Parts of Cornwall can feel sleepy and close down in winter yet this can never be said of Padstow. At less than half an hour from Coombe Mill it is a great day out for the family. Over the Christmas holidays the Harbour was buzzing with life, the surf style shops open for business and the smell of fish and chips filled the air. If you visit before Christmas the lights are beautiful, when our children were younger fish and chips watching the Christmas lights was an annual event. This year I took my mother and mother in law together with two of my 12 year old children between Christmas and New Year on a glorious sunny day and it unexpectedly turned into one of the happiest days of the winter holidays.
We parked along the end of the camel trail; this begins just a mile from Coombe Mill and finishes at Padstow along the old railway line. It is about a half mile walk from here to the centre. I love to see the boats moored up and the view across the estuary which was simply stunning in the winter sun.
Jed couldn’t resist reliving the few childhood memories of climbing on the giant sand digger, which was parked up for the holidays. His dare devil antics had diminished none with age as he leapt from the top to the soft sand below.
We perused a few shops and ate pasties on the Harbour front like real tourists in our local town.
A few more heart stopping moments for me as Jed climbed down the inner Harbour wall to peer into boats and holes within the wall which I assume were some form of high tide defense.
There is the beautiful walk from the Harbour up over the cliffs and down to a collection of sandy coves. It is under a mile to the first of these and easy terrain to the first too if you have buggies or the elderly, and open fields to the side if you have boisterous tweens playing football along way.
We wandered on to the second beach cove which opens up into a beautiful Sandy Bay at low tide. The kids were in there element running around with Jed’s new Christmas football while the mums and I soaked up the sun.
Did I mention how warm it was? Jed, hot from his football playing, stripped down to his boxers and went for a swim.
Guy and I had been in the sea the previous day, but with full wetsuits. This was the gutsiest swim I have seen in a while, you could be mistaken for thinking it was midsummer, though I’m sure the water temperature said otherwise!
Every good walk needs a little adventure. Jed and Clio ran ahead on the way back exploring hidden pathways. They came across a disused bunker and couldn’t wait to explore inside. With the help of phone torches the clambered in and looked around. Clearly they weren’t the first to discover this judging by the graffiti; however to them it was a secret discovery and a highlight of their day.
If you are staying at Coombe Mill I can thoroughly recommend a day trip to Padstow, even in the winter holidays it has plenty to offer for families of all ages. Our visit is one we will all remember fondly.
Tips for visiting Padstow with children
Parking is tight and limited in the town centre; we turn down by Tesco on the approach to Padstow where parking is free and walking in safe along the end of the camel trail.
Hiring bicycles from Wadebridge and cycling to Padstow is a great option with 5 miles of flat estuary cycle path.
Padstow Harbour is suitable for buggies and wheelchairs, but watch out with young children as the Harbour edge has no wall.
There are plenty of public toilets in the town that are well maintained and currently still free to use.
Treat yourself to lunch out you are spoilt for choice from pasties and fish and chips to luxury restaurants. Rick Stein is the big name in food with many resultants and food shops for every budget.
All the big name surf fashion shops can be found around the Harbour and will be open even on bank holidays; the same cannot be said for much of Cornwall.
If walking to the beaches, take a towel, kids will get wet even in the winter holidays. Jed ended up using my scarf to dry off!
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