North Cornwall – Fishy Heaven.
‘Fishy Heaven’ was found a-plenty along the North Cornwall coast. Our lack of driving abilities ensured we were limited to a walking radius from our camp in Polzeath, at the edge of the Camel Estuary. A walking radius that was tested with the Polzeath to Port Issac cliff-top walk. Breath-taking, sure. Leaving us breathless; also true.
Jack and I spent 6 days in and around Polzeath, Padstow (read: Padstein), Rock and Port Issac. This corner of the world is one of my favourite ever places. Sadly, it isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, an un-tapped idyll of English Countryside. However, with a few handy tips (which will soon be provided), the hustle and bustle of this picturesque coast can be somewhat avoided, and a more relaxed get-away obtained.
First things first; the delicious food. Given it was 6 days, packed with a variety of absolutely lovely, seasonal, local, food shaped gifts, I will endeavour to focus on the PROPER highlights, although, bare with me if this post drags on, it’s my first, and allowances should really be made. (Disclaimer: Given the sheer volume of Nathan Outlaw food that has been consumed recently, it’s only right he gets his own section – but don’t for one minute think he was ignored in his own ends).
Let’s start with the basics.
Best Ice Cream: Roskilly’s in Padstow. It’s Organic, it’s local, it’s tasty. Perfect.
Best Pub: The Golden Lion, Port Issac. It’s 17th Century, it’ll make you feel like a fisherman, and offers gorgeous views across the harbour. What more could you want?
Best post-swim treat: The hot doughnuts on Polzeath beach (@ the Galleon Beach Cafe). Comfort food, because let’s be honest, it is England, and despite what people try to tell you – not THAT warm.
Secret Star: The Spar – Polzeath. (The busiest in the UK, if you believe the grapevine). Provider of breakfast goods, (including fresh pastries) and well needed rest-bite from the dismal breakfast the cafes of Polzeath had on offer – all of them seemingly relying on location, with little attempt to provide any proper cornish, or well executed food. Spar also provided plenty of local produce, such as St Endellion Luxury Cornish Blue (with extra double cream) – banging.
Best Fish: Even with the inclusion of the chef heavy-weights, Outlaw and Ainsworth in this area, my best was the fresh fish from the mongers in Padstow (Rick Stein’s, obviously). Coupled with some foraged ingredients, a raw tomato and onion salad, a disposable BBQ from Spar, and the emptying, sunset drenched beach, it was SUBLIME. When the ingredients are that quality, they really need little to no help in making them shine. (Outlaw a strong second though – post for this ‘fish heaven’ up soon).
NB: Rock has been ignored as the two highlights for me were both Nathan Outlawed shaped, and a different post dedicated to him will be up shortly. However, the Rock to Padstow ferry is something all holiday-goers should board. A ferry run by the same bearded man who was running it on my first voyage in my toddler years. A shout out to him, for the reliable, no-matter-the-weather, service.
[Photos from a mixture of disposable cameras and iPhone, so apologies for the (altering) quality – none have been edited, as easy as that may be to believe]
Admiring the coast line. There may be a few of these to come. Strap in!
Enjoying fresh doughnuts by the scenic car park after a bracing swim.
The Mariner’s (not featured), and cooking against the odds, in our muddled camp. Making use of SPAR. What a shop.
Ice creams, (not Roskilly’s, so basically a let down) & busy Polzeath.
These views. It’s no wonder I love this corner of the world.
Enjoying the local delicacies.
Finally, the, as promised, ‘top tips’. Potentially obvious, but its very easy to get bogged down in the crowds, and forget they’re avoidable.
1. Avoid the main beaches, namely Daymer Bay and Polzeath. Even the beach on the Padstow side of the Estuary is quieter, and just, if not more picturesque. Lundy Bay is one of my best ‘secret’ ones. Booby’s Bay is also one to check out, not so secret, but oh-so dreamy. (Even the other side of Bray hill will do it!)
2. In-keeping with the quieter beaches theme, coastal walks are one of the best things to do along this stretch of Cornwall. Immense views, often reasonably quiet, and a good work out after those pasties and fish and chips. I’d recommend the Port-Issac to Polzeath walk. It’s a bit of and up-and down hill slog, but the views can’t be beaten. Make an afternoon of it and take a picnic. I wish we did! (Also, maybe pick better weather)
3. Explore. Just explore more. It’s easy in the small villages with harbours, to just stick to the harbour, but wander back, explore the more authentic and local areas! This can’t be proved better than my experiences with Padstow. You can find your own hidden gems. (Photos sadly of Port Issac – wish I had been more prepared!)
4. Use the beaches the WHOLE day. Early morning walks, mid-day swims, and sunset BBQs should all be done. Pictured is our sunset BBQ, complete with scallops, whole bream and whole sardines, courtesy of Rick Steins fish mongers. We foraged the herbs along the coast, and with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of Maldon, it was totally perfect.
5. If you have no car, get familiar with the local bus schedule. They do run reasonably regularly, and they can be a lot of fun, but do be prepared for them not to be totally on time. But when are they ever anyway?
6. Try camping. I’m a novice, but the Polzeath Tristram campsite made even me feel at home. And it means, even if you don’t have the dollar to pay for those sought after cliff top houses, you get some pretty photogenic views at breakfast and dinner time (even if the previous photo of our camp wasn’t all too appealing).
– The camp/the view.
View at the entrance to camp.