Cornwall Life Steps out in Padstow

PUBLISHED: 13:42 28 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:27 20 February 2013

Sarah Freemand, Alex Cresswell and Toby the dog

Sarah Freemand, Alex Cresswell and Toby the dog

Fish is certainly on the menu when you visit the beautiful town and thriving fishing port of Padstow, writes Lesley Double

Fish is certainly on the menu when you visit the beautiful town and thriving fishing port of Padstow, writes Lesley Double

Situated at the mouth of the River Camel, Padstow was originally called Petroc-Stow thanks to the Welsh missionary St Petroc, who arrived at nearby Trebetherick in the 6th century. St Petroc is remembered in the town as the parish church still bears his name.
From 1899 to 1967, Padstow enjoyed being the terminus for the railway line from Wadebridge. The former railway line is still in regular use as part of the Camel Trail the popular cycle and footpath that runs from Padstow to Wenfordbridge.
Today, Padstow is a busy town and port. The fishing industry is still a major player in its economy, and the tourist industry helps this along aided by the enthusiasm of local hotels and restaurants who, with the help of local fishermen, provide only the freshest seafood and the best the sea has to offer.

Get off to a good start

Unless you arrive on foot or by bike, the only way to get to Padstow is by road, either by coach or car. There are several car parks, the ones nearest the town filling up quickly, especially in high season. The two car parks closest to the town are near the harbour and you will immediately know that you are in a fishing town: there are boats, fish and fishing shops, piles of crab and lobster pots, and the enticing smell of fish in the air. Padstow is a healthy fishing port and the local community encourages visitors to take part and enjoy the industry with the inhabitants.

Why visit now?

The summer months are certainly a good time to visit Padstow, although August can be very busy indeed with families. July is slightly less crowded, but you should still plan to get there early in the day so you can benefit from an early morning stroll around the harbour before it fills up. If you like music, Padstow offers many different events at this time of year including a jazz river boat cruise, the St Endellion Summer Music Festival (27 July 6 August) and open air concerts on the bandstand.

Dont miss

Padstow Museum consists of two tiny rooms filled to the gunwales with hundreds of treasures, including letters written by emigrants, an Obby Oss collection including a very old oss, lifeboat and shipping memorabilia, and items discovered during archaeological digs. The latest addition is The Little Horsemen of Padstow, two horses and riders that were discovered on the roof of Barclays Bank when a new roof was being installed. The museum is on the first floor of the Padstow Institute and is open from 10.30am-4.30pm weekdays, and 10.30am-1pm on Saturday. It is run entirely by volunteers.
At the other extreme, a new building on South Quay is home to the National Lobster Hatchery, a fascinating place where you can learn all there is to know about lobsters, see baby lobsters growing in the hatchery, and even adopt a lobster for as little as 2.50; its the perfect gift for a friend who doesnt like fudge, and on your return journey it wont go off like clotted cream!

Treat yourself

The summer sun shining on Rocks wide golden beaches on the other side of the River Camel are a huge temptation. You dont need to take your car as theres a very good ferry service from the pier by North Quay, or from Padstow Lower Beach, which runs from 8am-5.30pm daily, depending on the tide. Pick up something from Rocks well-stocked village shop for some al fresco dining, or maybe treat yourself at the exclusive Restaurant Nathan Outlaw at the St Enodoc Hotel. If you want to stay out late, theres a water taxi that runs between Padstow and Rock. The water taxi is also available for private charter.

Go green

Padstow is the start of the 18-mile long Camel Trail and because it is relatively flat, thanks to it being on the route of a disused railway, it is suitable for cyclists of all abilities. Being off-road, it is also suitable for families and there are places where you can stop and watch the wildlife or enjoy some refreshment. There are cycle hire facilities at the major routes along the way and a cycle hire shop is right at the head of the trail itself, next to Padstow Harbour. Daily rates are very reasonable, but in July and August you may prefer an evening cycle ride, which is a quieter time of the day, and available at reduced rates.
Walkers are well provided for as Padstow lies on the spectacular 360-mile long Coastal Path between Bude and Saltash, and on the Saints Way, a footpath that runs for 28 miles overland from Padstow to Fowey.

Enjoy the view

Follow the path at the end of North Quay and you are very soon high above the town and river. At the top of the hill is the War Memorial, and there are literally dozens of seats where you can pass the hours watching the boats go up and down the Camel, so dont forget your binoculars! Children and dogs will love it up here as it is grassy and safe and away from any roads, and they can run around to their hearts content. A picnic would make it a perfect day, or wander back down the path to Greens Caf where you can sit and enjoy your food on the patio alongside some of the best views in Padstow.

Padstow Tourist Information Centre, The Red Brick Building, North Quay, Padstow, PL28 8AF.
01841 533449,

Dates for your diary

25 July: Sea Sunday takes place in Padstow Harbour
15-20 August: Camel Week comes courtesy of Rock Sailing Club
3-5 December: Padstow at Christmas the towns Christmas lights are switched on from Sunday 28 November and Padstow Christmas Festival takes place from 3-5 December, with late-night shopping on Friday 3rd

The peoples view

Sarah Freemand, Alex Cresswell and Toby the dog

Sarah and Alex (and Toby) are on holiday from Gloucestershire.
Weve come to Padstow on holiday several times, and have stayed in many different self-catering cottages over the years, says Alex. Padstow is a lovely town. I like going to some of the nearby beaches, like Trevone and Harlyn, and surfing and spear fishing. I lie on the beach and sunbathe, says Sarah. Toby likes the beaches too and Harlyn is dog-friendly!

Margaret Garrod and Anne Wood

Margaret and Anne help to raise funds for the RNLI. We run the Lifeboat stall here on Thursdays, and whenever there is an event like Lifeboat Day, says Anne. Margaret has lived in nearby St Merryn for 25 years, and Ive lived in Padstow for five, but neither of us would want to live anywhere else. Its lovely here and the people are so friendly.

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