Cornwall LivingIssue #97
Spring in our step
We make the most of the early spring sunshine with a trip to Padstow.
Based in Porthleven, here at Cornwall Living we really do see Cornwall’s weather systems at their most extreme. Through the winter months, as storms of varying names surge their way across the Atlantic, Porthleven is often on the frontline when the titanic swells roll in. It’s an awesome sight to see, the waves surpassing the height of Porthleven’s iconic clocktower; the drawback is that it does place certain limits on how far you can explore, particularly on the very fringes of the coast where 60mph winds and precarious coastal paths make for a particularly dangerous combination! It’s for this reason that, with the appearance of that strange yellow ball in the sky, my partner and I recently to ‘make hay’. After a particular wet and windy start to the new decade, a little bit of warmth from the sun is enough to put a spring in anyone’s step, and it certainly has ours!
To make the most of it, we decided to lace up our boots and strike out along the north coast, drinking in everything that the incredible coast around Padstow has to offer. With the famed ‘Seven Bays’ on its doorstep, Padstow is the logical first choice for anyone who wants to combine glorious coastal walks with a proper taste of Cornwall’s foodie provenance, and that’s exactly what we did. In fact, if I’m completely honest, it was really the food that drew us there, but it would have been rude to ignore the land and seascapes on offer just a short walk from the town!
We took the stunning and relatively easy three-mile circular walk from Padstow to Prideaux Place, for which we found inspiration on the South West Coast Path website. Having spent the colder months hunkered down in our new home, making the most of a new kitchen with regular feasts and an embarrassing lack of exercise, we thought it best to start small this year – to ease those muscles into action that have been happily hibernating since October. Back in the autumn, this route would have been rich with sightings of migratory birds, but with the Camel Estuary on the right as you take on the first half of the route, there’s plenty of wildlife to be seen at any time of year; peregrines are commonly spotted here – stooping at breakneck speeds – as are osprey, mute swans and even kingfishers, so a pair of binoculars is a must-have. It’s also advisable – perhaps even necessary – to pack a waterproof. In typical English style, spring sunshine can quickly turn to showers, and nobody enjoys a soggy stroll!
Having gently made our way to Prideaux Place – the final point on the route – we (our stomachs) decided it was time to source some sustenance. And we couldn’t have been in a better place. Padstow is, without doubt, Cornwall’s culinary capital, and to foodies around the UK, it really needs no introduction. That said, it can be tough deciding where to eat, particularly when you only have the afternoon to make the most of it! Ahead of us were innumerable choices. We could grab a pasty each from Stein’s Patisserie, or head over to Rick’s Seafood Restaurant, where the team champion Rick’s ethos of ‘fresh fish, simply cooked’. Equally tempting was Prawn on the Lawn – a licensed fishmonger and restaurant with a constantly changing menu drawing on ingredients (namely, seafood!) grown and landed right there in Padstow. Having featured some of the restaurant’s downright delicious recipes in a recent volume of our sister publication, Drift, Prawn on the Lawn was a serious contender for dinner, and it was only because we hadn’t booked a table that we decided to look elsewhere!
Already struggling to decide, we then remembered that Paul Ainsworth at No 6 was also at our fingertips, as was Paul’s Caffe Rojano with its tempting lunch and dinner menus and selection of teas, coffees and cakes.
Eventually, given that the sun was out and after much deliberation, we decided that although all of the above sounded tempting, it was time for an old British classic – a proper box of fish and chips. For these, we headed to Stein’s Fish & Chips on South Quay, and let me tell you – we were not disappointed! Boasting both a relaxed restaurant and takeaway, we opted for the latter and took our chips ‘to go’. Served with Rick’s famous mushy peas, tartare sauce (a firm favourite of mine!) and Goan curry sauce, this deep-fried, crispy treat was exactly what we needed.
At this time of year it’s a little quieter than the summer months; the kids are still at school and outside of half-term, you can easily find a quiet spot by the river all to yourself. We did just that – first wolfing down our chips, then sitting back, food-babies kicking, and watching the water as day inevitably turned to dusk. With shoals of young fish bubbling in the sanctuary of the estuary and the gentle ebb and flow of the water all-but sending us to sleep, it really was the ultimate end to a gorgeous spring day in Cornwall.
We’re fortunate enough to live here in the Duchy and for us, Padstow is just a 40-minute drive from home. For those visiting from further afield, you’ll be pleased to know that there are some incredible holiday homes for you to return to after your day’s adventure, including some truly luxurious lodges and glamping retreats, as we reveal in this month’s cover feature ‘Under the stars’. Alternatively, check out this short video from Classic Glamping and see whether an ‘away from it all’ escape in the heart of the Cornish countryside could be for you.
For everything else there is to know about Padstow, click here – as always, you can rest assured that here at Cornwall Living, we have every aspect of your next trip covered!