Surfing, cliff jumping and endless coastal views? Sounds like the stuff of tropical holidays I hear you say. Well, you might be surprised to hear that this is one adventure just a few short hours outside of bustling London…
As an Australian who’s called London home for three years now, I often struggle with the distinct lack of outdoor activities this city has to offer. In my quest for a taste of home, I decided to search for viable weekend trips that didn’t require jumping on a plane. This is how I discovered Newquay , a town on the north coast of Cornwall, famous for its sandy beaches and a go-to destination for surfers in the UK.
With only two days up my sleeve, I needed to plan efficiently so I decided to go through a Newquay-based activity provider – who better to show me the best of Newquay than the locals! There are many companies to choose from but I was fortunate enough to find the great owner-operated Cornish Wave. Cornish Wave offers affordable adventure packages that are perfect for weekend getaways – it’s also the only provider in town that has its very own woodland hideaway for you to experience overnight! The company is the brain-child of Jey, an avid surfer and Cornwall local of 10 years. He and his team offer holidaymakers everything from surfing safaris to wilderness camping.
So here’s my suggested itinerary for how to make the most of a quick weekend in Newquay, Cornwall.
Wake up bright and early to grab some breakfast ahead of your big day. Open from 8:00AM, I recommend popping into The Jam Jar to pick up a fresh bagel and muesli. For the best coffee around, head to the newly built Pavilion Bakery. Once your tummy is satisfied, enjoy strolling around the sleepy streets and empty coastline before making your way to Alma Place to meet Jey and his team.
Time to suit up! Wet suit that is. Depending on the conditions, you’ll head to either Fistral Beach or Towan Beach. Yes, the water is pretty cold even in the summer time but you’ll be wearing a thick, winter wetsuit which will keep you surprisingly warm! As a beginner, you’ll be given an extra-large foam board which makes getting your balance much easier. Your friendly surf coach will take you through all the steps you need to have you standing up on your board by the end of the lesson.
Time for lunch! My top three places places to try are:
- Bush Pepper: a contemporary Australian restaurant;
- The Beached Lamb Café: for the veggies and vegans; or
- Gilmore’s: super tasty Mexican where you get to play mini golf while you wait for your food!
I recommend grabbing takeaway and walking down to the harbour to enjoy the panoramic views of the boats and coastline in the distance.
Jumping off cliffs didn’t sound all that appealing to me at first (mainly because I’m petrified of heights). But it didn’t take long until I was convinced otherwise. Coasteering, a term I had never been heard before this trip, is the act of exploring a rocky coastline by climbing, jumping, and swimming… And believe me, it’s one awesome adrenalin rush! You’ll be suited up in a wetsuit, helmet and a safety jacket for this adventure, which definitely made me feel much more comfortable hurling myself off a cliff top. Then, you’ll head to the stunning Towan Headland. Your guides will remind you that you don’t have to do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing; however, it’s good to feel a little outside your comfort zone. After all, that’s what getting an adrenalin rush is all about!
6:00PM WILDERNESS CAMPING
Once you’ve dried off, refueled and picked up some camp fire supplies, you’re off to your lodgings for the night. About 11 miles out of Newquay, a cosy bell tent is awaiting your arrival.
After making your way through a rustic dairy farm, inside some secluded dense woodland, you’ll walk into what I imagine camping heaven looks like. Littered with fairy lights, candles and beautiful wooden structures, Jey and his colleague Dazzer have literally thought of everything to make this an authentic but truly magical camping experience. You’ll get to try your hand at axe throwing, learning how to light a fire, and various other bush crafts. After you have cooked your dinner on the BBQ, you can settle in around the camp fire roasting marshmallows and listening to music. The perfect end to a big day!
Your lovely hosts will be awake early to whip you up some tasty energy food consisting of fresh bacon and egg rolls and strong coffee. Then it’s time to pack up and head back into town for your next surfing lesson!
Ready to improve upon your new found surf skills? During your second lesson Jey and his instructors continue to help you build on your skills, making sure to spend one-on-one time with every student. If you didn’t stand up yesterday, you’re almost guaranteed to today!
12:30PM PM CARNEWAS MINE & BEDRUTHAN STEPS
Now that the activities are finished and you’ve dried off, it’s time for some sight-seeing. Quickly hope on the No.56 bus from Newquay to Padstow. Here you’ll find the Carnewas Mine and Bedruthan Steps, one of the most popular destinations on the Cornish coast. Enjoy a beautiful walk winding past a succession of picture-postcard coves and headlands.
Once back in Newquay, across the road from the train station you’ll find Driftwood Kitchen, a super cool eatery with stunning views of the bay. Relax and enjoy a meal while you wait for your train. Make sure to grab a delicious coffee for the road.
4:30PM NEWQUAY TRAIN STATION
Sadly, it’s time to head back to London! Load up on your favourite snacks at the supermarket and settle in with a few movies for the five hour journey back to the big smoke. You’re tired, sore from using muscles you didn’t know exist, have salty, knotted hair and smell like a camp fire – and you know what? You couldn’t be happier.
EMILIA’S TOP TIPS
- Book your train tickets as early as possible – the longer you wait, the more expensive they will be! Great Western Rail trains run from London Paddington Station to Newquay a few times a day.
- Newquay is a very popular destination in the height of summer so make sure to book your accommodation well in advance.
- Pack your wet weather gear – chances of rain are high!
- If you have some extra time on your hands, jump on the train and check out the stunning St Ives.