Cotna Eco Retreat


Here at Cotna as well as offering yurt accommodation we live a low-impact, green and sustainable way of life in a stunningly beautiful place. Our speciality is growing organic salad leaves which we provide to local restaurants and farm shops around Cornwall. We produce green solar and wind energy and our water supply is from a natural spring supplying pure Cornish spring-water. We use our own wood, recycle through our compost bins and eco compost loos and produce delicious organic fruit & vegetables. We won the award for Best Contribution to Sustainable Land Management at the 2016 Cornwall Sustainability Awards for our ethos and activity at Cotna. As Cotna has matured we have become an oasis for wildlife, not to mention our own creatures – the bees, horses, spaniels, cats, chickens & ducks who all contribute in their own ways!

We follow the permaculture principle of living in harmony with the land. Yurt visitors can learn more about what we do just by being here & seeing what is going on, or by booking onto a Cotna Course. These include organic no-dig gardening, wild food foraging, sourdough bread-making  and seasonal cooking.

Our cooking courses are now held in the beautiful new Cotna Kitchen overlooking the orchard and ponds. This was supported by a grant we received from the BIG2 Project funded by the ERDF as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme (2014-2020). Courses for guests started here in August 2018 and we plan to extend this to local residents throughout the year.

The land at Cotna Eco Retreat is 100% accessible to your while you are here on holiday. Explore and take a wander through our orchards, horse fields, woodland, vegetable gardens and poly-tunnels. Think of a yurt stay with us as a very chilled eco, organic farm holiday, which you are welcome to be part of if you like.

Enjoy relaxing into our peaceful Cotna rhythm. Breathe in the clean air, soak up the light, feel the peace of the countryside – and come back to earth!


Sara Readman-Smyth

Sara was a teacher, trainer and examiner of English as a Foreign Language in London before she came to Cornwall. She has travelled extensively in both Europe & Asia, particularly in South India. She has always loved contact with other cultures through work and travel, and has integrated this into life at Cotna through her interest in international cuisine.

She brings a reflective side to life at Cotna through yoga and meditation, and encourages the use of the strawbale barn studio and yurts for solitary, reflective and spiritual retreats. She is a Homoeopath, has trained in Ayurveda and until recently taught students with Dyslexia at Falmouth University.

Although life as a smallholder was new to her, she has embraced the cycle of life at Cotna. A self-confessed foodie, Sara delights in creating amazing sourdough bread and sharing how to cook delicious, seasonal and healthy dishes. And she loves singing and playing ukulele!

Dave Readman

Having spent his life in the West Country, Dave trained as a Plant Biochemist at Bath University. He has mainly worked in the field of conservation and ecology and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of plants!

Dave has trained many young people over the years in countryside skills and woodland management, and more recently has been working with older volunteers on walking and cycling for health and fitness schemes. He also maintains our lovely Gorran Parish footpath network that takes you to the beaches & coast path, the local villages of Gorran Haven and Mevagissey and The Lost Gardens of Heligan.

A qualified Homoeopath, Dave is also an ardent plantsman, gardener and composter! He loves growing and eating Sara’s food and being in the woodland, coppicing and harvesting wood.

Brief History of Cotna

Cotna was historically known as Cruckconna, meaning break-your-neck hill! Cotna Barton is a sheltered bowl of a valley that feels like it has been inhabited forever. The area is known to be an ancient site – in 1846 earthenware pots were found near the old farm, which were identified as bronze-age funerary urns, and more recently when digging clay for our pizza oven we found a sharpened piece of flint that we think is pre-historic.

The original farm occupies an area of about 60 acres on the west side of the valley below Gorran Churchtown, on the south coast of Cornwall. A number of holdings have existed here over the years – Cruckcorner Wollas, Cruckcorner Wartha and Cotna Brake. Nowadays the local land is divided into Cotna Barton, Cotna House and Sentries, named after the ruined Sentries Mill in our woodland valley.

This place is an inspiration and a signpost to a better way of life. It’s amazing how everything links with, and feeds into, everything else. The yurt is so comfy too. We can honestly say that when it’s raining cats and dogs in the evening, there’s no better place to be than snuggled up in front of the woodburner in a yurt, ignoring the newspaper that announces the latest mad turn of events in the world! Thanks for being the perfect hosts and creators. Steve and Lynne (North Yorkshire Sept 2016)