Naomi Wilkin­son’s Corn­wall

When it comes to get­ting away from it all, Naomi Wilkin­son feels the lure of the sea strongly… and it draws her to the north coast of Corn­wall

Countryfile Magazine - - Contents -

Corn­wall. Just hear­ing the name makes me happy, evok­ing thoughts of breath­tak­ing scenery, rugged coast­lines, en­tic­ing surf, de­li­cious ice-cream, salty hair, sandy toes and all the things I look for to reen­er­gise and re­cu­per­ate.

In 2005, a close friend of ours took us to the Pen­tire head­land in North Corn­wall and I fell in love with the area. My hus­band and I have been back many times since to ex­plore the sur­round­ing area.

Last year I was set the task of learn­ing to surf for a chil­dren’s TV show and I was hooked from the se­cond I caught my first wave. I’m now the proud owner of a Cor­nish-made surf­board and I get a huge thrill, not to men­tion a hard work­out, every time I wade out into the waves. My surf­ing spot of choice sits next to Pen­tire: Fis­tral Beach. The head­lands at ei­ther end of the beach cre­ate some epi­cally pow­er­ful waves, but if con­di­tions are be­yond my lim­its, I’m just as con­tent to sit back and watch the pros show­ing off their skills.

I’m at my hap­pi­est surf­ing at Fis­tral Beach. We’ve stayed in so many places nearby that I’m sur­rounded by a whirl of my favourite mem­o­ries. Fis­tral Beach Ho­tel and Spa is one such place and no­table for its mag­nif­i­cent sea-view rooms. In 2008, my then fi­ancé and I were look­ing for a wed­ding venue with a beach-feel and, af­ter dis­cov­er­ing the Water­gate Bay Ho­tel, we knew right away that it was where we wanted to tie the knot. With its con­tem­po­rary decor and panoramic sea view, it ticked all our boxes. The hon­ey­moon suite is the best ho­tel room I’ve ever stayed in: it oozes lux­ury with a free­stand­ing roll-top bath in the bed­room’s bay win­dow and a top­notch break­fast from the ho­tel’s restau­rant, Zacry’s. The ho­tel has un­der­gone many en­hance­ments in re­cent years – as have the prices, sadly! It now boasts spa fa­cil­i­ties and a fab­u­lous in­fin­ity pool… it’s my dream haven for some tran­quil R&R.

Where to eat? You can’t go wrong with the fish curry in Rick Stein’s restau­rant, which is per­fectly po­si­tioned right on the dog-friendly Fis­tral Beach. It has a laid­back, ca­sual vibe and is in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar, so be pre­pared to en­joy a drink while a ta­ble be­comes avail­able. The curry is well worth the wait.

If you’re af­ter a slightly more spe­cial night out, I rec­om­mend a windswept walk along the coastal path to

Lewin­nick Lodge. If you’re lucky, you’ll be treated to a spec­tac­u­lar sun­set while din­ing on their de­li­cious food. Just think­ing about their seafood lin­guine makes my mouth wa­ter. And re­mem­ber to keep your eyes peeled for dol­phins.


If you want a lit­tle ad­ven­ture, head up the At­lantic High­way to Wade­bridge where, af­ter hir­ing bikes, you can pick up the Camel Trail, a dis­used rail­way track that will take you to Pad­stow and be­yond if you’re feel­ing fit. Bikes cost £15 per day to hire. You’re in for a 10-mile re­turn jour­ney, though, but it flies by as there are so many dis­trac­tions to pedal past, in­clud­ing won­der­ful views, the pretty banks of wild­flow­ers and plen­ti­ful bird life. The whole ex­pe­ri­ence is an ab­so­lute joy.

Pad­stow ri­vals St Ives as the pret­ti­est fish­ing port I know, but I sug­gest you visit out of sea­son, if pos­si­ble, as you can barely move for tourists in the sum­mer. Once there you can grab an ice-cream at Har­bour Ice or a cream tea in Cherry Trees cof­fee house (cream on top, ob­vi­ously – you are in Corn­wall!), ad­mire lo­cal artists’ work in the many gal­leries and, if you’re pre­pared to get a bit wet, take a spin around the Camel Es­tu­ary in a speed­boat. No need to book, it costs £7 per per­son and you’ll laugh your head off all the way round. Dry off in the breeze as you ride back, then un­wind by watch­ing the sun set over the ocean with a cold glass of wine, know­ing you’ve done a de­cent day’s ex­er­cise and de­serve it… bliss!

“I was hooked on surf­ing the mo­ment I caught my first wave”

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