The approach into Newquay is a spectacular one as you descend through the clouds on a sunny late winter’s afternoon. Below you lies a tapestry of green and brown fields punctuated by wind turbines and white specks of sheep as they run across the fields. After a boisterous descent and landing you disembark. It’s a small but perfectly formed airport more akin to an RAF base from the forties than some grandiose international airport. After a quick luggage collection you hop into a taxi and head to The Plume. The journey should be no more than fifteen minutes.
After light chit-chat, you engage with the cabbie, a friendly chap who I later find out is a black belt in Jujitsu (so a handsome tip is clearly in order). We ask the simple question – we’re here for three days what would you recommend as a local? The cabbie came alive and, in the fifteen minute cab ride to the Plume, began to give us an itinerary we just had to share.
He started with beaches, but not the obvious choices, this was a guy who was taking us away from the tourist trap. He told us to start at Polyjoke Beach – a spectacular starting point, and much less crowded than Fistral. After Polyjoke, he said we must visit Crantock, which in the summer he likened to some Carribbean beach, less crowded and simply unmissable. If you’re near Crantock, we had to take in The Gannel Estuary beach too he said. The best thing to do is park up at one of the National Trust car parks and just wander.
He then mentioned his most favourite beach – a go-to for any family outing. Gwithian Beach, secluded and breathtaking – a must-visit any time of the year, and only 30 minutes from the Plume.
Moving on we spoke about towns and villages we simply must see.
Perranporth, he described as a lovely town that has to be on your bucket list when on a break in Cornwall. He said we must come back for St. Piran’s Day which happens every 5th March, when the streets are filled with black and white Cornish flags as celebration of the industrial heritage of Cornwall. He then jokingly mentioned the first Cornish surfboards that were made by a local Perranporth undertaker, who fashioned them from coffin lids! – only in Cornwall.
After a wander round Perranporth, he suggested Porthtowan for a Sunday roast at the Eco Park, where every year he attends the Tropical Pressure Festival (12th – 14th July) – not too commercial and great for families.
We then turned to great activities for kids. He spoke passionately about brilliant weekends at Lappa Valley – a fabulous outing for the family that includes riding a vintage steam train to secret attractions like The Engine Room, Pirate Ships, Adventure Golf, woodland walks and trampolining. This was clearly going to be added to the list as the younger element of our travelling party got extremely excited at the prospect.
As if that wasn’t enough, he suggested a longer trip out to Tintagel Castle and St. Nectan’s Glen. Although a slightly longer journey for the family, Tintagel Castle is inextricably linked to Arthurian legend, and if you’re brave enough to cross the footbridge, a mythological treat awaits all who venture there. Meet Gallos the giant bronze statue of the king, explore Merlin’s Cave and witness stunning coastal views.
For a real wow-factor, our cabbie suggested while we were near Tintagel Castle we take in Nectan’s Glen and Waterfall – a truly tranquil, naturally formed granite pool, sculpted over the millenia by its waterfall. We promptly added both of these to our itinerary.