A Pit-Stop Tour of Polzeath
Surf’s up, sandy beaches beckon and views come with a side order of gastronomic delights. Polzeath and its surrounds aren’t just for beach babes and surfer dudes; there are gems here for families, foodies and folk who simply want to soak up the scenery.
View On Map
Life’s a beach
So it’s not all about the beach, but you can’t overlook Polzeath’s star attraction. During summer the sand is barely visible beneath a deluge of windbreaks and beach towels, but as the tide ebbs and holidaymakers disperse you can appreciate the pearly expanse of Hayle Bay. Sandy-bottomed surf attracts hoards of wetsuit-clad wave riders, and if you’re keen to join them all the gear and lessons are available beachside – try Animal Surf School (www.wavehunters.co.uk) or Surf’s Up (www.surfsupsurfschool.com).
For coastal exploration away from the masses why not try coasteering, stand up paddle boarding or kite surfing? Era adventures (www.era-adventures.co.uk) or Pure Activities (www.pure-ctivities.co.uk) will show you thrills and spills of these water-bound adventures.
Walk this way
Stroll either way along coast from Polzeath, and it soon becomes evident that there’s much more to see beyond this surfy hub. North, the wild and windswept Pentire Point juts into the Atlantic, while a short hop south, Daymer Bay is a favourite haunt for families, dog walkers and kitesurfers. The coast path between Polzeath and Rock is just shy of three miles, and makes easy footwork for walkers. On route enjoy rock-pool rambles on wave-hewn rocks yawning seaward at Greenaway Beach, and climb the grassy knoll of Brae Hill for a picnic with a birds-eye view. Immersed in scenery that inspired the late Poet Laureate John Betjeman it’s also worth swinging past the wonky-steepled church where he’s buried.
A taste of Cornwall
Once you step foot in Rock it’s a short ferry ride across the Camel Estuary to the harbour town that put Cornwall firmly on the foodie map: Padstow. Gastronomers have flocked here ever since the doors of Stein’s Seafood Restaurant opened in 1975. These days you don’t even have to cross the estuary to tuck into award-winning food: scooping up a couple of Michelin stars on its rise to fame, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw at Rock’s St Enodoc Hotel has fast become lauded as one of the county’s top places to eat. Once you’ve crossed into Padstein the choice of eateries is vast, but not only with Stein’s monopoly in the town. Paul Ainsworth’s Number 6 rivals Stein’s best and with Rojanos now in Ainsworth’s hands its cocktails, antipasti and Italian-inspired cuisine have become talk of the town.
You don’t have to fraternise with foodie aficionados to get a taste of Cornwall. Polzeath’s Salt Water Café Bistro cashes in on beach views and local produce from its cliff perch (01208 862333), and just a few minutes’ drive away at Trevathan Farm Shop, St Endellion, you can get your hands on all sorts of Cornish produce – and gorge on locally-made ice cream (trevathanfarm.com/farmshop.htm).
Beyond food and beaches
Given that food is a major theme on any visit, if you’re not inclined to test the surf then a peddle along the Camel Trail is a good antidote to all the eating you’ll be doing. There are 18 miles of disused
railway between Padstow and Bodmin, but many visitors simply plump for the flat, estuary-side section between Padstow and Wadebridge. There are bike hire outlets in Wadebridge www.bridgebikehire.co.uk or www.bikesmart.eu) and Padstow (www.padstowcyclehire.com, www.trailbikehire.co.uk).
Within easy reach of Newquay Airport (just over half an hour by taxi) you could easily enjoy a car-less adventure in this corner of the county, but if you happen to have the car keys handy it’s worth visiting both Port Isaac (setting of Doc Martin and home of the Fishermen’s Friends shanty singers) and the spectacular wave-lashed setting of Tintagel Castle.