Michael Edwards gets to grips with Cornish language and life as he stays at Penmarlam Lodge Retreat.
To quote the local Cornish lingo, Penmarlam Lodge Retreat, a new peaceful hamlet of some 30 properties, is a “Proper Job”.
“Splann”, in Cornish, or “splendid” for those of us who have driven over the Tamar River into a land of black and white flags, is undoubtedly the word for the stylish two- and three-bedroom lodges. Some of these lodges have only been in place since Easter 2023 and there is a crisp feel to the collage of light greys and creams that contribute to the contemporary decor.
Our lodge has a master bedroom with en-suite. A family bathroom, opposite the second and third bedrooms, also features both bath and shower. In the open-plan lounge, dining room and kitchen there is plenty of room: a breakfast bar, dining table seating six and sofas facing towards the television.
For some, a lodge is a second home, so the kitchens are exceptionally well-equipped with gas hob, oven, fridge-freezer, dishwasher and washing machine. Cosy heating makes Penmarlam a retreat for all seasons.
Nor is there any doubt that the facilities are “pur dha”. That’s “very good” in Cornish. Residents appreciate the on-site shop, the children’s playground and the dog wash. After all, on this craggy section of the South Cornish coastline, there is some magnificent walking territory and there are always portions of the spectacular southwest coastal path to be enjoyed.
On the verges of Poldark scythe-swinging territory, it’s less than 10 miles to Charlestown where much of the filming took place from where Penmarlam Lodge Retreat sits above the east bank of the River Fowey. A maritime playground for those who like to kayak, paddle board and sail through the clear waters of the river and estuary.
For Penmarlam Lodge Retreat residents it is a ten-minute downhill walk through a tree-shaded single-track lane to the tiny village of Brodinnick. There the ferry takes around four minutes to sail across to Fowey. In case, you’ve never visited, the ancient port tumbling down a steep hill, is pronounced “Foy.”
Above the banks of the river stands The Old Ferry Inn, a favourite for Penmarlam residents who want to take a break from self-catering. Though it is a steep incline back up the hill after a good meal and a few drinks.
Across the narrow winding lane from The Old Ferry Inn, a large white house overlooks the river. This is where, on a family holiday, Daphne du Maurier fell in love with Cornwall. Leaving London, she wrote her first novel, The Loving Spirit here in 1931. One of her readers Major Frederick Browning was so impressed that he sailed around the coastline to meet Du Maurier. They married in 1932. Perhaps the terrace of your lodge is the place to relax and read Jamaica Inn, My Cousin Rachel or Rebecca.
As a road sign points out, this really is “Du Maurier Country”. After some years at Ferryside, the author moved across the river into the ancient port of Fowey with its cobbled winding lanes and smack of sea salt in the air. Over the years, the chandlers, ropemakers and shipwrights have largely been replaced by art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants but Fowey still exudes a maritime charm.
Penmarlam Lodge Retreat is perfectly positioned for exploring some of South Cornwall’s big-name attractions. In less than an hour, you can walk across a Burmese-style rope bridge at the Lost Gardens of Heligan looking down into a steep-sided valley of bamboo, bananas, and palms.
Warmed by the Gulf Stream, sub-tropical plants acquired by Victorian explorers, thrive in temperatures five centigrade warmer than at higher altitude in the gardens.
Forgotten, lost, and overgrown with brambles for more than seven decades, the rejuvenated gardens now revive a bygone way of life. The gardeners seek to reintroduce the original species of farm animals and to grow long-lost crops.
Even closer to Penmarlam lies the futuristic biomes of The Eden Project. The winding paths of the hot, humid rainforest biome take visitors on a journey through the vegetation and lifestyle of both the Amazon, Africa and beyond.
A second biome has paths through the more temperate landscapes of the Mediterranean, California, and South Africa. Visitors feel as if they have been around the world in a day.
Heading back to Fowey, there are kayaks and motorboats to be hired for messing about on the river. Alternatively, there are regular small ships sailings exploring the estuary and this spectacular stretch of the Cornish coast. There can be few visitors who are not tempted to extend a stay at a holiday lodge into a second-home regular retreat.
Tell Me More About Penmarlam Lodge Retreat
Penmarlam Lodge Retreat, Bodinnick, Fowey, PL23 1LZ
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A three-night weekend stay (Friday to Monday) or four-night midweek stay, Monday to Friday stay at Penmarlam Lodge Retreat costs from £330 (total), with accommodation in a three-bedroomed holiday home sleeping six people.