Sue Cade travels to West Cornwall to explore out of season adventures that don’t cost the earth, from scenic food spots to coastal crafts.

Swimming outdoors in all weathers has become something of a trend, but I’ve never been an enthusiast. So it’s a challenge to take the plunge at the Jubilee Pool in Penzance on a freezing December day and a surprise to discover I’m enjoying myself.

There’s a significant addendum to my joy as the water in the saltwater pool is geothermally heated and while the pool crew are apologetic that the temperature is only 28°C rather than the usual 35, it’s plenty warm enough for me.

My friendly fellow bathers say they love their regular swims and one casually mentions she’d rather be in the adjoining unheated sea water lido but has chosen the more temperate option as she’s brought her children with her.

Getting dressed in the basic changing rooms is a bit nippy, but there’s a reward on hand at the Jubilee Pool Café which serves a fine array of hot drinks and tasty cakes and an impressive lunch menu packed with tasty dishes including a warming homemade soup, all of which help the goosebumps recede.

The Godolphin enjoys an enviable location right on the beach.

Just five miles east of Penzance is Marazion overlooking the instantly recognisable St Michael’s Mount. Our base for the weekend is The Godolphin and its enviable location right on the beach. It’s our good fortune to arrive at the same time as a breathtaking sunset, made even more memorable by the sight of intrepid gig rowers and a glass of local Polgoon fizz.

The hotel is ideal for an out of season visit; a welcoming bar offering treats, substantial breakfasts to set you up for the day, and delightful extras such as chocolate brownies in the minibar.

The Godolphin is owned by the St Aubyn family who live in a castle opposite on the Mount, part of which was given to the National Trust in 1954. It’s possible to walk from one to the other across an ancient, cobbled causeway during low tide and from April to October there’s a ferryboat.

Tide times aren’t in our favour, so we walk as far as we can along the causeway as it grows dark while the sea splashes around us and St Michael’s Mount turns purple – this is a regular occurrence through the year as the Mount lights up in various colours to raise awareness for special causes.

There are plenty of excellent eateries on this coastline. Just a short taxi ride from the hotel is The Mexico Inn, a bustling, family-friendly restaurant that boasts a varied menu showcasing local produce and the most generous portions. The restaurant is bustling with large groups starting festive celebrations so we take up the offer of dining from a sofa by the wood burner, the perfect spot for a chilly evening.

Oak-smoked mackerel is among the tasty treats on offer at the Jubilee Pool Cafe.

The following morning we wrap up warm for a short bus ride back to Penzance, the most westerly major town in Cornwall. It offers plenty of retail therapy with a mix of high street shops and independent retailers centred around Market Jew Street, Causeway Head and Chapel Street where it’s worth stopping to admire the highly Instagrammable Egyptian House, built in the early 19th century, restored in 2011 and now a quirky Landmark Trust holiday rental.

In this part of the country, walking at least one section of the South West Coast Path is a must for every visitor, and from Penzance there’s a pleasant route around Mount’s Bay to Long Rock. It’s flat and paved making it ideal for cyclists as well as walkers. Adjoining the path in places is Emma Smith’s unique artwork, The Gwelen Trail, 85 carved sculptures made of wood celebrate an ancient, rarely seen submerged forest in the bay and seats at the various sites encourage quiet contemplation.

Shopping and walking always work up an appetite, requiring a drop in at The Hoxton Special, an old coastguard hut that has been repurposed by the entrepreneurial Angus. Here you can learn to kitesurf, hire a paddleboard, take out a kayak or, in our case, enjoy a coffee and snack.

Angus explains that The Hoxton is totally off grid and that the menu in winter is limited – but I can report that my toastie featuring the most delicious pickles hits the spot.

An invitation to join professional Cornish artist Lee Stevenson for an afternoon of lino-cutting is a real privilege. Lee has a small studio at his home in Long Rock and runs intimate workshops for locals and tourists. Despite our initial nervousness at having little experience, it doesn’t take long to get into the swing of this printmaking technique as memories of school art classes surface.

Sue’s lino cut work under the tutelage of Lee Stevenson.

Lee tells of one workshop where a GP, of all people, got overenthusiastic with his cutting and managed to injure himself. We take heed, cut carefully and are, rightly or wrongly, proud of our efforts.

By chance, our trip to Mousehole coincides with the first night of the village’s renowned festive Harbour Lights, a tradition since 1963. Among the featured light displays are a sea serpent that was first made in 1973 and a stargazy pie with its signature fish heads poking out.

Fish is also the star of the show at restaurant 2 Fore Street. There’s a loud pronouncement from across the table that one of our starters is actually the ‘best chowder ever’ whilst as a vegetarian I am happily enveloped by the silkiest of Cornish Blue cheese souffles. Curried seafood with plump mussels and a delicious shallot and beetroot tart tatin washed down with a glass of Two Drifters rum make for a superlative dining experience.

The weather turns on the final morning of our short visit. The sort of wet and windy day that needs to be spent snuggled up on a comfy sofa reading one of the many novels set on this spectacular coast, like Mary Wesley’s Harnessing Peacocks.

And that’s the beauty of having a break in this particular area of Cornwall out-of-season. You can be busy, or you can be still. Whatever you do, take time to enjoy those stunning sea views, they’re there for the taking.

For more ideas on things to do in Cornwall, check out our 10 best days out in Cornwall.