Lets move to... Cornwall life explores the town of Camelford
PUBLISHED: 11:55 25 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:48 20 February 2013
Camelford, in the shadow of Bodmin Moor, is a great place to live. It's a friendly community and a wonderful centre for all kinds of activities, writes Ian Wilkinson
The ancient and attractive town of Camelford is only a few miles from the North Cornish Coasts spectacular beauty and all-year-round visitor attractions. Yet the town itself is largely ignored by the thousands of holidaymakers who flock to this part of the world in search of sand, sea and a good time.
Its a quiet little place and you get the impression that life hasnt changed too much here in the last couple of hundred years and is unlikely to change much in the next!
The rather splendid golden camel that adorns the weather vane on the town hall roof rather reinforces the view that in the past the town, or at least the river, had some connection with the ship of the desert. Sadly, the reality is different but just as interesting. In ancient times the town was known as Camalanford the cam meaning crooked stream and alan meaning beautiful, and the ford is self-explanatory. Over time the name was shortened to Camelford, and the town emerged as a major crossing point for travellers bound for the market town of Wadebridge in the south or Launceston, Cornwalls former capital, to the east. The towns position on this medieval trading route was the basis for its growth and relative affluence, and its importance is reflected in some very fine buildings that still survive.
Today its a friendly little town with everything you need for day-to-day living, excellent public services and a strong community spirit, which all make it a good place to live!
What can I get for my money?
There is a good and varied housing stock in and around Camelford and prices are very reasonable compared with the coastal towns and villages, and indeed with much of the county as a whole.
A four-bedroom detached bungalow in a non-estate setting, and within walking distance of the town centre, is on the market for around 235,950, and a substantial four-bedroom modern house with double garage and games room is priced at 235,000. The asking price for a modern three-bedroom semi in a pleasant traffic-free location is 179,950, whilst a new two-bedroom apartment on an affordable shared-ownership scheme is 41,625 for a 45% share.
If you are looking for a period property, there is a converted chapel just outside the town, which is on the market for around 450,000. At 420,000 there is a modern, three-bedroom detached split-level bungalow in a secluded spot next to the river, while a rather more modest three-bedroom bungalow situated in a quiet area of the town is on for 235,000. At the first-time buyer end of the market they have a small two-bedroom semi for 145,000.
For many years Camelford was connected to the outside world by a splendid railway line that connected with Wadebridge and Padstow and Exeter and London Waterloo. Indeed, one of Britains most prestigious trains, the Atlantic Coast Express (ACE for short) graced the route, and during the summer it was hugely popular. It closed in the 1960s.
The nearest railway stations are Bodmin Parkway or Liskeard, both of which connect with the mainline Penzance to London Paddington trains. However, Camelford sits right on the A39 trunk road. Known as the Atlantic Highway, this often picturesque route connects with Wadebridge, Truro and Falmouth in the west and Launceston in the east. As far as bus services go, Camelford is served by Western Greyhound, with routes to Wadebridge and Newquay (for the international airport) and to Launceston and Exeter.
Shopping and eating out
The main street, Fore Street, has many small independent retailers. There is a superb old-fashioned local butcher in Market Place, and further up Fore Street there are two green grocers, a chemist, a pet supply store, a pasty shop, a small supermarket and a gallery. Fore Street is quite steep but right at the top is a medium-sized Co-op that is well stocked.
Down by the River Camel theres the Riverside Restaurant that serves traditional English cuisine, whilst a few yards away on Fore Street is an interesting looking Ghurkha restaurant. Also on the river, opposite Camelford House, is a nice-looking caf which does homemade cakes and pasties, and again, on Fore Street itself, there are two pubs both of which serve food. I had lunch in the Masons Arms and very good it was. This old coaching inn sells local ale and locally sourced food. Its got low ceilings, stone floors and a nice open fire, together with an impressive array of collectables such as old signs, weird machines, pewter tankards, cups and bottles.
Out and about
Theres plenty to do in and around Camelford, particularly if you are fond of the great outdoors. In the town itself I found a delightful riverside walk. It is accessed from an ope off Fore Street and meanders along the River Camel over a series of footbridges. In winter it is quiet and tranquil but in the summer months it would make a wonderful spot for a picnic. The town has a rather nice park, Enfield Park, which was once the site of the towns gas works. There are still traces of the old mill leat but it is now a tranquil spot.
A museum that is well worth a visit is Davidstowe Airport Museum, which was set up to commemorate the work and people of this former RAF station. Apart from the museum, there are organised coach trips around the airport, some of which (including the control tower) is still intact. And if, on your trip, you think you can smell cheese you are not mistaken. The adjoining creamery is where the famous Davidstow and Cathedral City cheeses are made.
Camelford is such a great place to live, but dont take my word for it, go and take a look for yourself!