Just exactly when North Cornwall became a millionaire’s playground and food lover’s paradise isn’t clear. A friend tells me his family had a house in the beautiful seaside village of Rock 25 years ago and sold it back then for about 50 grand. The same house is now worth over a million, so shall we take a stab at some time in those years. Coincidentally, the Steins arrived in Padstow circa 1974, though it would be some years before the empire would swamp the town.
It is impossible to ignore the celebrity in these parts; Jamie Oliver brought his social enterprise 15, to Watergate Bay in 2005. There are glittery, Michelin Stars shining in Rock with chef Nathan Outlaw and of course, the onslaught across the bay in what is now known as “PadStein”. Nevertheless, there is a wealth of fabulous food, drink and accommodation that comes, thankfully, without the celeb price supplement.
If you can fight your way past the souvenirs of Chalky the Dog and everything from facial scrub to scones bearing Rick’s moniker, there is a real gem tucked away down Middle Street in Padstow. Paul Ainsworth, No 6 serves modern Cornish food that manages to be both sophisticated and unpretentious at the same time. Paul now holds a Michelin Star but don’t let that put you off, there is an approachable set lunch menu giving you a chance to try his fantastic food.
It is rare for me to eat at the same place more than once but the 15th century St Kew Inn just a few miles inland keeps drawing me back. It is the perfect place to hole up by the fire with great beers, wines, and fab pub food when the weather drives you indoors, or hang out in the garden should you get a glimpse of sun.
A couple of kids on the block are looking set to give some of the older names in North Cornwall a bit of a run for their money. I suggest you close your eyes and ignore the hotel housing both The Wild Café and Herring Restaurant. There is nothing wrong with The Bedruthan Steps Hotel if you have a brood of young kids to entertain. However, if you want unashamed luxury coupled with a hefty eco tag, an ayurvedic spa and NO kids, then nip through the grounds of Bedruthan and head towards the beach, you’ll pass the Scarlet Hotel on the way. It is gorgeous.
Accommodation on this trip is at the five-star self-catering house Treverra Farm Cottage in Rock. Every aspect of this place sets it apart from what you would traditionally expect from a holiday cottage starting with the Jo Malone toiletries, Sophie Conran crockery and White Company linens and towels. There is an infinity pool with views across the bay , tennis court and a kitchen garden. With a kitchen complete with Rayburn that I would be more than happy to have at home the desire to cook takes over. No supermarket sweep here as within a good walk there is a Malcolm Barnecutt’s Bakery and Deli, and Sharps Brewery to pick up a few local beers. Slightly further afield Porthilly Farm shop sells fresh shellfish and a fair number of farm shops for everything else. It’s a wonder I ever came home.