A trip to Cornwall can often invoke the idea of beaches packed with holiday-makers and scrambling to find walks without seasonal dog restrictions. However, away from the usual Cornwall hotspots and tucked away in the village of Harrowbarrow on the edge of the Tamar Valley AONB, The Old Sunday School is a haven of relaxation and really gave us the switch off we long for in a weekend away.
We’ve been admiring the Old Sunday School over on their instagram for quite some time, so we were thrilled when Dog Friendly Destinations asked us to go and write a review of our stay as one of their roving reporters.
Within minutes of arriving at The Old Sunday School, we knew Jay and Lisa had created something pretty special. From the underfloor heating throughout, to full Sonos sound system, Sky TV and log burner of dreams, everything has been completed to the highest standards. Even all of the glassware and crockery is beautiful! However, it’s the little extras that really set the Old Sunday School apart. A hamper packed full of local Cornish produce had been left for us along with decanters of gin and port for an evening tipple which was much appreciated after our long drive down from the Cotswolds.
In terms of the extra touches for the dogs, I think we can honestly say that this might be the warmest dog friendly welcome we’ve ever received. There were dog bowls, locally sourced dog treats and even a personalized embroidered towel waiting for each of the dogs.
It immediately felt like Poppy and Maple were embraced as members of our family and very welcome at The Old Sunday School. It was also so refreshing to not have a page long list of dog rules to abide by. With a hose outside for cleaning off boots and muddy paws and plenty of towels and blankets, we could just pop one of these on the sofa when the dogs wanted a snooze.
We often find staying in cottages just for two that everything can feel a little bit cramped. This certainly wasn’t an issue at the Old Sunday School, with heaps of space for the two of us and the dogs (and an alarming amount of luggage for 2 nights!). The interior of The Old Sunday School is sleek and modern, with a light and airy double height ceiling over the open plan kitchen and lounge area downstairs. Upstairs, the master suite has the comfiest of king size beds, ample storage space and an en-suite complete with fluffy bath robes. Of course, the star of the show is that incredible floor to ceiling glass window looking onto the lounge and kitchen area below.
We were treated to a beautiful sunrise on our first morning so enjoyed sitting on the terrace with our morning coffee and views over the surrounding countryside. Just beyond the terrace, dogs can have a good run around and toilet in the adjacent field. Jay and Lisa have an agreement with the local farmer that guests can use the field as long as dogs are cleared up after, this was a huge bonus for us to have somewhere so close to exercise the dogs quickly first and last thing.
Thankfully we struck lucky with the weather for our stay, but there is an excellent selection of board games, local guide books and other things to entertain yourself with if the weather isn’t in your favour.
On our final morning, Jay was kind enough to introduce us to the resident pack of rescue animals, including chickens (you’ll find their freshly laid eggs waiting for you on arrival), pigs, goats, horses and Shetland ponies. This really was a perfect ending to a fabulous weekend at The Old Sunday School and the perfect dog friendly getaway.
In the area
Just 5 minutes from The Old Sunday School, Kit Hill marks the highest point in the Tamar Valley and benefits from over 400 acres of beautiful heathland to explore. It’s completely dog-friendly and both Poppy and Maple were able to roam off lead, though we did bump into the occasional wild pony!
We visited for a quick sunset walk straight after we arrived at The Old Sunday School and were treated to the most spectacular far reaching views towards Dartmoor in the east and Plymouth and the sea to the south. At the summit, three viewing tables help you identify features as you view the surrounding countryside.
35 minutes from The Old Sunday School and located in Cornwall’s forgotten corner, we think Whitsand Bay offers everything you could wish for in a dog friendly day out.
Comprising of several beaches including Portwrinkle, Tregantle, Tregonhawke, Freathy and Polhawn, Whitsand Bay really comes into its own at low tide. Only then do all of these beaches join together to become one huge 3-mile-long expanse of sand for dogs to run free. Rock pools are scattered along the all the beaches, perfect for splashing around in. Poppy and Maple had the time of their lives running around on the beach and in the shallows. Better still, it’s dog friendly all year round with no seasonal restrictions.
If you’d like to extend your walk, you can pick up the South West Coast Path which runs adjacent to the beach and visit Rame Head and its tiny chapel, with panoramic views over the surrounding coastline.
Just 25 minutes from The Old Sunday School, Golitha Falls (pronounced Gol-eye-tha) are a series of cascades and waterfalls along a section of the River Fowey as it makes its way through the ancient oak woodland of Draynes Wood. The woodland itself is utterly enchanting (albeit very muddy when we visited) and makes for a perfect dog walk in picturesque surroundings.
Dogs are welcome all year round and we were happy for Poppy and Maple to run around off lead, though do be careful around some sections of fast-flowing river for those water loving pups out there. There are several marked routes through the nature reserve, though we chose to amble alongside the river and turned back when our tummies started rumbling and we were ready for some lunch! Do make sure to stop by Inkie’s Smokehouse before or after your walk for a lunch to remember.
Inkie’s Smokehouse is an award-winning BBQ joint which prides itself on proper smoked food, authentic BBQ and cooked low ‘n’ slow meats for a minimum of 16 hours. All of their meat is free range and of local provenance and if you love meat, then this is definitely the place for you (though vegetarians are catered for too). Personalise with your pick of one of their 4 homemade sauces for an ultimate BBQ feast.
I went for the pulled pork bap with Carolina slaw which just melted in the mouth, even though it was absolutely enormous! Between mouthfuls, Andy assured me his chosen Philly Cheese brisket was as good as some of the best BBQ joints in America that he’s been to! Inkie’s are also very well known for their milkshakes if you can fit one in. Whatever you decide on, you’ll certainly want to wear your stretchy trousers here as the portion sizes are extremely generous – thankfully the Golitha Falls walk starts from the car park at Inkie’s so you can walk off your lunch afterwards!
In summary, we honestly couldn’t recommend The Old Sunday School enough. It is definitely up there with one of the best dog friendly properties we’ve ever stayed in.
We can’t wait to go back and are already trying to work out when we can squeeze in another visit!
Thanks for reading,
Cara, Andy, Poppy and Maple x
You can book your own luxury dog friendly stay with The Old Sunday School through Airbnb or direct here.