Country houses for sale

Hot coastal Cornish property

Thanks to the length of the run-way at Newquay airport, Cornwall is no longer a county too far for wealthy international buyers of coastal property. It even figures on Moscow’s radar, says Sandy Davenport of Knight Frank who recently sold two adjoining properties on the Lizard peninsula to a Russian businessman who flew into Newquay in his private jet. Apparently his wife is a keen gardener, but so far the new owners have only been seen there once in the last six months.

The jagged coastline below the village of Gunwalloe, at the base of the Lizard peninsula, is not only one of Cornwall’s most spectacularly beautiful areas but also one of the most hazardous, long renowned as a ships’ graveyard. Halzephron means ‘cliffs of hell’ in Cornish, so casual callers are unlikely to be a problem for the new owners of Halzephron House at Gunwalloe, which stands in splendid isolation on its own three-acre headland, once part of the ancient Penrose estate. Knight Frank (01392 423111) quote a guide price of £1.75 million for the renovated, mid-18th century, six-bedroom house, which is sheltered from the elements by its colourful walled gardens.

The Lizard is known not just for its rugged scenery and dramatic clifftop walks but also, thanks to the influence of the Gulf Stream, for its mild, frost-free winters and lush vegetation. With the A30 now a dual carriageway virtually all the way from Truro to the M5 at Exeter, communications with this previously inaccessible area have improved enormously in recent years. As a consequence, the pretty village of Coverack, 10 miles from Helston, once a haunt of smugglers, is now a popular centre for windsurfing, diving and pleasure fishing. Savills (01872 243200) quote a guide price of £950,000 for the five-bedroom Mellan House at Coverack, one of the oldest properties in the village, which is on the market for the first time in 35 years. It has wonderful sheltered gardens created by the current owners over the years, and lovely views across the harbour and out to sea.

The pretty fishing town of St Ives, seven miles north of Penzance, grew up around a small chapel built by St Ia in the 6th century, until, in the late 19th century, the artists James McNeill Whistler and Walter Sickert made it internationally famous as a Mecca for painters and sculptors. Today, St Ives is still one of the West Country’s elite destinations, with property prices to match. Miller Waterside & Country Homes (01872 274211) quote a guide price of £1m for Dunvegan on the cliffs at Carbis Bay, near St Ives, a substantial six-bedroom Edwardian house, with planning consent for additional first-floor accommodation. The house stands in well-stocked gardens from where a footpath leads to a coastal path linking St Ives with the beach at Carbis Bay.

Although celebrity resorts such as Padstow, Rock and St Ives continue to attract the big City spenders, buyers can still find value for money in lesser-known coastal hotspots such as Mevagissey, Gorran Haven, and Restronguet Point, near Truro, says Cornish agent Ian Lillicrap, who maintains that Restronguet Point, in particular, is currently ‘grossly undervalued’ by comparison with the likes of Rock and Helford Passage. ‘And we recently sold a clifftop bungalow at Gorran Point with planning consent for replace-ment with a 7,000sq ft “space age” house for more than £1m.’

Many buyers are ‘out-of-county’ members of the yachting fraternity who come to Cornwall for the climate, the tranquil-lity and above all, the fantastic sailing waters. The waiting list for moorings at major yachting centres such as Falmouth gets longer by the year, but with work now under way to create a new 700-berth marina on part of the old Falmouth dock-yard, yachting capacity will increase greatly before long. Meanwhile, waterfront houses in popular sailing towns such as Fowey, in south Cornwall, rarely come on the market, and Lillicrap Chilcott (01872 273473) quote a guide price of £850,000 for the four-bedroom Merchants House in Fore Street, a converted former cinema with direct frontage to the Fowey estuary, which is for sale on the open market for the first time ever.