The Story of Bay View Farm
The story of Bay View Farm begins way back in 1971. A young Cornish cattle farmer called Mike was in need of a decent bull for his herd. He learned of a strong, sturdy specimen for sale at a farm near Looe and went to have a look. When he arrived, he was bowled over - not by the bull, but by the location. The farm and adjacent camping field were perched on a cliff to the east of Looe commanding outrageous views of the coast and across the sea to nearby St George's Island . The place was overgrown and run down, but that just added to its charm. Mike was smitten.
That evening he returned to his young bride Liz to tell her he hadn't bought the bull, but had found a place he could retire to. She gently reminded him it would be 30 years before they could think about retirement, and not to talk such nonsense. Both the bull and the farm were quickly forgotten.
Fast forward to 1999 and the same, slightly older cattle farmer, now sporting grey whiskers, was leafing through The Cornishman newspaper when he happened across the very same farm for sale. The auction guide price was too high, but when it didn't sell under the hammer, he approached the vendors.
Call it fate, good fortune or serendipity, Liz and Mike are now the proud owners of Bay View Farm. You can tell they absolutely adore this place by the passion with which they speak about it and the care and attention that goes into its upkeep. For them, it's not a chore to run this campsite, but an opportunity to share this delightful spot with others.
When you see the view, you realise why. It's about as good as it gets on the south coast of Cornwall , with vistas across to West Looe on the far side of Hannafore. You can also see across the water to St George's Island , which has a similar story to that of Bay View - someone fell in love with the place and bought it to retire to, in this case a schoolmistress from Surrey and her sister. Although not the most likely candidates to live on a weather ravaged and remote island with no running water, electricity or other inhabitants, they threw themselves into life on St George's and lived there for many years until they died. Thankfully, they turned down multi-million pound offers for the island from developers and it has now passed to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust who maintain it as a nature reserve.
Back at Bay View, Mike and Liz keep everything just so, from the brand new amenities block to the prize winning shire horses in the adjacent field. It's not a large site: there are just 12 pitches available to tents, motorhomes and caravans in the camping field, which tilts at an increasingly steep angle towards the sea. Sleep the wrong way and you'll have blood rushing to your head, sleep the right way and you'll be able to enjoy the view in the morning without getting out of bed.
Nearby attractions include Polperro, a quaint and picturesque fishing village with tea rooms, fudge shops and galleries in a car-free higgle-piggle of alleys and narrow lanes. You can also find fresh fish for your barbecue, or if cooking sounds too much like hard work, head to the oldy-worldy Three Pilchards pub by the quay for locally caught fish and tasty ales.
Mike and Liz are certainly very happy at Bay View Farm and are happier still when sharing it with guests. So the story has the perfect ending: two happy semi-retirees, a campsite and a field full of shire horses. No bull.
© Copyright Jonathan Knight/Cool Camping: England (2006)