To the south of Newquay lies the beautiful estuary of the River Gannel. Although the river is modest in stature over the millennia it has created a wonderful inland sandy haven for countless seabirds and a place of tranquillity in which to escape the excitements of Newquay. The river also acts as the natural boundary between the parishes of Newquay and Crantock ... and herein lies one of the secret gems of the North Cornwall coast.
In days gone by, hidden from the sea by its sand dunes, the little community of Crantock snuggled around its church. At that time is was known as Langurroc - 'The Dwelling of Monks' for it was a major centre of religious activity before the Norman conquest and had its origins in the arrival of one of the Sixth Century Celtic saints ... CARANTOC. Legend has it that he arrived in the Gannel estuary and, realising that it offered a sheltered haven from the wrath of the sea on the north coast, decided to build himself an oratory near to this source of water. However the dove that he had brought with him had other ideas and, picking tip a twig, flew inland a little way and then dropped the twig. Carantoc took this as a sign as to where to build his oratory and, in the passage of time, this grew to be of considerable stature and, by the Survey of 1294, the religious college enjoyed great revenues.
However all was not to last and the college suffered at the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, but the Norman church survived and, although suffering neglect over the centuries, was fully and magnificently restored at the turn of the twentieth century and now boasts some of the finest wood carving in the West Country.
Not all signs of Crantock's Celtic past are lost for in the centre of the village is the Round Garden, now owned by the National Trust, but almost certainly the site of one of the seven Celtic chapels that would have surrounded the original church. The Round Garden is in fact an orchard and one can sit there and enjoy the peace of this ancient place.
Nearby is the village well - one of many in the parish - and opposite the village green is the little Memorial Hall, built to commemorate those who died in the two World Wars and which is now used for village events. Alongside are some of the picturesque thatched cottages and Water lane that leads to two of the village inns - one the ancient thatched Old Albion Inn, notorious as a centre for smuggling and next door is the church .... of course!
Large parts of the parish are now in the ownership of the National Trust, including West Pentire headland which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and noted for its wonderful wild flowers and rare plants. Part of the famous South West Coast Path skirts all the seaward side of the parish and if you follow it around West Pentire you will discover another gem - Polly Joke. This delightful cove, entirely surrounded by National Trust land and virtually unchanged over the centuries, obtained its name from the old Cornish words for 'Jackdaw Cove' ....'Pol-Lejouack'. The jackdaws are still there!
Crantock's long history has made it a place of visual delight and rural charm, but it has much to offer today's visitor - not least the warm welcome you will receive - but there are also art and craft shops, a tea garden, restaurants, pubs, one of the most beautiful beaches on the north Cornish coast and miles and miles of wonderful paths along which you may walk in almost any direction.
CRANTOCK SHOULD NOT BE MISSED!
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