Nanny Pat is on a mission to find the best baby friendly and toddler friendly days out in Cornwall. Her most recent adventure saw her exploring the historic harbour of Charlestown with grandchildren Sam and Jasmine. Here’s what they got up to during their visit...
Step back into the past in Charlestown Charlestown has a fascinating history. It was created as a Georgian ‘new town’, a port development planned by local landowner Charles Rashleigh and built between 1790 and 1810 for the export of copper and china clay. Throughout the 19th century the little dock was packed with ships and the harbourside sheds and warehouses bustled with complementary businesses, such as boat building, rope making, brick works, lime burning, net houses, bark houses and pilchard curing. The distinctive wide road leading to the port was designed to facilitate the movement of large numbers of horse drawn wagons carrying cargo to and from the harbour.
To this day Charlestown remains unspoilt and retains much of its Georgian character. The port is home to a fleet of square rigged sailing ships and there is usually at least one gracing the harbour, evoking a bygone age. This unique combination has led to the port becoming a popular location for film and television productions, including the recent Poldark TV series.
Charlestown is only a 10 minute drive from Bosinver. We visited on a dreary December day, but this didn’t dampen our spirits – we were off on an adventure! There is free on road parking all the way down to the harbour and a car park on the right hand side as you approach the roundabout where you have to turn around. We always stop to admire the old sailing boats and talk about pirates and smugglers, how the sails work with the wind and how the tide rises and falls. Around the harbour walls are various chutes and winches used for loading and unloading cargoes from the boats and it is easy to paint a picture of the goings on here hundreds of years ago.
We then headed for the beach on the left hand side of the harbour. The day we were there was a low spring tide so there were large areas of exposed rock pools, perfect for searching for the creatures that hide there, waiting for the incoming tide.
Sam loves playing our ‘explorer game’ – he leads us across the imaginary rivers and lakes, hills and valleys and we have to follow until he reaches the safety of the beach! This can last for up to an hour interspersed with spotting crabs, shrimps and fish in the rock pools. Sometimes we pretend we have been shipwrecked and have to set up camp on the beach so we hunt for driftwood and rocks to build a shelter then I have to track him by following his sand arrows until I find his hiding place. Great fun! Time flies by when you’re using your imagination and playing games in the great outdoors!
Jasmine had fallen asleep so we left the beach and crossed the narrow steel bridge to the other side of the harbour, climbed the harbour wall and had a look out to sea – we decided that you would have to be a very clever sailor to get a big ship into the harbour through the narrow entrance. We then climbed the hill back to Charlie’s coffee house (winter opening 10am-4pm) to have some lunch. The staff are always very welcoming and there is a mixture of seats/high chairs and sofas and baby changing facilities in the toilets. They serve children’s portions and babycinos and small hot chocolates for warming children up on cold wintry days. Sam just loves their toasted teacakes, while my favourite is a toasted panini.
To finish the visit we usually head over the road to the playing field with swings and slides to run off excess energy. Our parting treat is an ice cream from the Tall Ships Creamery, a tiny little shop which sells delicious ice cream in many flavours (all made by them). They also even have toddler size cornets, perfect for damage limitation of melting contents!
For you shopaholics there are some nice little gift shops and galleries in the village, plus restaurants and pubs. The Charlestown Shipwreck Rescue and Heritage Centre documents the history of the port and its maritime history and is also worth a look.
Nanny Pat’s verdict: With easy parking, a range of family friendly options for lunch or snacks and lots to see, do and inspire at any time of year, Charlestown’s a winner!
What’s your favourite baby friendly day out in Cornwall? You can leave a comment below, tweet @bosinver or post your thoughts and recommendations on our Facebook page.