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Ms Humdrum recommends ... doing stuff near Padstow!

This is the second of three blog posts where I draw on my years of experience visiting Padstow as a child, and the last five years staying there and making new family memories. I've already written extensively about eating in and around Padstow, including an essay on pasties, but this piece is about doing

Quad biking 
ATV Centre near Truro, 01872 560753

 A couple of years ago, Messrs Humdrum Jr and Sr go karted at St Eval. This time, they fancied something different. Quad biking! An early start proved non-essential (we'd been used to St Eval being absolutely jam packed way before opening time), but this did mean they got the track to themselves. Down £75 with two overalls hired, off they went to train. Not believing Master Humdrum's age, they gave him a bigger bike which he managed very well. Until he crashed and broke it! I can't count the laps they did, but they had a full 30 minutes on the track and luckily all alone. I was impressed with the staff there. The viewing platform was on a bridge and I took my own drink up, although there were facilities to buy there. This really was a good morning out and the crash didn't put Master H off!

Camel Trail @thecameltrail
Main Camel Trail page here on Facebook
We used Trail Bike Hire, 01841 532594

I really could write a huge piece just about the Camel Trail. I never did it as a child visiting Padstow, but I remember my first trip when I was pregnant with Master H in 2005. We've done it a few times as a family, extending our route each time as he grew stronger. It's an activity that is better suited to a cloudier day, though we have completed it in torrential rain; thankfully a lovely restaurant in Wadebridge let us dry off whilst eating and dripping! We hired a hybrid for me as the boys had brought their bikes, costing around £18 for the day.

The route between Padstow and Wadebridge is the most popular at 5.5 miles. This is very popular for families with little kids. Obviously there are going to be some families who travel quite slowly, so you have to be aware of this when you're hurtling past at some speed. I nearly fell off slowing down because of a child on a bike with stabilisers! The route is stunning as you leave Padstow and turn back to view the harbour and the town. There are a few mini cafes stops along the way. The route bears left along the Camel Estuary, passing former quarries. Some way past Wadebridge, you cross the river and the scenery turns into leafy, overgrown tunnels with the river on your right. The route from Wadebridge to Bodmin is 5.75 miles and then a further 6.25 miles to Wenfordbridge. We have cycled to Bodmin previously where you find the route is quite foresty and hilly, but this time we stopped at the Camel Trail Tea Gardens (which I've already reviewed here). After a long stop (while we waited to get served), we cycled back. The route between Wadebridge and Bodmin is much less travelled and this afforded the boys to have a few races! Nearly back to Padstow and you need to slow down again, for the families and the high number of walkers (yes they are allowed to walk the cycle path!). Stopping a few times for scenic pictures, we clocked up 20.5 miles in total. The trip was mostly cloudy with a few outbursts of sun, but this was just right. I think it would be very uncomfortable to do it in full sun, plus it would be a travesty to miss a beach day! My bottom was so unsore that I actually purchased a gel comfort seat for £20 from the cycle hire place!

Football golf @CornwallFootballGolf

Cornwall Football Golf, St Austell, 01726 68952
Here on Facebook

We met up with some family members this time, so there were five of us. We were offered to do both the hill and the flat courses, but there would not have been enough time! This is an activity we've done as a family before and yes, even though I can't kick a ball to my son's satisfaction, I still did pretty well. Slow and sure gets you third out of five... I'm sure you don't need much explanation of football golf, but suffice to say, it was fun for all the family! It cost £20 for the three of us and took a good few hours. There is a cafe there with some food options. This is a good rainy day activity as we all have wet coats don't we?!

Kayaking - model's own! If not, try Harlyn Surf School

Having purchased a 2-seater and a solo kayak from Decathlon recently, Mr Humdrum was keen to take them on holiday, given our campsite has a "private" beach. We've used them a few times here in the sea and in a river, but the water here doesn't include such big surf as you'd get in Cornwall! It was going to be fun... Mr Humdrum constructed a trolley to transport the kayaks. The main problem was then how to get offshore - judging gaps in the waves or swell. We became better at it, but as they are inflatable ones, they are not quite as stable as solid ones. The first day we kayaked, we took our pasty lunch and hot drink flasks to a secluded bay that was only accessible by sea (and right under Rick Stein's house!). It was great fun. The kayaks did really add an extra dimension to our holiday. We didn't get to kayak in any other bays because of the surf, but Mother Ivey's was good enough for us. 

Two years ago, we hired SUPs from Harlyn Surf School for £10 for half an hour (not sure if prices have increased). I did feel like I had a hangover from the rocking motion! I did intend to do this again this year, but we just kayaked instead.

St Michael's Mount @stmichaelsmount
Website 01736 710265

I'm amazed that I've never been to St Michael's Mount before and I was determined to do it this holiday. You need to check times of the tides because the causeway becomes flooded and unsafe to walk, but you can travel by boat too. We wanted to walk across and boat back. 

It was a race against time to get there by car - usual Cornish traffic, full car parks, mixed messages about which time the causeway would shut ... ranging from 10.40 to 11.00. I ran past hoards of people walking towards the beach. I wasn't going to be the first one to be held back! Well, they didn't seem to close it for about an hour after they said! We walked over (10 mins max) in ankle deep water. This wasn't quite the walking to Looe Island experience I'd hoped for, but it was good. The island looks stunning and the whole bay is too. 

Not being National Trust, we had to queue a bit longer, but everyone queues up at the top to go into the castle. The walk up is quite steep and not suitable for prams or anyone with mobility problems. It is a shame we rushed up in the crowd really, I'd have liked to have hung around a bit more. The queue at the top for the castle takes ages, but as you snake around, you have the whole of the bay to look at and it is fabulous. 

Once inside, you have to forget that it's not really a huge country house with exhibits to look at - it is still a family home. Sadly the gardens were not open to the public that day, but you can look down on them from the courtyards. The rooms were amazing and the hall that was 900 years old just blew me away. The family say they like to entertain there occasionally still. 

I think Master Humdrum's favourite artifact was the Ancient Egyptian mummified cat. He said it looked like a burrito - it did! 

Sadly we had to descend and after a toasted sandwich in the restaurant, we joined the huge queue for the boats home. Not even halfway along the queue in over 30 minutes, we calculated that we'd have to wait for at least 20 boats to get to the front and were fed up listening to a woman whine about the queue behind us when lo and behold, someone came running down asking for a party of three. Shouting "We are!", we skipped the whole queue and jumped straight into a boat! I love having just one child - I'm sure the woman behind me was livid. At £25 for us three, it was a great day out and I'd love to go again to explore the gardens.

Speedboats in Padstow @Padstowspeedboattrips
Here on Facebook

As a child in the late 70s/early 80s, I can remember this was one of our holiday treats. I find it as exhilarating and as fun now as I did then. I can't disguise my delight as I whoop while we bump over the waves. Of course each of the drivers will tell you their boat goes faster. Well, Jaws II, Fireball, Thunder and Sea Fury all go as faster than the last one you went on! At £7.50 a person ("Pay on exit, if you don't come back, you don't pay" shouts the boy), it's a 15 minute rollercoaster of a ride, far better than any theme park. As they zig and zag, the spray covers you in a salty sheen. He goes hard round, bound for the rocks surely, but no, the equivalent of a handbrake turn at the last minute, to the OOOs and AAAs of the passengers. 

Roger Moore?
The drivers themselves are characters - one resembles Roger Moore as James Bond, surely the link with the boat names? And a craggy older gent is surely still the same driver that took me when I was the same age as Master Humdrum - 12! I did ask him and he just laughed, his eyes twinkling. 

I hope you have enjoyed my list of things to do around Padstow. These are activities that cost, I'm also writing a list of beach activities, including some coastal walks, which don't cost anything. 

Have fun, we did!

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