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Trip to Cornwall with senior - logistics assistance please?

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I recently received wonderful feedback on two topics: 1) visiting Scotland and Cornwall in the same trip, and 2) finding more accessible sights/accommodation in Cornwall. The accessibility issue still applies, but now Mom and I are thinking of skipping Scotland and having a slower, more relaxed visit to Cornwall.

We're planning to travel in early May 2016, and will probably have 15 nights, so 14 days on the ground. We'd like to start our trip with a visit to Highclere Castle (I already have a handle on pre-booking tickets, getting to Newbury, where to stay, etc), and have considered ending the trip in Windsor for 2 nights to relax for a day and easily get back to Heathrow, although I'm open to suggestions. That would leave us with 11 nights.

My first question is, should we drive to/from Cornwall, or take the train and hire a car there? My main concern is Mom's comfort. She's been having back issues that make walking uphill or long distances uncomfortable, but sitting and walking for short distances seem to be okay. She also requires assistance with luggage, and I'm not sure how that would work getting on/off trains.

Secondly, we're trying to decide between renting a cottage for a week in west Cornwall (which would require us to book earlier rather than later!), or split our time between a couple of bases and stay in B&B's. We really want some relaxing, unstructured time on this trip, but for us that means flexibility in choosing what we want to do each day - not just sitting around. We're both interested in visiting gardens, villages with character, castles & grand houses (e.g. Pendennis and Lanhydrock,), and easy coastal walks for mom.

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