Dons of Padstow

The gulls rule Padstow. Well, they rule the roost in most coastal villages, but in this north Cornish town they stomp across the road, stake their claim upon neglected morsels of food and they stand right above your head, swooping up and down till they have almost lifted off scalps, or some chips, please. I saw one gull fearlessly walk up to a man who was eating his fish and chips with the family by a chippy and make a go for some unforgotten chips lying on the ground. That brave man took him on. He cast gimlet eyes upon that gull, reached his foot out and stepped it firmly upon the chips. The gull turned around and strutted away across the road to the quay as nonchalantly as if he had never wanted it in the first go.

The other don of the fishing port of Padstow is Rick Stein. You know, the affable celebrity chef on telly who goes around cooking curries in India and tossing up spicy shrimps in Malaysia. Having read his memoir, Under a Mackerel Sky, I knew that he had started a mobile disco in Padstow, but walking into the streets of the port town, I realised that its nickname of ‘Padstein’ is well earned. It started from the parking lot that was packed to the gills. Right on it stood Stein’s chippy that had long queues of hungry people, waiting to attack their dose of fish and chips on a day of sunshine peppered up with rain clouds.

We were walking around in town and staring greedily at the pasty shops where massive pasties winked at us, waiting to be devoured. But no sir, Stein’s chippy it was because men could be overheard telling their sons to hold onto that ravenous appetite. It is a pity that we have but one stomach – it often makes me think that if there were a lottery held for extra stomachs, I would be right up front. Then there could be Both pasties and fish & chips for lunch.

We ended up at the Rick Stein chippy where the queue for a sit-down lunch was long enough to send us scuttling for takeaway boxes guzzled down by the quay. We joined the ranks of other fish & chips lovers, sat on the road by the car park, and were joined by two attentive gulls. Every time I turned my eyes warily behind me to check on their progress, they squawked in response, ‘Pass on some, you greedy buggers.’ Unfortunately for them, our booty was too delicious to part with. Plus I do not know if Stein would approve sharing his food with gulls. Also, you know this that feeding them is simply not a good idea.

If you have quiet villages in Cornwall, you have fishing port towns too like Padstow which are bustling with life, buskers and little girls with ringlets dancing to their crooning, yellow trawlers whisking you across to villages across the waters, bookshops selling beautiful tomes, antique stores and vintage decor stores, ice cream vans because people are always eating on holiday. Fish & chips over? Time for some Kelly’s full-fat ice creams.

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The attentive two
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The car park and the barn on the right where Stein’s chippy is

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The deli where everything screams to be owned
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Padstow has been a bustling fishing port since the times of Elizabeth I. I wonder about her reaction if she had seen it today. You think she would have plumped up her massive hooped skirts and sat down for fish and chips by the waters, braving the gulls?
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That Doom Bar, the sandbank that is, has caused some 600-odd shipwrecks for more than 200 years. The legend goes that a merry mermaid, who liked watching the vessels coming in and leaving Padstow, was shot by a sailor. She cursed the harbour with desolation as a result of which a storm is supposed to have materialised and the sandbank thrown up subsequently. Across it is the Rock, a village that is a favourite with the London crowd.
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Padstow’s delightful harbour
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‘Ferries to the Rock,’ he boomed into the beautiful noon
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Along the Doom Bar
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Doggie haven. Dog stalking became easier with all shapes and sizes to choose from. Golden retrievers are my favoured kind.
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The man and Padstow
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When Maximus, the English Setter, slobbered all over Adi’s trousers.

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An overview of Padstow. In the distance you can see the red air ambulance which is called in during emergencies in Cornwall.

How to Get There:

It takes around 5 hours to get to Padstow from London. Take the M4 to Bristol, head south on the M5 to Exeter and then follow the A-roads to Cornwall. Of course, you own a GPS, so I shall not blather on.

Where to Stay:

The Old Ship Hotel ( is an old, listed property to which most people also flock for some pub grub. Book way ahead for your summer holidays.

Rick Stein’s Café ( which apart from offering lovely breakfasts also offers rooms which you would be loathe to leave. They have been designed by Jill Stein,

Where to Eat:

Prawn on the Lawn ( that is as fresh as fresh gets in this fishmonger and restaurant which gets its catch from boats that ply the waters around Devon and Cornwall. Along with starters and mains, you would pay around £35 per person.However, if you choose items such as Prawns on the Lawn Fruit de Mer it would cost you £70 straightaway.

Rick Stein’s Chippy ( overlooking the Camel Estuary offers fairly reasonable fish and chips which is priced at roughly £7 per person.

What to Do:

National Lobster Hatchery for an idea about the conservation of fishing traditions in Cornwall.

Take the ferry to Rock.

Hire a bike and cycle along the Camel Trail which runs for 5 miles along a disused railway track. Great for bird watchers because the Pinkson Creek that you pass by is a favourite with curlews and egrets among other species of birds.


Published by

Arundhati Basu

The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.

54 thoughts on “Dons of Padstow

    1. Oh it is. You have to be there to soak it up and we met some 15 dogs. Most of them fat Golden Retrievers, Jack Russells, English Setters and Cocker Spaniels. There were others we did not meet 🙂


    1. 😀 😀 I shall hold onto that thought. I often pretend that I do have a second one. That is when Adi weighs in referring to the little fat girl lurking inside me and I have a second think. Padstow awaits you xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. HAH. You get me. I am sipping on wine and trying to divert myself from making a huge tub of popcorn (even though I have to get up early for a costal walk). I do not know where I am going with this ‘will power’ of mine.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Beautiful photos as always! Those fish and chips certainly look more appealing than any other fish and chips I’ve ever had. I agree about not feeding seagulls, I’ve learnt that the hard way when I was younger and sneakily gave one chip to a lone seagull. I was swarmed, and I still think that one seagull must have summoned them somehow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you love. That batter was priceless and Stein even sells it separately. One bite and you are hooked. The freshness of the cod inside just was the cherry. The chips were perfect and we had onion rings which killed it too. Your story about the gulls is exactly what makes me stay away from feeding them. To be swarmed by gulls is bloody Hitchcock-ian or should I say Daphne-esque (whichever version you prefer).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, the seagulls! We saw them at Ivar’s in Seattle, Washington. They actually encourage people there to feed them but do so at your own risk because they are pretty aggressive (kind of like the ones in the Hitchcock film). Great post! Love the photos of the area and your husband. But no photo of him eating the chips? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha thanks, I have decided to let the husband be, once in a while. There are priceless ones that I have of him in reserve 😉 The gulls run a mafia here. If you do, you know you are bringing woe on yourself and others. About Hitchcock, Adi recalls them every time a gull swoops by. I prefer Daphne’s though 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, Lex sometimes gets a little upset when I put him in outtakes of our video that make him look really funny so I keep some of those in reserve also. Gulls must have a mafia club all over the world because I remember them terrorizing me and my friends during lunch time in grade school. They usually bombed us with…you get the picture!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, Michaela. Everyone is so friendly and relaxed, there is no getting away from the charm of such towns. And yes, the food Always tastes better – you are bang on 🙂


  3. It looks like fun. Tell me you ate those white pastries of your pictures!
    Also, I read “Chips Ahoy” haha. I guess your post made me hungry 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha, go for it Virginia. Bring on the chips! The meringue? Hmm I am guilty of just eyeing them. The day I Actually get two stomachs, I will possibly fit everything in. But for then I will have to eat with my eyes too. Sounds like a plan?


      1. heheh YES! The meringue, that’s the name. It looks amazing but we will need 2 stomachs to digest such a big thing. Thanks for making me travel with your post. Do you think you’ll be back in Padstow? I’ve been thinking recently on the places I will never visit again.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well see, I sadly enough leave the country for a year at least. I have no idea when I will return, If I will return. That said, I would love to return. I would ideally like to live in Cornwall in a stonewashed cottage by the sea and have conversations with the gulls and the choughs. The memories of visiting Cornwall 13 times has given has a fair bit to sustain till we are back again. And this time, we are making sure we have enough of it (if one can). Thanks for asking. See, you have let my tongue loose.


    1. Hello Lars, just hopped over to your blog. Looking forward to browse it. Thank you for dropping by and commenting. Britain is so much more than just London and Edinburgh. It will give you a thousand sights and then some scones and tea to ravish it with.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Some of my fondest travel memories revolve around food. Since leaving Newfoundland, on Canada’s east coast, I have yet to find a fish and chips place that rivals the ones there. Perhaps I’ll have to check out Padstow. Looks like a great place beyond the food too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A lot of the locals have a problem with Rick Stein driving up the real estate rates but really his fish and chips cannot be found fault with. I think you might have a real winner there. Newfoundland! The land of the big, adorable Newfie dogs I keep bumping into often. Ah, I will have to remember this tasty tidbit about it when I reach Newfoundland. Cheers.


  5. Those wild gulls always! They’re getting cockier with everyday. Before you know it, you’ve got a new revolution.
    Shrimps. M’lady, I must beg you for some shrimps!
    A question, is this a legend or a fact: 600-odd shipwrecks?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not legend. Fact all the way. That sandbar was a tricky area to navigate. They have even named an ale after it called Doombar and it remains one of my favourite pints during our Cornish trips. The gulls can teach us a thing or two about taking on life 😉 Sadly they just got to the shrimps I had packed for ya.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. […] All a matter of perspective. Pints of Doom Bar, at The Cornishman Inn, named after the Doom Bar of Padstow Camelot Castle Hotel viewed from Tintagel Castle The ruins of Tintagel Castle are tricky to climb […]


  7. […] had reached the village of Port Isaac (which is an easy drive from Padstow, Boscastle or Tintagel in Cornwall) when I needed to use the loo at the carpark facing the sea, […]


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