Bosinver is a collection of holiday cottages arranged as its own village near St Austell, South Cornwall. The entire village, set amid 30 acres of land which includes a variety of diverse habitats, including wetland, woodland, a lake, hedgerows and wildflower meadows, is owned and run by Farmer Dave and his wife Pat. And with 20 cottages (many thatched), an old green with a red phone box and ducks strutting up and down the hedgerow-bound lane that is the high street, you can’t get more pastoral feel than this.
As this is all private land, with no access for outsiders, it is 100 per cent secure. This means you can leave doors unlocked and children to wander off and enjoy a life without threat or constraint.
Bosinver is a kids’ paradise. The children’s day starts with feeding the animals with Farmer Dave, 10am daily. Little ones can get up close and personal with ducks, sheep, goats and a handful of ponies and horses. Pony-trekking can be arranged free of charge, as can a carriage-drawn hack around the lanes courtesy of the four great shire horses who spend most of the year here.
For little ones, there is the daily animal-feeding with Farmer Dave, egg-hunts and an indoor play area, as well as an outdoor one with tractors and climbing frames.
Across a field there’s an adventure playground with zip-wires, a tower with a bendy slide and an enormous tyre swing that either came from a tractor or a lorry.
In the school holidays kids can join the Wild Kids’ Club — every Monday afternoon the in-house guide, Tatum, takes a band of young adventurers off to explore, forage and learn about Nature. There are also various nature trails and woodland paths to explore, including the Gruffalo Trail in nearby woodland that is still part of the estate.
And Nanny Pat’s Baking Box is packed with all you could need to make flapjacks, biscuits and cakes on a rainy afternoon. Chances are you won’t see your little ones all week and that they will make great friends with other youngsters.
Years ago, in another life, Bosinver was a holiday park, with cottages more akin to chalets than traditional Cornish cottages. Over the past 15 years, Pat and Dave have rebuilt the properties using traditional Cornish techniques — think stone-built with slate or even thatched roofs — and the effect is charming.
The Farmhouse, a fine property with a thatched roof that sits proudly at what you might call the village green, dates back to the 18th century, and gives a historical feel to the whole place.
There are several types and possibly the most magnificent is Lowen, built two years ago. A stunning example of eco-methods meeting contemporary style. Heating is conserved through such techniques as stuffing wall cavities with paper, and reclaimed trees form beautiful timber beams.
Another is the Trerose, a three-bedroomed property with a large conservatory that created a light and airy living area. As with all the properties, the kitchen was handsomely equipped, with cool multi-coloured sets of knives and all mod cons.
Each cottage comes with a flatscreen TV and wifi for those not disciplined enough to do a digital detox.
There is an indoor solar-powered swimming pool opposite the farmhouse, heated and equipped with showers and an arsenal of floaty toys.
Younger children will also fall in love with the Playbarn at the top of the village. It’s a soft-play area that has tubes to crawl down and a fleet of Little Tikes bikes to whizz around on. Thoughtfully, there is a comfy leather sofa for the parent who drew the short straw and is keeping an eye on proceedings.
And at the foot of the village is the Games Room. Heaven for slightly older children, this is furnished with table football, table tennis and pool tables.
Food & drink
The cottages are very well equipped for self-catering with excellent kitchens and facilities as there is no restaurant in the site.
A half-mile walk down a muddy lane will bring you to the excellent local pub, The Polgooth Inn. It’s a great old stone pub with flagging on the floor, crackling open fires and a superb selection of real ales from local breweries. They also serve hearty food such as stews and home-baked puff-pastry pies for when you want an evening away from the cooker.
Yes, free in every cottage
Two-night breaks cost from £178 (Hillside, Polclay, Valley View, each sleeping four) to £364 (Farmhouse, sleeping up to 12).
Value for money
Excellent — a family holiday that is within most people’s budget, plus of course you can stay on-site throughout your stay and do all your own cooking.
How to get there
If you decide to come by train, Bosinver is a £7 taxi journey from St Austell, on the main London—Penzance line.
If you decide to drive, Bosinver is around a 90-minute drive down the A38 from the M5 at Exeter, from where you can join the major UK motorway network.
Alternatively, Great Western Railway trains offer advance single fares from London Paddington to St Austell are available from £22.50 each way. It is sometimes possible to upgrade to First-Class for a nominal fee, especially at weekends.