The 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 in by chance, only adds to the anticipation and allure of the Utopian vision.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 the Secret Garden hides away, stating there are cream teas available, is yet another promising prospect for keen gastro-campers. But this doesn’t look like a place where there is, or can be, a campsite. Instead, it’s a rather grand-looking 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 heart dares to wonder if all those wild imaginings of a secret garden can really be true.
Then, when reality sets in as you push past the hens, brush off the embrace of the palm trees and other exotic plants, there it is – the Secret Garden. But what’s this – other campers in the form of two tents and two campervans? So you aren’t the first campers to make it here after all. Drat. In fact, there are 12 pitches within this lovely little oasis of vegetational tranquillity, and quite often in high season they are all occupied.
However, 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 dawns that this garden campsite, with all its hidden-away intimacy, really feels like a secret – and a perfect one at that. The onsite facilities are spotlessly maintained, and there are pleasingly homely touches, with the lounge in the main house open for campers’ use, alongside the library and bar.
The feeling that you’ve happened upon a secret location endures once you step outside, where little-trod footpaths lead off towards the coast. One such magical trail leads to Porth Nanven, through a mile of scenery that you never want to end, to yet another seemingly undisclosed place, despite being just a few miles from the tourist throng at Land’s End.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 visitor footfall. As it is, you can stroll here from your Secret Garden, enjoy a swim in the cove or tidal pool, climb to a lookout to see if you can spot a basking shark, watch the fishermen winch their boats out of 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. So, does the Secret Garden live up to its name? As Churchill (the dog, that is) would say, ‘Oh yes!’
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