TODD the rescue fox nibbles cocoa treats from my open palm and nuzzles in as I pet his soft fur.
“He’s really missed meeting people in lockdown,” explains ranger Andrew Alston, “He’s so pleased to see new faces again!”
My fluffy four-legged friend and his pal Meadow are just some of the many rescue animals looking forward to welcoming visitors back to the Feadon Wildlife Centre at Landal’s Gwel An Mor lodge park in Portreath, Cornwall.
The rescue and conservation centre has a host of animal interactions for the park’s guests and visitors.
Put on a glove and feed Sly, the beautiful barn owl, wander into the woods and fly Margaret the eagle owl and Harry the Harris’s hawk.
You can meet the wallabies and reindeer and there’s a host of smaller critters for the little ones to discover, from ferrets and stoats to mice, snakes and hedgehogs.
And come nightfall, a specially adapted hut will allow you to watch the local badger setts — and some wily foxes as they come to feast on treats — with a cup of hot chocolate in your hand.
Or join one of the night walks where rangers will shine a light on the animals who come to life — and to hunt — after dark.
Andrew’s passion for the animals — many of which have been rescued and rehabilitated after injury or abandonment — is infectious.
Who knew a toad uses its eyeballs to swallow food?!
Guests at the Gwel An Mor park can book a session to get up close and personal with the animals, or simply admire them in their enclosures.
The park itself is the perfect place for any post-lockdown family holiday.
The all-lodge resort is already welcoming guests, albeit with some Covid-related restrictions.
Right now, the indoor pool can be booked in 30-minute slots, with two “bubbles” sharing the pool, with a rope down the centre.
You can also book in for a relaxing treatment in the Wellbeing Spa, including massages, facials and manicures.
The resort’s Terrace restaurant is serving drinks and meals outdoors, under a marquee, or you can get food and drinks delivered direct to your lodge.
Despite restrictions, there’s still plenty to enjoy, from golf on the nine-hole course, where each hole has been inspired by one at the world’s top courses, to carp and tench fishing at Clover Lake.
From May 17, the archery range will reopen and the Wildlife Centre will offer more animal encounters.
And, hopefully, later this summer, the park’s Base Camp will also be open, with its vast 2,000sq ft soft play area, complete with zip lines, ball pools, slides and climbing walls.
With our own four-legged friends Thor and Bella in tow, we’d opted for one of the park’s pet-friendly lodges, which at this 5H resort didn’t involve any compromise.
Our Tregea Signature Lodge came with a dog bed, treats and a toy, as well as a hot tub for the two-legged guests.
The upside-down layout means the open-plan lounge, kitchen and dining room is on the top floor and comes with a deck to soak up the stunning sea views.
Downstairs were three bedrooms, including one with an ensuite and access to the spacious terrace at the front with the hot tub, barbecue stand and picnic table.
Beds were superbly comfy and the fluffy white robes and decent-size soft towels all added to the feeling that this was self-catering a cut above.
Our dogs were in their element, heading off on walkies through the park’s woodland valley and down to Portreath beach as well as exploring nearby Tehidy Woods.
The Mineral Tramways Coast To Coast Trail is close to the park, part of a network of 37.5 miles of traffic-free paths exploring Cornwall’s historic mining past and passing the relics of its industrial past as well as stunning countryside and coastal views.
Starting off in Portreath, it winds 11 miles through Cornwall’s mining heartland to the south coast port of Devoran and is great for cyclists too.
The harbour town is just a 15-minute walk from the park and has a fabulous beach, with a surf school nestled between towering cliffs.
We enjoyed a fantastic breakfast at The Hub, soaking up the sunshine from its patio overlooking the beach and fuelling up for walkies with breakfast baps and streaky bacon waffles.
For that precious, long-awaited pint there was ample space to pull up a chair at the Waterfront Inn and Basset Arms, both of which featured live music.
But it was the chance to explore with the dogs in wide, open sunny spaces that had us energised.
The views from the North Cliffs above Portreath were well worth the punishing ascent.
Surfers and walkers alike make a beeline for the rolling swells on Godrevy beach.
Owned by the National Trust, at low tide it connects with neighbouring Gwithian beach to reveal an impressive stretch of golden sands.
Further afield, we hopped in the car to take advantage of our new-found freedoms to browse the shops, pubs and bars of bustling St Ives.
With hundreds enjoying the beachfront in the sunshine we strolled the town discovering the best Cornish pasties we’ve ever eaten at Pengenna Pasties.
Handmade on the premises, these whoppers are known for their controversial top crimp in the pastry.
Top or side, both the human and canine pasty eaters enjoyed this Cornish treat — perfect for refuelling after all that fresh air and sunshine.
STAYING THERE: We stayed in a pet-friendly three-bed Tregea Signature Lodge with hot tub.
Three-night breaks start from £449 and seven nights from £849.
There is availability on all lodge styles across the year.
See gwelanmor.com or call 01209 842354.
OUT & ABOUT: The Hub Cafe, Portreath – thehubportreath.com; Godrevy Beach – nationaltrust.org.uk/godrevy.
MORE INFO: See visitcornwall.com.
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