%VIRTUAL-ArticleSidebar-Pubs%Looking for a pub in Cornwall where you can get a little peace and quiet along with your pint? It may sound like a tall order - after all, this is the most visited county in the UK, and anyone who has spent any time there will know that it can be tricky to find a secluded spot away from the crowds. But all you need to do is take a little detour off the beaten track and you get beautiful scenery, peace and quiet and some wonderful pubs full of character all at the same time.
A stone's throw away from some of the the popular tourist hotspots such as Newquay, Padstow or St Ives, Cornwall has a whole host of hidden gems that the locals keep to themselves. Take the Fox and Hounds in Comford, a wonderful seventeenth century inn in the tiny Hamlet near Falmouth, or the Smugglers' Den, with its thatched roof and real ales, just four miles from Newquay. We've selected ten of the county's best kept secrets to visit this summer.
Have a look through the gallery of pubs below, perfect for travellers who like to avoid popular tourist hotspots and sample quaint haunts loved by the locals instead. If you have any to recommend, let us know and we'll add them to the list!
Top 10 ‘off the beaten track’ pubs in Cornwall
Cornwall pubs: Best places for a quiet pint
The picturesque village of Hessenford is located in one of the least-explored areas of Cornwall, in the South East of the county between Torpoint and Looe. Seventeenth century coaching inn the Copley Arms was built around the bridge crossing the River Seaton and originally included stables and a pig sty. Today the Copley Arms provides all the facilities of a modern day inn, with quality accommodation, roaring open fire, conference suite and good home cooked food – but sadly for animal lovers the pig sty has gone.
A tiny hamlet between Falmouth and Redruth, Comford is about as far away from the coast as you can get in Cornwall, but is an ideal base for the heritage walking routes and cycle trails as well as discovering the area’s mining heritage at Gwennap Pit, just over a mile away. The Fox & Hounds is a charming, traditional pub boasting home cooked, locally sourced food where children and dogs are both welcome, making the seventeenth century inn a great stop-off for families looking for something special in a quieter part of the county.
A 10 minute drive from the fishing village of Mousehole and with five characterful bedrooms, The King’s Arms in Paul is a great place to stay while exploring the far west of the county. The pub shuns modern pub entertainment in favour of good old fashioned family values – it operates a strict ‘no fruit machine, no satellite TV’ policy, and has earned a reputation as one of West Cornwall’s most atmospheric pubs.
The home of Rick Stein, Padstow is famous for its seafood and harbour side eateries, but just a six-mile cycle away down the Camel Trail is small town of Wadebridge, and The Ship Inn. Taken over in 2013 by the former manager of Stein’s Seafood Restaurant Rupert Wilson and his wife Sarah, The Ship has been transformed into a traditional and homely inn, open from 9.30am serving coffee and cake through to hearty pub grub and local ales in the evenings.
Tucked away a few miles off the Atlantic Highway between Bude and Wadebridge, the St Kew Inn has a colourful history which goes as far back as the mid-fifteenth century, being used as a venue for everything from traditional Cornish Wrestling bouts to annual Victorian fairs. Landlady Sarah Allen trained under Rick Stein, so as you would expect the food and friendly service are outstanding, and you can expect a warm welcome from Harry the Labrador, named after much-loved previous landlord Harry Arkley who now resides in the old churchyard next door.
Despite being Cornwall’s county town, Truro is often missed by visiting tourists – a mistake when there is a gem of a pub like the Wig & Pen to discover. Worth visiting for the food alone, landlord and head chef Tim Robinson trained under Gary Rhodes and offers fine dining in the Quills restaurant as well as home cooked food in the bar, even making his own crisps. Keep an eye out for the resident Victorian ghost Claire – easier to spot after a drink or two on the terrace.
The Gurnard’s Head is one of the furthest west pubs in Cornwall just outside the village of Zennor, but it’s well worth the trek for some of the best pub food in the country. Under the guidance of head chef Bruce Rennie, The Gurnard’s Head has built a reputation for simple but outstanding dishes and has been featured in the Good Food and Good Hotel Guides, Hardens and Michelin, as well as lauded by several national food critics.
Located in the far south of Cornwall on the Lizard Peninsula, Cadgwith was made famous in Monty Hall’s ‘The Fisherman’s Apprentice’, but is still far from the usual tourist trail. The Cadgwith Cove Inn offers comfort and charm in its seven guest bedrooms, and a warm and traditional Cornish welcome from landlords Gary and Helen. The pub is adorned with relics from the cove’s rich seafaring history, and seafood served in the restaurant is so local they can tell you the name of the fisherman who caught it.
Although only four miles outside of Newquay, The Smugglers’ Den Inn feels worlds away, in the middle of rolling countryside in the picturesque hamlet of Trebellan. The 16th Century thatched inn has a private dining room, Victorian terrace, beer garden, children’s play area and ample parking, and is renowned for its real ales, fine wines and friendly welcome. Featured in the AA Good Pub Guide and CAMRA beer guide, The Smugglers’ Den Inn also serves traditional classic pub food with changing daily specials and a delicious Sunday roast.
Helford Passage is no secret to Cornwall’s sailors – the unspoilt estuary of the Helford River is a popular stop-off point for passing boats. By land however, it’s tucked away in the woods 20 minutes from Falmouth, and not frequented by many tourists. The Ferryboat Inn dates back 300 years and sits on the waterfront, surrounded by wooded banks and sloping fields. The pub serves the Wright Brothers’ seafood specialities using as much local produce as possible.
One of Newquay's famous five beaches, this perfect horseshoe-shaped cove is great for swimmers, surfers and families. Don't miss: the Kitchen beach bar, with its laid-back atmosphere and music events, was recently named as one of Europe's finest in an Orange holiday guide. Who needs St Tropez when you can have Lusty Glaze?
With its white sand and frothy rollers, Gwithain beach is a real gem, and a particularly good spot for sunsets. Stretching for more than three miles right up to Godrevy Point, if you get this far you may be lucky enough to see the seal colony. Look out for pods of dolphins, too. Gourmet tip: Stop for a homemade cake at the Jam Pot, a listed historic building overlooking the whole of St Ives Bay.
By far one of the prettiest, safest and expansive beaches in the area, Mawgan Porth offers fabulous swimming, family surfing and body boarding. Top tip: Book in for a family sufing lesson at Kingsurf – the affable owner, Pete Abell, is an inspiration. Oh, and make sure you have a cream tea at the Merrymore Inn afterwards.
Bedruthan Steps forms part of one of the most spectacular sections of the north Cornwall coast. Huge outcrops of volcanic rock are scattered along the length of the beach – you can walk around them at low tide. Perfect if you: are relatively fit. Access to the beach is via a long and very steep staircase.... Arriving is more fun than leaving.
Although it's only a stonesthrow away from bustling Newquay, Crantock is a different world. This is a secret spot for avoiding the summer crowds: due to its relative remoteness, Crantock offers relative calm during the peak season. Top tip: Take the ferry from Newquay to Crantock Bay and stop at the Fern Pit Café.
Set in a steep valley, Portreath was once a busy port but it's now left largely to holidaymakers, surfers, and the odd fisherman. Perfect for: Scenic walks. The coastal footpath west towards St Ives Bay offers some jolly good scenery of the coastline, dotted by Deadman's Cove and Hell's Mouth – names which bear testament to the tales of shipwrecks and smuggling in the area.
Backed by lovely dunes and cliffs just a couple of miles outside Padstow, Harlyn Bay offers lots to explore and a sweeping cove popular with surfers. Don't miss: The cliffs at Trevose Head, which offer amazing views towards Pentire Head and Newquay beyond.
Often overlooked by holidaymakers, I think secluded Trevone beach is well worth a visit. A perfect mix of sand and rockpools makes it a lovely spot for families. Perfect if you: love crabbing or collecting shells.
Despite being one of the most popular beaches in north Cornwall, Polzeath still somehow manages to maintain a laid-back, typically Cornish character. The influx of families, surfers, bodyboarders, kayakers and sunbathers all mix happily on this glorious beach in unspoilt surroundings. Best for: Everyone. Last time I was here it was pouring with rain... but the kids still absolutely loved running around in their wetsuits on the open sands.
Bude is all about soft sand and space for everybody, with top-notch surfing. The eastern end of Summerleaze beach you'll find a seawater swimming pool, which is re-filled by the tide every day. Top tip: Bag yourself a beach hut at Summerleaze or Crooklets beach, with prices from £62 per week.