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Cornish arts and culture – where to go and what to see

Cornwall is renowned as a destination steeped in arts and culture. From a world-famous open-air theatre carved into a granite cliff, to the largest collection of Barbara Hepworth work in the world – there’s a wide range of cultural attractions offering artistic inspiration and theatrical performances on offer.

Here are just some of our favourites.

North Coast Asylum

Just down the road from us in Newquay, is the North Coast Asylum. Described as more than a traditional art space, NCA is devoted to nurturing the next generation of creatives by selling and exhibiting emerging mid-career artistic and photographic talent. A gallery not to be missed.

The Minack Theatre

The world famous Minack Theatre was originally a sloping cliff covered in gorse with a ninety-foot drop to the sea below. It came about due to the extraordinary hard graft of Rowena Cade, who offered a local open-air production the use of her cliff garden for a performance of The Tempest – something that started a lifelong project.

The theatre was built by hand over the course of the rest of Rowena’s life – largely using hand tools and the odd stick of dynamite (!) to create the iconic spectacle it is today.

From plays to musicals, opera to children’s events, there’s something to delight everyone.

Tate St Ives

Overlooking Porthmeor Beach and the Atlantic Ocean, the curved structure of Tate St Ives is every bit as impressive as the art you’ll find inside.

As well as a changing programme of large-scale seasonal shows, it also provides a permanent presence for those iconic 20th century artists who lived and worked in the town – demonstrating the role of St Ives in the story of modern art.

Times tickets are currently required for all visitors.

Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden

Dame Barbara Hepworth first came to Cornwall with her husband, Ben Nicholson, and their young family at the outbreak of WWII. She lived and worked at Trewyn Studios, now the Barbara Hepworth Museum, for 26 years until her tragic death in 1975.
The museum and sculpture garden are a favourite with culture visitors to St Ives and provides a thoughtful insight into the life of this world-famous sculptor. The majority of the bronzes are in the positions which the artist herself placed them and the studio itself is a time capsule.

We recommend booking a combined ticket to tie your trip in with a visit to the Tate St Ives.

Royal Cornwall Museum

Explore thousands of historical objects from Cornwall alongside some of the county’s finest art collections at the Royal Cornwall Museum.

The museum was founded by the Royal Institution of Cornwall in 1818, to promote excellence in science and art and highlight the world-leading industries that Cornwall was known for. From Bronze Age Cornish Gold to Roman forts, industrial growth and Cornwall’s mining heritage, visitors can explore the great wealth of the county’s history.

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Cornwall for dog lovers

A family holiday needs to cater for the whole family – and for many of our visitors that includes a four-legged friend. The good news is that Cornwall is full of great dog-friendly things to see and do. Here are some of our favourites.

Sand between your paws

There are so many incredible beaches to choose from in Cornwall, but always check if dogs are welcome, as some beaches have dog bans during the busier months.

We’re lucky to have Crantock Beach right on our doorstep. It’s cared for by the National Trust and was voted the Best British Beach by BBC Coast in 2013. Dogs are welcome on the beach all year round. The huge stretch of sand and dunes are a perfect place for dogs to play.

Holywell Beach is also dog-friendly all year round and is very close to Crantock Bay. This stunning beach was used as a location for filming of the BBC’s Poldark series.

Mawgan Porth beach is halfway between Newquay and Padstow. Surrounded by stunning cliffs, dogs are welcome all year round.

Days out with doggies

Cornwall’s iconic Eden Project was voted the world’s best location for walking dogs in 2018. Dogs are welcome in all outdoor areas, so you will have miles of beautiful gardens to explore. However, please bear in mind that dogs are not allowed into the biomes. You can find out more about Eden’s dog-friendly facilities here.

Lappa Valley is a big hit with families, thanks to its steam trains, paddle boats and play parks. And the good news is that dogs are welcome too. Located in the countryside just outside Newquay, Lappa Valley is just a short drive from Crantock Bay.

Dogs are also welcome on boat trips run by Newquay Sea Safari and Fishing and the captain even keeps dog biscuits onboard. Explore the North Cornwall coast and see Newquay from the sea. The boat trips include cruises to hidden coves and secret beaches to meet wildlife up close in their natural environment.

Paws for a pint – dog friendly pubs and restaurants

Our very own C-Bay Bar and Bistro welcomes dogs and their owners for coffee, food and drinks throughout the day. With comfy seating and an unsurpassed view of the coastline, it’s the perfect place to relax after a run on the beach below.

Beach bars don’t come much better than the Watering Hole, which is right in the middle of Perranporth Beach – a nine-mile drive from Crantock Bay. Walk your dog on the miles of golden sands of Perranporth then pop into the Watering Hole for a tasty lunch.

The Hawkins Arms in Probus, near Truro, has been voted Cornwall’s best pub on TripAdvisor. Visitors praise its great food and warm welcome – which extends to dogs too!

Dogs are welcome at the courtyard tables at Rick Stein’s Café in Padstow. A great place for coffee, lunch, or an evening meal, where freshly caught fish is sure to be on the menu.

Woodland walks

Cardinham Woods has miles of paths to explore with your dog – and after you’ve stretched your legs, you can enjoy a delicious Cornish cream tea at the Woods café (jam first of course!)

Idless Woods near Truro is another great place to walk. There are a variety of different paths to explore, including a circular path, or you can head straight up the hill from the car park to walk along the peak of the woodland.

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Our favourite things to do during half term

February is a great time to visit Cornwall. The days are getting longer and no matter what the weather has in store, there’s lots to see and do within a short drive of Crantock Bay.

Here are 10 of our favourite activities to enjoy with the family:

  1. Visit the beach

The only difficulty with visiting a beach is choosing which one – you will be spoiled for choice! Crantock beach is just minutes away from us and is perfect for surfing, walking, or just stopping to watch the waves.

  1. Newquay Discovery Trail

Pop into Newquay Information Centre to pick up a copy of the Newquay Discovery Trail for £2 and discover the secrets of Newquay’s past. There are two walks to follow, which take in the town’s main attractions. Along the trail you’ll find numbered slate discs embedded in the ground. Find the number on your map to discover fascinating facts about your location.

  1. Blue Reef Aquarium

There’s lots going on at Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium this half term. On 15 February you can meet a real life mermaid and across half term week the Aquarium is running ocean explorers to give you an insight into the fascinating creatures at the aquarium.

  1. Pirate’s Quest

Taking inspiration from the Mayflower voyage, Newquay’s Pirate’s Quest is a walk-through attraction that will take you on an adventure discovering ‘Pirates of the New World’. Calico Jack’s crew of live pirate performers will guide wannabe Jack Sparrow’s through authentic sets and scenes and introduce visitors to the real 17th century buccaneers. Pre-booking online is recommended.

  1. Cardinham Woods

Pack your wellies for a day outside in the stunning surroundings of Cardinham Woods. Just 35 minutes by car from Crantock Bay, the woods have four different walks and three cycling routes. Over February half term they also have a Shaun the Sheep Farmaggedon Glow Trail. Mobile signal is patchy at the woods, so download the App before you arrive. You can then buy an activity pack for £3.50 when you get there and follow the Trail and solve puzzles with Shaun the Sheep around the woods.

  1. Lanhydrock

You can find Lanhydrock half an hour away from us. Join the Lanhydrock National Trust Rangers on 16 February for a day packed with 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾. Make your own mud creation, cook on a campfire, find mini beasts in the Victorian swimming pool and much more around the estate. You can also grab a copy of the half term birds trail and follow it around the formal garden.

  1. National Lobster Hatchery

Become a mini marine biologist at the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow. Just 35 minutes by car, the National Lobster Hatchery is running drop-in sessions from 16-22 February between 11am and 3pm where you can meet the baby lobsters and get involved in some hands-on activities.

  1. Eden Project

The Eden Project is a must for any trip to Cornwall. Just 40 minutes away by car, this half term the Eden Project will be awash with colour, for “Colour Uncovered” – a week of creative activities exploring how art meets science in the incredible world of colour. Activities include mask making, marble painting and paper weaving. Follow the colour trail around the biomes, learn about how fabric dyes are made and investigate the natural world of colour in the Eden Project Lab.

  1. Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum in Falmouth is a great place to visit if the weather forces you indoors and it’s just a 40 minute drive from Crantock Bay. From 17 to 21 February, the Maritime Museum is running Science of the Sea, a live science show with everything from magical fog to exploding water. Also, on 16 February from 11am to 4pm, illustrator Becky Thorns will be celebrating the wonderful World of Whales to celebrate the launch of her new book.

  1. Snowdrop Sunday at Pencarrow House

Witness the first signs of spring with the beautiful snowdrops at Pencarrow House on 16 February from 10am to 4pm. This is a charity event with a suggested donation of £5 (cash only) going to CLEAR and Parkinson’s Research. Pencarrow House is a 40-minute drive from us.

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Welcoming in the New Year the Cornish way

With New Year’s Day just around the corner (hasn’t this year just flown by!) we’re looking forward to taking part in one or two traditions. Our unique coastal position means that embracing the chilly Atlantic early in the morning is one of our favourites, but there are others which will help you to make the most of the first day of 2020 in Cornwall.

Embrace the chilly water and go for a swim

What better way to clear your head and kick start the new year than the New Year’s Day open swim on Crantock Beach! Whilst running into the (probably) chilly water might seem a bit odd to those from outside Cornwall, there really is nothing better, or refreshing, on a January morning.

Indulge in a hearty breakfast

With the sea swim taking place just below us, treat yourself to one of our delicious all-day breakfasts in C-Bay afterwards. Warm up, kick back, relax and enjoy the view – whilst feeling very smug that you’ve already been in the sea on the 1st January.

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Run the dog on the beach

We’re very lucky that all of the beaches in Cornwall are dog friendly during the winter. Staying with the coastal theme, wear out your four-legged friend (and the rest of the family too!) with a good run around on the beach. If you’re feeling particularly energetic, you may have already been for a swim…

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Hire a bike and ride the Camel Trail

Enjoy a gentle ride along this traffic free route to blow a few cobwebs away. Ideal for those who would like to be near the coast, with views of the sea, without getting in. The trail is flat, so it’s great for children too.

Lastly, did you know…

In Cornwall, the moment between 11.59pm on New Year’s Eve and midnight on New Year’s Day is known as ‘St Tibb’s Eve’? It’s supposed to be a hidden day of magical celebration.

‘First Footing’ is a tradition found across the world. It’s believed that good luck is brought into the house by the first person to enter in the New Year. In Cornwall, our version of first footing is called ‘sanding the step’. The doorstep is marked with a line of sand and the first person to cross is said to represent the luck the household will receive that year.

Will you be adding this Cornish tradition to your celebrations?

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Top attractions to visit within an hour of Crantock Bay Apartments

There’s so much to see and do around Cornwall, from spectacular vantage points, to theme parks, wildlife attractions to horticultural spectacles – you’ll never be short of things to do!

With temperatures rising and the school holidays just around the corner, we thought we’d share just some of our favourite attractions to visit within an hour of us here at Crantock Bay Apartments.

The Eden Project

Spanning 35 acres, the stunning global gardens at the Eden Project offer an unforgettable experience to visitors. Explore the two spectacular biomes which house the largest rainforest in captivity as well as Mediterranean landscapes home to a wide range of exotic plants. Add to that the vibrant gardens outside, a variety of fantastic eateries and fascinating exhibitions and you can be sure of a great day out.

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The Screech Owl Sanctuary

A haven for sick and injured owls, the Screech Owl Sanctuary houses one of the largest collections of owls in the south west, with over 40 species from all over the world. The perfect place to learn about these beautiful birds, you’ll even have the unique opportunity to meet a number that are hand-tame. Other animals at the sanctuary include emus, meerkats, alpacas, pygmy goats and Shetland ponies.

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Bodmin Jail

Explore the cold, dark cells that were once home to the jail’s prisoners and get an idea of the lonely lives they led as hard labour and hunger awaited them each day. Steeped in both social and architectural history, visitors can wander through the depths of the jail where you’ll find creative exhibits depicting penal life in Victorian Cornwall. You’ll even find the only working execution pit in the country, which was discovered during renovations in 2005.

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Bedruthan Steps

One of the most popular places to visit in Cornwall, taking a trip to Bedruthan Steps during your time in the county is a must. Look out over the huge rock stacks and enjoy the spectacular views out to sea, before heading off on one of the many walks or trails in the area – the perfect way to explore this stretch of the spectacular north Cornwall coast.

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The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Previously lost beneath a tangle of weeds for decades, it was in 1990 that the derelict gardens were discovered by Tim Smit and John Willis – starting the restoration process that still continues to this day.

As a visitor, step back in time and explore one of the most loved and romantic gardens in the UK. Over 200 acres are now a paradise and well worth a visit.

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Photo by Daderot

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Camel Creek Adventure Park

The perfect day out with the kids, you’ll find a great range of wild rides, new attractions and masses of indoor entertainment at this all-weather theme park. Younger children will love the Safari Train, whilst older kids will enjoy the various rides available. For the horse lovers out there don’t miss the opportunity to meet the Shires who call the park home.

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Restormel Castle

Once a luxurious retreat for its medieval owners, Restormel Castle stands amid beautiful countryside, enjoying spectacular views across the valley of the River Fowey. Make your way around the castle and you’ll find hints of its opulent past, from the high windows and large fireplaces to the Great Hall that would have once been used for large gatherings. Take a walk around the inside of the keep and you’ll be able to imagine castle life bustling below you.

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Healey’s Cyder Farm

For anyone with a love of cider, a trip to Healey’s Cyder Farm is a must! As award-winning makers of ciders, wines, spirits and preserves, you’ll find plenty of fantastic food and drink to sample – as well as lots of other family fun. Don’t miss the guided tour which will take you through the press house, jam factory, museum, distillery, and cellars, ending up with an aerial view of the cider production halls. The kids will also love taking a tractor ride through the beautiful orchards.

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Newquay Zoo

Ready to meet over 1,000 of the world’s rarest and most endangered animals? From lions to songbirds, meerkats to snakes you’ll find plenty of amazing species at Cornwall’s biggest zoo. During your visit you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy exciting keeper talks, activity trails, the Dragon maze and much more.

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Blue Reef Aquarium

Taking visitors on a journey from the Cornish coasts to the exotic seas, the Blue Reef Aquarium has 40 naturally-themed habitats to see, housing a variety of fascinating creatures. These range from those you’d find in a Cornish rockpool, to Black Tip Reef Sharks – and even a Giant Pacific Octopus. With daily events and feeding to watch – visitors can come and go from the aquarium as they please with their day pass, allowing you to pop back to watch the events you don’t want to miss.

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Photo by Nilfanion

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