One of North Cornwall’s main market towns, Wadebridge is an excellent base from which to discover the county. The town sits on the Camel Trail giving both cyclists and walkers access to over 18 miles of largely traffic-free paths in some of the most spectacular countryside in the South West, as well as to the sea at neighbouring Padstow.
Wadebridge acts as a hub for many popular Cornish towns and villages, with a good mix of shops, market and a varied calendar of events including the Royal Cornwall Show and The Cornwall Folk Festival.
Nearby Padstow is a popular seaside resort and home to the National Lobster Hatchery, Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant and other Michelin Star restaurants. The picturesque coastal town is reminiscent of a bygone era, with many fishing vessels sitting in the bay, white washed houses and cosy taverns and cafés.
Bodmin Moor is also easily accessible from Wadebridge along the Camel Trail offering miles of walking across rugged moorland, steeped in mythical legends. Tintagel Castle, said to be the birthplace of King Arthur, is just a short drive away. The castle ruins are perched on top of dramatic cliffs and are well worth a visit for the views alone.
For those seeking out a beach, Wadebridge offers good access to some of the best beaches in the country with the popular surfing beaches at Newquay close by, as well as the quieter beaches of Polzeath and Harlyn Bay.
A holiday cottage in Wadebridge offers the ideal base for exploring the stunning coast, countryside and moors of North Cornwall.
An English Heritage site, St Breock Downs Monolith is a massive stone that stands near the summit of the St Breock Downs, offering beautiful views of the surrounding countryside and across to the sea. It is the largest and heaviest monolith in Cornwall, and dates back to the late Neolithic/mid-Bronze Age (around 2500–1500 BC). You can visit any time in reasonable daylight hours and it’s free of charge, however there aren’t any facilities or coffee shops when you’re there, so it’s not one to stay at all day.
The National Lobster Hatchery is a unique organisation whose work in conservation, research and education separates them because they work specifically with a commercial species. A charity based in Padstow, their work helps to make lobster sustainable in the UK, as the species alone is worth an estimated £30m a year. Both the Scandinavian and Mediterranean stocks have completely collapsed, so the hatchery aims to ensure global food security for future generations by facilitating the survival rate of eggs in the wild. When you visit you can learn all about their work and support conservation. They are open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10.15am, but opening times are seasonal so keep an eye on the website. Prices are £12 for adults or £6 for children.
Offering kayaking tours, SUP sessions and coasteering in picturesque Cornwall, Cornish Coast Adventures is all about tours on the water and getting to see the area from one of its prized assets – the sea. Based at the family run Scarrabine farm in Port Quin, between Polzeath and Port Isaac in North Cornwall, it’s a beautiful way to explore the sheltered harbours, huge caves and old shipwrecks under the watchful guidance of friendly guides. You can book family tours, classic kayak tours and adult-only adventures whether you’re a beginner or a thrill seeking pro.
A welcoming restaurant in a lovely stone building which was once a library and meeting room, and retains many of its original features. Friendly staff serve beautifully presented food made with fresh local produce for lunch and dinner.
Bridge Bistro 4 Molesworth St, Wadebridge PL27 7DA (T: 01208 815342)
A rocky beach in a narrow, sheltered cove, Port Quin Beach is close to Port Isaac, and is only accessible at low tide. Its rugged landscape is beautiful to see, but its location means that it’s largely popular with seasoned walkers and those looking to go snorkeling and kayaking. Unspoiled and peaceful, it reveals a treasure trove of rock pools when the tide is out, and the nearby village is largely deserted, having once had thriving fishing and mining industries. Today both the cove and the village are owned by the National Trust and there is a car park courtesy of them in Port Quin. Dogs are banned between Easter and October, and there aren’t any facilities nearby – it’s all about enjoying the peace and quiet.
Since the arrival of Doc Martin on the small screen, Port Isaac has soared in popularity, and the pretty little village with the historic harbour, which also serves as the beach, has become instantly recognisable. Still an active fishing village with crab pots scattered about, the sand stretches between twin piers at low tide and has a small stream and lots of rock pools to explore, so it’s ideal for children. Dogs are allowed on the beach all year round, and as it’s at the centre of the village there’s easy access to shops and all facilities including public toilets. The car park for the town is a 10-minute walk away, and while there are a couple of parking spaces on the beach itself, just make sure you park above the high water mark, or keep an eagle eye on the tide!
A sheltered beach on the north Cornwall coast, Port Gaverne Beach is in a narrow cove just east of Port Isaac. It’s comprised of sand and shingle with lots of rock pools to explore at low tide. In the summer months it can get quite busy given the popularity of the location and its suitability for families. Surrounding walks along the cliff path are delightful and at high tide the beach is favoured by divers. There’s also a slipway and it’s sometimes used to launch boats because of the easy access from the road. Thanks to it proximity to Port Isaac half a mile away facilities and restaurants are nearby, and the beach welcomes dogs all year round. You can also park in the village although there is limited road parking by the beach itself.
Best known as a surf beach, Tregardock Beach is only accessible by footpath, which offers beautiful views of the water and Port Isaac as you head down. It is quite a stroll and the terrain is bumpy, so it’s not an ideal beach to visit with children. The path can also get quite muddy, so keep an eye on the weather. There’s a seasonal ban on dogs from Easter to September, and there aren’t any facilities in the immediate vicinity of the beach. When the tide goes out, several small beaches become one long stretch of sand, and there’s a waterfall cascading down the cliffs at the back of the beach as well as caves to explore, so it really is a little paradise hidden in the landscape. Because it’s not easy to access, it’s usually quiet at this beach, but parking along the roadside near the farm at Treligga is very limited, so it’s a good idea to head over as early as possible and make sure you don’t get cut off at high tide.
Two miles from Tintagel, Trebarwith Strand Beach on the north Coast of Cornwall is easily accessible and is owned by the National Trust. A long stretch of sand, it’s backed by flat rocks and steep cliffs, but check the tides before you visit because people often get cut off in the summer months. Once there, there are caves to explore and rock pools containing a wealth of sea life. It’s been the setting for a number of films in its time, but these days it’s all about swimming (when lifeguards are on duty between May and September) and exploring. Dogs are allowed on the beach all year round, and there are two car parks – the main one is a bit of a walk away, and a smaller one is closer to the beach. There’s also a handful of roadside parking spaces.
Toad Hall Cottages
Call: 01548 20 20 20
Toad Hall Cottages
Call: 01503 272303
Devon & Dorset Cottages
44 Church Street
Call: 01297 443550