‘Don’t go back’ they warned, ‘It won’t be the same’
So it was with some trepidation that I turned right off the A3075, Newquay to Goonhavern road heading for Holywell Bay in Cornwall. Would that haven of peaceful tranquillity I so fondly remembered, with stunning beach and softest sand have changed beyond recognition?
The 16th century thatched Smugglers Den Inn sign and my quaint 1895 primary school in Cubert, brought back warm familiarity as I drove past. Trevornick Holiday Park with its many camping facilities now stands on the site of Hartley’s farm, which as a child I mistakenly believed to be the makers of Hartley’s jam!
Past the new golf course, which welcomes non members, is the stunning Treguth Inn, still bursting with characteristic charm (Just remember to duck under the beams) I reminisced about sitting outside for Dad every Sunday lunchtime, easily placated as a child with a packet of crisps (with the little blue bags of salt) and lemonade with a straw!
Driving on down the steep hill, the sparkling Atlantic Ocean suddenly peeped out between the mountainous cliffs and vast sand dunes, with the unmistakeable Gull rocks sitting proudly in the distance. A dazzling sight I had seen so often, but not for so long. My heart raced! The sand covered hill twists left down to the car park opposite St.Pirans Inn with its restaurant and beer garden (You notice I recall all the Pub names!).
The narrow path between the two small village shops leads to the National Trust protected beach; the crystal clear stream hugs the cliff, our feet disappearing into deep silky sand as the stunning beach opened out before us. ‘Wow’ my husband said. I was just speechless. It was still the most naturally beautiful hidden bay. Memories flooded back of when I body surfed on a short wooden board; of picking mussels off the rocks; of taking a flask of steaming hot soup down to Dad at dusk at the water’s edge, as he fished off the beach.
Now, some fifty years later, nothing much has changed, thankfully! Families were still enjoying their picnics, rock pool fishing or taking surfing lessons with lifeguards protecting against occasional undercurrents. Others like us, just relishing the peace, disturbed only by the intermittent squawk of seagulls hanging around for titbits.
Yet despite there being more houses and holiday accommodation, the village’s special ambience isn’t compromised and with Newquay and Perranporth a short drive away, it’s ideal for day trip or longer stay. There are facilities for all ages, with lovely coastal walks and places of historic interest, like the buried St.Pirans church or the two Holy wells, one in a cave; the other near the 18th tee. Dispute as to which one the Bay was named after rattles on!
Driving away, I felt as though I’d just been given a big cuddle by a long lost friend. Holywell Bay is still magical and really is a hidden gem. Just don’t tell everybody!