Located on the North Cornwall coast, Padstow is a charming working fishing port. It boasts a picturesque and busy waterfront and is surrounded by dramatic coastline and spectacular scenery. The area around Padstow is designated an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ with lovely cliff and country walks and a choice several superb sandy beaches with no less than 7 beautiful sandy bays within a five minute drive.
For foodies, Padstow is a dream destination as the town majors in fresh, locally produced food and is famous for the restaurants of celebrity chefs including Rick Stein and Paul Ainsworth.
History of Padstow
Padstow was originally called Petroc-Stow owing to to the Welsh missionary St Petroc, who arrived in Trebetherick around 500AD. St Petroc is still remembered in the town, as the Parish Church still bears his name. From 1899 until 1967 Padstow railway station was the westernmost point of the former Southern Railway. The station was the terminus of an extension from Wadebridge of the former Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway. Until 1964, Padstow was served by the Atlantic Coast Express – a direct train service from London – but the station was closed in 1967. The old railway line has now become the Camel Trail – a very popular footpath and cycle path with a route skirting the River Camel. One of the railway mileposts can now be seen embedded outside the Shipwright’s Arms public house on the Harbour Front.
Things to Do
No trip to Padstow would be complete without spending an afternoon crabbing – a cheap and entertaining way to while away a few hours – regardless of your age. Crab lines can be bought from many of the shops around the harbour and then all you need to do is find your spot, drop your line and see what you can catch!. Once you have lured some crustacea onto your line put them in a bucket of sea water for passers by to admire – and when you are ready to go home return them to the harbour and treat yourself to an ice-cream!
There are a variety of boat trips available from Padstow Harbour from the gracious Jubilee Queen to the traditional speed boats offering “high speed trips around the bay”. There are also several mackerel fishing boats operating fishing trips from Padstow which you can book in advance from Padstow Angling Centre.
Eighteen miles of the disused Padstow to Waterloo railway line have been turned into a cycle track and walkway. Known as “The Camel Trail”, after the River Camel that it follows, the Trail is popular with visitors, walkers and bird watchers alike. You can buy cycle maps for the Camel Trail and other Cornwall Trails from Padstow TIC.
Cornwall is lucky to have an exceptionally mild climate and as such the gardens in Cornwall are unique. As well as having some great gardens close to the town, there are plenty more less than an hours drive away. Cornwall’s most famous garden is the Eden Project which is 20 miles from Padstow. A visit to this, one of Cornwall’s and the UK’s premier horticultural attractions is a must.
There are several outstanding coastal links and parkland courses in the surrounding area or you can also try your hand at Green’s Crazy Golf with its great view of the Harbour.
The area is great for walking and what variety! The SW Coast Path passes right alongside as it wends its way through Padstow on its journey northwards towards Hartland Point and west to Land’s End and beyond. This truly spectacular national footpath attracts walkers from all over the country whether out for an afternoon stroll or just passing through as they attempt the complete (or part) 360 miles route. And if the Coast Path is not what you are looking for there are several other walks in and around the town. The Padstow Circular Walk is a fine example. Starting at the harbour, the 7 miles (10km) walk takes in a huge variety of interesting scenery from the estuary sands to the exposed headland and the rolling green fields that are such a prominent feature of the area. You can walk the coastal path on both sides as well as the Camel Trail and the Saint’s Way which, as the name suggests, is an ancient route connecting Padstow with the port of Fowey on the South Coast.
The Camel Estuary has excellent water sports facilities – sailing, surfing, water-skiing, kayaking, wind & kite surfing, paddle boarding, coasteering, wake boarding and banana boating are all available locally. Please note that you need to talk to the Harbour Master in Padstow before launching your own vessel anywhere on the Cam.
Padstow is a mecca for those who love their food as Padstow’s culinary reputation is renowned. Soak up the hustle and bustle of harbour life, then dine on locally caught fish, lobster, crab and seafood, for which Padstow is so well known – accompanied by a wide variety of vegetables and produce grown nearby.
Intimate and family restaurants, cafes and bistros rub shoulders with cosy tearooms and welcoming pubs. From harbourside cafes to Michelin starred restaurants, from pasties to traditional fish and chips there is something to suit every taste.
Padstow can attribute its gourmet reputation to Rick Stein and his variety of restaurants around the town – but he is no longer the only chef making his name from seafood landed on the quayside and fresh local produce plucked from the countryside in view as Nathal Outlaw and Paul Ainsworth are just two more of the local Michelin starred food heroes