Today was the first day of my three-day trip to Cornwall. I’m staying in the St Austell area, close to the Eden Project and The Lost Gardens of Heligan. Situated on the outskirts of St Austell is Charlestown, a beautiful Georgian port and village boasting pebble beaches, coastal walks and quirky shops, among more.
Charlestown was my day one destination. I arrived in the village a little before noon, and parked in the pay and display car park close to the harbour. The harbour is perhaps a minute walk from the car park so it wasn’t long before I saw the impressive collection of old ships there.
I should mention that Charlestown harbour is actually used as a key location for the filming of the BBC’s remake of the 1970s hit series Poldark, while many of the ships kept there are employed in film projects all over the world.
I’d heard that the tallship featured in Poldark, as well as Doctor Who, Outlander and Taboo, was at Charlestown harbour a couple of days ago and, luckily for me, it was still there today. The sleek two-mast brig, known as ‘Phoenix’, really is beautifully crafted. It’s painted in traditional colours – black and yellow – and finished with what looks like a shiny gloss.
There’s no doubt that Charlestown has a rich maritime history. Aside from the harbour, the village is also home to the Charlestown Shipwreck and Heritage Centre, which houses the largest collection of shipwreck artefacts and treasures in the UK, including a disused tunnel once used to move China clay to the waiting ships in Charlestown harbour.
While I didn’t go in myself, I imagine the Charlestown Shipwreck and Heritage Centre is a fascinating visit for anybody interested in seafaring, history or how things are built.
I walked along the pebble beach next. There were lots of people jumping the waves, walking their dogs and enjoying a good book.
After that I followed the coastal path from Charlestown to Carlyon Bay. I kind of stumbled upon this path so I wasn’t sure where I was going or even how long it would take to get there, but I’m glad that I took the risk.
After half an hour, the path opened up to reveal Carlyon Bay and it. was. beautiful. There was nobody else there so it was like I had my very own private beach, or secret cove. If I had to guess, I’d say the beach spans about two miles of coarse sand.
Features included distinct outcrops of rock, sandy dunes, and a rich and verdant nature reserve, all shielded by a series of cliffs which offer the most spectacular views from the South West Coast Path.
I circled back towards Charlestown for food. I’d read about a place called Charlie’s Boathouse online and figured I’d give it a shot. And, I’m glad that I did. The décor, the staff and the food was all on point, and the prices weren’t bad either.
I had the veggie burger which was delicious. The burger itself was made from broad beans, potato peas and spinach, and it was sandwiched between a Baker Tom brioche with onion rings and salad. It came with a side of rustic chips and a cute pot of chutney. Hungry?
Next, I explored the shops in Charlestown. There’s a real mix of shops, selling everything from handmade gift to paintings to antiques and collectables. One place that stood out to me was a gift shop called Anna’s Workshop, mostly because it’s storefront was painted in a vibrant teal colour. I didn’t buy anything from Anna’s but I spent plenty of time inside admiring everything for sale.
The other place that stood out to me was The Old Workshop. Located next to the car park, this historic building has been converted from an old gunpowder store into three very interesting businesses.
The first is the Sail Loft Emporium, selling a fine array of antiques, collectables, crafts, vintage and retro items. The second is Cscape Art, the gallery and studio of artist Sarah Blakey and photographer Mick Blakey. And the third is The Craft Kiln, which offers unique handmade products such as jewellery, prints, ceramics, wood turning and soaps, among more.
I ended up buying an illustration of the harbour from The Craft Kiln as a reminder of a day well spent in Charlestown!
See more pics on my Instagram feed/story @itslarashingles.