Thursday, 6 June 2013

A weekend to remember in Polzeath and Trebarwith Strand

Our IT Manager Jon Vernon has shared this fantastic account of an idyllic weekend picnicking, surfing, sandcastling and walking in North Cornwall:

One of the many joys of living here on Dartmoor is that if the urge takes us we can swap the brooding drama and sweeping landscape of the high moor for the coast pretty easily. What’s more, we’re blessed with two coasts to choose from – the rolling hills and scenic bays and estuaries of the south or the rugged and often stormy north coast are both within an hours drive. As a surfer, with a swell running the north shore is the big draw, so with a good weather forecast on the cards we packed up our VW camper van early on Saturday morning, picked up some barbecue provisions from our local deli and were on the road for an impromptu overnight camping trip.

In little over an hour we were parked up enjoying a picnic lunch at our favourite clifftop campsite at Polzeath with fantastic views towards Pentire Head in one direction and the Camel Estuary and Stepper Point in the other. The beach here is a huge expanse of golden sand at low tide with fantastic rockpooling and sandcastle building opportunities.  Due to a shallow profile and the shelter of the cliffs, it’s one of the safer beaches in North Cornwall to learn surfing, with several surf schools operating from the beach in the summer months and daily lifeguard cover.

It’s also a great base for walking - one of our favourite stretches of the South West Coast path runs north from here out to Pentire Point and beyond to Port Quin via the striking rock formations known as The Rumps.  A plaque here marks the spot where Lawrence Binyon wrote his poem “For The Fallen” in 1914. It’s a stunningly beautiful spot, and easy to see how it inspired such a poignant poem.

This time we choose to spend a lovely relaxed afternoon on the beach – I head in for a quick surf whilst my wife Liz and our little boy Harry have fun digging castle fortifications and splashing about in the rockpools until we hear the call of the ice cream van.  Later, we fire up the barbecue and enjoy local steak and grilled asparagus and a few glasses of red wine as we watch a spectacular sunset with the sound of the waves crashing on the cliffs below us. Moments like this are the reason we chose to move to the West Country and really couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

There are very few things finer in life than an early morning surf, and this is exactly what I do the following morning.  The swell has dropped a little overnight, but so has the wind and I manage to catch some cracking waves before most people are even awake. After a quick play on the beach (more sandcastles!) and breakfast we pack up the van and head on up the coast to Port Isaac. The village is a little gem, with tiny cottages and narrow lanes tucked away in a steep sided cleft in the cliffs. It’s still a working fishing harbour with several boats tending pots out in the bay and a busy inshore lifeboat station. It’s a great place for a wander followed by lunch in the Mote on the slipway.

After lunch we head on to one of our favourite places– Trebarwith Strand. The cliffs and rock formations here are  just incredible with a fast flowing stream snaking  down the valley and tumbling down over the rocks to the beach. Choughs and Peregrines nest in the old quarry workings here and there is a stunning walk along the coast path to Tintagel Island. The tides and currents can be fierce here and the surfing is not for the faint-hearted but it’s a fantastic place to watch big winter storms. The tide is in when we arrive so there is not much beach to play on, but we’re happy just to take in the view in the sunshine for a little while before winding our way home to Dartmoor after a great weekend.