Situated near Newquay and Padstow, Watergate Bay is a fantastic place for a holiday. The beautiful sandy beach is surrounded by high cliffs and is popular with families as well as surfers. In fact, several years ago the two mile long beach hosted the English Nationals Surfing Championships. For the last five years ‘Polo on the Beach’ has been held in Watergate Bay – over 2500 spectators gathered on the beach last year despite the inclement weather. The day was rounded off with food, champagne and live music at ‘The Hotel’ above the beach. The Bay was also the location for the TV series ‘Echo Beach’, made in 2008.
I visited last spring and loved every minute of my holiday in Watergate Bay. It is much quieter than the busy resort of Newquay just down the coast. The coastal path runs along the top of the cliffs and it is a very pleasant walk either south to Newquay or north to Padstow – or you can go much further if you are the active type – the path runs all the way around the Cornish coast.
I spent my first couple of days soaking up the sunshine and catching up on my reading. I was delighted to discover that TV chef, Jamie Oliver had opened a new restaurant ‘Fifteen Cornwall’ just above the beach. I treated myself to lunch – the menu was mouth watering and the food certainly lived up to its reputation. Being the greedy type I tried to get a reservation for the evening to sample the dinner tasting menu but unfortunately, they were fully booked.
South along the Coastal Path to Newquay
I decided to walk off some of the calories and set off along the coastal path to Newquay. I spent a very pleasant couple of hours exploring the fishing port and the narrow cobbled streets with their quirky shops, galleries and bars.
I popped into the Tourist Information Office and picked up a leaflet about the town trail. This is a series of discs made of Cornish slate placed in strategic positions around the town. There are fourteen of these discs and they are over three feet in diameter, making them hard to miss. The discs have a riddle relating to their position and you can learn some of the history of Newquay. You set off from Killacourt in the centre of town. I walked the trail and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Back to Watergate Bay
I returned to Watergate Bay for dinner in ‘The Hotel’ brasserie – spectacular views over the bay and the food was good too.
The following day I decided it was time for some more strenuous activity. I checked out some of the surf schools along the beach at Watergate Bay. They offer loads of different activities including surfing (obviously), kite surfing and kite buggy. You can hire equipment and wet suits from the schools but I chose to take a kite buggy along the beach – it was low tide, so plenty of room for manoeuvre. It was great fun – I think I may become addicted!
After another lovely lunch at Mr. Oliver’s establishment, (I worked my way through most of the menu during my stay!) I decided to sleep off my excesses on the beach. Another perfect day at Watergate Bay.
North Along the Coastal Path to Padstow
Next morning the weather was not brilliant and I thought a brisk walk along the coastal path north to Padstow would be just the thing. The scenery was stunning and the cliffs are teeming with bird life including curlews and egrets and many, many more. The display of wild flowers at this time of year is spectacular.
Along the way I looked down at various small coves including Mawgan Porth, Trevose Bay, the Bedruthan Steps and several others not named in my guide book. Arriving in the village of Padstow, which is situated on the west bank of the River Camel, I made a beeline for the nearest hostelry and a much needed pint of the local ale.
Tourists have been visiting Padstow since the introduction of a rail service from London in the late 19th century. This route was serviced by the ‘Atlantic Express’. The fishermen still operate out of the busy harbour and supply many of the local fish restaurants with a wide variety of fresh fish, but the main business of the town is definitely tourism.
After my pint and an enormous Cornish pasty, I wandered down to the harbour and boarded one of the vessels offering a cruise around the bay. The harbour is full of leisure craft of all types.
Back on dry land after my trip around the bay, I settle down with a drink at one of the many harbour side bars and watch the world go by. What a lovely way to spend the day but I have to make my way back to Watergate Bay – I don’t want to get caught in the dark on the coastal path.
Au Revoir Watergate Bay
It’s time for a lazy day, close to base after all my walking yesterday – I take a good book and go down to the beach. After a light lunch at the famous Beach Hut restaurant, I decide to explore the nearby village of Tregurrian – not much to see actually.
Call in to ‘Fifteen Cornwall’ on the off-chance that they had a table for dinner tonight – and yes I’m in luck! Got dressed up and headed out at 8.00pm – decided to order the dinner tasting menu – WOW! You’re probably going to hate me for this – I’m going to tell you what I had. I started with fennel salad with oranges and hazelnuts followed by clam risotto. Next came pan fried brill with mussels and herbs and I finished off with honey and pine nut tart with honeycomb and ice cream. Obviously, I had to have an espresso and chocolate truffles before I could go home.
Sadly, it’s time to leave Watergate Bay before I put on any more weight – but I will certainly be back!