Cool places to play for families
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Cool places to play for families

Looking for some fresh ideas for places for the whole family to play in Cornwall? Here is our Bedruthan round-up of some of the lesser-known gems that make for a perfect day out:

Poly Joke Beach

Polly Joke is one of those out-the-way beaches treasured by locals because it’s usually quiet, even on the busiest of sunny summer days. It’s just five miles from the bustle of Newquay, nestling in a picturesque, narrow cove between Kelsey Head and Pentire Point West headlands. At low tide, the clear, turquoise waters retreat revealing exciting rock pools and caves to explore, making it great fun for families. The cliffs on either side provide a bit of shelter and privacy, while there are also plenty of sunning areas. To get there, head out of Newquay toward Crantock. Go straight through Crantock heading to West Pentire.

Just as you leave Crantock, take the left hand turn signposted to Treag Caravan & Camping. Head down the lane until you get to the unmarked gate at the end. Go through the gate, closing it behind you, and drive down the rough track to a small National Trust car park. It’s about five minutes’ walk from the car park down to the beach. Remember to save some energy for the hike back up the cliff. There are no toilets or shops here so remember to bring your own water and be prepared for wild weeing.

Little Fistral Beach

Another great alternative to Towan and Fistral beaches on busy summer days is tucked-away, west-facing Little Fistral, with its caves, rock pools and gently sloping cliff to scramble up. There’s no lifeguard patrol at Little Fistral, but a paddle in the rock pools and a clamber over the rocks is relatively safe. The beach is coarse sand and shale, and is accessible only at low tide. From the beach, you can see Towan headland, on top of which sits a small white ‘lookout’ building. From here there are wonderful coastal views of Newquay and beyond to be enjoyed. A small number of parking spaces are available by the beach, but there is a larger car park at the main Fistral Beach, a short walk away, where you’re also find a restaurant, toilets, shops and water sports facilities.

Buccaneer Bay

Explore the caves and coves of Buccaneer Bay and discover the secrets of pirate life with Captain Calico Jack’s extraordinary crew of infamous swashbucklers. With LIVE pirates, Buccaneer Bay in Newquay is a unique and atmospheric theatrical experience that‘s fun for the whole family. The experience lasts around 35 minutes. Listen to the tales the pirates tell, as these oh-so-convincing buccaneers introduce you to mythical creatures and legendary characters from Cornwall’s fascinating past. Thrills and scares await you in the Sunken Village of the Damned for those brave enough to enter, with a safe path directly to the Captain’s ship for little ones who prefer to avoid the terrifying depths.

Carnglaze Caverns

Exploring Carnglaze Caverns is a great, all-weather way to spend a family day out. To find the caverns, head to the village of St Neot on the southern edge of Bodmin Moor just off the A38. Take an underground tour of this former mine where slate was quarried and mined, find out about miners’ ingenuity and skills, and the part slate played in the Industrial Revolution. You can take a self-guided underground tour (it’s sometimes guided in high seasons) to learn how the mine was worked and you’ll end up at a stunning underground lake with crystal clear blue-green water. Browse the comprehensive collection of minerals mined and quarried in the South West, then descend a flight of 60 steps taking you about 150m into the hillside and 60m below ground.

Carnglaze Caverns is a constant 10°C underground, cool in Summer and warmer in Winter, so a jumper and sensible footwear are good ideas. As the Caverns are underground, a visit to Carnglaze makes for an ideal wet weather activity. There’s also an easy and magical woodland walk nearby that’s great for families. Wander through the caverns’ terraced garden along the zigzag pathway leading to an enchanted dell. Follow the woodland walk through the quarry wood – four acres of bluebells in Spring – to a panoramic view of St Neot village, before looping back o the main site. This is a round walk of about 25 minutes or longer if you stop to count faeries along the way. Picnic in the walled garden and browse the fascinating Crystals and Crafts Shop. Children’s trail information is available at the Ticket Office.

Encounter Cornwall’s kayaking expeditions

No matter if you’ve never kayaked before, Encounter Cornwall can introduce you and your family to the fun of canoeing before taking you on a leisurely trip on the Fowey River. Excursions include paddling upriver on the high tide to meander along its creeks and backwaters, or down the estuary on the low tide to explore its historic harbours and beaches. Your guide gives you a quick lesson in basic paddling skills before you embark on your gentle, family-friendly trip. With stops along the way and a 30 minute break in the middle, a kayaking trip is the perfect way to explore this stunning area of outstanding natural beauty. Kayaking costs £25.00 per adult and £15.00 per child under 16.

Gweek Seal Sanctuary

The Seal Sanctuary in Gweek is a lifeline for stray, sick and injured seal pups rescued from around the Cornwall coast, and a great place for families to visit. You can meet the sanctuary’s residents and enjoy their capers and antics. The sanctuary isn’t just home to seal pups, though. You can also get up close and personal with spider crabs and starfish, penguins, and otters.