Author: gloversure

Mawgan Porth Beach, Cornwall

The bay at Mawgan Porth ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to ideal family beach criteria. It has a stream running under a bridge, across the sand and out to sea – utterly irresistible for children armed with buckets and spades as they try in vain to create a dam to hold back the flow. It has rock pools by the hundred that are replenished with wildlife twice daily, there’s a waterfall – yes, really – and caves to peer into. It’s like a seaside wonderland for kids (or those channelling their inner kid).

For many, it’s not a holiday unless the four-legged members of the family are welcome. Mawgan Porth is one of the few Cornish beaches that are dog friendly all year round, so that’s another box ticked for dog owners.

There’s enough going on at Mawgan Porth to keep you happily entertained here. A pub, restaurant and chip shop covers all the bases on the refreshment front and there’s a deli-cum-seven-eleven that surprises with its wide and interesting selection of foods from the essentials to the luxuries. Their smoothies that combine local ice cream with your favourite chocolate bar are wickedly calorific treats.

Aside from surfing, sporting activities at Mawgan Porth are of the relaxed, low key variety. Just up the hill is an 18 hole golf course (the views are, as you’d expect, a huge distraction). If that sounds all a bit too serious, the pitch and putt and crazy golf next to the beach caters for the younger, less formal golfer.

If a little exploration is on the agenda, the south west coast path leads you to the bigger resort of Watergate Bay, an amble of less than three miles that rewards you with sweeping views south along the coast. On a clear day you can sometimes see as far as Gwithian Sands, a wide arc of a beach over 20 miles away. Yes, there are some steep ups-and-downs on this section of the coast path – but just think how many chocolate bar smoothies it’ll earn you…

www.mawganporth.org

Fistral Beach, Cornwall


The name Fistral is synonymous with surfing. This famous beach has a long-held surfing culture going back to the 1960s when surfing first became big news in Cornwall and Fistral developed into the hub of all surf-related activity in the county. Facing west, swell from the Atlantic piles into Fistral, giving it its reputation for having the most consistent swell on the coast. It’s why this beach hosts numerous surf contests through the year, including Boardmasters in August, which draws surfers from all around the world to this corner of the south west.

Fistral is divided into three distinct sections – Fistral Beach, South Fistral and Little Fistral, a small, rocky cove that is only really visible at low tide. When the surf is cranking, look out to sea and at the north end of Fistral you’ll spot a reef called the Cribbar creating huge waves. Surfing the Cribbar is a rite of passage only the most experienced surfers attempt; with waves sometimes reaching 25 or even 30 feet high, it’s no surprise that the Cribbar has been nicknamed the Bone Cruncher and the Widow Maker.

Fistral is backed by steep sand dunes, giving it a remote feel that belies its location just a fifteen minute walk from the shops, restaurants and attractions of Newquay, one of Cornwall’s most well-known seaside resorts. At the north end of Fistral is a beach complex with all the coastal favourites on offer – an ice cream parlour, fish and chip shop, a relaxed coffee shop and a beach bar with big screens for sports, live music and a great view for a sundowner.

There are all kinds of ways to keep kids entertained in Newquay if a rainy day means the beach isn’t your first choice. The Blue Reef Aquarium has a giant ocean tank with an underwater tunnel; as you look up turtles, sharks and rays swim past above your head. There’s a zoo, indoor waterpark and steam railway, plus there are five separate beaches encircling the town, each with a unique feel and all with good facilities for families. With every street in Newquay filled with independent shops, cafes and restaurants, there’s always somewhere new to try.

Watergate Bay Beach

Don’t be fooled by the hint of a Victorian façade of the hotel at Watergate Bay – this beach is arguably the most imaginative and contemporary coastal playground in Cornwall. Watergate Bay has always had a natural advantage – over two miles of sand backed by high cliffs make this stretch of coastline feel deliciously dramatic. The wide, gently sloping bay makes Watergate an ideal place for learning every kind of shoreline water sport; it also catches any swell, so if there are no waves at Watergate, you can be fairly confident that there are no waves anywhere in North Cornwall.

It’s not just the landscape that makes this beach such a must-see destination. Watergate Bay has been created with – and this might sound slightly incongruous – the best kind of ski resort in mind. It’s about combining the natural wonders outside with modern luxuries inside. You’ve got a chic hotel that seems to spill seamlessly onto the sand, five places to eat that span the range from an award-winning beach take-away, through the legendary Beach Hut restaurant to ,Watchful Mary, plus a sports school teaching everything from surfing and hand-planing to powerkiting and kitesurfing. Add in the beach shop and you can happily spend two weeks at Watergate Bay without ever needing your car keys; in a world where frantic travel seems to be a daily chore, this could be just what the doctor ordered.

Watergate Bay has a busy calendar of events, too, playing host to the unique Polo on the Beach weekend, music festivals and surf, kitesurf and Thundercat racing competitions. In the depths of winter, when other Cornish beaches are deserted, Watergate Bay is often still a hive of activity.

Dog friendly all year round, the bay is a magnet for walkers and lovers of the great outdoors with acres of sand giving you plenty of opportunity to find peace and relaxation, caves and rock pools to explore and great cliff walks in both directions. It’s a beach that offers you every facility you could want or lets you simply get away from it all and find some space all to yourself.

http://www.watergatebay.co.uk/

Falmouth

Falmouth has a very diverse shopping mix with high street names, surf shops and quirky craft and art galleries on every street. Near the National Maritime Museum on Discovery Quay you’ll find shops from the glossy and chic end of the spectrum; if you duck into the side streets you’ll come across tiny boutiques and one-off shops.

Falmouth is home to a well-respected art school and the town’s galleries and craft shops have a young feel; it’s a good place to see contemporary art and ceramics. Demelza’s Gallery focuses on Cornish artists and its aim is to offer affordable pieces from young artists. Original pieces might not be in the budget but the gallery offers good quality prints, fantastic sculptures and silk screen works that are much less expensive.

More bohemian is the Tyto Boutique and Gallery on the old High Street. Describing themselves as a ‘maverick little establishment’, Tyto is an eclectic hotchpotch of local crafts, vintage bits and bobs, clothes and shoes. It’s retail that defies description and won’t be pigeon-holed.

Willow and Stone is a blend of antique and reclaimed household items and vintage-styled gifts, home ware and garden paraphernalia. The range of doorknobs and cupboard handles alone is staggering. Great for retro lighting and quirky framed prints and there’s even an artist in residence selling original work.

There are countless places to grab a coffee in Falmouth but one of the best is the Courtyard Deli. This hidden treasure has a café and deli on the ground floor, with tables outside, while upstairs is the Arts Café, with exhibitions and performances from poets, musicians and comedians. At weekends the Courtyard stays open later and becomes a tapas bar. So much going on in such a compact space!

When you’ve had enough of retail and want to escape, decamp to one of Falmouth’s beaches. Just the other side of the town from the quay is Swanpool, complete with beach huts for a retro feel. The café here is a classic cute beach shack with decking out over the sand and if it’s ice cream you’re after, this is the place. The ‘Quirky Ice Creams’ here are standard cones turbo-charged with toppings like dark chocolate-coated ginger or coffee beans, amaretto liqueur swirls or jelly babies. That’s got to be worth the walk…

 

Explore further

Courtyard Deli
2 Bells Court, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 3AZ, Tel. 01326 319526

Demelza’s Gallery
30 Church Street, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 3EQ, Tel. 01326 316472

Willow and Stone
18 Arwenack Street, Falmouth Cornwall, TR11 3JD, Tel. 01326 311388

Swanpool Beach Café
Swanpool, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 5BG, Tel. 01326 314740

Food and Farm shops in Cornwall, Cornwall


Fish often hogs the limelight when it comes to Cornish food, but the county produces noteworthy foods across the spectrum. The growing interest in local, seasonal produce has been a godsend to Cornish farmers and many of them have developed swanky farm shops that are a far cry from the rough-and-ready, barely-converted barns of times past.

One of the most exciting is Lobbs, next to the Lost Gardens of Heligan. This farm shop is so inviting and attractive it can make your average supermarket look tired and shabby. A big proportion of what’s on display comes directly from the farm next door. The meat is reared here, on feed grown on the farm too. The vegetables have that just-picked quality – because that’s exactly what they are. You’ll find a lot more than the essentials here, everything from biscuits and home-made cakes to Cornish cheeses and real ales, pies baked on the premises to classic hogs pudding. If you’re visiting Heligan, don’t leave without dropping in to Lobbs.

On the north coast is the equally worthy Padstow Farm Shop. There’s something about the fact that the vegetables here were grown in a Victorian walled garden that seems to make them taste better. Beef comes from Ruby Red Devon cattle and the pork is often from a heritage breed such as Saddleback or Tamworth. And you just can’t leave without a pack of the Padstow Pasta, made with durum wheat grown on the farm here, milled at the Cornish Mill and Bakehouse near Newquay and then made on the premises in Padstow – where you can watch it in progress.

Supermarkets tend to be much the same wherever you go – it’s a chore whether you’re at home or on holiday. The Kingsley Village Food Hall, a few miles outside Newquay, is stocked with enough novel produce to make a weekly shop a tad more interesting. A proper butcher, a fishmonger with seasonal seafood landed at Newlyn and an incredible bakery and patisserie section are the stars of the show, but don’t miss the wide choice of Cornish wines and beers.

While we’re on the subject of alcohol, the Camel Valley vineyard, between Wadebridge and Bodmin, has been putting the noses of French champagne makers out of joint with their multi-award winning Camel Valley Brut; you can buy this delectable fizz by the bottle or the case from the vineyard’s cellar door, but even better to make an afternoon of it with a vineyard tour and a tasting session on the veranda overlooking the vines.

Explore further

Lobbs Farm Shop
Heligan, St Ewe, St Austell, Cornwall, PL26 6EN, Tel. 01726 844411

Padstow Farm Shop
Trethillick Farm, Padstow, Cornwall, PL28 8HJ, Tel. 01841 533060

Kingsley Village
Penhale, Fraddon, Cornwall, TR9 6NA. Tel. 01726 861111

Camel Valley Vineyard
Nanstallon, Bodmin, Cornwall, PL30 5LG, Tel. 01208 77959

Padstow, Cornwall

This pretty little harbour town is the epitome of chocolate-box Cornwall, with crooked streets, whitewashed buildings and boats jostling on the waterfront. It does get very busy in the summer, so make an early start to guarantee a parking space. Past all the ice cream kiosks and fudge shops are a few gems worth a nosey – The Summerhouse does a lovely line in vintage-inspired quilts and cushions, Rocky Point has one-off jewellery and utterly original hand-made bags and Stein’s Gift Shop stocks upmarket textiles, tableware and ceramics that Jill Stein chooses from around the globe.

Padstow is a surprisingly good choice if your wardrobe needs fattening up. Cornish brand Seasalt is renowned for distinctive prints and knitwear; Mudd and Water, almost hidden in an old converted fisherman’s cottage on Duke Street, is a real find for womenswear and shoes that you’ll never see on the high street.

It’s impossible to talk about Padstow without mentioning the famous chef. Some say Rick Stein’s influence has put Padstow on the map and enhanced the whole town’s prosperity, other’s call it ‘Padstein’ in a disparaging voice; either way, his patisserie in the centre of Padstow will derail the most hardened dieter – the cakes and pastries here are divine.

If you’re picking up a tipple to go with dinner later, forgo the supermarket selection and head to wine merchant binTwo. You’ll get exceptional wines by the bottle and expert advice here, and if you’ve got time to linger, you can grab a table and indulge in a glass of bubbly or, if driving commitments deny that treat, a barista-prepared coffee. The view over the harbour’s not bad, either.

When something more substantial is called for, Padstow is brimming with places to eat, from the simple to the extravagant. Pescadou focuses on the fresh fish that is landed just outside its door on the quay; it’s more affordable than the famous Seafood Restaurant and you don’t need to book months in advance. Rojano’s, just along the harbourside, has been serving pizzas for almost 40 years; two years ago it was taken over by Paul Ainsworth, a Michelin starred chef, and the whole place was given a make-over. The prices are bafflingly low while the quality is deliciously high.

 

Explore further

The Summer House
28 Duke Street, Padstow, Cornwall, PL28 8AB, Tel. 01841 533138

Rocky Point
9 Broad Street, Padstow, Cornwall, PL28 8BS, Tel. 01841 533892

Stein’s Gift Shop
Middle Street, Padstow, Cornwall, PL28 8AP

Stein’s Patisserie
Lanadwell Street,Padstow, Cornwall, PL28 8AN

Seasalt
3-5 Lanadwell Street, Padstow, Cornwall, PL28 8AN, Tel. 01841 533994

Mudd and Water
24 Duke Street, Padstow, Cornwall, PL28 8AB, Tel. 01841 533969

binTwo
The Drang, Padstow, Cornwall, PL28 8BL, Tel. 01841 532022

Pescadou
The Old Custom House, South Quay, Padstow, Cornwall, PL28 8BL, Tel. 01841 532359

Rojano’s
9 Mill Square, Padstow, Cornwall, PL28 8AE, 01841 532796

St Ives, Cornwall


St Ives has long been associated with art but the days of snapping up a good original painting for a pittance are long gone. What you will find in St Ives are a number of good quality galleries selling local pieces, many of which are from established local artists. The price tags of the most exciting pieces can be seriously budget-blowing, but a browse can often unearth some lovely and affordable artisan crafts. Poppy Treffry is the sweetest gallery with textiles and ceramics at reasonable prices – you’ll see hand-embroidered iPad ‘cosies’, mugs and teapots and framed pictures.

Worth a peek is the Art Space Gallery near the harbour. This is owned by a co-operative of local artists, all with very different styles and working in a variety of mediums. The displays change each month, so there is always new work to see.

If the art vibe of the town has piqued your interest but an original is not on the financial agenda, the shop at the iconic Tate Gallery has good reproductions of lots of the work from the famous ‘St Ives School’ of artists, as well as books, pottery and other lovely gifts. The café here has extraordinary views over the old town and out to sea; it’s a good spot for a break and if you only want to visit the shop and café here, you don’t have to pay for entry to the gallery itself.

St Ives has a growing gourmet movement and there are some excellent independent shops stocking edible treats. I Should Coco is a dangerously addictive place full of hand-made artisan truffles created in St Ives; their two week shelf life tells you how pure the ingredients are – no nasty preservatives here. The Digey Food Room is a deli/café combination that specialises in Cornish and Continental foods. You can relax with coffee and cake then take home some top-notch ingredients for dinner later. And if the seaside is making you crave ice cream, the Moomaid of Zennor parlour has the best; the milk comes from their own herd at the farm just down the road. With flavours like blackcurrant cheesecake and seasalt caramel, you might want several scoops.

To make an event of lunch, try the Porthminster Beach Restaurant. Just outside the main hub of St Ives and sitting right on the sand, the emphasis is on seafood here, although there are good choices for meat-eaters and vegetarians. The food is simple but made with excellent ingredients and the location is dreamy.

Explore further

Art Space Gallery
The Wharf, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 1PU, Tel. 01736 799744

Poppy Treffry
Drill Hall, Chapel Street, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 2LR, Tel. 01736 795494

Tate St Ives
Porthmeor Beach, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 1TG, Tel. 01736 796226

I Should Coco
39 Fore Street, St Ives, Cornwall TR26 1HE, Tel. 01736 798756

The Digey Food Rooms
6 The Digey, St ives, Cornwall, TR26 1HR, Tel. 01736 799600

Moomaid of Zennor
1 Wharf Road, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 1LG, Tel. 01736 799285

Porthminster Beach Restaurant
Porthminster Beach, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 2EB, Tel. 01736 795352

Adventures at Sea, Cornwall


It’s almost impossible to have a holiday in Cornwall without the sea playing a starring role. The big blue surrounds us on three sides and it’s a huge playground for visitors. Most of us dabble at the edges, paddling, surfing or swimming, but you’re far more likely to see the most impressive wildlife if you head further out to sea.

There are a number of companies offering sea ‘safaris’, the goal of which is to spot dolphins, seals and whales – although there are no guarantees since the wildlife can’t be coerced into performing on cue! Different parts of the coastline will give a different experience, with seal colonies more established and static, dolphins and whales harder to pin down.

Newquay Sea Safaris launch from Newquay harbour, where resident seals are pointed out by name. Trips include a two-hour jaunt out to Seal Cove, site of a colony of grey seals, combined with a cruise into deeper water on the hunt for dolphins and basking sharks. If that’s not close enough to the wildlife, you can opt for the guided snorkel safari. On a select few dates through the summer adrenaline junkies can even try shark cage diving (obviously not suitable for young children, though).

Padstow Sea Life Safaris has a high-powered option for viewing the rocky north coastline; a one hour powerboat spree out through the mouth of the Camel Estuary and north to Port Isaac, the archetypal Cornish fishing village. For the ultimate alfresco dining experience they also offer a picnic trip, stopping at remote, hidden coves to eat on a beach you’ll have all to yourself.

The south coast has a different feel and a seafaring culture rich with smuggling history. A trip with Orca Sea Safaris shows you the creeks and inlets around Falmouth, with stories of the shady past. The birdlife in this area is incredible and dolphins are regularly spotted. Every Orca Sea Safari includes a free ticket to the National Maritime Museum, so it’s two experiences for the price of one.

Not all trips with all companies mentioned are suitable for very young children and safaris are weather-dependent to a degree, so check before booking.

Explore further

Padstow Sealife Safaris
Padstow Harbour, Padstow, Cornwall, PL28 8BP, Tel. 07754 822404

Newquay Sea Safaris
South Quay Hill, Newquay, Cornwall TR7 1HR, Tel. 01637 877613/07582 466122

Orca Sea Safaris
Events Square, Discovery Quay, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 3QY, Tel. 01326 214928