Feature by Cornwall Today writer Jula de Buhr
Thinking of swapping your own four walls for a comfy and cosy holiday home, where you can hunker down in luxury, a stone’s throw from one of the most amazing beaches in Cornwall?
With Gwelmor, Jayne and William Martin have created such a haven at Widemouth Bay, on the North Cornwall coast near Bude. The holiday home sleeps up to six people and, importantly, up to three four-legged family members – within its first two years of business, Gwelmor took the Bronze award at the 2019 Cornwall Tourism Awards in the category of Best Dog-Friendly Business in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
The idea for Gwelmor was born out of many family holidays with the couple’s two cocker spaniels, Molly and Indy. “On far too many occasions, we were left feeling like second-class citizens just because we had dogs,” recalls Jayne. “
One place we stayed at even smelt of wet dogs!” In contrast, at Gwelmor, Jayne and William were determined to make owners feel like stars. “We wanted to create a luxurious holiday cottage where both owners and pets could feel totally relaxed and at home, so, we bought Gwelmor inJanuary 2017 and turned it into a stylish retreat.”
A spacious hallway leads to three beautiful bedrooms and a spacious, open-plan contemporary lounge, kitchen and dining areas serving as a fantastic social space for the whole family. Big windows with wooden blinds and patio doors provide plenty of light, even during the misty, gloomy season, and lead to a lovely outside area: an enclosed garden spanning two sides of the house and including a lawn, garden furniture and a barbecue for sunny days, and an area to dry wetsuits.
There’s also a whole utility room dedicated to four-legged visitors; here you’ll find everything from food and water blows, poo bags, dog towels and bedding, spare leads and even a dog cooling mat for those hot summer months.
Furniture is stylish yet comfortable. “A key focus for us was to use as many high-end regional suppliers throughout,” explains Jayne. Mattresses are organic and handmade by NaturalMat in Devon, while wooden furniture is handcrafted using reclaimed or sustainably sourced wood by the team at Chunky Monkey in Exeter. All artwork is by artists from Cornwall or Devon, and Jayne even used her newly acquired upholstery skills to add funky elements such as the ‘hairy Yeti chair’.
I arrived late one winter’s afternoon, with my Romanian rescue dog Linda and my friend Insa in tow. Having visited the nearby mythic birthplace of King Arthur, Tintagel, we parked up in the private space in front of the bungalow, and entered to find a nice welcome gift from Jayne on the kitchen counter: freshly baked scones for me and Insa, and dog treats by the Cornish company Paws For Cake. Linda fell in low at first bite.
For a couple of minutes, we sank into the leather couch to enjoy the smart TV and central heating, while Linda enjoyed the ground heating before finally deciding she needed that extra comfort and jumped on the huge couch.
Fortunately, this was allowed – blankets are provided for this exact purpose. Hungry, we explored the well-equipped kitchen and prepared food brought from home (there are plenty of shops and restaurants available nearby).
We then headed out to The Beach House, a 10-minute walkaway, equipped with a torch provided by our hosts. There we ordered a few drinks and enjoyed the warm, friendly atmosphere with a Golden Retriever and aBorder Collie pup roaming freely. I fell in love with the pup; upon telling our waitress, Amy, she picked it up and placed it on my lap, where it promptly peed in its excitement. It’s impossible to be angry with such a fluffy fur ball; thankfully, Gwelmor also offers a washing machine and tumble dryer.
With the choice of an en-suite king-size bedroom, another king-size room and a twin, Insa and I were spoilt for choice. We each had a gorgeous, inviting bed and soon fell asleep in the soft and amazing duvets.
The next morning, I woke to what seemed like sunlight – but no. Excited for the day, Insa had turned on the light to wake me, and started preparing breakfast as I crawled slowly out of bed.
After breakfast, we walked Linda on Widemouth Bay beach while checking out the waves. The weather was still a bit grey, but no rain, so there were a few people kayaking, surfing and dog-walking. Out of season (until Easter) these two miles of sand become a dog’s paradise – Linda certainly seemed happy.
The ocean looked friendly enough for a little surf; Insa had only tried it once, so I gave her a short introduction and we jumped into the water.I loved it, but Insa quickly decided winter surfing isn’t quite her thing.
We returned to Gwelmor, exhausted and desperate for a hot show (using gorgeous-smelling, environmentally-friendly toiletries by St Kitts Herbery in Camelford).
Having cooked, we explored the board games found in one of the drawers; Trivial Pursuit sounded like fun, but we soon felt stupid and put it aside to play children’s games before going to bed early like two old grannies, as Insa was flying out of Exeter early the next morning.
Though we only stayed for two nights, we had a wonderful time and loved the quiet yet close location to one of North Cornwall’s finest surfing beaches, with its beach shops, water sport activities and restaurants. Bude is a short drive away, and given the close proximity to the A39 and A30, this is a great base from which to explore the whole of North Cornwall and Devon: think Tintagel, Hartland and Clovelly, or attractions such as The Milky Way and The Big Sheep them parks and Tamar Otter Park – even the Eden Project isn’t so faraway.
Jayne is happy with their business’ success: “Being a finalist in the Cornwall Tourism Awards is the icing on the cake for everything we’ve achieved since our launch,” said Jayne. “We’ve learned so much, particularly about sustainability and the steps we can all take in the tourism industry to help the environment. Each year we strive to find even more ways to make it the best experience for our guests, two and four-legged, while also caring for our planet.’’