| | Padstow, on the north coast of Cornwall, has recently become a well known name nationally and internationally because it is home to Rick Stein and his celebrated fish restaurants. They have received international acclaim and are widely publicised through his TV programmes and books on the art of preparing, cooking and serving fish dishes.
Padstow Harbour is well known in its own right, being one of the few safe havens for boats along the entire length of Cornwall's Atlantic Coast, though they must navigate the dangerous "Doombar" before entering the safety of the harbour. Between 1760 and 1920 there were over three hundred shipwrecks in this area. During the early fifties the Padstow lifeboat, then based at Rock, was the largest and one of the most used in all England.
Padstow is also famed for its May Day celebrations, at the centre of which is the ancient "Obby Oss" parade through the narrow streets of the town and harbour.
The harbour is the focal point of Padstow. There is much to see, and many a pleasant hour can be whiled away observing the comings and goings of this busy little port. There are opportunities in the season to take boat trips from here to see the calm and sheltered Camel Estuary as far upstream as Wadebridge. There are also coastal boat trips (booking required), which will take you out for the day to observe the rugged and dramatic North Cornwall coastline. Many of the smaller fishing boats can be hired for fishing and pleasure trips from the harbour.
There is a ferry service that operates in daylight hours, departing from the main quay (except at low tide) to cross the river to Rock on the east side of the Camel Estuary.
Padstow is still very much a working port. Small fishing boats go out from Padstow to haul in crab pots, each boat having its own marked out territory offshore.
The larger netting boats travel many miles to fish in deep ocean waters, whilst the trawlers skim the sea bed for flat fish.
Much of this fresh sea harvest can be sampled in Padstow's many and varied eating establishments.
The bulk of the catch will go to market and end up anywhere in the United Kingdom or Europe, particularly France and Spain.
The Camel Trail and National Cycle Route 3
The number of visitors to Padstow has increased greatly due to the Camel Trail finishing at Padstow Harbour, some twenty six miles from its opposite end on Bodmin Moor. The most popular part of the trail is to cycle or walk the six miles from Wadebridge, at the head of the Camel Estuary, to Padstow. This provides magnificent views of the estuary and its wildlife; look out particularly for the many species of 'wading' birds to be seen along the water's edge. For walkers, there is some excellent, though quite strenuous, coastal walking to explore in the immediate vicinity of Padstow.
The beginning of National Cycle Route 3 is formed by the Camel Trail from Padstow to Bodmin Moor. The route continues from Bodmin Moor, passing close to Camelford and then on to Bude, Holsworthy, Petrockstowe, the Tarka Trail, Exmoor and the Mendip Hills before the final destination of Bristol. There are off-road sections, but the majority of this long distance cycle path is on quiet country roads with superb scenery. If you are planning a cycling holiday in the West Country, try to take in the off- road sections of the Camel Trail and Tarka Trail they are both picturesque and very rewarding.
The Saints Way
The Saints Way is an ancient route used to cross from one side of Cornwall to the other, early traffic would have been predominantly merchants from Europe crossing the land to take a sea passage to Ireland. Today the route has been restored as a coast to coast footpat, starting at the church of St Petrock in Padstow and ending in Fowey . Saint Petrock is thought to have lived in the Padstow area from the 6th Century, the present church constructed in his honour was built in 1425
Church of St Petrock 1425AD
"wagon" roof, many of the oak supports are original. Note the stone carving of St Petrock and the carved bench end to the right of the high altar.
Situated above the town, Prideaux Place has extensive views over the estuary and surrounding countryside. Essentially an Elizabethan house, which has been home to the Prideaux family for over 400 years.
Over many years, the house has been extended and the interior decor altered to suit the fashion of the period. There are collections of porcelain, paintings and antique furniture with many interesting items of family memorabilia. The house has undergone much restoration in recent years and is open to the public for guided tours from Easter to early October.
In times past. Padstow relied heavily on fishing, particularly the catching and curing of vast quantities of pilchards. During the 17th/18th Century the port was busy shipping out copper ore from nearby mines, slate and agricultural produce. Such bustling maritime activity led naturally to the growth of shipbuilding.
A further boost to trade in Padstow was given by the arrival of the railway in 1899, which lasted until the 'Beeching Axe' in 1967. From the early 1900's, the railway brought an ever-increasing number of tourists to sample the delights of the North Cornish Coast. This was the furthest destination point of the famous Southern Railways "Atlantic Coast Express", which left London Waterloo at 11 o'clock each day, arriving here some nine and half hours later, having shed carriages along the way bound for other destinations on the coasts of Devon and Cornwall
Sir Walter Raleigh lived in Padstow for a period of thirty years, when he held the post of Warden of Cornwall.