Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The South West's Best Pirate-themed Experiences

With the longest coastline of any of the nine regions of the UK, the South West is, unsurprisingly, a place with a strong maritime heritage.

Although the fishing industry forms a major part of that history, there were many other folk who made their living in less legitimate ways. Huge quantities of goods would make their way into Cornwall and Devon under the cover of darkness, dragged ashore into moonlit coves by smugglers. Pirate ships also roamed the waters off the coast, waiting to attack other vessels laden with cargo.

Today, those romantic times before rules and regulations were enforced are not only remembered through the arts ('The Pirates of Penzance'), sport (The Cornish Pirates rugby team) and pubs (The Pirate Inn), they are also commemorated by tourist activities across the South West.

To help you channel your inner pirate, here's a selection of the West Country's best pirate-themed days out:

Brixham Pirate Festival

Anyone looking for an excuse to dress up like Captain Jack from 'Pirates of the Caribbean' should book a Devon holiday cottage for the May bank holiday, when Brixham will be celebrating its annual Pirate Festival.

With armed thespians reenacting pirate battles, street entertainers lining the harbour and plenty of live music, it's a real hoot for the whole family. There will be fancy dress competitions for all ages, from those who have yet to develop their sea legs to salty sea dogs weathered by the years.

Buccaneer Bay

Transport yourself back in time at this Newquay live theatre attraction, where authentic-looking pirates, bossed by Captain Calico Jack, will lead you through Ne'er Do Well Passage to the Sunken Village of the Damned during a 35-minute tour filled with legendary tales and mystical creatures.

Buccaneer Bay is open from the end of March to the beginning of November and tickets cost £8.50 for adults and £5 for children, while under-fives go free.

Pirate Adventure Mini Golf

The link between pirates and golf is a tenuous one, but historical accuracy matters little at Pirate Adventure Mini Golf at the Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park. Kids and adults alike can test their accuracy trying to negotiate the galleons, treasure chests and gunpowder barrels blocking the way to hole-in-one, while learning more about real life pirates during the round.

Tickets cost £6.50 per person, reduced to £5.50 for family groups with a child under 14.

Prussia Cove

Walk in the footsteps of real-life smugglers at this spectacular inlet near Praa Sands in Cornwall. The cove is named after the notorious 18th century gang leader, John Carter, who went by the nickname 'the King of Prussia'.

Standing on the clifftop, you can picture the smugglers' boats landing on the beach under the cover of darkness all those years ago.

Prussia Cove is one of dozens dotted around the coastline that were used by smugglers. Smuggling.co.uk is a great resource for finding historic locations near to your holiday cottage, boasting interactive maps and detailed text explaining what went on. ADNFCR-1734-ID-801697413-ADNFCR