Autumn in North Cornwall

If you‘re looking for somewhere to soak up the last rays of autumnal sun, choose England’s own coastline. “Indian summer” in the UK often beats the Continent for cold, clear water sea food, and strolls on the beach under a sky as blue and white as a Delft bowl.

There’s more to North Cornwall than ‘Chelsea-sur-Mer’ and ‘Rock Hard,’ so called because of the gangs of post-GCSE public school kids who descend upon the area annually in search of sun, snogs, sand dunes and beer. North Cornwall’s coastline is rich in culture, history and above all, community. Drive, walk or cycle along its grassy cliffs, and you’ll find miles of hidden coves and secluded beaches, with plenty of historical and geographical hotspots along the way.

One of the most popular spots in North Cornwall is undoubtedly Rock and the neighbouring Trebetherick and Polzeath. The region boasts hundreds of other key destinations including St. Kew, Tintagel, Padstow, Port Isaac and St.Ives. All are worth investigating, come rain or shine. And it could be that you’ll be lucky and September and even October will offer a last blast of warmth and sun.

Rock’s beaches are more suited to water sports than sunbathing. Most activities are done through the Rock Waterski & Sailing Club on the beach. The tides here are fast, and the wind is unusually strong, which means skiing or sailing anywhere else in the world is a breeze.

Daymer Bay’s vast beach is ideal for swimming, windsurfing, shrimping, mussel-picking, cricket and picnics. You can stock up on hot treacle tarts and fresh floured baps at Rock bakery, but be prepared to queue.

Bray Hill is ideal for dog-walking and kite-flying. Behind is the scenic St.Enodoc golf course and the charming St.Enodoc church where Sir John Betjeman was buried in 1984. The poet was one of North Cornwall’s biggest fans. References to the area appear throughout his work. Other stunning beaches are Constantine Bay, a huge stretch of clear sand, and Lundy Bay, a series of three secluded coves set apart from any road.

Further along the coast is Polzeath, a favourite with surfers and campers. Shop here for wet suits which are essential at any time of year, surf boards and local crafts, or just pose with a bowl of chips in The Galleon or Finn’s cafe. The Oyster Catcher pub is also popular. On a windy day, walk from Polzeath to Pentire Point for an exceptional sea view.

This region is fast becoming renowned for first-class restaurants. Not only does Rick Stein offer at least four eateries in the fishing village of Padstow, directly across the Camel estuary from Rock, there’s also No.6, the latest must-go restaurant/café. Jamie Oliver has also set up camp with his Fifteen Cornwall. And there are plenty more posh eateries to be found along the entire coastline.

Wherever you go, you’ll find local crafts, exhibitions, farmer’s markets and the odd donkey derby. Cycling along the famous Camel Trail is a must for the more energetic, while a visit to Tintagel Castle, which is believed to be King Arthur’s seat, is essential. Some might appreciate The Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle. And if you’re after cobbled streets and old fisherman’s cottages head to Port Isaac, a small village set on a very steep hill dotted with quaint pubs and restaurants built around charming houses. This is the best location for fresh, no-nonsense seafood.

And don’t forget St.Ives, the inspiration for Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. It still attracts writers and artists from all over the world. Don’t leave without a long stroll around the Tate, St. Ives. Built in 1993 this gallery brings to the region some of the best art from around the world. The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is also interesting.

Whether you fancy lying and reading on an autumnal beach or a gourmet tour of some of the best restaurants in the country, North Cornwall has all on offer. And you can sigh with relief that the energetic, enthusiastic teenagers have all gone back to school.

— Mrs M


Rock Waterski & Sailing Club, Rock
Excellent tuition for every level in the Camel estuary.
07763 615222

Bridge Bike Hire, The Camel Trail, Wadebridge
Rent a bike from this place and cycle as far as you wish. Tandems are also available for family excursions.
01208 813050

Holiday Cottages
John Bray Cornish Holidays
Huge selection of affordable short-let cottages scattered around the Rock/Polzeath region.
01208 863206

Cornish Cottages

Charming farmhouses and cottages on and off the beaten track.
01208 880278


Rick Stein group; all in Padstow
The Seafood Restaurant, Riverside; St. Petroc’s Bistro, New Street; Rick’s Café, Middle Street; Stein’s Fish & Chips, South Quay: expect good quality, fresh fish and all the rest from the master chef and his charming Cornish team.
01841 532700

Fifteen Cornwall, Watergate Bay, TR8

Jamie Oliver’s latest charity venture run by locally-trained staff; reserve well in advance.
01637 861000

Ripley’s, St.Merryn

Michelin starred restaurant serving very posh nosh; book ahead.
01841 520179


St.Edmunds House
A small but perfectly formed guest house in Padstow run by Rick Stein’s team with views across the estuary.
01841 532700

Bodare, Daymer Bay, Trebetherick

One of the chicest hotels in the area, with prices to match.
01208 863210

Tregea Hotel,16 – 18 High Street, Padstow
0871 871 2686

The St.Enodoc Hotel, Rock
Central hotel that had a facelift some years ago, with rooms designed by Emily Todhunter.

01208 863394


Tate St Ives, Porthmeor Beach, St Ives
Serious works of art by respected artists from all over the world.
01736 796226


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  • North Cornwall