Feasting on delights of culinary Cornwall

Widemouth Bay
Widemouth Bay

WATCH: Teenager rushed to hospital after crash in Portsmouth

Have your say

It is such a long, long time since I have sat by the beach as darkness descended that I had no idea of the excitement which would erupt when the setting sun slipped beneath the Atlantic waves in our quiet Cornish bay.

Suddenly, at 9.55pm, diners leaped from their seats to photograph the tiny, sinking slither of blazing red on the far horizon.

Children paddling towards Camel Rock turned back to the shore and playful terriers at last stopped kicking up the sand with their hind legs.

As for me, I paused for a moment or two to savour a meal prepared by Thinh Nguyen Nho, a chef from Vietnam who already boasts Rick Stein and The Lanesborough Hotel in London’s West End on his CV, and now appears nightly at The Beach House & Hotel on Widemouth Bay.

When you look at a map, this corner of north Cornwall looks a fair way from the big attractions like the Eden Project or The Tate at St Ives.

But Bude, a breezy clifftop walk away from Widemouth Bay, is an elegant seaside town, famous for its Sea Pool, refreshed daily by the ocean.

There are acres of sandy beaches, swathes of public lawns, a mini castle and a canal surrounded by cobbled walkways.

Widemouth Bay became a natural bolthole after our first clifftop picnic.

It’s an area perfect for the simple pleasures, like fish, chips and mushy peas on an outside table at sunset.

By car, our expeditions along the dear old A39, weaving its way between green fields and wind farms – 
rarely lasted more than an hour in stifling heat, but each one was memorable.

Following the coast towards Devon, we reached Clovelly, a long narrow road of whitewashed houses on either side of a cobbled street so steep that groceries and drinks are still carried downwards on sledges towards the curving quayside.

On the way back, we found Morwenstow, a tiny hamlet with a stunning black Cornish chapel, where some pews were carved in 1575.

Legend suggests the celebrated Rev Hawker and his flock sometimes held false lights on the coast to boost their income from shipwrecks in Victorian times.

The Granary, our three-bedroomed holiday home which is part of Bude’s Kennacott estate, played a big role in a perfect week: when it was too hot to move, the massive 28-pane window in the living room could be turned into a primitive form of air conditioning.

But the gilt on the gingerbread of our glorious week was the food.

When it comes to restaurants, you will be truly spoiled for choice.

With a wide, open terrace carved into the grassy cliffs which overlook Summerleaze Beach in Bude, Life’s A Beach is a huge hit. My hunk of local turbot made a great dish with baby Cornish veg and creamy mashed potato.

For a fine dining experience, try Paul Ainsworth at Number Six in the heart of heaving Padstow.

We were welcomed with a glass of cider and an oyster nurtured on the other side of the estuary at Porthilly Oyster Farm.

I thought things couldn’t get better after my starter, Cornish mackerel which had been ‘torched’, but indeed they did, rounding off with ice cream which it was quite impossible to leave in the dish.

Jeremy Gates stayed at Kennacott Court , Bude , part of Premier Cottages 2013 programme, where a week’s stay starts at £249 in a unit sleeping two.

A week’s stay in The Granary, sleeping six, costs £600 per week. For reservations, call 01288 362 000 or email phil@kennacourt.co.uk.

Travel Republic (020 8974 7200) currently lists rooms at The Beach House Hotel, Widemouth Bay (01288 361 256) from £32 per night.