Sun, sea and golden beaches on the Cornish coast

“I want to go to a sandy beach. Our three-year-old’s bottom lip was set, her mind made up.

Tuesday, 30th April 2019, 2:19 pm
On the beach at Crantock

We’d driven six hours to get to Cornwall from Sheffield and we’d been promising buckets and spades all the way. So, as the sun began to set on our first afternoon on the north Cornwall coast, we left the clifftop pub where we’d eaten tea overlooking the Atlantic and headed to Crantock Beach. Online reviews said the beach could be busy, with no hope of a space in the car park. But at 5pm,as most folk were leaving, we headed in - and it turned out to be the best decision of the day. The beach was breathtaking. Acres of soft golden sand, a warm lapping tide perfect for paddling, silky sand dunes that slipped away beneath our feet as we scrambled to the top to take in the view.

“This is what I wanted,” our little girl said, and we had to agree. In the end we spent three hours on the beach, way past bedtime, filling buckets with foamy seawater to slosh into moats, collecting feathers and shells, watching the crowd change from families to teens and a photographer setting up his tripod to capture the hazy lilac, pink and orange of the fading day.

Our base for the week was Trevella Park, a small, friendly campsite in countryside near the tiny village of Crantock.

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On the beach at Crantock

We’ve stayed on campsites before, mostly in France, but this was among the best. Our clean, modern caravan was situated near reception beside a pretty field with a small grassy playground, a warm outdoor swimming pool with paddling pool, and a pets corner. There was no loud entertainment or blaring music. Just floral displays, a modestly priced takeaway, and a decently stocked shop selling the essentials - useful before we got our bearings and realised Morrison’s was two minutes down the road, and The Old Albion in Crantock served great pub grub.

The week passed far too quickly. We were blessed with wonderful weather so Crantock wasn’t the only beach we were able to enjoy. Among the best of the rest were Holywell, another stunning expanse of perfect sand, towering dunes, and a freshwater stream trickling to the sea, and Lusty Glaze, 133 vertiginous steps down to a privately-owned cove with caves and a driftwood feel - a stylish but relaxed restaurant, bar and acoustic music - where we passed an entire day with ease.

We were just 10 minutes from Newquay, surf capital of the UK with an unexpected kiss me quick air, where we passed a morning browsing the souvenir shops and visiting the Blue Reef Aquarium. A full day was spent at the wonderful Newquay Zoo, a lush oasis - more of a botanical garden than a zoo - where the lions, penguins and monkeys live in pretty enclosures surrounded by palm trees, tropical flowers, and bridges spanning streams. Our daughters loved it.

We drove out one evening all the way to Land's End, chasing the setting sun as we motored along winding country roads to reach the iconic headland before dusk. It was an atmospherically eerie place to be, and our three-year-old was captivated by the notion she'd visited 'the end of the world'.

On the beach at St Ives

We took a road trip to St Ives, a labyrinth of tiny cobbled streets, cafes, gift shops and galleries. Artists have long flocked to the tiny town for the quality of the shimmering light, and we took in the Tate St Ives - vivid modern art on crisp white walls overlooking the brilliant blue sea - and the wonderful Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. The Wakefield-born sculptor’s home and studio is now a display of her life and work, and her garden is a pocket paradise. Later we sat awhile on a strip of sandy beach, gazing at the boats bobbing on the water, and spotted a seal - surprisingly big close up, its glossy head and shiny black eyes popping up out of the waves to watch us watching it.

On our last day in Cornwall we headed to the magnificent Eden Project, pricey at £64 for an advance family ticket, but a full day of fascinating walks exploring the wonderful plants. The steamy rainforest biome with its banana trees and real rain clouds was our favourite.

Charles stayed at Trevella Park near Crantock on Cornwall's north coast, where a seven night holiday starting July 13, 2019, costs from £836, based on up to six people sharing a two-bedroom Luxury caravan. Visit or call 01637 830 308.

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Fun in the playground at Travella

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The clifftops above Crantock, Cornwall
Barbara Hepworth Museum garden in St Ives
Lusty Glaze beach, near Newquay