Before the age of steam, Padstow was more important to mariners than modern industrial ports such as Liverpool. It was from here that many Cornish families departed to the Americas and Antipodes.
Padstow on the Camel Estuary, is a fine example of a Cornish-fishing port. The town is largely unspoilt, with a beautiful harbour. There are good shopping facilities, a cinema, cafes and restaurants.
Padstow is a heavenly jumble of houses, quays, boat slips, cafes and restaurants, gift and craft shops, a wine merchant, bookshops, holiday flats, grocers, gown shops, newsagents, accountants, estate agents, a chemist, homemade fudge shop and even a book maker.
The site of Padstow was well chosen by its forefathers. Settled into a narrow gulley on the West side of the River Camel estuary we are well sheltered from the prevailing South - West winds and the air is balmy.
Padstow May Day - 'Obby 'Oss Day
What’s it all about?
May Day (or 'Obby 'Oss Day as it is known) is the biggest day in Padstow's calendar. It is not unusual to see 30,000 people crammed into this little town on the day when Padstonians from all over the world return to their roots. The origins of the Obby Oss are numerous. Some say the celebration has its roots in pagan times, others that it's a rain maker, a fertility symbol, a deterrent to a possible landing by the French some centuries ago or perhaps a welcome to the summer.
Locals spend the night decorating the town’s streets with flags, flowers and greenery complete with a maypole and the following morning two "osses", one red and one blue emerge from their stables. The “osses”, swirling and dancing proceed through Padstow's streets taunted by a Teazer, who leads the dance with theatrical movements. The accompanying retinue are dressed all in white with their costumes decorated with ribbons and sprays of cowslips and bluebells. As the procession moves around the town, dancers perform a traditional gyrating dance to the sound of musicians and drummers. Last, but not least, are the followers, young and old who join the procession every year singing of the traditional May Song.
How can you take part?
It gets very busy and car parks and streets in the old town are closed to traffic. Advice is to get there early. There is a field at the top of the town near the Tesco supermarket where a park and ride service is available. You can also park in the village of Rock across the estuary and take the regular ferry across to Padstow.
Padstow May Day Obby Oss