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Can't see the wood for the low-lying raincloud? Here are some reasons to be cheerful in 2013...

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 16, 2013

  • Wild garlic and bluebells will soon be showing up to provide some relief to the palette of green and brown, above. Below: The FlowRider at Retallack is fun for all ages and abilities. Left, clockwise from top: Coastal flowers near Prawle Point, South Devon; donning hats for a visit to the Gnome Reserve at Bradworthy; the fabulous Cowshed Spa at the St Moritz Hotel; a trip to Poldark Mine; Carlo Melchior's chocolate creations; and basket-weaving at the Yarner Trust

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The region may have been thoroughly battered by adverse weather in the past few months, but spring is nonetheless arriving. There are 630 miles of the South West Coast Path to explore, and some portions have been singled out for offering the best of the spring flowers currently bursting into bloom. A 3.9-mile stroll from East Prawle to Prawle Point in South Devon, for example, can reveal the lacy white rosettes of wild carrot and the small blue stars of spring squill, while a shorter 1.7-mile walk between Boscastle and Pentargon Waterfall should provide glimpses of wild flowers such as Dyer's Greenweed and Saw-wort. And, as our cover picture illustrates, it's a great time of year for spotting bluebells.

See www.southwestcoastpath.com for more walks and information.

Everybody deserves to be pampered once in a while, and at this time of year it's particularly easy to become wan and washed out. Tucked away in the luxurious St Moritz Hotel near Rock, The Cowshed Spa should be able to pummel and polish away the winter blues and have you all sparkly and refreshed for spring. If you're looking for a joint activity, a weekend package for two can be spaced out over two days. Non-residents are also welcome – with enough good, local food and views over Daymer Bay to make it worth a day trip.

See www.stmoritzhotel.co.uk for a list of treatments and prices.

The Yarner Trust is dedicated to providing practical experience in the pursuit of a more self-reliant, rural lifestyle. It runs a range of courses from two properties in the beautiful wooded valley of Welcombe in North Devon, all aimed at helping people to live more lightly on the earth. Luckily, they're a lot of fun too. In the coming months you could learn how to make hedgerow baskets, baskets made from beach materials and rush hats. Or you could even take the first step towards building your apiary with a novice and beginner beekeeping course in April or October. Family-friendly activities to keep the kids busy are also available in holiday periods.

See www.yarnertrust.org for more details.

If everything above ground feels a bit bleak, why not escape into the depths of the Cornish countryside for a little while? Poldark is the only complete tin mine open to the public, with stacks of exhibits that show the Duchy's rich mining history.

As well as a popular tour and museum, Poldark hosts plenty of activities for young and old, including gold panning, pottery throwing and ceramic painting. For a more spooky activity, evening ghost tours can also be arranged, with a paranormal investigator and official mine guide taking you through the partially candle-lit tunnels.

See www.poldark-mine.co.uk or call 01326 573173 for opening times and information.

If life's feeling a little ordinary and mainstream, this unique tourist attraction could be just the gnome away from home you're looking for. Hats and fishing rods are handed out on arrival and provide excellent photo opportunities as you stroll through meadows of wild flowers littered with little pixie friends. The Gnome Reserve could do with a show of support after suffering severe damage during the winter floods, when a river of water ran through the site. After a complete refurbishment, the museum and gardens will be open for business from March 21.

See www.gnomereserve.co.uk or call 01409 241435 for details and opening hours.

The sea is rather chilly at the moment. If the thought of donning a thick wetsuit, booties and a hood doesn't appeal, but you're still yearning for waves, FlowRider could be just the ticket. The machine generates a thin sheet of water that flows over a stationary wave, making a shape that riders can carve down, slide and turn on. The activity, known as 'flowboarding', has been described in the past as "skateboarding without the wheels (and the road rash), surfing without a fin, snowboarding without the mountain, wakeboarding without the boat and skimboarding without the sand." Suitable for complete novices as well as pros, and kids aged over seven. Prices vary depending on whether you're staying at the resort, part of a group or want exclusive use – and there are holiday specials.

See www.retallackresort.co.uk for full details.

Few things lift the spirits like stuffing one's face with chocolate. It's just a fact. Thankfully, there are plenty of high-quality opportunities in the region. You could try Trenance Chocolate Factory in Mullion, where the small team uses the finest chocolate sourced from Belgium to make luxury handmade treats everyday, or over on the Devon edge of Exmoor in South Molton sits Melchior Chocolates, the base of renowned Swiss-trained chocolatier Carlo Melchior and his artisan team. Melchior offer chocolate making workshops – good for families, hen dos or birthday gifts.

See www.trenancechocolate.co.uk, www.melchiorchocolates.co.uk

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