Polzeath, Cornwall

IT was good weather for ducks and surfers as we arrived at our holiday destination on the north Cornwall coast.We had neither feathers nor wetsuits to protect us from the driving wind and rain, but that didn’t totally spoil the start of our October half term short break.
From our apartment, up a hill in the village of Polzeath, we could enjoy sweeping views across Hayle Bay. The windows stretched the width of the living area, while its two bedrooms faced the sea, too.
Beyond the golden beach and countless surfers riding the renowned waves was the rolling greenery of Pentire Head, and we could only imagine what a colourful sight it would be on a cloudless day.

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We were staying at The Oystercatcher, a refurbished St Austell Brewery pub that in the past has proved popular with keen surfers Prince William and Prince Harry.
It was re-opened in May following a huge extension which involved the transformation of its bar and dining areas. The contemporary restaurant and outdoor terraces now reflect Polzeath’s surfing credentials and make the most of the sea views.
We dined there one evening and judging by the fact every table was taken the work has been a great success. We certainly had no complaints about the food or service.

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The Blue Flag beach is just a three-minute walk away, and at low
tide it is huge.  Having spent the day there on a previous trip to Cornwall, in finer weather, we know how great it is for children.
Gently shelving, and with seasonal lifeguard cover, the beach is perfect for paddling or learning how to ride waves, and in Polzeath there are plenty of opportunities to do just that.
Former PM David Cameron and wife Samantha are fans of the surf here.

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After the wind and rain relented, we followed the South West Coast Path to Daymer Bay, which offers rock pools and another huge swathe of sand.
A three-minute walk from the beach, within one of the region’s best links golf courses, we found St Enodoc Church, which for at least 200 years was almost entirely buried by the shifting sand dunes.
To maintain its grants, the church had to hold a service at least once every year, and on those occasions the vicar and parishioners were lowered in through a hole cut in the roof.
The church was dug out in 1863 but the present day graveyard is still level with the roof on two sides. Poet laureate Sir John Betjeman, who lived close by, wrote about the church and was buried there in 1984.


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At the far end of the Daymer Bay is the Camel Estuary, and when the tide is out you can follow the beach around into Rock.
Known locally as ‘‘Eton-on-Sea’’, it is reputed to be home to more millionaires than anywhere else in Cornwall, and has the highest proportion of second homes in the county.
Businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed and singer Jay Kay have been known to arrive by helicopter. David Cameron goes for his favourite beer, Doom Bar, which is brewed there.
The beer is named after a sandbar at the mouth of the River Camel which has claimed many vessels. Indeed, the lone bell at St Enodoc’s comes from one of its victims.
The waters here are unusually calm and clear, making it great for kids, and the beach is fringed with high dunes which provide the perfect spot for a picnic.
From Rock you can catch the regular Black Tor ferry across the estuary to the fishing village of Padstow, with its famous restaurants and National Lobster Hatchery.
The village also marks the start of the Camel Trail, an 18-mile cycling route along a disused railway line to Wenfordbridge, via Wadebridge and Bodmin.
Largely traffic free and virtually level, it’s one of the most popular family trails in the UK, and the views across the estuary are a joy to behold.

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Also close to Polzeath is the harbour of Port Isaac, which doubles as Portwenn in the long-running TV series Doc Martin, starring Martin Clunes.
And no holiday to this part of the world would be complete without a visit to the evocative Tintagel Castle, especially now it has a new £4 million footbridge.
The 58m high steel bridge – two cantilevers with a 4cm gap in the middle – links the mainland part of the medieval castle with its island dwellings.
It recreates the original passage along a narrow strip of land which disappeared between the 14th and 17th centuries, leaving the castle divided.
Previously, visitors to the ruins – which legend has it is the place King Arthur was conceived – had to cross a much lower bridge and then climb steep steps.
It’s a magical place and I’d recommend you check tide tables ahead of a visit, so that you can also explore Merlin’s Cave on the beach below.
St Nectan’s Glen, Cornwall
Just outside Tintagel is another mysterious place, St Nectan’s Glen.
A 30-minute walk through ancient woodland besides the babbling River Trevillet brings you to a truly spectacular 60m waterfall which you can get up close to.
The foaming waters cascade through a hole punched into the basin wall and into a pool that’s shallow and flat enough for you to wade through (wellies are provided).
Said to be one of the UK’s most spiritual sites, ribbons hang from trees in memory of loved ones and fallen trees are covered in coins inserted by people making wishes.
We wished for the rain to stop and, miraculously, it came true. That was 10p well spent.
St Austell Brewery’s collection of pubs, inns and hotels are situated in some of the most stunning and character filled locations in the West Country. The Oystercatcher has nine dog friendly apartments and one cottage, most with sea views. Two-night self-catering stays start from £90, with seven-night stays starting from £290. There are a couple of convenience stores in the village for your supplies. For more information, visit westcountryinns.co.uk or call 0345 2411133.
Newspaper article here


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