I remember seeing the following ad. “Portreath Cottages to Rent” many summers ago before I ever knew this delightful little village on the north Cornish coast. For some reason it stuck in my mind but I never thought that several years later I would be living on our farm only a mile from Portreath and would be the proud owner of my own holiday cottages to rent. Anyway, this ad conjured up a vision of a Cornish holiday in a cosy holiday cottage enjoying all that that would mean – blue, blue, skies, sandy beach, rock pools, coastal walks, lashing of Cornish ice cream with a dollop of Cornish clotted cream of course, cream teas, pasties, crab sandwiches - I could go on and on.
Well of course, Portreath does indeed offer all these treats in abundance. What anyone taking up the ad “Portreath Cottages to Rent” today would see a very different village from the one pictured in the old prints and photographs of the 19th century when Portreath harbour was a very busy scene indeed. Being only two miles or so from Redruth, then the heart of the massive Cornish mining industry, the tin and copper ore would be transported down to the harbour on what is now the Mineral Tramways Trail to be shipped to Wales. Incidentally, this trail is now a delightful open path for walking and cycling. The incoming boats would arrive laden with Welsh coal, the ship’s captain having had to negotiate the decidedly tricky entrance to Portreath harbour. To-day the holiday maker will find the harbour a tranquil scene with fishing boats bobbing in the sunshine and crab pots lined up on the quay.
Fishing, of course, once played a very important role in Portreath’s life. To-day, the Waterfront Inn stands on the site of the old Fish Palace where the abundant pilchards were processed.
Apart from such healthy pursuits as swimming, surfing, cycling and walking Portreath caters well for the indulgent side of life, with three pubs and several cafes, not to mention its own well-regarded Portreath Bakery known for its Cornish pasties and wicked cakes. Holiday cottage residents can enjoy a pre-breakfast trip for fresh rolls with their coffee.
Mention should be made of the magnificent Tehidy Country Park on the west side of Portreath. Once the home of the immensely wealthy Bassett family (they even cut their own swimming pool out of the rocks on Portreath beach which still exists to this day) this wonderful area of woodland walks is a haven for wildlife. The bluebells in the spring have to be seen to be believed.
If anyone today saw the ad “Portreath Cottages to Rent” all the above pleasures would be available to them and one extra treat is in store. Anyone enjoying a winter holiday in Portreath will be captivated by the occasional opportunity for “Storm Watching” when one can park on the hill and watch the massive Atlantic breakers crashing on to the harbour wall – almost like a daylight firework display as the spray flies skywards in huge clouds.