Cornwall Edition | 5 Beaches for an afternoon picnic {North}

Cornwall Edition | 5 Beaches for an afternoon picnic {North}

At this time of the year, my thoughts always turn to Cornwall. It is a pretty special place for us and somewhere we return every year. It’s where we got engaged, went on our honeymoon, took Pip on her first holiday (and where we’ve spent countless visits) and where as usual we are heading off on holiday again in a few weeks time.

So, I thought I’d do a series of posts sharing some of our favourite places and things to bring and do, particularly suitable for those with littles in tow, but absolutely not essential.

First up – North Cornwall beaches. It’s no exaggeration that there are hundreds of great beaches in Cornwall – so I’ve picked some of my favourite that I like to return to over and over again. These might not be the most secluded but they are ones that have treated us well, year after year, bearing in mind we are very much in the sandy beaches with young children phase of our lives, but also enjoy being able to surf when we can.

I’ll follow this up with another post on other places to visit aside from beaches, favourite walks, favourite places to eat, and favourite places to stay. Anything else you’d like me to add?

5 beaches that won’t disappoint in North Cornwall

Polzeath – once upon a time we used to drink here with university friends in the Oystercatcher by night and meet friends who’d camped at Tristrams or Robbie Love’s, spending the days surfing or lying on the beach. Now the teenage/university crowd has grown up and moved on leaving a more peaceful Polzeath behind. Parking is on the beach, the surf is consistently good for learners, there are RNLI lifeguards present and the beach is big enough that it doesn’t feel too crowded even on the sunniest weekend days. Don’t let the fact that Sam Cam and her family holiday here put you off. Sandy with some rock pools, accessible even at high tide. Great cafe on the beach if one of you wants to surf and the other sit inside and drink hot chocolate out of the wind/look after children but still feel like you’re on the beach. The sunsets are pretty spectacular.

Daymer Bay – we often stay in a cottage nearby where we can walk down to this beautiful estuary beach, backed by the dunes and the St Enedoc’s links golf course. There is also a small carpark and cafe, or you can park at Rock near the ferry and walk along (coast path or on the beach itself) if you’re only visiting for the day – or, park at Padstow and catch the ferry over to Rock and then walk along the beach – it is a nice walk if sitting on a beach all afternoon isn’t really your thing. Also tucked in behind the beach is St Enodoc’s Church, Trebetherick which is a beautiful little secluded peaceful last resting place for, among others, John Betjeman, which is well worth a stroll inland for a few minutes.

The Little Pip - St Enodoc's Church, Trebetherick

Watergate Bay – a winner if you want to go kite surfing, or actual surfing, or just want a huge expanse to walk along. It’s only 2 miles north of Newquay, so if you want all that Newquay has to offer – nightclubs perhaps, or the airport – but a quieter spot, Watergate Bay might suit.

Also on the same stretch of North Cornwall coastline is Mawgan Porth which is another sandy beach but tucked slightly away, so if Watergate Bay is too windy, Mawgan Porth might work better. Easily accessible from the village where there is some parking.

Lundy Bay – this ones takes a little bit more effort but is absolutely worth the gentle walk across National Trust meadows and grassland. I think it’s probably around a half a mile walk. I’ve never tried it with a baby in a buggy but we have carried body boards there easily. Definitely check the tides before you set off, as the sand is only there at low tide (along with a cave!), but there are also a myriad rockpools and interesting rocks to sit on and explore if you get there a bit early. This is one to time when low tide is mid afternoon – set off mid morning, have a picnic lunch on the rocks whilst the tide falls away, and then spend the afternoon on the beach, heading back up as the tide covers the sand again.

What to pack for the picnic

Just writing about an afternoon at Lundy Bay has made me keen to get organising for our trip in a few weeks. These are some of the things I’ll be packing so that we can spend as much of our holiday outside as possible.

CORNWALL- beach packing list | The Little Pip

Over this past winter I finally retired the rucksack I bought aged 15 for adventure training weekends. Both zips had broken after 18 years of solid use – I replaced it whilst we were in Copenhagen in January with this Fjällräven beauty. No zips, just beautiful leatherware and a laptop pocket. I’ve been using it as my work bag for the past few months, but is equally suited to a Cornish walk as it is a London commute.

For an afternoon at a Cornish beach, I’d pack a swimsuit, wetsuit and towel, a cosy jumper to wear over my obligatory marinière (mine is Petit Bateau) and a flask of tea. I then pack up a picnic basket with lunch, add a waterproof groundsheet or mat and a wool blanket, not forgetting a bucket and spade, shrimping net and body boards. I also usually pack hats and suncream; occasionally (ha!) a raincoat.

Images: Cornishware mug | Fjällräven Rucksack No. 21 | Enamel plates | Thermos vintage flask | British wool blanketmarinière c/o Petit Bateau| picnic basket




  1. Kathryn May 27, 2016 / 10:19 am

    We haven’t been to Cornwall for such a long time and I’m determined to introduce the kids to it properly as I love it too. It’s a long way to go for us but worth it. Will be bookmarking this for when we do, thanks! xx

  2. Helen May 27, 2016 / 10:24 am

    I’ve visited Cornwall so many times and never done most of these beaches. I will have to make a point of it next time I’m there in the summer. Watergate bay though, that has to be one of the classiest beaches ever!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.