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Europe » United Kingdom » England » Cornwall » Padstow 14th June 2010 Padstow, Bedruthan Steps, Trerice, St Mawes, St Just-in-Roseland

sunny 20 °C

Today, we visited Padstow.

Rick Stein wasn't anywhere to be seen. However, his pub, patisserie, shop, café/bed and breakfast, restaurant, delicatessen, and fish and chip shop certainly were!

It has to be said that Padstow isn't everyone's cup of tea. It's pretty in parts, disappointing in parts, and full of emmets, of which we were just two. In Devon, we'd have been called 'grockles' (translation in both cases: holidaymakers, not locals!).

The town still has a small working harbour. Fish or seafood seem to be the things to eat - at least, judging by menus outside the cafés, restaurants and pubs that were on every corner.

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Beware! If you don't pay and display, your car will be pushed into the sea and, if you don't keep an eye on your chips, the gulls will have them!

We couldn't leave without being able to say we'd eaten at Rick Stein's, so queued with dozens of others of like mind at his fish and chip shop just outside the main town. The cod was fresh and well cooked, as were the chips. However, it was just fish and chips, after all. I guess he justifies the 50% more than we pay at our local chippie by adding his name, a lemon wedge and a sprig of parsley.

Leaving Padstow on our route south, we passed through Porthcothan, where friends have a holiday home. What a lovely, unspoiled area this is.

Then it was uphill to Bedruthan Steps.

We made the mistake of driving into the first car park we came to, only to discover that the free National Trust one was a few hundred yards further along the road. Only if we'd wanted an easier walk down to the beach (and thus an easier stagger back up again), would this have been the right one. We continued to Carnewas, where we were warmly greeted by the NT car park attendant before wandering over to the cliff for a view that has a definite 'wow' factor.

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The dramatic coastline around Carnewas has been a popular tourist attraction since Victorian times, when people flocked to this rugged spot with its cliffs, beaches and series of rocks and sea stacks known as Bedruthan Steps. It was a sight that truly took the Victorian's breath away - as, indeed, it did for us modern-day Elizabethans. We're not as young as we used to be so didn't venture down to the almost deserted expanse of sand; we just enjoyed the amazing scenery and the sea-loving plants that hugged the breezy cliff edge.

It was then down the winding road via Mawgan Porth and Tregurrian Hill to sea level at Watergate Bay, where Jamie Oliver has his Fifteen restaurant beside the beach. We'd originally planned to have a meal here but had opted for a Rick Stein's takeaway instead. You could kick yourself sometimes, couldn't you? Sorry Jamie.

Back uphill, and avoiding the busy tourist resort of Newquay, we continued inland to another National Trust property: Trerice. 'Tre' is, apparently, an ancient word for 'house' in these parts and 'rice' derives from 'res' meaning something to do with flowing water near the bottom of a hill. Thus, it's generally thought that Trerice means 'the settlement by the ford' - the higher tidal reach of the river in days of yore gave this ford a greater importance that it has now. Here endeth today's history lesson.

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The historic handmade glass, broken by Concorde's test flights,
was carefully repaired rather than being replaced with modern glass.

This is an Elizabethan manor house set in a peaceful wooded valley. It's changed little over the centuries (it was built in the 1570s), largely due to long periods under absentee-landlord owners. In the Great Hall, various bits of reproduction artefacts were laid out along a giant refectory table for visitors to have a 'hands-on' experience. It's the only room inside the house that can be photographed because, although the fabric of the building - the plasterwork ceilings, ornate fireplaces, and so on are original, elsewhere all the objects are on loan from somebody or somewhere. The end result is that the house doesn't feel loved or lived in and, while interesting, it has no real atmosphere.

Outside, the estate's grounds are a mixture of shrubs, topiary and mown lawns, as you'll see from the photos. There's an ancient Great Barn (now the ubiquitous tearoom) with a nearby, so-called Elizabethan Garden that seems to be the caretaker's allotment.

The top terrace is a bowling green, once a fashionable accessory restricted to the landed gentry. The game played here with wooden 'kayles' and 'cheese', Cornish names for skittles and bowling ball respectively, was called Kayling. Another game played at Trerice in its day went by the dubious name of Slapcock (whatever you do, don't Google it!!); it was a medieval game of bat and shuttle that changed its name, for the sake of propriety, to Battle Dour in Stuart times and, in Georgian times, to Paddle Whack.

As Trerice didn't warrant more of our time, we set off across country to the southern harbour town of St Mawes, a mile by ferry across the bay from Falmouth. It's 30 miles from Falmouth by road!

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Alliterative birds - Sea-going swans with cygnets.

This is an affluent and picturesque little place, with lots of holiday homes and lots of retired residents. The town takes its name from a Breton saint, St Maudez, and I think there's a church somewhere in the town by that name too. Quite a few films have been made here - 'Poldark', Agatha Christie's 'Murder Ahoy' and an episode of 'Hornblower', among others.

Just to the north of St Mawes, on the recommendation of Peter, our friend in Topsham (see blog: Topsham is tops!), we called into St Just-in-Roseland to see its unusual church.

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Here, a pretty little 13th century church is set above the tidal creek of the Percuil River. Its churchyard slopes down steeply from the road and is luxuriantly planted like a sub-tropical garden, with many species rare in England.

*****

Phew, what a full day! Our cup of tea on returning to Tregrehan (see 'An ideal base in a lovely area'), sitting among the front-garden shrubs of Game Keeper's cottage in the evening sunshine, was certainly needed.

Posted by Keep Smiling 08:57 Archived in England Tagged england cornwall national_trust

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