Last weekend my husband Chris and I decided to make the most of a rare child free and work free weekend to take a trip to one of our favourite places – Cornwall. Unfortunately due to it being the school hols, our options were somewhat limited with prices inflated and a number of places imposing a minimum number of nights… But we were not to be defeated! Or more to the point Chris wasn’t, as he is the research king and also pretty good at sniffing out a bargain too, so between the two of us we planned a blissful long weekend away. Here (numbered but in no particular order, because we’re indecisive and can’t make a decision 🤣) is our Padstow Top 5!
1. Dennis Cove Campsite
There is a huge range of accommodation available in Cornwall to suit a variety of tastes; boutique hotels, bijou guesthouses, private rental houses and apartments, Bed and Breakfasts, caravan sites, and of course, camping! Being on a budget we were looking for the cheaper option, and we discovered some Cornish camp sites unfortunately charge sky high rates and impose a weeks minimum stay during the school holidays. Not so at Dennis Cove. We were able to book a camping pitch with electric hook up for the two of us and our car for only £32.50 a night – so our three night break only cost £97.50, which we think is pretty bargainous for a camping pitch for a weekend during August.
The site is ideal – they state it’s a ten minute walk, but I’d probably say its more of a fifteen minute walk into central Padstow, which we still think is awesome. (Not a fan of campsites where you have to drive everywhere!)
There is a hill down to the main path which is then flat all the way into town, but we negotiated it twice a day with no problems despite me being one of the most unfit ladies around. We also enjoyed spotting the various wildlife inhabiting the area surrounding the campsite, including ducks, butterflies, and even (we think) a heron. You’re never too old to feed the ducks it seems!!
The toilet and shower facilities are basic, but always very clean. Most importantly, there was always plenty of loo roll and there is a hair dryer at reception available for use (with plugs in the bathroom so you have access to mirrors when blowdrying and straightening.)
Another positive is that they have outside vendors visiting – we were lucky enough to arrive on a Thursday which is pizza night (did they know I was coming!?) and they also have a coffee van visiting certain mornings.
2. Padstow Harbour & the surrounding area
Padstow Harbour is one of the most famous images of the town – in fact it’s the first picture if you image search on Google. It’s a small, picturesque harbour right in the centre of things, and makes for a pretty awesome sunset!
The surrounding streets are a delight to wander, with many of the towns streets lined with bunting, and some of the pubs have fantastic floral displays. There are a variety of art galleries, independent shops (including a Christmas Shop!!!), pubs, restaurants, and take away outlets including of course several pasty and ice cream shops!
You can’t mention Padstow without mentioning Rick Stein, and the famous chef now has so many businesses in the area it is often nicknamed ‘Padstein’. We had a little mooch at his deli on this visit and bought a few goodies, but we dined elsewhere this weekend. Chris took me to the Rick Stein Cafe on my birthday in Jan 2017 – they do a particularly good value set menu, but unfortunately that wasn’t on until the week following our visit. Definitely worth checking out here if you’d like to try Rick Stein food but want a bit more bang for your buck! Pics from that visit below:
Up the hill from the harbour you will find the War Memorial, offering a pleasant walk out of the hubbub which gives you views across the estruary and over to Rock.
When we were a bit worn out on Saturday afternoon we plonked our blanket down on the grass nearby and watched the world go by (and the tide go out) while doing some research to plan our next adventure. Which is why the pics above are from our last visit – this time we were too chilled to take photos!
3. The Camel Trail & Camel Valley Vineyard
The Camel Trail is an 18 mile trail that runs from Padstow to Wenfordbridge (or the other way around, depending where you start!), following the Camel River which it takes its name from. It can be used by walkers, cyclists, horse-riders and wheel-chair users. Having been converted from a disused railway line, it’s mostly flat (woohoo) and surfaced making it easily accessible to all. Since honeymoon I’ve been cycling a little, and when I spotted the Camel Valley Vineyard was on the trail, I suggested it to Chris.
We booked bicycle hire with Trail Bike Hire, who charge £18pp for a ‘premium’ bike which has a better seat and panniers, and was handily located for us a short walk from the camp site at the start of the trail. Other bike hire places are available – but we found these guys very friendly, the bikes appeared well looked after and we were given all the necessary kit to take on our trip.
The trail is in three main sections, and the first we tackled was from Padstow to Wadebridge, which is 5.5 miles. The views headed out of Padstow are stunning, particularly when the tide is in but they were impressive when coming back too. There are plenty of benches along the way if you need a pause and lots of photo opportunities. The trail even takes you through a disused slate quarry! Wadebridge contains a section of the trail which follows the road, but also has plenty of facilities if you need to use the loo or want to grab a picnic to take on your way, both of which we did!
Our destination for the afternoon was Camel Valley Vineyard, which is a further five miles along from Wadebridge, mostly under the cover of trees which was refreshing on a scorching hot August afternoon. There is a steep incline up the hill to the vineyard entrance, but it’s all worth it when you park your bike up and see the beautiful vines and the shop with the terrace, from which you can take your glass and admire the vista.
You can purchase wines by the half glass (68ml), glass (125ml) or bottle, and they have a range of red, white, sparkling and still, along with ciders and soft drinks. Having quaffed a glass each, we were a little unimpressed when my husband asked to sample (an open bottle of) the cider before purchasing, and the staff member refused said they only do samples when it is less busy, while there were no other customers in the shop. But oh well! He purchased and it was nice enough. I had a glass of the ‘Cornwall’ Brut to start, which was nice, but the real delight was the Pinot Noir Rose Brut which tasted absolutely glorious in the sunshine amongst the vines and brought back memories of it being used at the (Cornish!) wedding of our good friends Sammy and Fab last year! It’s won several international awards and has also been used at royal functions – definitely recommend you have a glass of that if you go. If you can’t get there yourself, Waitrose stock a selection too!
You can of course take a tour if you wish, of which there are two to chose from that run at 2.30 dependent on the day you visit. We didn’t on this occasion as being an inexperienced cyclist, then having cycled ten miles and had two glasses of fizz, we weren’t sure how long it would take us to get back and our bikes needed to be returned by 5.30pm! The lovely @Carolyn.Eaton off of instagram described her tour with Bob as ‘a highlight of her summer’ so I’d be keen to go again and take a tour, but maybe with a designated driver so I didn’t have to worry about my wino legs? If you’re a regular/more competent cyclist, I’m sure you’d have no problem. Hopefully one day perhaps they will also put on an earlier tour so I can do both!?
4. The Golden Lion
We discovered the Golden Lion on our visit to Padstow for my birthday back in January 2017, when very little was open and choices were limited (we even failed at the chippy – both of them!), but luckily the staff at the Golden Lion found us a table and fed us well. So well in fact, we took my Mum and Step Dad back two nights later.
So we decided to return and booked a table in advance for the Friday evening after our cycle. It’s essentially a pub/restaurant, with a great atmosphere, reasonable prices, and huge portions of delicious food. (I failed to finish my fish and chips!) It is also the home of the legendary ‘mystical garlic bread’, whereby a ‘long time ago’ (seemingly 18 months we’ve now discovered) we had some incredible cheesey garlic bread but however many ciders and proseccos later neither of us could remember where that delectable cheese smothered garlic infused ciabatta came from… Until last Friday, when the mystery was solved!!
I went for the fish and chips – a huge piece of fish in a satisfyingly crispy batter, with a mound of peas (I was given the choice of mushy or garden, garden peas are one of my fave veg so this was very pleasing!) and a generous portion of chips. Chris had the burger and chips, again the meal was very generous in portion size and he was particularly impressed with the quality of meat and the bun the burger came in. Neither of us were overly impressed with the chips on this occasion unfortunately, but everything else (and particularly the insanely good cheesey garlic bread that we probably need to schedule another trip to Padstow for, which while no longer a mystery will always be a legend).
Overall – YUM! Oh and they had Rattler on tap so hubby was happy. Good to know there is a B&B there too with breakfast included starting at £125 a night.
Where: 19 Lanadwell St, Padstow PL28 8AN
5. Rojano’s in the Square
Those who know me, be it in real life or Insta know I LOVE ITALIAN ❤️ and the last time we were in Padstow we had our eye on this place having spotted arancini (another of my obsessions) on the menu, but it just wasn’t meant to be as they were closed over my birthday weekend. So we booked well in advance (beware – £25pp deposit which is non refundable if you cancel with less than 24 hours notice) for the Saturday night, which we were glad of as there was quite the queue when we arrived!
Situated in an eighteenth century former bootmakers, the restaurant has indoor seating, plus an upstairs outdoor balcony and an glass covered downstairs patio area with further seating which we were lucky enough to sit in. The doors weren’t closed until later on so it was lovely to feel like you were sat outside enjoying the lovely evening without being totally exposed to the elements. The restaurant had a lovely atmosphere – it felt special without being stuffy, a young couple sat behind us were in their hoodies and flip flops while an older couple next to us had a sweet little pooch, everyone was welcome. They even brought out a blanket for a little girl who was up past her bedtime and wanted a cwtch on her Dads lap.
First course was always going to be – ARANCINI 🤤 Probably one of the priciest starts I’ve ever had at just short of a tenner (£9.50 to be precise) thankfully it was a generous portion with five of these heavenly balls provided. Glad we had chosen to share as for a start this would have been too large a portion for me, particularly of something so carb heavy. These arancini were made from a bolognese and parmesan risotto served with truffle and a Madeira mayonnaise, and topped with more parmesan. Divine!! I thought these were absolutely delicious, but Chris found them a little too rich and prefers when the filling is placed in the middle of the arancini rather than through the risotto mix. I on the other hand am not that bothered – just give me the arancini!!!
For our mains we decided to share a pizza and a pasta. We went for the Italian pizza, which has parma ham, soft boiled St. Ewe egg, and basil on a red pesto and San Marzano tomato base. Chris wasn’t keen on the pizza sauce, which he found too rich (a theme is transpiring?), I liked it but wasn’t blown away. The egg was a vibrant colour and cooked perfectly. The parma ham was nice but I’ve been spoiled with some incredible parma ham recently, and this wasn’t the best I’ve had despite being the priciest – overall the pizza while nice just wasn’t overly exciting. For pasta, we had the chicken and rigatoni option, which disappointingly only had four piece of chicken in. The pasta did taste incredibly fresh which was lovely, and we both found the red pesto more agreeable on pasta than pizza and enjoyed the accompanying tomatoes and onions. Again, the dish was nice and elements of it tasty, but overall considering the fact it’s a Paul Ainsworth restaurant, the location and price of the dishes, we were perhaps expecting a little more.
The couple with the dog ordered pudding, the only pudding on the menu in fact, and it looked an exciting treat. Inspired by Roald Dahl, it’s called ‘Whoopsie Splunker’ (translated: something absolutely marvellous) and essentially a bowl of soft serve ice cream with little pots of interesting toppings including popcorn and the like. Unfortunately we were both full so had to decline, but maybe next time!
While our mains didn’t have us shouting from the rooftops, I really liked the vibe of the place, our waiter came across as genuinely friendly and we had a great bit of banter with him, the arancini were in my opinion truly scrumptious and I had a nice glass of house wine while Chris had the excellent Padstow Sunshine Cider made by the folks at Polgoon Vineyard for the Padstow Brewing Company. Would I return? Yes, but I think I’d try the burger!
Where: 9 Mill Square, Padstow PL28 8AE
Other bits & bobs…
Pasties – We had a coronation chicken pasty from the Padstow Pasty shop on the corner in Mill Square, having previously enjoyed pasties from the Cornish Pasty Company next door on previous visits. The coronation chicken could have done with more filling, but the pastry was top notch – perhaps we should have gone for the steak? It’s definitely worth wandering around later in the afternoon when some shops will reduce them significantly.
Ice cream – We visited Harbour Ice Cream in the uh, harbour, twice over the weekend. No hazelnut (sobs) and the standard chocolate was so-so but really enjoyed the clotted cream and honeycomb. (Honeycomb fast becoming my new hazelnut, M&S do a fab one at the moment!)
Boat Trips – There’s a ferry that goes regularly from the harbour over to Rock, we didn’t go on this occasion but we went on my birthday last year and had a lovely walk and a fizz stop. Apparently back in the day Rock was a summer haunt of Wills and Harry, while Gordon Ramsey owns a home there now.
Fish & Chips – Steins fish and chip shop is pretty famous and had huge queues for both takeaway and sit in so we’ve never actually braved it (though heard good reports and I’m determined one day) but when we’ve visited on day trips previously we’ve always had a good meal from the Padstow Fish and Chip Cafe.
Beach – There is no beach at Padstow, but we were in Cornwall so there is a wealth of beautiful beaches with crystal clear water in the surrounding area! We went on our final day so wanted to keep it simple, Trevone was only a couple of minutes in the car, had a large car park that was £4.50 for the day and great facilities (including shop, takeaway cafe and toilets) despite being busy during the holidays.
That’s it for now – hopefully I’ve given you a few ideas to plan your trip to Padstow! If you have any places you think I should visit next time please let me know below in the comments. Thanks for reading! Lizzie xxx