South West Food & Drink Adventure - 5 day itinerary


South West Food & Drink Adventure - 5 day itinerary

5 Days

This five-day rail and self-drive itinerary gives a wonderful insight into the seafood, wine and even tea of South West England! Also included are some the region’s top visitor attractions, such as the world-famous Eden Project. Travelling from Devon’s south coast, to the wine country of North Cornwall this itinerary offers unforgettable experiences, including the chance to get out to sea and catch dinner, and also learn about wine production in idyllic countryside settings.

Getting To/From The South West

The South West Food & Drink Adventure 5 day itinerary is best enjoyed using a combination of rail and self-drive, however there are public transport solutions for many of the featured attractions if required.

Starting at London Paddington station, we recommend an evening departure by train from London to Plymouth (3 hours 15 mins) to ensure a prompt start to the itinerary in Plymouth the following morning.

For short trips, individual rail tickets can be booked in advance through the Trainline. For longer journeys, such as this one, one of the easiest and most relaxing ways to explore Britain is with a BritRail Pass, which allows unlimited journeys and the freedom to explore. For this itinerary, a BritRail South West Pass is an ideal solution to take advantage of the Great Western Railway that runs from London, all the way to Penzance in Cornwall. The Night Riviera Sleeper service enables visitors to travel the route overnight. Daily flights also connect London and Manchester with Newquay in Cornwall.

For those who wish to break up the train journey, Exeter is an excellent option (see the 2 day West Country Foodie Escape itinerary).

Day 1

Plymouth highlights, Catch and Cook Fishing Trips & Royal William Yard

Plymouth highlights

Plymouth, Britain’s ‘Ocean City’, has a rich maritime heritage and is a destination with a stunning waterfront and natural harbour. Its spectacular location between the sea, farmland and rolling moors provides the city’s award-winning restaurant with a wonderful natural kitchen of fine, fresh food.

The city is home to several top restaurants including the hugely popular Barbican Kitchen, and the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill at the Crowne Plaza on the Hoe, which provides truly spectacular views.

The many marinas, restaurants, alfresco pavement cafés and waterfront bars give the city a distinctly European feel, with each one offering up a mouth-watering array of choice.

After breakfast, a stroll around the historic harbour in the Barbican area of the city is a great way to start the day. Sites include The Mayflower Steps, from which the Pilgrim Fathers are believed to have boarded the Mayflower vessel, before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to settle in North America on 6 September 1620. In 2020 the United Kingdom, USA and Holland will commemorate and celebrate the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower with a series of events.

Also located in the harbour and well worth a visit is the National Marine Aquarium, the largest public aquarium in Britain. Group rates are available.

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Plymouth Boat Trips – Catch and Cook Fishing Trips

After lunch in one of The Barbican’s many restaurants, what better way to have fun and explore the high seas than with Plymouth Boat Trips on a 3.5 hour mackerel and deep-sea fishing trip? Fishing the local waters, reefs and wrecks of Plymouth Sound, these trips are suitable for everyone, from expert fishermen to absolute beginners. All necessary equipment is provided, so all those on board can sit back and try and spot minke whales, basking sharks, dolphins or even leatherback turtles!

On returning to the harbour the “fishermen” can stop at The Boathouse Café on the quayside, where their catch will be prepared and cooked, to order, by the café’s expert chefs.


Royal William Yard: historic grade 1 listed military buildings

Royal William Yard is a great spot to enjoy the evening in Plymouth. Steeped in history, this collection of Grade I-listed military buildings is the largest in Europe, as well as being a thriving arts and cultural hub with a cosmopolitan mix of bars, restaurants and boutiques.

As an independent wine lounge and merchant, Le Vignoble is a must-visit in the South West. Guests are welcome to sample a huge selection of wines by the glass, including those from local vineyards. Locally produced gin and craft beer are also available. Private tutored tastings can easily be arranged for groups of five or more, and accompanying continental food pairings, including items such as cured hams and cheeses, are always a fantastic addition to any tasting class.

Day 2

Eden Project & Knightor Winery

Eden Project

St. Austell, in Cornwall, is the destination for day two – best reached by car or train. Having checked into one of many accommodation choices – perhaps in pretty Charlestown Harbour or stunning Carlyon Bay – visitors are well placed to explore some of the best attractions in Britain.

Often called the eighth wonder of the world, the Eden Project is a series of bubble-like ‘Biomes’ nestled in a crater, surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Home to the largest indoor rainforest in the world, and featuring mangrove swamps and treetop gardens, it also lays claim to England’s longest and fastest zipline experience, which provides a bird’s eye view of the site. The food served at the Eden Project cafés is worth a look too, as it’s all made with responsibly sourced, organic, seasonal produce.

The no. 101 bus runs from St Austell station to the Eden Project. Please check latest schedules.

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Knightor Winery

Just north of the Eden Project is Knightor Winery. On Thursdays and Sundays between April and October they run scheduled tours, discussing the varieties grown in Britain as well as those from other regions around the world, along with tips on how to grow your own. This is followed by a peek into the winery for a brief introduction to how wine is made, and finally a tasting of their wines, which include a delicious vermouth. On Sundays it is possible to combine a tour with a traditional roast lunch. Private group experiences are available year round on request.


The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Also close by is one of Cornwall’s most magical gardens, The Lost Gardens of Heligan. Rediscovered after decades under a tangle of weeds, they remain one of the most loved and romantic gardens in South West England, appreciated for their year-round beauty, mystery and ground-breaking restoration.

Comprised of 200 acres of estate and winding paths laid over two centuries ago, exploring the gardens reveals a secret world of traditional and rare breeds, wildlife and ancient woodlands. The famous ‘Jungle’ takes visitors on a sub-tropical journey through bamboo tunnels and under majestic tree ferns, giant rhubarb and bananas.

The no. 471 bus runs from St Austell station to the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Please check latest schedules.

For dinner, lovers of great seafood should head to the picturesque Charlestown harbour or the fishing village of Mevagissey.

Overnight St Austell.

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St Austell Brewery

Offering a new and interactive Brewing Experience, this Visit England accredited Visitor Centre reveals the secrets behind their award-winning ales our 160 year-old brewing process, with tasters included.

Your clients can find out about the history and heritage of this Brewery an interactive tour, including digital and physical displays and Walter’s Walk; explore the Small Batch Brewery and sample some of delicious beers with their Brewing Ambassadors.

bar staff pouring a craft beer
Day 3

Padstow highlights, Camel Valley vineyard & Rick Stein’s Cookery School

Padstow highlights

The charming fishing port of Padstow is synonymous with great seafood and is one of the gems of South West England. This is thanks, at least in part, to celebrity chefs Rick Stein and Paul Ainsworth, who have opened several wonderful restaurants in the town such as The Seafood Restaurant and Paul Ainsworth at Number 6. The Padstow Christmas Festival is a major date in the British foodie calendar, but there is great cuisine here all year round.

Padstow has some beautiful beaches less than a five-minute drive away and is a perfect base from which to explore the South West Coast Path. It is also the start and end point of the Camel Trail Cycle Route and is close to some of Cornwall’s best wine country.

For those who would prefer not to drive, it is possible to get from St Austell to Padstow on public transport – the no. 11A bus runs regularly to Padstow from Bodmin Parkway station (16 mins on train from St Austell station). Please check here for latest timetables.

After checking into accommodation, hiring bikes in Padstow and discovering the famous Camel Trail Cycle Route is a great way to explore. One of the most popular recreational bike paths in the country, the Camel Trail, runs from Padstow to Wenford Bridge, via Wadebridge and Bodmin. The largely traffic-free trail follows the route of an old railway line once used by the London and South West Railway. The trail is fairly flat all the way and offers wonderful views of moorland, woodland and estuary.

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Camel Valley Vineyard

Conveniently situated along the trail is Camel Valley Vineyard.

Camel Valley is a family run vineyard established in 1989. Today the vineyard produces internationally award-winning wines and offers a ‘Grand Tour and Tasting’, where a wine maker personally guides visitors through the vineyard and explains the wine-making process. After the tour, there is a fun tasting session, beginning with Camel’s most famous wine: Cornwall Brut.

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Rick Stein’s Cookery School

Rick Stein’s Cookery School, in Padstow, is one of Britain’s best cookery schools. It is the place to learn how to cook great dishes with the freshest seafood and also runs classes on Indian curries, street food, Spanish tapas, patisseries and baking, to name just a few.

On the Catch and Cook class, the day starts with a trip out to sea with a local Padstow fisherman, before heading back to the kitchen with the catch to learn how to prepare and cook it.

Similarly, the Field to Fork workshop teaches not only how to cook, but also how to grow produce, picking, preparing and cooking a meal sourced from the Padstow Kitchen Garden.

There are also some exclusive cook & stay breaks, combining an overnight stay and breakfast in one of the beautiful guest rooms with a one day course at Rick Stein’s Cookery School.

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Day 4

Tintagel Castle, Port Isaac and Trevibban Mill vineyard

Tintagel Castle

The spectacular Tintagel Castle sits 45 minutes’ drive up the coast from Padstow. Built half on the mainland and half on a jagged headland jutting precariously into the Cornish sea, Tintagel has long been associated with legends relating to King Arthur.

A dramatic new bridge spanning the gap between the two parts of the stronghold is scheduled to open in 2019. The original land bridge collapsed in the 15th century.

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Port Isaac

For lunch, we suggest heading south to the traditional fishing village of Port Isaac. Narrow winding streets, lined with whitewashed cottages, lead down to the harbour, where local fishermen land their daily catch of fish, crab and lobsters. Celebrity chef Nathan Outlaw has two restaurants that make a trip here more than worthwhile: Restaurant Nathan Outlaw and Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen. Advance booking is highly recommended for both eateries.

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Trevibban Mill Vineyard & Orchards

Thirty minutes’ drive away is Trevibban Mill Vineyard & Orchards. Situated in the scenic St Issey Valley, Trevibban Mill has an organic farming ethos which helps produce fantastic grapes, but also benefits local wildlife and encourages healthy biodiversity. For example, the hedgerows which surround the farm are full of edible fruits like blackberries and sloes, and Trevibban uses the flowers from the elder trees to make cordial for Champagne cocktails or delicious ‘mocktails’.

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A new purpose-built winery and cellar also houses a stylish tasting room, and the on-site restaurant, Appleton’s at the Vineyard, is a regular in the Michelin Guide.

It is possible to drop in at any time during opening hours for a tasting, or join a scheduled tour of the vineyard and winery, followed by a tasting of three of Trevibban’s best wines. On Sunday mornings there is a very popular ‘Grand Walking Tour’. Guests are guided around the vineyard, orchard and lakeside, learning about organic viticulture and grape growing in England, before finishing the tour in the winery where they learn exactly how the wine and cider is made. Afterwards guests can taste seven of the wines and have lunch at Appleton’s at the Vineyard, while enjoying beautiful views across the valley.

Day 5

Tregothnan estate

Tregothnan Estate

The beautiful Tregothnan Estate is located just 40km south west of Padstow.

Formed in 1334, Tregothnan is a family business and the seat of the Viscount Falmouth. They have pioneered botanical firsts for centuries within the private walls of the Estate’s vast botanical garden, nurturing rare plants including Camellia sinensis (tea plants). This unique environment, as well as an unusual set of climatic conditions, means they can grow and produce Britain’s first ever home-grown tea.

Tregothnan welcomes the opportunity to host groups visiting the Estate and can tailor-make a British tea experience. Visitors can choose from a combination of tea blending and tasting, plucking their own fresh tea, touring the Estate’s magical garden, the history of the Estate and tea in the UK, bee keeping, horticulture and garden lessons and bespoke British floristry workshops. Depending on how much time they can dedicate to visiting the home of British tea, there is also luxury self-catering accommodation at the Wild Escapes cottages at nearby Coombe.


Britrail Pass

For those exploring Britain by train, a BritRail Pass is the easiest and most cost-effective way to travel. For a single fixed price, pass holders can make unlimited train journeys around the whole country or a region of their choice. BritRail tickets are exclusive to overseas visitors so they will need to buy their ticket before they arrive in the UK.

Book on the Visit Britain shop


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