Poldark fever may have subsided a little since the swashbuckling series signed off in 2019, but the romance and drama of Cornwall remain undimmed – England’s westernmost county can’t be beaten for jaw-dropping beauty, with 400 miles of glorious coastline and swathes of unspoilt countryside. It offers epic Atlantic surfing on the north coast, cracking clifftop walks on its southern shores and rugged hikes on remote Bodmin Moor.
Cornwall is chocka with world-class attractions, including the Eden Project, St Michael’s Mount and Tate St Ives. It’s heaven for foodies, too, with great seafood, characterful pubs and seriously accomplished cooking in gastro hotspots such as Padstow and Porthleven.
You can take in a good chunk of the county on a caravan tour, and we reckon you deserve to see the place in style. Here are eight fabulous caravan parks in prime Cornish locations, all of which have a five-star rating from Visit England or the AA.
Eden Valley Holiday Park
Address: Lanlivery, Cornwall PL30 5BU
Open from Easter to October
It’s quite a name to live up to, but this award-winning family-run site is certainly idyllic, offering a tranquil and secluded setting with loads to do on the doorstep. Take a deep breath: Eden Valley Holiday Park is a 10-minute drive from the otherworldly biomes of the Eden Project, 20 minutes from glorious Fowey harbour, half an hour from the heart of Bodmin Moor and only 15 minutes from the beach at Par Sands. You can walk to the Crown Inn and to Colwith Farm, which sells local produce and has a gin and vodka school on site. There’s a Tesco superstore 15 minutes away in St Austell, and it’s a five-minute drive to lovely Lostwithiel if you prefer antique shops and Norman castles to supermarket aisles.
The caravan park is simple but impeccably maintained, with electric hook-up, showers, toilets, a laundry, a playground and an indoor games room. WiFi is free and there’s a separate paddock for walking the dog. What sets Eden Valley is the warmth of the welcome and its commitment to conservation and wildlife preservation: you’ll wake up to the sound of birdsong and fall asleep to the hoot of owls.
Prices: from £16 a night for two
Top tip: Land’s End on your list? Take a train to Penzance from Lostwithiel station, then the A1 bus for the rest of the journey.
Polmanter Touring Park
Address: St Ives, Cornwall TR26 3LX
Open from late March to October
Galleries flogging tourist tat are two a penny in Cornwall, but St Ives offers art lovers the chance to enjoy top-drawer displays at Tate St Ives, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Bernard Leach’s pioneering pottery. Even if culture leaves you cold, you can appreciate the quality of the light as you stare out across the Atlantic from its sandy beach and the quality of the local seafood at waterfront restaurants such as the Porthminster Beach Cafe. Better still, the surrounding countryside boasts not one but two of the best caravan parks in Cornwall – Polmanter and Trevelgan, both run by members of the Osborne family.
Both are five-star sites just 20 minutes’ walk from the town centre, with a slew of awards to their name, but Polmanter has the edge thanks to its outdoor heated pool and proximity to a decent pub, the Halsetown Inn. If walking down the road sounds too strenuous, there’s a bar/restaurant on site, with takeaways available. The showers and toilets are modern and spotless, the shop sells freshly baked bread and the kids will love the tennis courts, putting green, games room and play areas – the indoor soft play room was designed with input from the owners’ own children. It’s a 40-minute drive to Land’s End or to the Minack open-air theatre, dramatically carved out of the cliffs; for fans of Arthurian legend, St Michael’s Mount is 20 minutes away.
Prices: from £19.50 a night for two (£25 a night with electric hook-up)
Top tip: parking in St Ives is notoriously difficult, so the park has a shuttle bus service in and out of town
Sun Haven Holiday Park
Open from April to November
Everybody’s going surfing in Cornwall these days, and you can get in on the act if you stay at this caravan park on the county’s north coast, a 20-minute drive from Newquay and the famous Fistral beach, where hordes of Patrick Swayze wannabes congregate in summer to show off their best Point Break moves on the breakers. Those of a more sedate persuasion might prefer a stroll through the woods to Mawgan Porth beach or a leisurely lunch up the coast in Padstow, home base for the celebrity chefs Rick Stein and Paul Ainsworth.
Owned by the luxury Lovat Parks group, Sun Haven Holiday Park is in a rural spot next to woodland and offers holiday homes as well as touring pitches. It has WiFi, showers, toilets, electric hook-ups, a laundry, a shop and a play area. Dogs are welcome, and there’s fabulous pizza on offer at Scott and Babs, a five-minute walk away – “wood-fired food in a barn on a farm”. Fans of real ale should drive to the nearby Falcon Inn, a Georgian charmer in St Mawgan.
Prices: from £28 a night for two (minimum three-night stay)
Top tip: if you’re a kook, not a kahuna, or you have grommets in the family, there’s a cluster of surf schools around Watergate Bay, a 10-minute drive away. You can
bone up on surfer lingo at surfertoday.com/surfing/the-glossary-of-surfing-terms
Padstow Touring Park, Padstow, Cornwall PL28 8LE
Open from April to early November
Say what you like about Rick Stein – and many of the locals do – but his restaurant empire in Padstow has turned the place into a foodie haven. And the telly chef isn’t the only talent in town: Michelin-starred Paul Ainsworth is also based here, and the pasties at the Chough Bakery are among the finest you can find. Stay at Padstow Touring Park and you can enjoy a taste of the culinary action within a stone’s throw of your caravan: the farm next door hosts a pair of pop-up restaurants in summer. Slightly less glamorously, there’s a Tesco superstore a mile up the road.
Food isn’t the only reason to stay at this luxury site, owned by the Lovat Parks group, which offers posh holiday lodges as well as grass and hardstanding pitches. It’s immaculately landscaped, has great views over the Camel estuary and has a dog shower and a snack bar for “canine campers”. It has WiFi, showers, toilets, electric hook-ups, a laundry, a shop and a play area, and you can walk down to bustling Padstow harbour to catch the ferry to Rock beach. Hop in the car for a 10-minute drive to Harlyn Bay for a day on the beach or a clifftop walk around
Prices: from £28 a night for two
Top tip: keen to learn from the experts? Rick Stein and Paul Ainsworth both run cookery schools in Padstow
Heligan Caravan and Camping Park, Pengrugla, Cornwall PL26 6EL
Open from January to November
Cornwall is blessed with an abundance of stunning countryside, but the Lost Gardens of Heligan are on another level. Reclaimed from beneath the brambles in 1990, the 200-acre site takes you back to the Victorian era with its glasshouses and kitchen gardens, and into the treetops thanks to a rope bridge in the Jungle section, a valley full of exotic trees and plants. It’s the brainchild of Tim Smit, who also created the Eden Project – and you can visit both if you stay at this peaceful campsite, which is across the road from the Lost Gardens and a 20-minute drive from the Eden Project.
Heligan Caravan and Camping Park would be a great place to stay even without the gardens on the doorstep. It’s a 20-minute walk from Pentewan, which has pubs and a popular beach, a five-minute drive from the delightful fishing village of Mevagissey and 10 minutes from the more secluded Vault and Hemmick beaches, near Gorran Haven (better options if you’re bringing your dog). The views are marvellous, the pitches have electric hook-ups, the showers, toilets and laundry are new, there’s a children’s play area and you can pick up essentials at the shop. The farm shop in the Lost Gardens sells meat and veg boxes, and it’s a 12-minute drive to St Austell for any other supplies.
Prices: from £11.50 a night for two
Top tip: guests can use the private beach and tennis courts at the park’s sister site, Pentewan Sands – and can pay to use its indoor pools if it’s raining cats and dogs
Wooda, Poughill, Cornwall EX23 9HJ
Open from March to November
Plenty of campsites are family-run, but the Colwills have spent three generations pouring their heart and soul into this five-star campsite with sea views near Bude, which is regularly voted one of the best coastal towns in Britain. They turned a working farm into a holiday park in 1975 – the milking parlour is now a bar and restaurant, one of three on site – and family members look after the food, the activities and the beauty salon. If the fishing lake, pitch-and-putt course, play area, tennis, badminton, indoor archery, tractor rides, lambs and “wellness barn” aren’t enough to keep you entertained, there are walking and cycling trails from the gates, and you can book fitness sessions, yoga classes or surfing and kayaking lessons.
It’s a half-hour walk or short bus ride from Wooda to Bude, for a great range of shops, pubs and restaurants, as well as Summerleaze Beach, a glorious stretch of sand with a sea pool for swimming and paddleboarding. The rugged Hartland coast is great for yomps along the cliff or lazy days on beaches such as Sandymouth, followed by an evening at the Preston Gate Inn, a cracking boozer near Wooda that serves refined pub grub and beers from breweries in Cornwall or Devon.
Prices: from £25 a night for two
Top tip: for a day of sea fishing over wrecks and sandbanks, head to Clovelly, across the Devon border. Independent Charters will take you out in search of rays, wrasse, conger eels and 8ft porbeagle sharks
Haven Perran Sands Holiday Park, Perranporth, Cornwall TA6 0AQ
Open from March to November
Look no further if you’re planning an active family holiday by the seaside: this Haven resort offers direct access to the beach, indoor and outdoor pools, water slides, a lazy river, a sports hall, six playgrounds and a stack of activities for kids of all ages, from surf school to den building, adventure golf and bungee trampolining. There are five restaurants and bars on site, dogs are welcome WiFi is free and you can stock up on essentials at the mini market.
You could spend a week here without leaving the holiday park, but Poldark fans and nature lovers will love the St Agnes heritage coast, 20 minutes down the coast, which provided inspiration for the bodice-ripping saga’s author, Winston Graham. It’s a beautiful stretch of coastline dotted with tin mines where you can imagine Cap’n Ross slipping off his stallion for a passionate clinch with Demelza. Carry on the Poldark vibe with a pint or a pie at the Smugglers Den, a 16th-century thatched inn 10 minutes’ drive from Perran Sands. Perranporth, seven minutes away, has shops and pubs; or make the 20-minute drive to Newquay for bigger supermarkets, the Blue Reef Aquarium and surfie Firstral beach.
Prices: from £14 a night for a family of four
Top tip: carry on the Poldark vibe with a pint or a pie at the gorgeous Smugglers Den, a 16th-century thatched inn 10 minutes’ drive from Perran Sands
Trethem Mill Touring Park, St Just in Roseland, Cornwall TR2 5JF
Open from April to October
Here’s one for grown-ups who want to get away from it all: this adults-only caravan park is set in glorious countryside on the unspoilt Roseland peninsula, one of Cornwall’s prettiest and most sedate regions. It feels a million miles from the daily grind, but a 10-minute drive takes you to Porthscatho beach, clifftop walks on the South West Coast Path, St Just’s medieval church and Henry VIII’s clover-leaf castle in St Mawes, which offers views over the Carrick Roads estuary to Falmouth. The National Trust’s Trelissick estate is just over the Fal by ferry from the Philleigh King Harry Landing, a seven-minute drive away.
Trethem Mill is a simple site, with showers, toilets, electric hook-ups, a laundry, and free WiFi, but it’s impeccably maintained and the facilities are spotless. It has a six-acre dog walk and beautifully landscaped gardens, but the warmth of the welcome and a commitment to conservation probably explain why the park has won a host of regional and national awards. Head to Porthscatho or St Mawes for pubs, restaurants and shopping, or just enjoy the beer, Cornish ice cream and sausages available at the licensed shop.
Prices: from £26 a night for two
Top tip: spot dolphins and whales on a boat trip with Orca Sea Safaris, in Falmouth. There’s a ferry to the town centre from St Mawes