Dreaming of Daymer – Betjeman’s Beautiful Cornwall Retreat

by Gareth McKillop

Daymer Bay

It is not hard to understand why Sir John Betjeman, one of England’s best loved poets, fell in love with Trebetherick and the beautiful Daymer Bay. Nestling beside its more illustrious neighbour Rock and the surfing resort of Polzeath, Daymer Bay sits on the edge of the Camel Estuary on the dramatic North Cornish coast.

There really is something ethereal about this part of the world.  A short drive down a leafy lane brings you to Daymer which fills the horizon with its stunning golden and azure tones synonymous with Cornwall and so prized by its artists.  Undulating hills with patchwork fields surround the seascape which leaves you mesmerised with its ever changing vista created by the constant ebb and flow of the tide.  The Camel Estuary and Daymer Bay in particular, provides a fascinating contrast to the dramatic rocky beaches which lie just a short distance to the north and south.

As children collect shells and fill buckets with crabs, windsurfers take advantage of the relative shelter afforded by the expansive estuary. The retreat of the tide allows walkers to amble along the sands towards Rock, famed holiday home to the well heeled and young royals. From here a regular ferry crossing takes passengers to Padstow with its array of quaint shops and eateries including the newly refurbished Rick Stein Seafood Restaurant. Padstow is also the beginning of the Camel Trail, a fantastic traffic free route following a disused railway along the southern edge of the estuary, a perfect choice for family cycle rides.

St Enodoc
St Enodoc

Behind the Daymer sand dunes you will find the exquisite 12th century St Enodoc Church, final resting place of Betjeman himself. For over two hundred years St Enodoc was lost, totally submerged by sand only to be exposed again by a storm in the middle of the 19th century. Now restored, the church looks out across the estuary beside the fairways of St Enodoc Golf Club. Beautifully moulded to fit its surroundings this challenging links course meanders between the dunes and surrounding hills. With the background of birdsong and chirping insects, this delightful setting offers precious tranquility to golfer and walker alike.

To the north of Trebetherick you will find Polzeath where Betjeman liked to enjoy surfing on wooden body boards. Today Polzeath is still a favourite with surfers and its popular bars provide entertainment into the evening. A little further up the coast lies the picturesque harbour village of Port Isaac the ‘real life’ setting to television’s ‘Doc Martin.


To the south of the Camel Estuary the majesty of the Atlantic coastline is epitomised by the awe inspiring Bedruthan Steps. Accessible during the spring and summer months, the beach at Bedruthan is completely unspoiled but with steep cliffs at all sides it certainly isn’t for the faint hearted!

Whether you choose to spend your days relaxing by the sea or exploring this wonderful part of Cornwall, you are sure to be left with a special feeling that touched the heart of a Poet Laureate.

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