Find out what we got up to when we took our Border Terrier Tilly on a short break in a dog-friendly caravan at Trevella Park in Crantock near Newquay, Cornwall.
With its expansive sandy beaches, miles of coastal walks and plentiful supply of dog-friendly pubs and restaurants, the north Cornwall coast makes an ideal holiday destination for your canine companion.
Throw in the endless supply of pasties, cream teas (jam before cream), fish and chips, fudge, ice cream and cake and it’s a decent option for us humans too.
Despite their vastness, Cornwall’s beaches get a tad busy for our naughty Border Terrier Tilly in the summer months. So to avoid any embarrassing incidents (she once tried to shake a little boy’s surfboard to death), we decided to head down in October to take advantage of one of Trevella Park’s autumn offers – a four-night (Monday-Friday) stay in a “Superior” pet-friendly static caravan for £158.
This included a free “walkers package” (a flask of hot chocolate, a map of the coast paths around Newquay, cookies and a breakfast roll and hot drink on two mornings) and no extra charge for Tilly.
Here’s what we got up to on our short break and what we did to keep Tilly occupied when she wasn’t napping in the caravan.
How we spent a dog-friendly short break at Trevella Park
Day one – Dartmoor and dinner at The Stable
Haytor, Widdecombe-in-the-Moor and Dartmeet
Although check in at Trevella wasn’t until 4pm, we decided to leave early so we could break up the four-hour journey with a detour through Dartmoor.
We headed first for Haytor, which is pretty easy to get to via Bovey Tracey – just head towards Plymouth on the A38 after the M5 ends near Exeter.
Haytor is a simple rocky granite outcrop and probably Dartmoor’s most famous landmark. Unlike many of Dartmoor’s other high tors, it’s easy to walk to the summit from the road. At the top, there are great views out to the sea 12 miles away. Below, there’s a car park with a visitor centre and toilets.
We then drove across the hills and down into Widdecombe-in-the-Moor, known for its annual fair. An idyllic village popular with tourists, there are several pubs and cafes here if you need something to eat.
There’s also a small shed by the main car park selling hot and cold snacks and drinks. We picked up a locally made pasty and a sausage roll and continued our little tour by driving over to Dartmeet. This is a deep, wooded valley where the two main tributaries of Dartmoor’s main river – the East and West Dart – meet before heading across the moors and down to the coast at Dartmouth.
Upstream from where the rivers merge, there’s a large car park and more toilets. When you add the view of the clear waters and mini waterfalls of the East Dart and the remains of a medieval clapper bridge under the shadow of the “new” bridge, its an ideal place for a picnic. It’s just a pity that it was blowing a hooley today. So we ate in the car.
After we’d finished our lunch and Tilly had a paddle in the river, there was more wondrous scenery as we headed out of the moors and through Tavistock to pick up the A30 at Launceston.
Arrival at Trevella
Trevella Park is a couple of miles on from Newquay and easy to find on the road to Crantock. Check in was painless and we were soon unpacked and settled in our caravan.
We then got the first of what turned out to be many visits from a swan who was on the scrounge for some tidbits. A flock of ducks soon followed.
We hired a basic caravan on our last trip to Trevella. This “Superior” one had a few more features like double glazing, a carpeted living area, central heating, a veranda with picnic bench and towels.
Dinner at The Stable, Fistral Beach
After a quick cuppa, we headed out for some grub. Our destination was The Stable restaurant on Fistral Beach on the edge of Newquay.
Before we ate, we took a stroll along the beach as the sun was setting behind the clouds. Even with the wind whipping the sand into our faces it was a pleasant walk. And it had the added bonus of Tilly tiring herself our chasing the clumps of foam that were blowing from the edge of the sea along the beach.
The Stable is dog friendly and specialises in sourdough pizza and cider. And although we’ve got Stable restaurants near home in Southampton and Winchester, this one was still worth a visit for its location – perched high, overlooking the beach and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.
We arrived a little too late to fully enjoy the view. But it was still nice to settle in the warm while the strong wind blew spray from the sea against the windows.
The cider selection at every Stable restaurant is extensive, with more than 50 boxed, draught and bottled ciders and perries available at any time. Luckily, the “stable hands” can recommend cider based on your tastes and give you samples so you choose ones you like.
Having enjoyed the spicy sausage pizza I had at Supermarine in Woolston a few weeks back, I opted for something similar from The Stable’s menu – the “Nduji Like It” (£12) with Dorset salami and mushrooms.
Tiff fully embraced the fact we were by the sea and ordered the “Smoke on the Water” (£13), which features smoked mackerel and smoked salmon with parsley and lemon.
We also shared a garlic bread – essentially a mini pizza – with optional cheese (£5). Most of the ingredients on The Stable’s pizzas are sourced from the West Country.
As we devoured our pizzas, I popped back to the bar for a half of oak-aged cider (5.6%) from the familiar-named Hallets Cider. This medium cider is fermented in oak single malt whisky barrels, which gives it a lovely warm and woody taste and a smooth mouthfeel.
Day two – The Gannel and St Agnes
One of the reasons that Trevella is so good for dogs is easy access to the Gannel estuary. This is just 15-20 minutes’ walk across neighbouring fields and provides acres of mud and sand for dogs to sniff out when the tide isn’t in.
We managed to rouse ourselves relatively early so were able to pick up one of our “walkers pack” free breakfasts from the park’s cafe en route to the estuary.
The path from the park brings you out at Penpol Creek, about half way along the estuary. It was close to low tide so there was plenty of sand and small puddles for Tilly to explore as she chased her tennis ball.
If the tide’s in, you can walk along the cliff to Crantock village or head there inland. The low tide exposes a simple wooden bridge over the river to the Newquay side of the water. You can also get to Crantock or Newquay by walking along the estuary bed.
Once Tilly had had her fill, we crossed the bridge, headed up the footpath that scales the cliff and wandered along the street to the Fern Pit Cafe.
This has a commanding position on the cliff with magnificent views of the estuary and Crantock beach.
There’s also some steps here down to the estuary where you can catch a ferry (at high tide) or cross the bridge (at low tide) to Crantock. Unfortunately, the steps are only open in the summer.
So after a quick coffee and a lovely carrot cake, we retraced our steps back to Trevella.
After some lunch in the caravan, we bundled Tilly in the car and took the short drive down to the former mining village of St Agnes, which is about 10 miles away. We parked under the ruins of an old tin mine near the beach at Trevaunance Cove.
Much to Tilly’s dismay, it was now high tide and the entire beach was under water. So after she’d spent several minutes barking at the waves crashing against the seawall (and at any dog that happened to walk past), we popped a short way up the road to the Driftwood Spars pub.
The Driftwood Spars
I usually find the beer selection pretty uninspiring in Cornwall’s pubs. So I was delighted the see that this dog-friendly pub sold beers from its own microbrewery, which is located a barrel roll away on the opposite side of the street.
The pub has been brewing its own beer since 2000, well before the recent boom in real ale and craft beer brewing. The pub itself isn’t as new though – formerly a mining warehouse, fish cellar and chandlery, it dates from the 1650s.
Inside there are three bars and a large upstairs dining room with views across the cove. This evening, the snug reception bar projected a warm glow onto the darkening road outside as we shuffled through the door to find a space at the bar.
Even though it was a Tuesday night out of season, the reception bar was packed. So we headed into one of the empty back bars, which sadly lacked atmosphere this time of the day.
Still, I got to try two of the brewpub’s beers – “Spars” and “Jacob’s Ladder (both 3.8%) – before Tilly rather rudely barked at a dog whose only crime was to follow its owner to a nearby table.
Although we were tempted by the fish-based menu, we decided that was a good point to head back to the caravan and devour the chilli we’d brought down to Cornwall with us.
Day three – St Michael’s Mount and Polly Joke beach
St Michael’s Mount
One of Cornwall’s most famous landmarks, St Michael’s Mount is a small village, chapel and castle on an island just off Marazion near Penzance. It’s less than an hour’s drive from Trevella Park.
At low to mid tide, you can walk across to the island. At high tide, a ferry (£2 one way) connects St Michael’s Mount with the mainland.
It’s free to explore the village. But there’s a charge to enter the castle and the gardens (free for National Trust members). Dogs are welcome on the island, but they’re not allowed in the castle or gardens.
Last time we visited St Michael’s Mount, it was closed because the ferry couldn’t run due to strong winds. That gives a good indicator of how cut off the 30-or-so people who still live on the island must feel when the weather’s not tip top.
The weather was unthreatening today and it was low tide. So we parked up in a nearby National Trust car park (£3.50 for all day parking), had a few sips of the flask of creamy hot chocolate that Trevella had supplied us as part of our holiday deal and wandered the 500 yards along the causeway to the island.
Tiff was keen to see the castle and chapel (the garden was closed today). So after a brief look around the village and harbour, Tilly and I left Tiff and took a stroll on the beach (the western end of the beach is closed to dogs in the summer).
Then we had wander through the narrow high street of the village of Marazion where Tilly snatched a few slurps of water from the many dog bowls that were handily placed outside shops.
The King’s Arms, Marazion
After Tiff rejoined us, we settled on the King’s Arms in the heart of the village for some lunch. This pub is perfectly poky with low ceilings, exposed floorboards and comfy seating. It’s a St Austell Brewery pub, so the beer choice is limited to the usual St Austell beers like “Tribute” and “Cornish Best”. Food-wise, there’s locally caught fish and shellfish alongside pub classics such as burgers and steaks.
We ordered a crab sandwich (£10) with crab landed at the nearby fishing port of Newlyn plus a bowl of whitebait (£7). I also succumbed to a pint of “Tribute” (4.2%), which always seems to taste much better in Cornwall.
The pub was pretty busy today. But our food arrived quickly thanks to the friendly lady who was working flat out waiting on diners and taking orders at the bar.
The food was excellent and more than the snack we thought it would be – the crab sandwich was particularly substantial.
Polly Joke beach
After lunch, we headed back to the caravan for a nap and a cuppa. Then, as the afternoon was darkening, we jumped in the car and drove out to the West Pentire peninsula, a mile or so beyond Crantock.
Here, there are a couple of car parks. But there is a small charge, so make sure you bring some change as there’s no road parking.
One side of this headland has views over Crantock beach, while the secluded Polly Joke beach (also known as Porth Joke) is a 10-minute walk along the coast path in the other direction. There are also various other footpaths to explore on the headland and surrounding common land, which is owned by the National Trust.
As it was getting dark, we headed straight for the beach. But we stupidly ignored the signs from the car park. Luckily, we found a hole in the fence to get back to the main footpath.
The beach itself is in a secluded cove with a stream that spreads itself across the sand before it enters the sea. There’s a little bridge over the stream at the back of the beach so coast path walkers don’t have to get their feet wet.
The tide was in, but there was still more than enough sand for Tilly to explore between fetching her ball from the surf.
When we reached the car park on the way back, we fancied a drink in the Bowgie Inn. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t allow dogs indoors – a pity when you consider its location in prime dog-walking countryside.
Day three – Padstow
Many people associate Padstow with the celebrity chef Rick Stein, who set up his first restaurant here with his then wife Jill in the 1970s.
It’s true that the Stein name seemingly pops up around every corner – along with the original Stein’s restaurant, you’ll also find a gift shop, deli, patisserie, cookery school, hotel and fish and chip shop bearing the family name.
Many foodies began venturing to Padstow when Rick Stein started appearing on our TV screens in the 80s and 90s. But this pretty fishing village near the mouth of the Camel estuary has always been popular with tourists in the summer months.
Nowadays the Stein-factor gives the village a buzz all year round. Hence why there was still a decent atmosphere here today on a drizzly Thursday in October.
One of my favourite things about Padstow is the walk along the estuary section of the Camel Trail, which follows the path of two old railway lines. There’s also a pleasant clifftop walk above the village. However, we decided against a long walk today because of the rain, which got heavier as we drove the more scenic coastal B3276 road to Padstow via Watergate Bay, Mawgan Porth, Bedruthan Steps and St Merryn.
The stroll from the car park at the top of the hill is nice enough though. And we were soon wandering the village’s narrow back streets, which provide occassional glimpses of the boats in the harbour through the gaps in the buildings.
Padstow Brewing Co
There are plenty of dog-friendly shops businesses in Padstow, so Tilly was able to accompany us as we took regular shelter from the rain. One of these breaks was an extended rest in the Padstow Brewing Co shop, which is tucked away on Broad Street.
As well as selling Padstow Brewing Co merchandise and bottled beer and cider, the shop doubles up as a small bar where you can sample the brewery’s beers.
Owners Caron and Des Archer set up the brewery in 2013 and now produce around 9,000 pints a week. They opened the shop earlier this year and also offer tutored tastings in a room upstairs.
With a handful of seats dotted around the shop and a couple of tables on the street outside, it’s a nice place to try beers from a brewer other than St Austell Brewery, which seems to own every pub in Padstow.
The bar offers cask and keg beers as well as cider and prosecco. Fresh beer is also available to take away.
I had a couple of third-pints of beer – a “Kor’ Dorgel” (4%) and “Padstow Pride” (4.5%). Complex and malty, the Padstow Pride was a particularly fine example of an English bitter and not unlike Fuller’s “London Pride”.
The shop allows you to bring your own food to eat on the tables outside. And on a finer day we might have been tempted to pop next door for some fish and chips.
Alas, with the bad weather now settled in for the afternoon we skirted the harbour and ducked into the Harbour Inn for some food.
The Harbour Inn
This is a pub that we seem to end up every time we come to Padstow. It’s another St Austell Brewery pub. And, like the King’s Arms in Marazion, it sells tasty, good-value fresh food.
Inside, there’s a mixture of flagstone and wooden flooring with a timber-beamed ceiling. Fishing related knick-knacks like model sailboats, a ship’s wheel and marine lanterns complete the look. It’s not hard to imagine the folk of old Padstow drinking an ale in here before venturing out of the harbour and into the Atlantic in search of their next catch.
There are several areas to sit including a family section. We found a quiet spot where we could spread out our coats to dry, then ordered ourselves something to eat.
Inspired by the decor and location, we both went for fish – Tiff had steamed mussels from the snack menu (£7.95) with a side of chips (£3.50) while I chose for locally caught mackerel, cooked in garlic butter with new potatoes and a salad (£9.50).
As per our previous visits, the food was great. I even enjoyed the two St Austell beers I had, despite my previous moans. Seriously though, the brewery has a bit of a monopoly in these parts.
The Chough Bakery
Tucked away in the warm at the back of the pub, I was hoping the rain might have stopped by now.
So instead of a walk around the harbour we decided to head home. But not before we popped into the Chough Bakery for some bread and butter pudding and a chocolate brownie to take away for later.
Day four – home via Hog and Hedge
Granted, this was only a four-night holiday. But home time seemed to come round quickly.
And after I gave Tilly a short walk around the park, and we’d picked up the second of our handy free breakfasts from Trevella’s cafe, we were on our way back to Southampton.
Even then, the holiday wasn’t over for Tilly because we stopped in the dog-friendly Hog and Hedge services between Okehampton and Exeter on the A30.
A few service stations have upped their game in recent years and this is one of them. It’s a simple, airy building that has a good selection of fresh, locally sourced food, comfortable seating, nice toilets and water bowls for dogs. Although we didn’t buy anything, Tilly had a great time eyeing up the other dogs in the service station while we used the loos.
Another great holiday
This was our third time in Trevella Park’s dog-friendly caravans in recent years. And even though we missed out on fish and chips this time – seriously, how did that happen? – we had another great time. (We also missed out on our free cookies – not sure what happened there!)
Importantly, so did Tilly, despite the trolling from the resident swan who always appeared when she was safely behind the caravan’s french doors.
Even more importantly, there were no surfboard shaking incidents this time. I think Tilly’s calming down in her old age…
About Trevella Park
As well as static caravans, Trevella offers lodges, glamping, camping, touring and is ideal for families with dogs and kids. There’s no bar or club, but there is a swimming pool, games rooms, crazy golf course and fishing lakes.
As well as the attractions we managed to get to on our short break, it’s within easy driving distance of Port Isaac, Mevagissey, Falmouth, Truro, the Eden Project, the Lost Gardens of Heligan and St Ives.