Padstow was once a working port with a large fishing fleet and import and export vessels coming and going. Padstow still does retain a small fishing fleet but in more recent years it is mainly a yachting haven and tourist destination. The dramatic North Cornwall coastline and numerous sandy beaches make Padstow the ideal summer holiday destination, if you add to this the walking, bird watching, water sports and fantastic restaurants you will see why Padstow unlike many seaside resorts is an all year round destination.
Padstow’s TV chefs.
Most people when they think of Padstow will think of Rick Stein. Whilst Rick Stein is undoubtably Padstow’s most famous chef, there are others that are well worth visiting Padstow for in their own right, including Paul Ainsworth (No.6 restaurant 1 Michelin star) and Nathan Outlaw (St Enodoc Hotel 2 Michelin stars). There are many other places to eat out in Padstow, if you wish, you could eat at a different location every night of the week. For more information and contact details please click this link.
The Doom Bar is a well-known shipping hazard, so much so that a local Ale is named after it! The Doom Bar is actually a large sand bar that partially blocks the entrance to the Camel estuary and has been the cause of many shipwrecks.
The Doom Bar is particularly dangerous to sailing ships as they enter the mouth of the estuary as the loss of wind due to the cliffs can lead to them being swept onto the Doom Bar.
The Black Tor Ferry carries passengers between Padstow and Rock everyday throughout the year.
Rock water taxi also runs passengers across the river Camel. Full details of this service can be found at Rock water taxi they run Easter to the end of October in the evenings but please check their website for full details or phone 07778105297.
Footpaths, Walking and Cycling
The South West Coast Path runs on both sides of the River Camel estuary and crosses from Padstow to Rock via the Black Tor ferry. The path gives walking access to the coast with Stepper Point and Trevose Head within an easy day’s walk of Padstow.
The Saints’ Way long-distance footpath runs from Padstow to Fowey on the south coast of Cornwall.
One of the most popular National Cycle Network routes within the United Kingdom, the multi-use eighteen mile Camel Trail follows the route of the disused railway. Most of the path is fairly level and traffic free except the section through Wadebridge and some minor road crossings, the path isn’t only popular with cyclists, additionally dog-walkers, ramblers, runners, wheelchair users and horse-riders also frequent the trail. It is additionally a haunt of nature lovers – birdlife is plentiful and butterflies love the protected cuttings, while reptiles and mammals are usually seen at dawn and twilight once the path is quieter. The river Camel, that runs along the path for much of its’ length, is one among the best in the country for otters…….although they aren’t very popular with some of the numerous anglers who frequent the river banks!
The path is open, free of charge, three hundred and sixty five days a year, what is more there are a number of free car parks on the route. Wadebridge, Padstow and Bodmin towns provide most things you will need as you navigate the trail – food, drink, bike hire, binoculars, walking boots, fishing gear, wheelchair hire – while a public house and some tea rooms offer welcome relief on the ‘out of town’ sections. Look out for the tricycle that’s an environmentally sound mobile cafe.
Cornwall Council and also Camel Trail Partnership manage and maintain the trail with conservation in mind with also the environment being a major consideration, this is not a straightforward task considering virtually 500,000 individuals who use the path annually.
May Day (or ‘Obby ‘Oss Day as some call it) is the biggest day in Padstow’s year. It is commonplace to have up to 30,000 locals and tourists packed into this small harbour town. Padstonians from around the globe are drawn back to their roots. The origins of the festival are buried in the mists of time, some people say the celebration has its roots in pagan times, others that it is a rain maker, more commonly that it is a fertility festival, maybe a deterrent to a potential landing by the French in centuries past or possibly a welcome to the summer. One thing is sure though it is a tradition that shows no sign of being lost as the young and old alike join in with the merry making.
May eve is when the celebrations begin with locals gathering around the Golden Lion Inn to sing traditional songs such as Night song. By morning, Padstow has been dressed with foliage and flowers placed around the Maypole. With the arrival of one of the Obby Osses the festivities can begin. There are two Osses the red and the blue Oss and as the name suggests, their form is very loosely based on that of a horse. “Teasers” prod and encourage the Oss as they dance through the streets and some of the public houses. As they make their way around town they try to catch or entice girls to dance with them, some say that if a girl dances under the Oss she will fall pregnant that year!
On Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, it’s traditional for a few residents to don make-up and parade through Padstow singing ‘minstrel’ songs. This ancient British winter celebration that happens each year in Padstow, was originally a part of the pagan heritage of winter time celebrations that were frequently celebrated everywhere in Cornwall. People would disguise themselves and dance by changing the colour of their faces or sporting masks.