An Insider’s Guide To North Cornwall
Having visited the wilder Cornish coast since childhood, Kate Lough is a devotee to this stretch of the UK — especially in the off-season. Here, she shares some of her favorite haunts, from lunch spots to vineyards, swimming spots to walks, that are just as heavenly come
Where to Stay
‘I stay near Daymer Bay in my family’s house. You can walk down to the beach in minutes for a morning or evening swim and it’s heaven. I would tell friends to look for a sweet cottage on Kip Hideaways — like this one in nearby Port Isaac.
For those that love hotels, I’d start my north Cornwall odyssey at Coombeshead Farm, which is an excellent restaurant with rooms. You can roll into its cozy bedrooms after dinner, which is sourced almost entirely from the farm. Then, I’d drive south and around the estuary towards Padstow and hole up at The Pig at Harlyn Bay. It’s a dark and brooding Cornish manor overlooking the sea, with a super cozy bar with a roaring fire, and an intimate wood-paneled dining room. I’d order a glass of Camel Valley Pinot Noir sparkling and BBQ monkfish on the bone.’
Eating & Drinking
‘When I’m down in Cornwall, I love to eat at home as the produce is so good. We’ll pick mussels off the beach near Daymer, see what’s fresh at the local fishmonger in the morning, or ransack Fee’s in Rock for excellent bread, coffee, wine, and her insanely good homemade fish pies. However, there are more and more places opening that are luring us out of the house:
For lunch or dinner…
My new favorite spot is Four Boys right by the ferry in Rock. We can walk along the beach at low tide from the house, and feast on delicious things like boquerones, kohlrabi and brown shrimp, and whole plaice and fries, before walking back again along the dunes.
I also love The Rocket Store, which opened a few years ago in Boscastle. It’s a tiny old boat store down in the harbor, which chalks up its menu daily on a blackboard - depending on what’s fresh off the family boat or farm. I love their scallops, blistered peas and there’s usually something like butterflied mackerel with nahm jim.
A recent opening is Barnaby’s at Trevibban Mill, near Padstow, from the Prawn on the Lawn team. They put a Middle Eastern spin on seriously good Cornish produce with things like deep-fried oysters, scallops with fenugreek, and whole turbot in sumac butter.
For cozy pub dinners…
St Kew Inn, St Kew
“I’ve been going to this pub since I was a kid and I love how unfussy it is — it’s a proper country pub. Perfect on stormy nights, ask for one of the small tables in the bar by the fire, and have the fish and chips. It’s dog-friendly, too.
Just beyond Port Isaac. Port Gaverne is the sweetest little cove and the Port Gaverne Hotel is filled with cozy corners to warm up in with a sloe gin and a proper pub dinner.”
For a takeaway…
“You’re in Cornwall, so fish and chips is a must. We’ll head to Rock Fish & Chips and order monkfish scampi or haddock and chips, plus mushy peas, of course. Their tartar sauce is perfect.”
What To Do & See
“Swimming in Cornwall is one of my greatest pleasures. In Fall, the water is still warm (it’s all relative) from summer and it’s perfect for swimming. I like to swim across Daymer Bay first thing in the morning and at my favorite little spot near Greenaway in the evening. If I want to venture further afield, Trevone Bay is gorgeous for an afternoon swim, as is Lundy Bay. Just make sure to check the tide timetable...”
“The South West Coastal Path passes right by my house and it’s so beautiful. Two of my favorite walks are: from Padstow to Trevone, around Stepper Point, and back again; and from Rock or Daymer to the Rumps, swinging back through Polzeath for a slice of Paradise Pizza, a wood-fired pizza van on the beach, if it’s open.”
“The north coast is a paradise for surfers. I’m still learning, but Polzeath is my go-to as it’s so close to the house. The pre-sunset slot is always the best.”
“The area has a brilliant wine scene and produces some very good sparklings. If you want to spend an afternoon wine tasting, you can cycle down the Camel Trail from Padstow to Camel Valley Vineyard. Or, drive to Trevibban Mill and make sure you come home with a few bottles of its Pinot Noir sparkling, and Pet Nat.
“Cornwall’s windswept landscape and unique light has long drawn artists and painters, and its galleries are perfect for the inevitable rainy days. St Ives is about an hour away from me by car, where both Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden are well worth a visit. Closer to home, I’m looking forward to scoping out Circle Contemporary Gallery, near St Issey, and North Coast Asylum, near Newquay, on my next trip down.”
Kate Lough is a freelance writer and editor. You can follow her on Instagram @kateloughtravel for more inspiration.
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