North Cornwall’s awe-inspiring cliffs are carved by many small streams, but the River Camel is only ‘gateway’ through which tidal waters can flow far inland. Although huge sandbanks are uncovered at low tide, the broad and sheltered estuary is bright with boats during the holiday season. Near its mouth, broad sands provide fine surfing. West of the Camel stretch reefs of rock, while east of Pentire Point there are high cliffs with breezy footpaths.
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Treyarnon – Low cliffs sprinkled with a few houses shelter sands washed by a stream. A natural swimming pool in the rocks provides safe bathing at low tide.
Constatine Bay – Fences and marram grass, erected and planted to prevent erosion, pattern the dune overlooking this sandy, surf-washed beach. Dozens of rock pools are exposed at low tide.
Trevose Head – Nearly 250 ft above the sea, with splendid views north eastwards towards Hartland Pount and southwards beyond Newquay, sits Trevose Head.
Padstow’s lifeboat is based on the sheltered eastern side of the headland where the North Cornwall Coast Path skirts Mother Ivey’s Bay. The bay – a mixture of rocks and low tide sand – is said to take its name from a formidable old woman who claimed any wreckage found on the shore.
Harlyn Bay – The discovery of a large Iron Age cemetery in 1900 made Harlyn Bay famous in the archaeological world, but the museum built on the site was demolished in the 1970’s to make way from houses. Most of the relics may now be seen in Truro’s museum. The horseshoe shaped bay, half a mile across, faces north and the sandy beach, is often pounded by surf.
Trevone – The village street slopes gently down to a sandy beach, crossed by a stream, with low cliffs and scattered outcrops of rock. The surf can be impressive. Th path over the headland passes Round Hole, which appeared when the roof of a sea cave collapsed. Another path leads to Newtrain Bay, where rocks give way to sand at low tide.
Padstow – Today it is a culinary hotspot known around the world. The base of TV chief Rick Stein’s seafood restaurants and often referred to as ‘Pad-Stein’ due to the many businesses in the town that make up his business empire.
The little town is seen at its most lively and traditional on May Day, when the Obby Oss festivities take place. This ceremony, like the flora dance in Helston, is believed to have origin in a pagan fertility festival celebrating the coming of summer…. [ Read More ]
Wadebridge – Sand, silt and the opening of the railway in 1899 combined to end Wadebridge’s long history as a port. The old days are recalled by quays which flank the Camel below a bridge that dates from 15th century. It replaced a dangerous ford overlooked by chapels where travellers could pray before crossing. The bridge’s piers are said to be built on woolpacks which provided solid foundations on the river’s muddy bed.
The Camel is seen at its best from a path which follows the abandoned railway line (now the Camel Trail popular with cyclists) to Padstow and is never more than a stone’s throw from the estuary. The walk tales 2-3 hours and shirts Dennis Hill, where a monument commemorates Queen Victoria.
The Royal Cornwall Show is held in Wadebridge in June.
Rock – The old quay at Rock is the main centre for sailing and water skiing on the Camel. Its small, stone-built warehouse, originally used to store grain, is headquarters of the Rock Sailing Club. The narrow road beyond the quay ends in a car park sheltered by dunes which run down to a beach with wide expanses of sand at low tide. The beach is a departure point for a ferry service that has linked Rock and Padstow since the 14th century.
There are pleasant walks northwards over low cliffs and St Enodoc golf course extending to Daymer Bay and Trebetherick.
Trebetherick – A narrow leafy lane runs down from the village to Daymer Bay where the sandy beach, backed by dunes, is framed by low cliffs. Offshore is the Doom Bar, a sandbank which has claimed many ships when the estuary was an important commercial waterway.
Polzeath – Polzeath and New Polzeath overlook the extensive sands of Hayle Bay, where westerly winds provide perfect conditions for surfers. The Greenaway, a short walk from Polzeath, is a pleasant expanse of springy turf above a rocky shore where the ebbing tide leaves many pools. Views across the Camel estuary are dominated by Stepper Point, a lofty headland crowned with a day-mark tower built as a landmark for sailors.
North of New Polzeath, where steps lead to the beach, paths to Rumps Point cross the banks and ditches of an Iron Age fort.
Lundy Bay – The 10 minute walk from the road to Lundy Bay passes a spectacular natural arch created when the roof of a sea-carved cave collapsed many years ago. The path swings down to a beach where slabs of smooth rock give way to sand at low water. From the path which follows the cliffs westwards towards Rumps Point there are wide-ranging views up the coast to Tintagel.
Port Quin – Headlands patchworked with fields sweep down to an attractive inlet where low cliffs surround a beach of shingle and low tide sand. The tiny hamlet, whose cottages are dashed with spray during winter gales, was uninhabited for many years in the 19th century. Local tradition maintains that the women and children moved out after Port Quin’s fishing boats and crews were lost in a storm. In fact, most families emigrated to Canada when the antimony mines closed near Doyden Point. On Doyden Point stands a 19th century folly, Doyden Castle. It was built in 1839 by Samuel Symons of Wadebridge as a clifftop retreat where he could drink and gamble with his friends.
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