Cornwall Off the Beaten Track, Favourite Family Beaches & Hidden Coves Summer 2017
Posted on July 18 2017
Probably the UK's top spot for surfers of all levels, Cornwall is not only home to Britain's best surfing beaches, it now can add an inland surf school to it's name too, in the way of 'Retallack Resort, Flowrider' where people of all ages and stages can learn to surf. However, you are never far from a surf school in Cornwall, whether it's boogie boarding, surfing itself, Stand Up Paddleboarding or for other extreme sports including coasteering, deep sea fishing, wild swimming, scuba diving and even free-diving, this is the county to visit. Not only that but like it's neighbouring Devon it has some of the best sea food in the country and is home to the inimitable Cornish Pasty. (More below on where to find the 2017 Cornish Pasty Winner!)
Cliff-top Feast Nights & Henry VIII Castle
The allure of The Hidden Hut and its weekly ‘feast nights’ is enough to draw anyone to the Roseland Peninsula, reached only on foot by the SW Coastal path, overlooking Porthcurnick Beach, this beach hut organises weekly seafood suppers (booked far in advance as they have now become so popular). Feast-goers bring their own cutlery, crockery and wine and can be guaranteed a flavour-packed fish feast at an incredibly reasonable price. In bad weather, hot water bottles and rugs are passed around but customers arrive for the experience and are not swayed by the elements, merely they huddle up around the fire, breathe in the salty air and enjoy the adventure even more. Also in the area to work up your appetite, is St Mawes Castle built by Henry VIII, accessible either by ferry or by kayak/paddleboard down the Percuil River. In fact this peninsula, an area of outstanding natural beauty is packed with fabulous beaches (Porthscatho, Porthbeor, Great Molunan, Towan, Portholland and there is more than enough here to keep you occupied for a week.
Authentic Cornwall & Cream Teas in CrantockHead to Mawgan Porth, one of Cornwall’s hidden gems, a dune-backed, secluded beach with a surf school offering lessons to locals and holidaymakers. A quintessentially Cornish spot still home to many thriving local businesses working hard to keep it that way, this is the real Cornwall far from the madding crowds of tourists. For one of Cornwall’s top ten cream teas, swing over to the ‘Cosy Nook Café’ in Crantock, just a few bays south.
Watersports at Watergate Bay & Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen
Take a surf lesson at the Extreme Academy at Watergate Bay, fuelling up at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen at the same time. Watergate Bay is home to the National Surfing Championships as well as the BSUPA champs (paddleboarding) amongst other superb spectator events (thundercats, polo on the beach, sandball) and regular beach fitness classes. When you arrive you will see the allure, vast expanses of unbroken golden sand, top conditions for watersports enthusiasts. A winning combo- incredible waves + world class cuisine = an exceptional day out!
Waterskiing, wakeboarding and Eating out with a View
Rock – years of holiday makers flocking here make it virtually a cliché BUT rest assured it retains its Cornish charm and the influx has meant they have had to keep on their toes. The Mariners Pub has done just that. Its sensational view AND flavour-packed local food, makes it surely one of England’s most enjoyable places to eat. Surfers head to nearby Polzeath, waterskiers/wakeboarders can book in at The Camel Ski School or for a more peaceful sail/kayak there is neighboring Daymer Bay, with its vast golden sands. Award-winning pub food also available at the Trengilly Wartha Inn next to the unspoilt Constantine Bay (yet another beautiful Cornish spot). Don't overlook Treyarnon Beach in the area, a popular spot for families, rock-pools full of shrimps and it's own natural swimming pool.
The Mariners Pub: www.themarinersrock.com
The Camel Ski School: www.camelskischool.com
Kitesurfing/Sailing at Daymer Bay: www.reactivewatersports.co.uk
Trengilly Wartha Inn, Constantine: www.trengilly.co.uk
A Bicycle adventure in Padstow & Michelin Stars
Padstow is an enchanting and still bustling fishing village, now an essential stop for serious foodies as well. As such, it is milling with tourists but for good reason and it remains a very good spot to eat either at Michelin star level or simply for fish & chips ‘Stein’s Fish & Chips’ or ‘Prawn on the Lawn’. The bakery ‘Chough’ on the main high street recently won 2nd in Best Cornish Pasty Awards and there is a lovely deli where you can stock up your picnic basket. Take the Camel Trail from here either on foot or hire a bike, or even on horseback; it starts in Padstow but is easily broken down into more manageable stages. Also recommended are the EMMA KATE Fishing trips that leave from here.
Rick Stein’s Fish & Chips: https://www.rickstein.com/eat-with-us/steins-fish-chips/
Prawn on the Lawn Padstow: prawnonthelawn.com (Padstow tel: 01841 532223)
Chough Bakery: www.cornishpasty.com
Camel Trail Info: www.cornwall.gov.uk/cameltrail/
Emma Kate Fishing Trips: www.emmakate2.com
Award-winning pubs in Bodmin, Wild Swimming in Goldiggins Quarry
Begin the day at Snails Pace Café, Wenfordbridge (N Cornwall); an amazing spot for walkers, cyclists & nature lovers alike. The café is built up and around a disused shipping container, it serves a slap up breakfast (, recently reviewed as one of the best breakfasts in the UK) fuelling you up ready to hire one of their own bikes for the morning and ride along the Camel Trail. Lunch at The Blisland Inn voted the best Cornish pub 2016 which is constantly packed to the gunnels with locals and visitors all enjoying the discerning range of local ales and high-quality food. Hop in the car for a short drive across beautiful Bodmin Moor, parking your car in the Hurlers Car Park by Minions. 15 mins walk from here you can cool off in Goldiggins Quarry, a spring fed lake for wild swim. There are plenty of ledges to jump off for the more adventurous but also places to access the water easily making it more family friendly.
Crystal Clear Pedn Vounder Beach & Open Air Theatre
In West Cornwall, Pedn Vounder Beach at Treen is a tiny, isolated beach that you can walk to from Porthcurno at low tide but be warned it does get cut off at high tide. However, it has crystal clear waters and it is off the beaten track, a rare treat in Cornwall. You are not far here from the Minack Open-Air Theatre, perched on the cliff-tops above showing a programme of opera, drama and children’s theatre throughout the summer months. Not a bad spot to watch ‘Treasure Island’ with the waves of the Atlantic crashing beneath (August). Award-winning pub The Logan Rock Inn is also perched up here for hungry walkers on the SW Coastal path, it’s easy to get to but may need booking at busy times as hoards gather to hear tales of old smugglers shipwrecks.
Perranporth Beach Café, Horse-riding on a Cornish Beach
Perranporth is possibly the beach in Cornwall that has it all. This is yet another vast expanse of golden sands, with excellent conditions for surfers, kite-surfers and snorkelers alike. It is very family friendly with easy access and one of, if not the only beach with its café/restaurant actually ON the beach; The Watering Hole is mentioned in countless reviews and newspaper articles as one of the top seaside restaurants, best breakfasts, best beach bar, best live music venue and so on! It also has its own surf school run from there and there is a perfect 2 mile dog-walk (yes even dogs allowed) to Ligger Point at low tide. It is so vast it feels uncrowded even in peak season. If that isn’t enough, there is Reen Manor Riding School where you can organise a horse-ride on the beach a few minutes from Perranporth.
Jumping Ledges at Port Gaverne
Drop in to Port Isaac, a picturesque fishing port which has featured on many TV dramas, its narrow, winding streets including ‘squeezy belly alley’ wind down to the harbour with its colourful fishing boats bobbing on the turquoise seas, its streets are lined with the typical white-washed 16th Century Cornish cottages. Fishing trips can be organised from here or a boat trip to idyllic Port Gaverne, a smugglers inlet with jumping ledges for fearless swimmers just around the corner. Finish off the day with a Michelin starred meal at Nathan Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen or pop in to The Stowaway Tea Shoppe for an authentic cream tea.
Plunge Pools, The Song of the Sea Arch & Poldark Beaches
And so to Poldark country. There is an easy 45 mins walk to reach this jaw-dropping spot. A secluded, often deserted beach with shimmering rockpools and ‘The Song of the Sea Arch’. This diamond shaped slit in the rocks catches the light making the sea caves sparkle. There is even a waterfall. Park your car in Trevescan, opposite the bus stop is a public footpath sign which will lead you through the fields, through Trevilley Farm and continue to follow the path as it bends down to the right. When the sea comes into view, take the downhill path, over a footbridge and down some wooden steps to the beach. This rarely visited smugglers cove is the scene of Ross Poldark’s topless swim, Nanjizal Beach. This is the place to take a camping stove or disposable barbecue and in true British beach-going fashion, have tea and hot dogs at the waters edge.
How to find it:
Trevescan postcode: TR19 7AQ
Smugglers Tour of Cornwall
Immerse yourself in Cornwall’s shipwrecking history and head SW of Lizard Point. There are a series of short to medium length walks (1-3hours) linking Gunwalloe cove (where Poldark’s shipwreck scenes were filmed) to Mullion and Kynance Cove. These are a trio of quite simply breath-taking beaches, these are the beaches which are used for Cornwall holiday brochures and postcards alike- picture shimmering turquoise seas, white sands and dramatic cliffs. For a hungry walker’s lunch, the Halzephron Inn is ideally situated to join the coastal path. The Halzephron meaning ‘hells cliff’ is actually built using the wood from many a shipwreck. The pub has a secret shaft that connected the inn to a nearby monastery. This is Daphne Du Maurier brought to life!
The Magic of St Ives & The Best Cornish Pasty in Cornwall
St Ives is surrounded by endless day trips and you could easily make this the hub for an idyllic Cornish family holiday. There is the Eden Project, St Michaels Mount, the Geevor Tin Mine, the ancient settlement at Chysauster as well as a theme park, a seal sanctuary, a zoo and so on. The beaches are pretty spectacular too; there is Porthminster (another location for one of the UK’s top beachside restaurants, Porthminster Beach Café) on the Eastern side which has a surprisingly Mediterranean feel to it, the waters are so clear and the sand so clean. There is also Porthmeor Beach which is the towns biggest beach where the TATE gallery overlooks, usually quieter than Porthminster. Both beaches have extremely popular café’s; the Porthmeor Café also has a surf school as part of it as this is the popular surfing beach too. BEST CORNISH PASTY ALERT- the winner of the Best Cornish Pasty Awards 2016 (2017 hasn’t been awarded yet) is sold by Philps of St Ives – surely for this reason alone, it’s worth a visit! A popular family lunchspot is also Blas Burgerworks. If you feel like getting out of town, I cannot recommend The Gurnard’s Head at Zennor more highly. Not only does it have a dramatic cliff top walk from its doorstep but the food and welcome was so exceptional (and characterful) that we returned the next day for a second meal and have subsequently sought out the other pubs in this chain and have not been disappointed.
Porthmeor Beach Café: porthmeor-beach.co.uk
Porthminster Beach Café: www.porthminstercafe.co.uk
Award Winning Pasties @ Philps: www.philpspasties.co.uk
Blas Burgerworks: www.blasburgerworks.co.uk
The Gurnard’s Head: www.eatdrinksleep.ltd.uk
Freediving, the Helford River and Spider Crabs
Porthkerris Cove deserves a mention not this time for its classic sandy beach appeal for this is a privately owned dark shingle beach but on account of its world-class diving opportunites and therefore a top snorkelling spot to boot. Its proximity to the treacherous Mannacles (a site of countless shipwrecks) lures scuba divers and freedivers and as well as this you may see dogfish, spider crabs, lobster, jewel anenomes to name a few of its underwater inhabitants. For an afternoon change of scene, you are a stone’s throw from the scenic Helford River, the setting for Du Maurier’s ‘Frenchman’s Creek’. The Shipwright’s Arms and The FerryBoat Inn) are both exceptional spots for lunch.
Crackington Haven and Cornwall’s Highest Cliff Top
Crackington Haven, a very unspoiled beach in North Cornwall, popular with surfers in the right conditions is also an ideal family beach in the summer as it is not really on the tourist trail. From here, you can climb up to Cornwall’s highest cliff at Pencarrow or stop in to the Combe Barton Inn and hear about the countless shipwrecks. Bottle-nosed dolphins, basking sharks and grey seals are regularly spotted here so pack your binoculars and snorkel!
Combe Barton Inn: https://coombebarton.co.uk/
In the South Western corner of Cornwall, lies the eye-poppingly picturesque fishing village of Mousehole. The narrow streets wind down to the stone harbour dotted with colourful fishing boats. There is a stunning circular walk from here to Lamorna Cove and back following the SW Coastal path, taking in the quintessentially Cornish sights of waves crashing against the cliffs and coves of this dramatic coastline. Both the Ship Inn & The Old Coastguard Inn are highly recommended by friends (who have been going for 40 years) Diary Dates in this neck of the woods: 8th July- Mousehole Rowing Regatta, 4-7th August Annual Carnival.
Ship Inn: www.shipinnmousehole.co.uk
The Old Coastguard: www.oldcoastguardhotel.co.uk
Tintagel, Wild Swimming in Waterfalls & a Farm Shop Lunch
Cornwall Day Out- Begin your day at Boscastle Farm Shop and stock up on picnic items. Head to Tintagel Castle which continues to draw visitors from far & wide with its extraordinary history stretching back to Roman times; it is reputed to have been the place with King Arthur was conceived and as such maintains a strong aura even today, shrouded in mystery & legend. In spite of the steep entry fee, it is a fabulous day out for the family. Continue the magical theme and spend the afternoon at St Nectan’s Glen where there are 3 waterfalls to see, the main one being a 60 ft waterfall coming through a hole in the rocks. The waters are reputed to have healing properties and as such those daring enough can nip in for a swim!
Lankidden, Kennack, Coverack Beach Picnics
One of Cornwall’s hidden gems is Lankidden Beach, only accessible via a 1 mile walk from Kennack sands, the turquoise waters and white sands are often quiet and empty making it a very appealing picnic spot. It’s perfect for swimming and there is some interesting sealife so it’s a good rockpooling and snorkelling spot too. Visitors tend to be boat-owners anchoring in the cove. Only a couple of miles further along the coast is Coverack beach, a shingle beach dotted with colourful fishing boats- there are plenty of cafés here to drop in for a spot of lunch.
The Ghost of Willy Wilcox, Fishing & Polperro’s Tidal Pool
South East Cornwall. The fishing port of Looe, known for its sensational New Year’s Fireworks display is a very pretty and still thriving fishing port. Early morning you can watch fresh fish being auctioned off for the day and later take your own fishing trip out into the bay beyond its distinctive banjo-shaped pier. Stop off at Looe island, once a pilgrimage site and now a fascinating site for rare plants and wildlife or hop around to neighbouring Polperro with its unique tidal sea pool. Look out for the ghost of Willy Wilcox, reputed to still be hiding in one of the labrynthine caves here, fresh from his smuggling escapades. Sarah’s Pasty Shop in Looe deserves high praise for its award-winning pasties but there is also The Kitchen in Polperro offering a superb fresh fish menu.
Sarah’s Pasty Shop: sarahspastyshop.com
The Kitchen: www.thekitchenpolperro.com