Welcome to Cornwall!
Just landed at the tiny little airport of Newquay, you can already smell the Atlantic. „Once you get out of the airplane, you can be at a beach within 20 minutes,“ says Jonathan, my tour guide for the next few days. Sounds promising! My suitcase arrives as the first one on the belt (I think I have never experienced this before) and within a few minutes, I am out of the airport. What a beautiful sunny day – all set to explore one of Britain`s most spectacular destinations.
On our way to Constantine Bay, I already get an idea of the stunning bays with their wide sandy beaches. I feel like getting out of the car and just walk along the sea, maybe also take a little swim although this could be a bit fresh at this time of the year.
Martha`s Orchard - your Home away from Home!
After a spectacular 30 minute drive, we arrive at Martha`s Orchard, a lovely complex of luxury lodges and houses in the middle of nature, just a few minutes away from a golden sandy beach. My lodge consists of three bedrooms (tough choice where to sleep…), a comfy living-room with a fully equipped kitchen and a bathroom. „If you feel like it, take a hot tub tonight. We will bring you champagne if you wish!“ says Rob, the Manager of this luxury complex. Sounds too good to be true!
Beach Time in Cornwall
But first I want to explore the area. A supermarket with everything you need (including an awesome selection of wines) is just a few minutes away. Hooray, they open at 8 am and serve espresso! Further down the narrow lane, I reach Constantine Bay with its spectacular beach, surrounded by giant rocks and lots of green. No skyscrapers, no trash shops, no Starbucks or McDonald`s … just a few nice private homes and awesome nature. Take a deep breath! I continue to walk along the coastline, meet a few people who friendly say hello and reach the next bay called Treyarnon. I spot a few surfers (yes, Cornwall is surfer`s paradise) and sunbathing people on the beach and a little café which belongs to a youth hostel. Time for coffee and a snack! A fat crow is greeting me at the entrance. We make a deal - the bird gets some food and I take a close photo, deal! The YHA Treyarnon is not the most sophisticated place on earth, but good enough to sip an espresso and enjoy a sandwich with a stunning view. God must have been in a very good mood when he created this land. I just watch the wild sea and soak in the clean air. Life could not be any better!
Next Stop: Boscastle
Time for a little excursion by car. It takes me a while until I have got used to the fact that the co-driver`s seat is on the right side. Hello – this is Britain! And yes, when crossing a street, look first to the right side. Got it? Got it. Jonathan, my driver and tour guide, passes me a handful of maps and says we print over a third of a million free maps each year and give these to tourists for free. These neat maps show all the information you need when on holiday - where the ATM’s are, dog friendly beaches, coastal walks and lovely local businesses. What’s really great is these maps can also be downloaded for free. Jonathan opens the map of North Cornwall, points and says “we are going here, Boscastle”.The drive to this lovely village takes 45 minutes. I admire the green walls (covered by all kinds of plants which makes them look like live fences) that frame the narrow streets. Cornwall is full of wonderful flowers, plants and trees, including palm trees, my favorite ones. Boscastle is one of those typical, very authentic villages in Cornwall. Although the term may be overused, I would call this place authentic! Just tiny little brick houses, a few cafés and shops and a gorgeous path that leads along a little river right to the wild sea and impressive rocks.
The Riverside Inn is possibly the best eating place in Boscastle. If weather permits, sit outside in the beautiful garden overlooking that little river. Food is tasty and good! Since the Atlantic is so close, you may go for some locally caught fish or seafood, served with a smile. For dessert I recommend the cheese platter – so delicious (and locally produced!). Funny detail: I spot a clockthat counts the number of their Facebook fans. Make sure you become one of them!
Ready for some maritime Adventures
After a lovely dinner, I sleep like a baby at Martha`s Orchard. It is so quiet here and the gentle breeze from the sea helps to get a perfect rest. I make sure to have a hearty breakfast the following morning since I will be spending a lot of time on the Atlantic. The city boy will go wild today (well, sort of…). After a ten-minute drive, we arrive in Padstow, another charming Cornish village. The speed boat of Padstow Sealife Safaris takes a few people out of the Camel Estuary to the Atlantic Ocean, in search of marine life that inhabits the coastline. „Remember this is a sea safari, not a zoo,“ says Dominic, our very knowledgeable guide. So right! „We do not get too close to the animals since we don`t want to disturb them.“ Better bring a good camera to take photos from a distance.
We spot rocks with myriads of cormorants, oystercatchers, and other birds. This is a bird (and birdwatchers) paradise! Here and there, a curious seal pops out of the water for seconds. And what a nice surprise – puffins! These colourful birds look like they are crying, I can`t help it. They are constantly hunting for sand eels for their little ones – and boy, they can fly fast and dive deep.
Amazing! A fisherboat comes by, the fisherman waves at us with a lobster in his hand. Despite our intense search we do not spot neither dolphins nor basking sharks (it may be a bit early in the season for the latter ones) but watching relaxing seals on the rocks makes up for that. And remember – a safari is not like a zoo visit! The excursion ends with a visit to the new „Padstow Lifeboat Station“ which is financed by donations – must be awesome to watch a dramatic lifeboat launch.
A Cornish Pasty
Back to Padstow, I quickly walk through the lovely alleys of this fishing village which has become a tourist attraction with its many boutiques, cafés and restaurants. Try a typically Cornish „pasty“ (yes, the "" is missing in this word!) in one of the bakeries – a baked pastry (here is the lost "r" :-)) stuffed with meat or veggies.
A fancy Lunch at the Blue Tomato Café
Time for lunch! You can either take a ferry or drive to Rock on the other side of the water. Rock is comprised of very expensive houses, a few shops, restaurants and cafés. The Blue Tomato is one of them. Hard to describe the charm of this place overlooking the ocean –a very special atmosphere and … dog-friendly! This place is full of art and fancy decoration.
Food is excellent, with quite a few veggie options and great coffee. Most of the ingredients come from the region – thumbs up! The Blue Tomato is run by two young guys. I had the opportunity to meet Matt, a showman that might be one of the reasons of success of this outstanding place.
Blue Tomato closes at 5 pm in the spring, but it does stay open until 9 pm in the summer. So summer it is for my next visit as it must be spectacular to watch the scenery from the Blue Tomato at night! Ah – you may also spot a few celebs in Rock, including members of the Royal family. And star chef Gordon Ramsay owns two houses here … for very good reasons!
All set for Sea Kayaking
I am now all ready for the next adventure, sea kayaking! Cornwall is heaven for sports and outdoor enthusiasts. It all begins with my very stupid question if I really have to wear that wetsuit. „You will definitely get wet, so get it on,“ says the friendly girl at Camel Ski School. Ok, so I peel my body into this thing which, as far as I can remember, I have never worn in my life. As a result, I have put it on back tofront … oh my gosh. Don`t tell anyone, ok? Now I am all ready and crawl into my little bright boat. Ben explains how to paddle to the left and to the right side. „Do you see the little church on the horizon? That`s your final destination. We will pick you up by boat there.“ Ok, Ben, here we go.
Paddling is pretty easy – and lots of fun. After all, some biceps exercise is good. The water is not as cold as expected, pretty pleasant. I don`t lose sight of that little church – and once I get closer, I notice a graveyard just next to it. Is this my final destination?? Not yet, please. I make a sharp turn to the left and wait for Ben to arrive with his boat. A tour along the coast is the reward for all my paddling which was lots of fun. After all, I might become an old salt! With waterskiing, wakeboarding, paddle boarding and inflatable rides also available at Camel Ski School, there’s plenty of fun options on how to explore this beautiful estuary.Thanks so much, Ben, hope to see you again soon if not very soon. I am already in love with Cornwall.
How about enjoying the Hot Tub?
Back to Martha`s Orchard, I am so much looking forward to a shower and a plunge into the outdoor hot tub … gosh, what a wonderful end of an exciting day. And a few more will follow.
Cornwall is also a very popular destination for shooting television shows andmovies. I will tell you more about this and a few more stunning beaches in my next post – so stay tuned!
How to get to Cornwall
If you are not traveling by car or by train, you have a few airline options:
Flybe offers connections to Newquay from all major UK cities
Eurowings is serving Newquay from four German cities (summer only)
Air Lingus even connects New York (!) - via Dublin - with Newquay