornwall

For the surf dudes and dudettes, sandcastle builders, and ice-cream lickers there's an eminently suitable beach for every one of their preferred activities, about 150 (very vertical) metres below the site, and less than a mile away along the coast path.The ice cream is provided from a stone hut in the small car park, but nothing else is allowed to spoil Chapel Porth's immaculately wild looks.

The convenience of such a clean and unspoilt beach is the reason Beacon Cottage is such a glam destination for young families in the school holidays, but this campsite's unique selling point has to be its position. And we're not just talking about its geographical location amid all this spectacularly dramatic scenery, but about its historical place within the melancholic setting of Cornwall's industrial past, too.

This part of Cornwall is littered with the haunting ruins of its former metal-mining sites. And the former mining village of St Agnes is about two miles along the coast path from Beacon Cottage.The illuminating walk there passes abandoned engine houses and mine shafts perched precariously on the cliff's along the way, before the path drops down into the rocky cleft ofTrevaunance Cove. Here, in addition to the remnants of the county's industrial heritage, you'll find yet more ice-cream licking opportunities, clean surf, and a decent beach on which to while away some time.

All the historical roads lead back to Beacon Cottage though, as that classic (and possibly most famous) of Cornwall's picturesque derelict engine houses, at Wheal Coatcs Mine, is the one nearest to the campsite. For the scenery suckers, and those who have that all-consuming passion to see it while sporting their sturdy hiking boots, this is a walker's Valhalla.

Beacon Cottage Farm, Beacon Drive, St Agnes, Cornwall

COOL FACTOR Slap bang in the middle of some very intriguing coastal scenery.

WHO'S IN? Tents, campervans, caravans, dogs - yes. Groups - no.

ON SITE The camping fields all have hook-ups, with 43 of the total 70 pitches being thus equipped. The facilities here are modern and very well maintained with toilets, CDP, free showers (4W, 4M), and 2 family bathrooms. There's a laundry, washing-up sinks, and ice packs, and milk, eggs, gas, and newspapers are sold at the farmhouse. No campfires, but BBQs off the ground are okay.

OFF SITE The list of things to see and do in Cornwall is endless, so here are just a few suggestions... Local and lovely (and a 3-mile walk along the cliffs) is Blue Hills Tin Streams (01872 553341; www.bluehillstin.com), where meaning is given to all the ruins emblematic of this area, and especially the coast around Beacon Cottage. GeevorTin Mine (01736 788662; www.geevor.com) near St Just was a large-scale working mine until 1990; these days the underground tour is the major attraction, while a cafe provides refreshment and the museum extra info.The Eden Project (01726811911; www.edenproject.com) near St Austell needs no introduction, but is somewhere everyone needs to see at some point in their brief flight through life, and a really (really) great place to be on a cold, wet day. Paradise Park (01736 753365; www. paradisepark.org.uk) at Hayle is involved in conservation, breeding, and educational programmes (basically a zoo), but has a nice feel to it and makes a fantastic full family day out. Those seeking cuddly cuteness can do no better than the National Seal Sanctuary (www.sealsanctuary.co.uk) at Gweek, where they care for injured and orphaned seals from all over the UK, before releasing them back into the wild.

FOOD AND DRINK Within walking distance (between 2 and 3 miles), both in St Agnes, and both of which can't really be bettered by getting in the car are... the St Agnes Hotel (01872 552307; www.st-agnes-hotel.co.uk), on the main street, offering a decent selection of food and drink and serving bar meals in a traditional-looking dining room at reasonable prices; Sally's Bistro (01872 552194; www. sallysrestaurant.co.uk), with its rather chic decor, is a place for special occasions (like holidays?), serving well-presented meals with a slightly exotic Mediterranean-based theme. Meanwhile, down in Trevaunance Combe (the valley leading to the Cove), the Driftwood Spars Hotel (01872 552428; www.driftwoodspars.com) not only has bar food and a restaurant with a large menu and good children's deals, but also its own brewery. There are 8 beers brewed here, including Blackheads Mild, a traditional, but now rare, dark, malty ale; Blue Hills; and Alfie's Revenge. GETTING THERE From the A30, just past Blackwater, at the roundabout where the A390 joins, turn right on to the B3277 to St Agnes, and on entering the village at the first mini-roundabout take a sharp left into Goonvrea Road. Follow this for a mile, and then turn right into Beacon Drive (following the caravan site signs). Beacon Cottage is on the right.

Beacon Cottage Farm, Beacon Drive, St Agnes, Cornwall

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Take a train to Truro, which is the hub of public transport in Cornwall. There you'll find a regular bus service (nos. 85 and 85A) to St Agnes.

OPEN Easter/1 April-end September.

THE DAMAGE Tent plus 2 adults Ј16-Ј22 (depending on season); backpacker - £ 7; child - £ 3; dog - £ 2.

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