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Cotna Eco Retreat

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· Gorran Churchtown, Cornwall, England
12 acres hosted by Sara R.
5 glamping pitches
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An peaceful, eco heaven near the coast, on a 10-acre organic smallholding in Cornwall with yurts, a shepherd’s hut and a strawbale barn
It’s difficult to call places in Cornwall ‘hidden’ these days. It has a strong whiff of cliché about it and, given we’re talking about a 10-acre small holding, it also seems a slight exaggeration. Cotna Eco Retreat isn’t exactly something you can slip into your pocket and sneak away with, though we have to say we’d quite like to. If you could bottle the atmosphere they’ve got here you could make a pretty penny. Relaxing, friendly and, above all, sustainable, it’s a place that’s somehow both homely yet also a million miles away from normal life.

Veiled (not hidden) in a quiet Cornish valley, Cotna is a small-scale glamping site ensconced on an organic farm. They offer eco-living without any posturing or grandiosity. The farm, established far longer than the glamping business, supplies salad leaves to most of the local pubs and restaurants and is home to hens, horses, cats and dogs, who add to the good-humoured hum of daily life. At the right times of year, Cotna boasts a plethora of seasonal goodies – including asparagus, aubergines, cucumbers and quince – much of which is housed in the long poly-tunnels that stand out among the green patchwork of the vegetable gardens.

Yet a sense of wilderness is still fostered at Cotna Eco Retreat – one of the real pleasures of glamping within its boundaries of traditional Cornish hedges. Pockets of fruit and nut orchards dot the farm where visitors have free rein to roam, exploring the oak and hazel woodland, the natural ponds and small streams that trickle away towards Portmellon and the proper working harbour village of Mevagissey, two miles away. This makes Cotna both a boon for families – wanting den building and wildlife spotting instead of plastic playgrounds – and also a romantic escape for those seeking out the more secluded side of Cornwall.

Within the orchards are two yurts (each named after a Cornish apple variety). Crafted from local ash, sail canvas and robust polycotton, each boast a magnificent central crown that pools in natural light. Inside they’re furnished to create an all-in-one sleeping, cooking and living space, each with a double bed and space for a further two matresses if necessary, while a wood-burner provides heating – as well as adding to the suitably snug feel of it all! For cooking there’s a gas burner and all the kit and caboodle you'll need plus, of course, Cotna organic eggs, fruit and veg for sale with sourdough bread baked to order.

The brand new couple's shepherds hut, Ismay, enjoys a prime spot within a peaceful valley beside a babbling brook, while the Strawbale Studio offers an equally atmospheric space. Inside, the honey coloured walls and uneven lime-plaster are evocative of the bales that form this eco-friendly structure, creating a wonderful warmth in the evenings as the lamplight casts irregularly across the walls. The accommodation includes an en suite shower, a hand-crafted kitchen, a big brass bed and the all essential wood-burner. In the adjoining barn, owners Dave and Sara share their passion and knowledge for green living, hosting a wide variety of courses and workshops, as well as giving guests the chance to get stuck in. Sara was a teacher in her former life and Dave is a trained Plant Biochemist, so you’re in the safest of green hands!

Of course, none of this should detract from the ultimate feather in this glampsite's cap – its enviable location on the south west coast within easy reach of the best beaches – yet it also competes with the very sights you came here to visit in the first place. After all, why visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan up the road when you have your own lost garden right here? Lost, but not hidden that is, in Cornwall’s most delightful glamping setting.

Activities
Biking
Fishing
Hiking
Paddling
Natural features
Beach
Forest
River, stream, or creek
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Location
Gorran Churchtown, Cornwall, England, United KingdomTraditional, ancestral territory of various First Nations according to To respect the Host's privacy, the precise address of this land will be provided after booking
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Hosted by Sara R.Joined in January 2016
100%
8 Ratings · 20 reviews
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Karolina W.recommends
August 26, 2023
Pengelly Strawbale Studio
We had the best time in Cotna. Such a beautiful and peaceful place! We loved our sunny mornings on the porch and quiet evenings with all the visiting pets (which made our daughter very happy). Sara and Dave prepared this lovely breakfast hamper, and if you’re in a pickle, there are always some foody bits to buy from them. You feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, but only 10min walk away you can find a lovely pub. Close to the beaches and really nice villages too! Comfy, cosy and happy stay:) Thank you!
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Luci S.recommends
October 3, 2022
Gilliflower Yurt
Fabulous Site & Great Location
Sara & Dave’s site is absolutely wonderful. Our Yurt was perfect, clean, well equipped and very comfortable. It was in it’s own little orchard and we were able to thoroughly relax and kick back. We ordered the hampers and the veggie pasties were delicious. It’s a perfect location from which to do lots of lovely coastal and wood walks and the local pub (Barley Sheaf) is a short walk with excellent food. We will definitely be going back next year and highly recommend.
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David P.recommends
August 21, 2022
Fern Pippin Yurt
Wonderful setting, peaceful, perfectly equipped and the location is perfect to explore one of the loveliest coastlines by foot. It attracts good people both in the community and as guests. it will make you want to give it all up and join in.
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Roxburgh F.
September 13, 2021
"We stayed at Cotna with three generations of our family aged from 13 to 82 in August this year We were lucky enough to be able to book the whole site for two weeks. It is a truly idyllic spot, with lots of space, far more than we have found at other sites. Cotna is a working smallholding which is run on ecologically sound principles. Nothing is wasted, the benefits of nature are everywhere put to good use, including a steep slope collecting solar energy. Dave and Sara, the proprietors, are welcoming and helpful and provide a high standard of comfort in the yurts, the straw barn and the Shepherds Hut. Each unit has its own kitchen, shower and toilet. There are two adorable and well behaved spaniels who paid us many visits and two or three nice cats,. Waste food is eaten by the chickens and ducks and all other waste is systematically recycled. We bought many of the lovely products from the smallholding including salad and vegetables, home-made jam, home-baked sourdough bread and apple juice made from the fruit from the orchard where we sat under the trees reading in the afternoons. Obviously we tried to always respect the ecological principles upon which Cotna is based but there are no petty rules and regulations and we felt very relaxed there. There is wifi access in and around the Straw Barn, a whole raft of charging points for phones is available in a barn so it is very much in the 21st century. Dave and Sara could not have been more congenial hosts and though they obviously run the whole place as a commercial enterprise it is clear that they also enjoy what they do and value their guests as part of this ecologically sound holistic enterprise For us booking direct with Dave and Sara was much easier than going through a booking site.”
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Jackie A.recommends
June 15, 2021
Gilliflower Yurt
Enveloped in a fabulous space. Parking up Daisy the dog came and welcomed us, soon followed by the lovely owners. Walking down through the orchard to the yurt and our stuff in a wheelbarrow, I could feel stress and tension flowing away. Shoulders relaxing and breathing deeper on each stride. 3 nights of bliss on a super comfy bed ensured we slept soundly. Eye mask and ear plugs were helpful ensuring a deep and refreshing sleep. A stunning position, beautiful places to explore. Came away with cotna s lovely apple juice and yummy homemade bread. I can imagine anyone not loving this place.
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Matt H.recommends
August 23, 2020
Gilliflower Yurt
From the second we arrived we felt relaxed. The welcoming committee of Dave and two dogs (Daisy and Billy) made us feel right at home in an instant. Gillyflower yurt is wonderful, with its gas stove, log burner, firepit and picnic bench outside. Nestled in its own little young orchard it's a great way of feeling close to nature, and distant from everyday society. When the skies are clear and the stars come out at night, it's breathtaking. The natural and eco setup of the whole site is great. Composting loos, hedgerow showers, organic produce grown on site. It was more like a break from society than a holiday. Ive never felt so totally relaxed. Thoroughly recommended, and will definitely be returning next year.
From the host
We immediately fell in love with Cotna when we were fortunate enough to move here 15 years ago. It is a little paradise surrounded by nature and wildlife. We're nestled in a bowl-like valley with all kinds of terrain; apple orchards, ponds & streams with our own natural spring (which is why Cotna is here & has drawn people & wildlife here forever) open fields and woodland. We are one valley behind the sea so you can walk there down the valley in 20-30 minutes. There are at least 5 beautiful beaches nearby (people tend to find their special favourite one) and the coast-path provides stunning walks and vistas. We grow our own delicious organic food and can provide food to our guests; ready to cook hampers, seasonal fruit & veg, golden organic eggs, sourdough bread, jams and apple juice. Your can learn more about the history and landscape of this magical place by coming on a foraging walk with Sara or learning about no-dig organic gardening with Dave. Nearby there's good places to eat and places of interest; The Lost Gardens of Heligan is just down the road, The Eden Project is 30 minutes drive, and there's the local villages of Gorran Haven and Mevagissey.
Nearby attractions
Gorran Haven, Hemmick, Caerhays and Vault beaches are all within a half hour walk – Dave keeps the parish footpaths clear that lead you out to the coast and join the renowned South West Coast Path. Vault is a wonderfully long, unspoiled beach, a slight walk away from its carpark and consequently one of the quietest spots, while Hemmick is perfect for watching sunsets. The local villages are also well worth a visit; nearby Gorran Haven boasts an ancient harbour and an excellent old pub. Picturesque Portmellon is also within strolling distance – be sure to stop by The Rising Sun Inn (01726 843235), a perfect spot for a drink by the beach. Or head out to Dodman Point (01872 580553), where an Iron Age hillfort sits on the headland with its ruins and huge stone cross reached via footpath from Penare. The Lost Gardens of Heligan (01726 845100) are also walkable (around an hour each way) with over 200 varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs, an intriguing subtropical jungle and vast, wooded grounds to explore. The world famous Eden Project (01726 811911) is half an hour in the car and, in the opposite direction, it's 10 minutes to Caerhay's Castle (01872 501310).
Food and drink
Organic home-produced hampers are available on-site for breakfast and evening meals, with home-made preserves, sourdough bread and seasonal produce. Pure springwater also on tap. There is a good local farm shop, Lobbs (01726 844411) as well as post office shops nearby. It's a 5 minute walk to the The Barley Sheaf pub (01726 843330) just up the track. Built in 1837 by local farmer William Kendall and recently restored and re-opened by his great-great-great grandson, it's a fabulous little place serving food daily and with real ales on tap. And just a walk down the valley is The Shack serving great coffee and food, next to the sea and The Paddle Shed at Port Mellon.
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