For an insider’s guide to what to see and do on holiday around Crantock, Newquay and the north Cornwall coast, we asked travel writer LESLEY GILLIAN how she would spend her days. Among her recommendations are amazing beach walks, rail journeys and traditional Cornish pubs.
Porth Joke and Pentire Headland
Enjoy the wildflowers, birdlife and wonderful views on a coast-path stroll around beautiful Pentire Head to the sand dunes at Porth Joke. Best known by the locals as ‘Polly Joke’ (a derivation of Pol Lejouack – the old Cornish words for Jackdaw Cove), the National Trust beach has no facilities but the sand is pristine, there are rock pools and caves to explore and it’s often empty, even in summer. For a longer, circular walk, continue west to the beach at Holywell Bay and then cut inland, across Cubert Common, to finish up at the lively Bowgie Inn at Crantock.
Half a mile from Crantock
The Smugglers Den
At Trebellan near Cubert, the Smugglers is a proper Cornish country pub – pretty as a picture with its thatched roof, low beams and inglenook. In the winter cosy up by a roaring fire; in the summer grab a table in the garden. Lunch and dinner menus feature great British classics like beer-battered fish and chips, Cornish mussels, char-grilled burgers and Sunday roasts – all made with the finest local ingredients and served with Newquay’s own Atlantic Brewery organic ales (among a choice of 70 beers). Children are welcome (there’s a play area in the garden) and the pub runs a Real Ale and Pie festival in May.
2.5 miles from Crantock
The Atlantic Coast Line
The 15-mile Atlantic Coast Line from Newquay Station to Par is the only one of Cornwall’s five scenic branch-lines to do a coast to coast route, with trains crossing the county in just under an hour. Taking in views of Quintrell Downs, wooded Luxulyan Valley, the Nature Reserve at Goss Moor and the white ‘Cornish Alps’ of the china clay landscape, just sit back and enjoy the ride. Hop on and off en route, or combine the journey with a Rail Ale Trail, starting at the Steam Bar at Newquay’s Great Western Hotel and ending up at the seaside Ship Inn, close to Par Sands.
Newquay Station: 4 miles from Crantock
Lappa Valley Steam Railway
Set in a peaceful spot, among the ruins of a disused Victorian silver mine, Lappa Valley combines cute narrow gauge railways with history, nature, wildlife and a kiddy-heaven leisure park. Two baby steam locomotives (Zebedee and Muffin) chuff around the countryside between Benny’s Halt near St Newlyn’s East and East Wheal Rose – where you’ll alight to find a boating lake, a pedal-car track, crazy golf, a café and, for heritage buffs, the mine’s restored engine house. There is also a miniature Woodland Railway, based in an InterCity 125, which does a mini circuit featuring a tunnel and a magical maze.
5 miles from Crantock
A cool, family-friendly bar and restaurant set into the cliffs of Pentire Head, the decked terrace at Lewininick Lodge restaurant is one of the best places in Cornwall to watch the sun go down with a glass of chilled wine and the wind in your hair. Start the day with posh Lewinnick breakfast (Eggs Royale with smoked salmon), lunch on a gourmet burger, pop in for coffee and cakes or dine on Cornish steaks and fresh local seafood – all served with panoramic sea views through floor-to-ceiling windows. There’s a kids’ menu, too and you are just a stone’s throw from Fistral beach.
5 miles from Crantock
Dairyland Farm World
One of the first farms in the country to open its gates to the public, Dairyland Farm World is agricultural diversification with knobs on. The 120-acre working dairy farm offers play areas for children, vintage tractors, hay rides, nature trails, pony rides and lots of furry animals to stroke and feed. Meet the dairy herd in the state-of-the-art Milking Parlour, get lost in the ‘Maize Maze’, explore the farm’s own Cornish Heritage Museum and finish up with a Cornish cream tea in Clarabelle’s Kitchen Café.
6 miles from Crantock
On a stretch of unspoilt coastline, Bedruthan Steps is one of Cornwall’s most spectacular beaches. Gaze at the views from the cliff-top car-park or take the cliff staircase down to the sandy beach. According to legend, the curious rock stacks which rise from the surfy shoreline, are the stepping stones of a mythical giant called Bedruthan. It’s not too safe to bathe here and there’s a danger of being cut off at high tide, but the place oozes atmosphere and the steep climb back to the top can be rounded off with tea at the National Trust Café at nearby Carnewas.
9 miles from Crantock
Featured in the BBC’s classic drama, Poldark, Charlestown Harbour is a perfect period piece complete with salty granite quays and resident square-rigger tall ships. On the edge of St Austell, it’s still a working port, but the place hardly seems to have changed since the 1800s when it was built by landowner Charles Rashleigh, to serve the south coast’s copper and china clay industries. Now it’s part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site, and some of its maritime buildings – the former haunts of rope-makers, boat-builders and pilchard curers – offer habourside cafes and restaurants. Check out Wreckers Bistro (in an old boat shed), or lively lounge bar, Charlies Boathouse.
19 miles from Crantock