Autumn is a fabulous time to visit Cornwall: the summer crowds have left, the weather is still warm and water sports are still very much on the agenda.
It's a great time of year to hole up in a romantic cottage, or travel with family members and little ones now that the big kids are back at school. As September in Cornwall is more relaxed and slower in pace, it offers the perfect opportunity for a self-catering holiday, where you can explore the villages, coastline and woodland with freedom.
Milly & Martha is a new collection of handpicked self-catering retreats providing visitors with trips to real Cornwall. Each guest is provided with their own bespoke guide featuring Milly & Martha's secret spots, so they can get out and see Cornwall like the locals and enjoy the best of what the county has to offer.
We've picked three lovely cottages for surfers, families and romantics planning an autumn break in Cornwall...
Best for families with tiny tots
Perfect for families with little ones, Trenow Cottage (from £380) in Perranuthnoe, a gorgeous seaside chic cottage that has been lovingly restored and is steeped in history, having once been the cow shed for the local farm. It's just walking distance to beach, where parents can let toddlers feel the sand between their toes for the first time and back at the cottage there is a cot and high chair for when you want to relax and soak up the surroundings. The large kitchen-dining room is ideal for long lazy breakfasts with the family and when it's warm you can enjoy an alfresco dinner.
Best for romance
For a romantic riverside adventure, stay at Ruan Dinas (from £540) on the banks of Cowlands Creek, which allows you to embrace the real romance of Cornwall. The peaceful cottage, near Coombe, boasts views of the River Fal and is nestled between woodland. Stroll through the sub-tropical Glendurgan Garden in Falmouth, hire a kayak to discover the area from the River Fal and dine in some of Cornwall's best restaurants in the city of Truro. Ruan Dinas' secluded riverside location, log fire and little quay for a magical campfire on the river's edge make this the place for the perfect spot for a romantic weekend away.
Best for surfers
Location, location, location! Nanquidno House (from £550) is perfectly situated for surfers in search of a hidden paradise to hit the waves. Sennen Cove is just steps away and Gwenver (where the locals surf) is just up the road. A stay at 18th century farmhouse Nanquidno, which sleeps seven, offers surfers the opportunity to be set free on the stunning coastline during the day, before returning to a warming wood burning stove. There is also plenty of space in the three-bedroom house for surf boards and wet suits.
Best beaches in Cornwall
Take three: Cosy Cornish hideaways for autumn
One of Newquay's famous five beaches, this perfect horseshoe-shaped cove is great for swimmers, surfers and families. Don't miss: the Kitchen beach bar, with its laid-back atmosphere and music events, was recently named as one of Europe's finest in an Orange holiday guide. Who needs St Tropez when you can have Lusty Glaze?
With its white sand and frothy rollers, Gwithain beach is a real gem, and a particularly good spot for sunsets. Stretching for more than three miles right up to Godrevy Point, if you get this far you may be lucky enough to see the seal colony. Look out for pods of dolphins, too. Gourmet tip: Stop for a homemade cake at the Jam Pot, a listed historic building overlooking the whole of St Ives Bay.
By far one of the prettiest, safest and expansive beaches in the area, Mawgan Porth offers fabulous swimming, family surfing and body boarding. Top tip: Book in for a family sufing lesson at Kingsurf – the affable owner, Pete Abell, is an inspiration. Oh, and make sure you have a cream tea at the Merrymore Inn afterwards.
Bedruthan Steps forms part of one of the most spectacular sections of the north Cornwall coast. Huge outcrops of volcanic rock are scattered along the length of the beach – you can walk around them at low tide. Perfect if you: are relatively fit. Access to the beach is via a long and very steep staircase.... Arriving is more fun than leaving.
Although it's only a stonesthrow away from bustling Newquay, Crantock is a different world. This is a secret spot for avoiding the summer crowds: due to its relative remoteness, Crantock offers relative calm during the peak season. Top tip: Take the ferry from Newquay to Crantock Bay and stop at the Fern Pit Café.
Set in a steep valley, Portreath was once a busy port but it's now left largely to holidaymakers, surfers, and the odd fisherman. Perfect for: Scenic walks. The coastal footpath west towards St Ives Bay offers some jolly good scenery of the coastline, dotted by Deadman's Cove and Hell's Mouth – names which bear testament to the tales of shipwrecks and smuggling in the area.
Backed by lovely dunes and cliffs just a couple of miles outside Padstow, Harlyn Bay offers lots to explore and a sweeping cove popular with surfers. Don't miss: The cliffs at Trevose Head, which offer amazing views towards Pentire Head and Newquay beyond.
Often overlooked by holidaymakers, I think secluded Trevone beach is well worth a visit. A perfect mix of sand and rockpools makes it a lovely spot for families. Perfect if you: love crabbing or collecting shells.
Despite being one of the most popular beaches in north Cornwall, Polzeath still somehow manages to maintain a laid-back, typically Cornish character. The influx of families, surfers, bodyboarders, kayakers and sunbathers all mix happily on this glorious beach in unspoilt surroundings. Best for: Everyone. Last time I was here it was pouring with rain... but the kids still absolutely loved running around in their wetsuits on the open sands.
Bude is all about soft sand and space for everybody, with top-notch surfing. The eastern end of Summerleaze beach you'll find a seawater swimming pool, which is re-filled by the tide every day. Top tip: Bag yourself a beach hut at Summerleaze or Crooklets beach, with prices from £62 per week.
Saint Lucia? This is Vatersay beach in Scotland's Outer Hebrides, the southern-most inhabited island and one of the most scenic and beautiful in the archipelago. With vast white sandy beaches and turquoise waters comparable to those found in the Caribbean, time spent on this idyllic island will be memorable for a long time to come. It has great views towards the now uninhabited islands of Sandray, Pabbay and Mingulay and is home to some of the largest colonies of seabirds including razorbill, gannet, guillemot and puffin.
The crystal clear water at Port Gaverne near Port Isaac could be easily mistaken for a Caribbean beach. The sheltered, narrow cove has plenty of sand at low tide and may be the quaintest cove in North Cornwall nestling in under the cliffs. At high tide, it is an excellent diving spot and the sunset is as dreamy as you'll find in Antigua.
Wow! Look at that powder white sand. It could be mistaken for a secluded spot in the Virgin Islands, but this stunning stretch of sand is in Shetland. The Sands of Breckon is a white sand beach in the North of Yell, which has the largest area of shell sand dune and dune grassland in Shetland. The beautiful blue flag beach is sheltered from the prevailing south-westerly winds and provides a wonderful view of the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.
This breathtaking beach in Wales reminds us of the idyllic sands of St Barts or Grenada. Harlech’s huge, peaceful beach is not just flat sand – the beautiful sand dunes here are a prized feature, the reason behind the area’s designation as a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest. The beach is an ideal place for children to play and an even better spot for adults to sit back and relax. Near the beach there’s a shop, café and the internationally famous Royal St David’s Golf Club, one of Britain’s finest links courses.
This spectacular sandy beach forms a white arc between two headlands on the North Antrim coast. In this secluded location, even on a busy day there is plenty of room for quiet relaxation. Whitepark Bay is backed by ancient dunes that provide a range of rich habitats for bird and animal life. The Caribbean-esque beach has a golden stretch of sand, perfect for lazy summer days, picnic and long walks.
Rhossili Bay boasts a three-mile sandy beach, overlooked by National Trust holiday cottage, the Old Rectory. Visible on the beach at low tide are the remains of the Helvetia, a ship wrecked in 1887. From the top of Rhossili Down, the highest point on Gower, views of the peninsula can be seen as well as across the sea to West Wales, Lundy Island and the north Devon coast. The stunning beach fought off competition from many beaches in the Caribbean to be named one of the world's best in a 2013 TripAdvisor survey.
Secluded Kynance Cove on Cornwall's Lizard Peninsula is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world - and you can see why! Its defining features are the serpentine rock formations with a distinctive pinnacle to the north of the beach. The beautiful beach, with its Caribbean-style sand and crystal clear water is one of Cornwall's most photographed spots.
A small bay backed by dunes and pine trees, accessible only by a half-mile walk from the nearest car park, Barafundle Bay has been voted many times as one of the best beaches in Britain and the world. Swathes of golden sand and crystal clear waters, it is often likened to a Caribbean beach. If you're looking for an isolated spot, this pristine beach is the place and has no facilities.
The beaches on small Outer Hebridean island Berneray are so beautiful that one was once mistakenly used in a campaign by the Thailand Tourist Board to promote the Asian country's beaches! The picturesque West Beach (pictured) is a three-mile stretch of machair bordered by white sand.
The superb tidal sands and beautiful shallow lagoons at Pedn Voudner in Treen make it a fantastic option for beachgoers looking for a taste of the Caribbean. Set between Logan Rock and Porthcurno, the beach is accessible by boat or from the coasta foot path along the cliffs. It is also an unofficial naturist beach - the perfect spot to strip off!
A favourite among locals and visitors, Portrush Whiterocks Beach is famed for its limestone cliffs, grassy knolls and incredible views. The sandy beach is a popular place for surfing and bodyboarding, and is home to a labyrinth of specatacular caves and arches including Shelagh's Head, the Wishing Arch and Lion's Paw.
Running from the pier at Ballycastle Marina at the western end to Pans Rock in the east, Ballycastle Beach is a fabulous 1.2km beach with beautiful sand and some shingle. A lovely spot for bathing and walking, in the distance you can see the Pans Rocks rock formation jutting out into the sea and the hidden Devil's Churn, with its underwater sea tunnel.
With its white sand and turquoise waters, Alchmelvich is a pretty beach popular for water skiing and kayaking. In the summer you can spot porpoisess swimming and the blue flag beach attracts fishermen, with cod, haddock, whiting, pollack, saithe and mackerel being common catches.
Described by visitors as a paradise, Porthcurno, located in the far west of Cornwall is famed for its gorgeous fine soft white sand washed by a sea that turns turquoise in the sun and high cliffs on both sides. The oasis of stunning natural beauty is popular with families and has a stream that flows down one side.