Fairbourne

Fairbourne is on the edge of Snowdonia and as such is surrounded by beautiful countryside. It has a long sandy beach and it’s very own narrow gauge steam railway, which runs to Barmouth. The village itself: well it’s unfair to judge a seaside village out of season and in the rain, perhaps, but there really isn’t much to say about it. It was founded, apparently, by Mr McDougall, the flour man, as a seaside resort.

See the photos here.

See Fairbourne on a map.

Barmouth

Barmouth is in North-West Wales, where the sun never shines. That’s okay because it’s dark and Victorian Gothic and if the sun came out the monsters would wither and Scooby Doo would have nothing to do.

It may sound as if Ian and Julia didn’t enjoy Barmouth but they like dark Victorianly Gothic places with mist and spookiness. It’s also home to the Arousal Café (sadly closed when we visited) and the world famous Las Vegas Amusements. What’s more, Snowdonia is on the doorstep and the countryside is utterly beautiful.

We stayed in Ty’r Graig Castle which is WW Greener’s old holiday house. Again, very Gothic. There are probably amazing views, too, but we saw mostly mist.

See the photos here.

See Barmouth on a map.

Carlyon Bay

First, imagine travelling through the town that time forgot. It didn’t forget it during the time of the dinosaurs though. Nor even during the Middle Ages or Victorian times. It forgot it in the 70s when, Ian and Julia suspect, most of the current residents were in their 70s themselves.

(This might not be true. It’s just how it looks.)

Then you reach a car park which is quite a way from the beach. That’s okay when it’s a nice walk. It’s not okay when the walk is through a building site. It’s even less okay when, at the end of the walk through a building site, you reach what is basically a building site on a beach.

The bay is beautiful but utterly spoilt by the development and Ian and Julia weren’t at all optimistic that it would be much better once the development is finished. It’s too much. A great shame.

See the photos here.

See Carlyon Bay on a map.

Porthpean

It turns out St Austell isn’t on the coast and therefore doesn’t have a beach. It also has a confusing road system. So our journey to what finally turned out to be Porthpean was a little convoluted and probably didn’t put Ian and Julia the best frame of mind to appreciate this little beach on the “Cornish Riviera”. Ian and Julia have never been to the actual Riviera but they can safely say that, when they do, if it’s like this they shall be very disappointed. Porthpean beach isn’t horrible but there isn’t all that much to recommend it.

See the photos here.

See Porthpean on a map.

Watergate Bay

Watergate Bay is a lovely big beach in North Cornwall. Apparently it’s famous! Ian and Julia didn’t know that though. If we had known, we might have pretended we didn’t like it, just to be different. But we didn’t know and we did like it, a lot. Firstly, you can buy bacon butties there, from the great Venus Cafe. The bacon is lovely although there wasn’t quite enough of it. Can there ever be enough? Ian thinks not. Secondly, the beach was big but simultaneously snug and the sea and surf was beautiful.

Thirdly, ice-cream! Bacon, sea and ice-cream! Crumbs. Ian had a lovely honeycomb one.

See the photos here.

See Watergate Bay on a map.

Porth

Porth means port in Cornish, hence its near universal appearance in place names around here. This Porth may have been a port once but is now mostly a caravan site within sight of Newquay. There’s a nice enough beach, some new apartments, a pub and a tapas bar too. You’ll need to take a picnic and some overnight things if you plan on going to the sea when the tide’s out as it’s a quite a trek.

See the photos here.

See Porth on a map.

Newquay

In what is quite probably every paddler’s dream, Ian and Julia stayed in a beach hut at Tolcarne Beach, on the edge of Newquay. The accommodation was basic but when you’ve got the beach quite literally on your doorstep what do you really need? Somewhere to sleep and somewhere to sit, that’s all! (Also somewhere to have a wee, it’s true, and fortunately you didn’t have to go far for that.)

Tolcarne beach is pretty and the waves are incredible, roaring as the narrowing bay squeezes them together. The weather during our stay was incredible (for Britain during a school holiday) and the beach was quite busy, but in a nice way. And when you stay in a beach hut, you get to see the day-cycle of the beach. You wake up and it’s just you and the sand and the water and the sun. Then some keen people arrive to grab their spots for the day and the beach gradually fills up. You do, if you’re that way inclined (and Ian certainly was), get to feel a little smug that you have a special little part of the beach that is (temporarily) your own. Through the day you get to watch how girls line their towels up neatly and boys kind of drop them and then as evening approaches people drift off to have their tea and slowly you get the sand and the water and the setting sun to yourselves again.

Ian and Julia did rather like it.

Ian and Julia didn’t, however, like Newquay itself very much. Quite possibly they are several decades too old to fully appreciate its charms. But no matter how hard a town might try, it can’t undo the beauty of the coast.

See the photos here. (There are lots and they’re great.)

See Newquay on a map.

Mawgan Porth

Mawgan Porth is similar to Porthcothan in that it is a small cove with a deep beach and lovely views. However, whereas Porthcothan seems to be fighting the relentless tide (excuse the pun) of tourism Mawgan Porth has embraced it. The village seems to be mostly: car park, pubs, holiday park. Also, the beach is somehow not quite as pretty as the one at Porthcothan.

See the photos here.

See Mawgan Porth on a map.

Porthcothan

Ian and Julia are back with their paddling feet on after a bit of a break, with a trip to Cornwall. First stop, Porthcothan, which is a pretty little bay on the north coast. The beach is very deep (when the tide’s out) with lots of interesting rocks, nooks and crannies. There is lots of space and a lot of exploring opportunities. It’s the kind of place the Famous Five would have had a splendid adventure at. The waves are big and surfy. There is a tiny village with not a lot in the way of tourist facilities, which makes Porthcothan a lovely place.

This was Ian and Julia’s first Atlantic paddle. The Atlantic Ocean is very cold.

Ian had 2 scoops of Kelly’s Cornish ice-cream (butterscotch and honeycomb) and it was very tasty.

See the photos here.

See Porthcothan on a map.