Explore the north Cornwall coast with Naomi Wilkinson

Fancy visiting the north coast of Cornwall? Naomi Wilkinson lists her favourite places to stay, restaurants to eat in and things to do.

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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. 

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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.

Naomi catches a wave ©4 Corner Images

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. 

Keep an eye out for dolphins ©Getty

Laidback luxury

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 top-notch 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.

Watergate Bay Hotel on the North Cornwall coast ©Getty

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.

The Camel Trail

Naomi pedals the Camel Trail ©4 Corner Images

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

Pretty Padstow is packed with visitors in summer ©Getty

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! 

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Main image: ©Getty