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A Cornish fishing village in the Camel Estuary

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Padstow Harbour
Seafood Restaurants
Camel Trail
'Obby 'Oss Festival
When the ancient Cornish natives decided to build a settlement here, they made a good decision. Rather than being right on the coast, the site is a kilometre or so further back, on the estuary of the Camel River. This gave the new village superb protection from the strong winds. It soon became one of the most successful fishing ports on Cornwall's northern coast.
Since then, Padstow has evolved into a pleasing mess of cottages, inns and shops. Amongst the many streets full of colourful houses, the brightest residence of all is Prideaux Place, an Elizabethan manor on the outskirts of town. Even its walls are covered in leaves and flowers.
The ramshackle surroundings make it an unpretentious, simple place. This is especially true of the harbour. Boats bob up and down on the gentle waves. Children lean over the water to fish clumsily for crabs. Time marches onward through the 21st century, but somehow Padstow was left behind.

Fishing Boats in Padstow Harbour
Photo heatheronhertravels
The quay has always been the focus of the town. In the summer, this is where musicians and performers come to show off their talents. The waterside cafés do a roaring trade. Visitors can step onto speedboats, fishing vessels or cruise liners, and set off into the sea.
Unsurprisingly, seafood features heavily on the local menus. The most famous chef in town is Rick Stein, who's a familiar face on national television. As well as filming here, he has opened no less than 5 different establishments. Even so, you don't need to visit any of them to get a good meal. Just about anywhere will serve up the freshest seafood you've ever had.

Rick Stein's Cafe
Photo heatheronhertravels
Despite their appetite, the locals know how to care for their underwater neighbours. The National Lobster Hatchery, on the quayside, helps maintain the crustacean population. You can meet shellfish of all different ages, and learn about the basics of marine conservation. For a small price you can even adopt a lobster, and give it a name! The money ensures that your new friend is released safely back into the wild.
Padstow is surrounded by a beautiful and varied selection of scenery. Trails and paths spiral off in all directions, so it's easy to explore. You can skirt the coast to find sandy beaches and hidden coves, or cross the estuary to the village of Rock. However, the most popular route is along the Camel Trail. This pretty track follows a disused railway line through quiet forests and sleepy hamlets. It finishes 28 kilometres later on the border of Bodmin Moor. The trail attracts 350,000 walkers, cyclists and horse-riders every year.

The Camel Trail near Padstow
Photo batsignal
For a truly bizarre experience at Padstow, visit on May Day and witness the 'Obby 'Oss festival. It possibly evolved from an old fertility rite, but no-one really knows. The inexplicable celebrations involve two men dressed as peculiar horses, trying to capture young maidens. As they cavort through the town, they're followed by parades of musicians, singers and performers.
A more familiar celebration is at Christmas, when the locals cover their houses in all sorts of lavish decorations. The streets are busy with shoppers, buskers and singers. You probably won't have heard the songs before, as Padstow has its very own, exclusive carols. The most spectacular sight is the harbour, which is covered in an uncountable number of fairy lights. Whatever the final total is, it's doubled by the reflections in the water.
Visitor Information
Padstow Tourist Information Centre, Red Brick Building, North Quay, Padstow, PL28 8AF. Tel: 01841 533 449
The National Lobster Hatchery is open daily from 10am to 5pm (extended in high summer and limited in winter). Entry costs around £4 for adults, £2 for children. South Quay, Padstow, PL28 8BL. Tel: 01842 533 877

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