Unspoilt cove on a stormy day is a snuggler's haven
Anyone who regularly holidays in the Westcountry – or the rest of the UK for that matter – knows that sunshine can never be guaranteed.
So what? For many people the attraction of our peninsula is its majestic coastline – spectacular cliffs, liberally sprinkled with beautiful coves and idyllic beaches. These can be enjoyed in any weather, but are often the most dramatic when the weather is at its foulest.
Just head for the coast when the winds are up and the waves are thundering against the rocks, cliffs and breakwaters and you'll always find more people than expected enjoying the natural spectacle.
Nestled in the picturesque cove and tiny harbour of Portloe, the Lugger Hotel is one of a growing number of thoughtful Cornish venues offering storm-watching stays.
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Surrounded by cliffs and headlands which form part of the South West Coat Path, Portloe is one of the jewels of the Roseland Peninsula. As long ago as 1934, Sir John Betjemen described it as "one of the least spoiled and most impressive of Cornish fishing villages". Because of its steep-sided valleys, it has managed to escape the developments which have despoiled others over the years, so this holds true today. Many buildings differ little from when they were built.
The Lugger, a 17th-century inn, sits at the very water's edge. And, of course, as this is Cornwall, it is reputed to have been the haunt of smugglers for many years. One of the hotel's very own landlords, Black Dunstan, was hanged for smuggling in the 1890s. The liquor licence was withdrawn and the inn ceased trading.
After a variety of uses, which included being a boat builder's shed, the building was renovated and it reopened in 1950 with just six bedrooms. Now, it has 22, adorned with crisp white linens and bleached Portuguese woods giving it a contemporary but luxurious feel. All feature en-suite bathrooms with deep baths and deluge showers.
Our room in the former boatshed annexe, like many of the others, directly overlooked the tiny bolthole's slipway, which still harbours two working fishing vessels, the Jasmine and Katy Lil, both of which fish for crabs and lobsters in Veryan and Gerrans Bay.
It is the perfect place to hole up and watch the storms roll.
Naturally, to take advantage of this stunning location, the Lugger's restaurant overlooks the sea and harbour and serves classical cuisine with an emphasis on locally sourced produce – particularly shellfish, lobster and crab.
Starters could include honey-glazed belly pork with scallops and sweet chilli or seared pigeon breast with beetroot and pomegranate. The mouth-watering mains feature herb-encrusted sole, chorizo, mussel and potato broth; turbot, risotto nero, and fried quail's egg or muntjac venison, with garlic fondant, candied shallots and celeriac puree.
In warmer weather, lunches can be enjoyed on the hotel's west-facing terraces but, in winter, there are comfy sofas in front of an open log fire to sink in to and enjoy an evening aperitif.
Our storm-watching package (£159pp based on two sharing a Classic double room) included dinner, breakfast, a winter afternoon tea – crumpets and spicy ginger cake – and at turn down, a hot toddy. For extra cosiness there were also two cute and toasty hot water bottles in little knitted skull-and-crossbones jackets.
If you are feeling adventurous, the staff can provide rain macs, wellies and umbrellas for you to use while exploring the Roseland's long coastal walks around the hotel.
You might just want to toddle up the cliff path to the top of the valley overlooking the village itself, but those feeling more sprightly – especially after a hearty breakfast – will be well rewarded.
To the west is the spectacular Nare Head and Pendower and Carne beaches and, for the very energetic, St Anthony Head overlooking the Carrick Roads and Pendennis Point and its magnificent castle.
Literary types may be interested to know the walk to Nare Head takes you by Broom Parc House, location for Channel 4's TV adaptation of Mary Wesley's 1984 novel The Camomile Lawn.
Portloe itself has, of course, featured many times on screen, most notably in Disney's classic 1949 adaptation of Treasure Island.
On the coast path to the east are the lovely coves of Portholland and Porthluney – overlooked by Caerhayes Castle – and Dodman Point, marked by a large granite cross to protect seamen.
For those feeling less energetic there is also plenty to do and see nearby.
Less than five minutes' drive away, at Veryan, there's the five thatched roundhouses built by the Reverend Jeremiah Trist for his daughters. Why roundhouses? There's no corner for the Devil to hide!
Also close by are the Eden Project, the Lost Gardens of Heligan, the busy fishing port of Mevagissey, and St Mawes, one of Cornwall's most popular haunts for the rich and famous.
The cathedral and shops of Truro are close, as is Falmouth, home to the National Maritime Museum, Pendennis Castle, and some good shopping. You can catch a passenger ferry from St Mawes or, to shorten the drive, there's also the King Harry Ferry, the route from which passes the National Trust gardens at Trelissick.
Nearer is one of my favourite places in Cornwall and an absolute must-see – the 13th-century church at St Just in Roseland.
Sat on the banks of a tranquil tidal creek and surrounded by a semi-tropical garden, it has a truly magical quality whatever the weather. It's no wonder that legend has it that Joseph of Arimathea may have brought Jesus – yes, him – ashore here.
Luckily, if all that rushing around is too much for you, the Lugger also offers a tempting range of natural, rejuvenating and relaxing spa therapies, so you can turn dark and stormy into mild and mellow. Whatever the weather.