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Meander the coasts and back roads of England’s Riviera on an epic road trip, then experience the best of the Isles of Scilly car-free.
With some of the UK’s most dramatic and varied scenery – including expansive golden beaches, soaring fossil cliffs, jewel-like harbour towns and intimidating moorland – it’s not hard to understand why Devon and Cornwall draw visitors from the UK and beyond year after year. This thoughtfully constructed self-drive holiday features cosseting accommodation, and tours some of our favourite spots throughout these two counties, while also delivering four car-free nights at England’s south-western extreme on the Isles of Scilly – an utterly enthralling destination in its own right.
*Due to very limited accommodation on Scilly, please book ahead for 2023.
Wherever you’re travelling from, we’ll provide tailor-made directions taking you on some of our favourite touring routes to your first destination, the clifftop coastal town of Lynton. Twinned with nearby Lynmouth, the towns are linked by a unique water-powered railway and each is within easy striking-distance of Exmoor, while the classic Devon seaside towns of Ilfracombe, Woolacombe and Croyde lie very close by.
Your Accommodation in Lynton
At one of town’s loftiest points, your accommodation – 600 feet above Lynton – is a family owned, five-star guest house whose owners have lavished time and effort on every detail, creating a quite superb place to stay. Breakfast in the glass sun-room is accompanied by heart-stopping views of the Exmoor coast, while a crackling log fire warms the guest lounge, a relaxing spot in which to enjoy a glass of something special before heading out to dinner. Bedrooms feature every comfort and convenience, and are designed with guests’ complete relaxation in mind.
Take a hearty breakfast while admiring the views of Lynmouth Bay before setting off on a short drive to Exmoor National Park. Here, meet our friendly local guide, who will take you on a private guided walk of the highlights of this most beguiling landscape. Specialising in the hidden nooks you might not find on your own, this is a wonderful way to experience the park, its features and wildlife, and along the way you’ll enjoy a handmade picnic lunch created of items from your guide’s own smallholding.
Wave farewell to Lynton this morning and hug the coastal roads taking in evocative place-names like Combe Martin and Westward Ho!, and, for the intrepid, perhaps descending the sharp incline of the village of Clovelly. Soon, you’ll be passing South Hole into Cornwall, taking in the coastal town of Bude on the way to your next accommodation near the town of Camelford.
Your Accommodation near Camelford
In the most peaceful rural location, yet just a few minutes drive from some of the most popular spots on the North Cornwall coast, your accommodation near Camelford is a beautifully presented, family owned farmhouse. Hosted by the friendliest of couples, the welcome here is as warm as any, while the comfortable accommodation smooths out any wrinkles to ensure total relaxation at the end of the day. With breakfast the main event, created of only the very best locally sourced produce, you’ll be set up for a full day’s exploration of this gorgeous part of the world.
Today you will continue your Cornish adventure along the coast, with a plethora of fascinating spots to discover. For example, you may choose to visit Boscastle, almost destroyed by flash flooding in 2004, but risen since and rebuilt with incredible skill – the story is a heartening one. Or head to Tintagel, inextricably linked with the legend of King Arthur, and whose twin cliffs are now actually linked by an impressive footbridge spanning the 58-metre drop. There is also Port Isaac, one of the prettiest and most authentic fishing villages on the north coast, and location of TV’s Doc Martin. And finally Rock, from where you can take the short ferry-crossing to the village of Padstow, famous for its seafood, particularly that of one very famous resident celebrity chef.
Take your time on the road today, meandering down the north coast, perhaps stopping in the surfers’ paradise of Newquay, or the seaside towns of Perranporth and Portreath. If you have time, the Lizard is an evocative spot, home to the UK mainland’s southernmost point and a fine precursor to your arrival in historic Penzance.
Your Accommodation in Penzance
In a commanding elevated position overlooking the harbour below and St Michael’s Mount in the distance, your accommodation in Penzance is a Georgian ex-manse, repurposed, remodelled and refitted to a standard of quite dizzying quality. Whitewashed floorboards host carefully chosen rugs and an expertly curated collection of mid-century, retro-modern furniture, while walls are adorned with art and graphics of every genre. Bedrooms are each of individual design and decoration, many with feature beds and artisan-created en-suites. Your host is a rich mine of local information and advice, here to help you make the most of your time in this captivating location.
Take an early stroll along the Victorian promenade and through the classic arcades of Penzance on the way to the fortress of St Michael’s Mount. In the afternoon, one of our favourite things to do here is take the train the short distance to St Ives, home to ancient alleyways, world-class beaches, every genre of dining and the award-winning Tate Gallery.
It’s a short, 15-minute drive from your accommodation to the tiny airport at Land’s End. Leave the car here and board the Twin Otter for the thrilling flight to the island of St Mary’s, marvelling at views of the Penwith coast and watching as Scilly hoves into view. Touching down, you will be greeted at the airport by a driver and vehicle from your hotel and transferred the short distance to Hugh Town, the ‘capital’ of the Isles of Scilly.
Your Accommodation on St Mary’s
Formed from the Elizabethan structure of Scilly’s castle fortress, your hotel here is an atmospheric and unique place to stay. Proudly set at the islands’ highest point, affording terrific views of Hugh Town, the harbour, Samson, Tresco and Bryher, the castle features a fine-dining restaurant, a subterranean ‘dungeon’ bar and a vine-enclosed conservatory in its beautifully manicured gardens. En-suite bedrooms range from authentic castle-style, with carved canopy beds and classic fabrics, to more modern chalet-type rooms in the garden. Each has their distinct charms.
Every morning at breakfast, boatmen engage with guests, offering any crossing services required during the day, with timings posted on blackboards in hotel receptions and around the islands. Island life at its best.
After a hearty castle breakfast, you’ll be met at your hotel by our friendly and knowledgeable local guide and taken on a fine, day-long walking tour of the island of St Mary’s. Discover the hidden details of Hugh Town and Old Town, stories of the islands’ colourful past, their abundant wildlife, the Neolithic sites of Bants Carn and Halangy, Innisdigen, Porth Hellick and Buzza, and the final resting place of Prime Minister Harold Wilson. The day can easily be tailored to your exact interests and wishes or you can simply allow yourself the pleasure of being introduced.
Take breakfast under the vine this morning before gathering for the short crossing to Tresco. Don’t worry about your luggage, this will be transferred ahead to the quayside while you stroll downhill (or you can take the transfer if you wish). From the quay, board the motorboat for the 20-minute crossing to Scilly’s second-largest inhabited island, Tresco. Once here, it’s a matter of yards walk to your accommodation.
Your Accommodation on Tresco
West-facing, close to the quay at the village of New Grimsby, your accommodation on Tresco is an inn at the very heart of community life here. Festooned with wreckwood and marine artefacts, the bar sees friendly locals rub shoulders with visitors, perhaps sharing a story or two over a pint of cider, while cosy en-suite rooms offer all you need to relax after a day getting to know this most fascinating island.
Take the 20-minute stroll away from the unpainted-sandstone houses at the quayside of New Grimsby, visitors ambling by on bicycles and electric buggies. As you walk south, the road enters dense forest with a tropical feel, before emerging at the Abbey Gardens.
Established in the 19th century, the multi-level garden occupies 17 acres and supports a staggering array of plant- and wild-life, as well as a collection of historic figureheads at ‘Valhalla’.
Perhaps take tea at the in-house café, before wandering back to New Grimsby, stopping for fresh crab sandwiches or a hearty pub lunch along the way.
Enjoy a swift transfer back to the quay this morning and catch your return ferry crossing to St Mary’s. You may have a little time to stroll Hugh Town, perhaps enjoying coffee in one of the fine cafés here, before joining your luggage for the short ride back to St Mary’s Airport in time for your return flight to Land’s End.
From Land’s End, head for the South Cornwall coast and meander through Mousehole, perhaps detouring to National Trust Trelissick Garden on the way to the Roseland Heritage Coast. Carry on along this superb route on the way to the village of Mevagissey, regarded as one of Cornwall’s cutest.
Your Accommodation in Mevagissey
Accommodation seldom comes fresher or more appealing than this bright and cheerful family owned gem. With superb views out to sea across Mevagissey Bay, the hotel enjoys an elevated position a few minutes’ walk from the centre of the village, with the South West Coast Path – 630 miles of coastal walking – on the doorstep. When the weather is on your side, there can be few better spots to enjoy a glass than the sun-drenched deck, with those views out across the shimmering bay.
Perhaps the quintessential Cornish fishing village, there are few prettier places in England than Mevagissey, with its tiny cobbled streets and alleyways, and vivid harbour. A stroll with an ice cream, picking up a gift or two, enjoying a late seafood lunch on the harbour-side could present the perfect afternoon.
Or, take a 25-minute drive north and spend the day at the Eden Project, the extraordinary attraction featuring the largest captive rainforest and an overwhelming collection of plants and exhibitions inside its two vast biomes. A day here will certainly sharpen the appetite for a final-night’s dinner at Mevagissey.
Make your way north this morning, skirting Dartmoor and the Blackdown Hills. Bristol is around three hours from Mevagissey by road.
This holiday includes stays in locations across Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
£2255 per person for departures in April, £2395 per person in May & October, £2495 per person in June & September and £2575 per person in July & August.
Prices based on two people sharing a double or twin room en-suite, for 12 nights on a bed and breakfast basis, continental-style in Mevagissey. Prices include return air travel from Land’s End to Scilly, a guided walking tour with lunch in Exmoor, a guided walking tour of St Mary’s in Scilly, and entry to Tresco Abbey Garden. Inter-island boat-travel in Scilly is not pre-bookable, and is payable in cash to the boatmen upon boarding.
Land’s End airport features ample parking, chargeable at £7.50 per day (not included in the cost of this holiday).
Please just let us know if we can tailor this holiday for you, adding a guided walking tour of Tresco and the Abbey Gardens, and perhaps adding a night or two in Penzance, or Carbis Bay by St Ives.
We can also facilitate travel to and from Scilly by boat or even helicopter, subject to availability.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge, to help you get the most from your holiday.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
You are requesting availability for
This holiday can be arranged from April to October.
*Due to very limited accommodation on Scilly, please book ahead for 2023.
Availability is individually checked for a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses and other independent businesses, so please bear with us and we will respond in 1-2 working days.
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All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.
We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.