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Review of Bosinver Farm Cottages, Cornwall

Posted by at 12:03 on Wednesday 22 June 2011

>> For contact details and to check availability, see our full listing of: Bosinver Farm Cottages

Bosinver is an award winning group of holiday cottages, including the self-sustaining Lowen, on 30 acres of land just outside St Austell, Cornwall.

Lowen's impressive design makes the most of the sun's rays.Lowen's impressive design makes the most of the sun's rays.

The accommodation
Lowen is Bosinver’s 20th holiday cottage – a feat made all the more impressive when you discover that owners Pat and Dave have not only had a hand in much of the building, but also that they’ve only recently started employing staff to help them. Sleeping between 3 (Rose) and 12 (Farmhouse), the cottages are clean, comfy and well-equipped, collected together in what pleasantly resembles a small community. The layout might seem a little tricky at first but, after a quick geography lesson with Pat, I found myself wandering freely around the cottages and down towards the river nearby. Interestingly, each cottage gets its name from adjoining fields or specific shrubs and plants that grow nearby. 'Hillside' and Valley View' are pretty self-explanatory.
While each of the cottages says something of the owners' personality, the new and self-sustaining Lowen is perhaps at once the Who says green can't be luxurious? photo: Tom WattsWho says green can't be luxurious? photo: Tom Wattsquirkiest and the most luxurious. Project managed by their son Mark, Lowen has been constructed using beautiful reclaimed timber beams that were bought and sanded down by owner Dave himself, and is insulated solely using straw bales. Inside, the abundance of wood is offset by bright splashes of colour found in the ultra modern bathrooms, numerous artworks and the open-plan kitchen. This is a house in which sustainability has become part and parcel of the luxury, it feels at once both organic and individual. The wood burner chimney has become a striking focal point in the lounge, while I was amazed to hear that many of the pieces of wood furniture were built by one local pair of brothers, from the dining table and quirky bedroom wardrobes to the gorgeous four poster bed where I was lucky enough to spend the night.

The actitivies
Bosinver offers a great deal of activities for children, from the Gruffalo trail beside the lake to the morning feedings with Farmer Dave where kids get to feed chickens, ducks, goats and sheep. They've also set up the popular Wild Kids Cornwall Club, which helps children re-discover nature by having lessons on building dens and campfires, wildlife watching and building 'bug houses'. There are also several adventure playgrounds and a zip-wire, plus a solar-powered indoor swimming pool, tennis courts and a games room.
Should you want to move further afield, there's a wealth of information on what activities can be done in reception. The area boasts some fantastic cycle trails and you can even get a discount at the Eden Project if you arrive by bike. If you're looking to hire one, Pentewan Valley cycle hire delivers directly to Bosinver. There are also many opportunities for walking, including the picturesque Looe Valley Line. Each cottage has a guide to 60 local circular walks or you can ask the owners, they've walked much of the Cornish coastline themselves. A month before you arrive, Bosinver will even send you a few suggestions of things to do without a car.

The food
You can order in organic veg bags from local community project People & Gardens (large bags £13, small bags £10) or get everything from fruit to meat and fish delivered from the Cornish Food Market. What's more, you can order food from the local village shop, Polgooth Stores, plus in reception you'll find eggs from the resident chickens as well as a freezer filled with hearty dishes (lasagne, pies etc) prepared by 'local mum' Rachel Abel for sale. If you're looking to eat out, there's a good number of pubs and restaurants nearby, the nearest being the local village pub, the Polgooth Inn. Just a short wander away down a leafy lane, the pub offers real cask ales and wholesome, local produce.
Bosinver's tranquil lake, photo: Tom WattsBosinver's tranquil lake, photo: Tom Watts
What makes Bosinver green?
It may be easier to list the ways in which Bosinver, particularly Lowen, isn’t green - even prior to the completion of Lowen, Bosinver was rated gold by the GTBS. Firstly, there's a comprehensive recycling system with recycle bins and compost caddies in every cottage as well as several larger recycling and compost bins dotted around. All of the recycling is collected under a Council scheme to encourage community recycling and the St Mewan playgroup benefits financially from their efforts. Bosinver are also proudly involved with numerous community projects. They're members of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and also support the St Austell based People & Gardens project, which helps young people with physical and mental disabilities develop work and social skills by cultivating their own gardens - members of which also helped out with the building of Lowen. 

Lowen not only means ‘happy’ in Cornish but also stands for Low Energy, and its green credentials are extremely impressive. The solar PV panels power not only Lowen itself, but the two adjoining cottages, the heating and hot water is provided by solar panels, wood burner and ground source heat, plus the cottage harvests rainwater. Guests can even use a fantastic new piece of technology (the small screen on the wall opposite the front door) to monitor their energy usage from room to room. What's more, almost every piece of furniture and every decoration has been either made or bought locally, from the beautiful reclaimed beams that form the structure of the house right down to the bedroom lampshades.

How to get there
Take the train from London to St Austell (around 4 hours). From there, you can take a short (3 mile) taxi trip to Bosinver. If you're willing to leave your car at home, Bosinver will even go as far as to refund the cost of a taxi to and from St Austell station. Alternatively, they're also on two bus routes, the 26A Western Greyhound service (towards Gorran Haven) which stops in Polgooth village and the First bus number 27 (towards Truro), stopping in Trelowth. 

Top tip
Do as I did and take a relaxing stroll down towards the lake - walking through the field will make you feel as if you're a million miles from anywhere. If you have kids, they’ll love hunting along the Gruffalo trail and searching for wildlife while you soak up the solitude. 

Verdict
It's a testament to Pat and Dave's success that, once guests visit for the first time, they tend to come back year after year. I spoke to a family staying in Buddleia on their second holiday here that have already booked for next year so as to stave off the army of repeat guests. It's little surprise when you take stock of how well Bosinver caters for children and, in turn, how much pressure that takes off parents. With the completion of Lowen, Bosinver has also taken its green ethos to a new level, losing nothing in the way of luxury in the process.

The glorious Cornish countryside surrounding Bosinver, photo: Tom Watts

Winners of The Cornwall Tourism Awards for Sustainable Tourism (Gold) and Self Catering (Gold) 

and also The Cornwall Sustainability Awards for Connecting with Nature (Winner) and Best Managed Small Business (Highly Commended) 

>> For contact details and to check availability, see our full listing of: Bosinver Farm Cottages

>> See all our Green places to stay in Cornwall

Disclosure

Blogs posts categorised as 'Reviews' have been written with the support of one or more of the following: accommodation owner, activity provider, operator, equipment supplier, tourist board, protected landscape authority or other destination-focussed authority. The reviewer retains full editorial control of the work, which has been written in the reviewer's own words based on their experience of the accommodation, activity, equipment or destination.

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