Cornwall, as the Adventure Butler saw it

From ballet on the beach to harvesting a hedgerow, a new company shows Kate Simon how to get the most from a UK holiday

I am making like a rock. At least that's what Stacy Weeks says. We're on Bedruthan Beach on the North Cornwall coast, where she's giving me a gentle introduction to site dance – movement inspired by classical dancing, yoga and Pilates performed in the natural environment.

"Scoop your arms in front of you – a bit like first position in ballet. Thrust your pelvis forward," says Stacy. I'm not so sure I look quite like the rocks around which we're standing, but it's a pleasant feeling, all this stretching and breathing in the sea air. And if you're going to strike a pose, why not do it in a beautiful place?

Stacy, who performs professionally as well as teaching this niche art through her company Red Yew, is just one of my tutors on this short break in the West County to try out a new concierge service provided by AdventureTemples, which launches today.

The service is the idea of former business consultant Rob Pendleton, who left London to return home to Cornwall and set up a company that helps people get the best out of their travels in the UK and abroad. It was an idea spawned by the Adventure Temples website, which he started in 2009 as a social community to share travel tips.

Rob's Adventure Butler Menu in Cornwall (he has other regions of the country in his sights) features 90 eclectic activities and experiences – you can suggest others – to make a holiday more memorable. As well as providing great ideas for holidaymakers, the business model involves many small operations, such as Stacy's, that might normally be invisible to visitors to the area.

Site dance is the most unusual of the experiences that Rob has crammed into the atypically frenetic itinerary he's created for me. During my time in Cornwall, I enjoy the indulgent pleasure of riding a horse across the sands at Treyarnon with Lindsay Chandler from the stables at Trethias Farm. And I add to my dinner-party repertoire with a convivial cooking and dining workshop, courtesy of Nadia's Kitchen. It is hosted in The Millhouse at Whitehay (with working wheel), a charming cottage that Rob is keen to show me as an example of the top-quality self-catering properties he can arrange through a hook-up with the holiday rental company Unique Home Stays.

Nadia (Pendleton, Rob's wife) has an impressive CV. She has worked with Gordon Ramsay; she has run a community kitchen in London's East End, and is the author of a cookbook ranging across the world's cuisines and entitled Melting Pot. She puts me straight. "It's all about balancing the five flavours – sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami," she says. (I will never look back.)

Together we cook up a three-course storm of largely local produce: scallops with a salad of asparagus, samphire and bacon, topped with a lemon and tarragon hollandaise sauce; lamb chops with salsa verde, roast new potatoes and buttery carrots; and a rhubarb tarte tatin. Along the way, I pick up some useful tips – leave bacon alone to stop it leaching too much liquid, or pep up that drooping asparagus by putting it in water, like cut flowers.

Rob is considering pairing Nadia's talents with those of Marcus Harrison of the Wild Food School, Britain's only full-time food forager, who takes me along a back lane in Lostwithiel for a tutorial in how to harvest a hedgerow.

The stench of wild garlic is ripe enough to allow our noses to guide us to it, though our eyes prove necessary for identifying the rather less pungent three-cornered leek. We pluck refreshing naval wort. ("Not too much," advises Marcus as I go for a second leaf. "It's a diuretic.") And I learn about the dangers of the deceptively pretty yet bitter buttercup. Back at Marcus's house, he whips up the garlic with some soft cheese to create a moreish spread, and the tang of the three-cornered leek adds dimension to a slice of quiche.

All this activity is tiring. So I'm thankful that one of my experiences is my home for the night, Woodlands Country House at Treator near Padstow, a former naval hospital, now a friendly B&B run by Pippa and Hugo Woolley. Here I enjoy comfortable lodgings and a first-class breakfast. But then Hugo is a chef. What's more, he's the author of B&B The Book of Breakfast and Brunch, so marmalade bars, Scotch woodcock and homemade lemon curd are among the cut-above fare only to be expected here.

More flavours are in store at a group tasting held at the Lindo family's award-winning Camel Valley Vineyard, followed by a superb dinner featuring potted local crab and Cornish megrim sole, accompanied by Camel Valley vintages, at Trehallas House, an 18th-century inn run by Alistair and Debra Hunter, just down the road from the winery. Rob has conveniently scooped these up as a double experience dubbed Taste of Cornwall.

Back on that beach, I mix up the site dance with some photography tuition from Chris Hewitt, a professional photographer who has tempered his globetrotting ways with the opening of the Picture and Coffee Gallery in nearby Wadebridge. He's having a bit of a job trying to get me to remember how camera apertures work. "A large aperture would be used in low-light situations," he corrects me for the umpteenth time. Yet I still succeed in snapping some of the best photographs I've ever taken.

The views help. Up on the cliff we apply "the rule of thirds" to compose a photograph across the bay; a stone wall sprouting sea campion provides a foreground with both colour and texture; the mighty rock stacks on Bedruthan's floor hold the centre, and the vast ocean beyond ripples away a final layer. It's a beautiful view and, like the other experiences, it will remain a special memory.

Travel essentials

Getting there

AdventureTemples (0843 508 5005; adventuretemples.com) offers a range of activities in Cornwall from £20 to £2,000. Kate Simon travelled from London to Bodmin Parkway as a guest of First Great Western (08457 000 125; firstgreatwestern.co.uk), which has one-way tickets on this link from £14.50. The company also runs from Reading and Bristol. Cross-Country (0844 811 0124; crosscountrytrains.co.uk) runs services from York, Derby, Birmingham and Bristol.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links