Cornwall Stories and Tips

Newquay Overview

Newquay Photo, Cornwall, England

We had a free day in which we explored Newquay. We simply walked it although there is a land train that is a good option for the less fit. The town has a lot of history to it which is the kind of place we enjoy.

Newquay used to be a fishing village. There has been a small harbour here since 1439 but it wasn't until 1770 that its importance as a commercial harbour took off. Richard Lomax, a speculator from London, had the vision to create an enclosed three acre harbour from which to ship mineral ore to the smelters in South Wales. Joseph Treffry, a mine owner bought the harbour and built the Newquay Railway connecting the harbour to the tramway high above the cliffs. Cables wound around a drum and powered by two winding engines, known as Whims hauled wagons through a tunnel up from the harbour.

Up to the early 20th century, the small fishing village was famous for pilchards. From a "Huer's Hut" above the harbour the Huer on seeing the distinctive ripple on the surface of the sea, known locally as 'the shirming' and the reddish purple hue just beneath the surface would shout down a megaphone-like trumpet "Hubba, Hubba," or "Heva, Heva," and this cry would spread throughout the locality, causing much excitement. Everyone would rush to the quay and to their boats, urged on all the while and guided by their Huer.

The Hut dating back to the 14th century is now a Grade 2 listed building. It appears that the hut may have been a Hermitage. While Newquay no longer has any involvement in pilchard fishing there are plenty of other fish to catch. The Harbour is still a working fishing harbour but is also home to pleasure boats and is a hive of bustling fishing trips. In season and out, there is a trip to suit the most ardent angler. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the North Cornwall Coast, Newquay is a fantastic place for fishing.

You may see out on the water during your holiday, six oared rowing boats either racing or practicing. Built of Cornish narrow leaf elm, 32 feet long with a beam of 4ft 10inches, Cornish Pilot Gig boats original use was as a pilot vessel in the 19th century. On sighting a large ship making its way to one of the major ports of Bristol, Manchester or Southampton, crews raced their gigs out to it. The winner got their pilot on-board to enable safe passage and receive the payment.

Gigs also served as one of the first shore-based lifeboats that went to vessels in distress, with recorded rescues extending as far as the late 17th century. Nowadays the sport of gig boat racing is growing in popularity with over 100 clubs, the majority being in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, however clubs also exist in Devon, Dorset, Wales and London. Internationally there are pilot gig clubs in France, the Netherlands, the Faroe Islands, Australia and the USA.

One of the town’s attractions is Tunnels Through Time or as it is now known Bucaneer’s Bay. This is popular with those into pirates and Cornish history. Situated at the top of a hill in St Michaels Road next to the church overlooking a car park, is the museum.

The tunnels feature famous stories of people such as Merlin, mermaids, pirates, smugglers and cavemen. Here we met Captain Calico Jack and his trusted wench Anne Bonny in a swashbuckling adventure in the heart of Newquay. Travelling through The Sunken Village of the Damned as the fiend kept jumping out at us and screaming my wife was like a jumping jack rabbit by the time we emerged from there.

Newquay has claimed the title of ‘UK Surf Capital’. I can’t say I have ever been into surfing but I do like to watch those that can. For those that cannot but would like to have a bash there are surfing lessons available. These are quite expensive but if it’s something you want to try it’s probably worth the money.

Newquay contains many arcades which provides fun for some and can pass an hour here or there especially if you get a rain shower and want to stay dry. There are seven miles of coastline with 11 beaches all different in their own way some offer excellent surfing conditions, others are suntraps for that beautiful tan whereas some are just fun for the kids. Fistral Beach is one of the most popular with surfers. It has many facilities such as a surf school, shop, toilets and café. It is a good place for families, couples and surfers. Protected by a lifeguard it is safe.

The newly built A30 makes Newquay an easy resort to reach by car. If you prefer, you can fly in. The local Airport has flights from Ireland (Cork, Dublin and Belfast), England (Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, London Stansted and London Gatwick) and Scotland (Edinburgh and Aberdeen). There is also a train station in the centre of Newquay close to the major hotels. National Express also provide a regular coach service from major cities over the UK, you may need to change coaches near Plymouth or Exeter but several services enter Newquay daily.

Newquay is a great place to go whether there is group wanting to celebrate a hen or stag do, if you have children and fancy a short break, if you have just got married and want a cheap honeymoon or if you just want a break away from urban life.

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