• Steve J Taylor

Smugglers Pubs and Days Out in Newquay


Our smuggler tour guide enjoying a tankard of French Brandy at a smugglers Inn!

There is nothing more finer than finding a dandy watering hole, a fine Cornish pub to wet the whistle and sit and relax but what makes a old tavern even better is when it has an interesting past, especially one of smuggling, pirates, wrecking and ghosts. There is just something about visiting a old Inn, a smugglers inn, sitting with a cold pint and taking in the history of the old building..


Here are our most favoured smugglers haunts on the North coast by Newquay that will have you swilling grog and as you mind wanders to the legends of the smugglers, ghosts and old history.


Red Lion, Newquay:

This grand old pub and must to visit within Newquay, but has sadly lost some of it's old world charm and decor but it makes up for it with it's outstanding views and Gin selections, fine ales and cyders and that is without it's amazing pub food and friendly staff. if your extremely lucky and can get a table with a view then you will have a view of most of the smugglers cave, the pirate island and the meany beaches used for landing contraband. Take the smugglers walking tour before hand, so you can enjoy a drink and know what your looking out at.


The cream building behind the Red Lion with its smugglers passage and tunnel.

The Red Lion was said to have been part of Newquays smuggling trade towards the back end of the smuggling era and even long after it had gone. Built in the 1830’s as a small hotel with it's own brewing room, stables and courtyard. The legend has it that a smugglers tunnel runs from the building at the back of the Red Lion, a hatch in the floor which is clearly visible takes you down in to a long corridor all the way to the tea cavern caves where the smugglers would bring in the contraband. How much of this is fact still remains a mystery.


If you do go here, I recommend the Crazy Goat Cyder or try the many Gin’s. and for food we love the steak but we also love so many other fine dishes.


The Boathouse, Newquay Harbour:

The boathouse is one outstanding restaurant and bar and I don't know any other place like it, ideally situated in the Newquay harbour with outstanding views but the building although not that old is built on a schooners shipyard where they would build old tall ships, even used as a site to break up smuggling vessels. When a smugglers boat or ship was captured it would often be broken up in 3 sections or cut up in 3 sections directly through the hull and it's parts sold off. Newquay has a vast smuggling and pirate history but there is no place quite like the Boathouse. The food is out if this world, mostly seafood but all local and fresh and it even has large lobster and crab bays, the menu is simple but it works so well.


Our guided smugglers tour actually passes by this fine establishment, you could always have a few at Red House and then head to the Boathouse for a fine meal and end it in the Newquay Rowing club where the rowing gigs are situated, a long history of gig racing and gigs have been used for smuggling ever since their invention over 200 years ago. Without a few unsung heroes in Newquay, gig rowing would of died out, but now we have gig rowing clubs all around Cornwall.


The Treguth Inn, Holywell Bay:

A haunted old pub with fine food and drinks!

The Treguth is a 13th century inn, once a old farm and was that way till the 1960’s but has a vast history and that of a ghostly one. It sits on one of the most used smugglers routes and wreckers paths, often featured in TV shows like Poldark and the BBC TV show Jamaica Inn.

The pub boasts a long history and a unknown one, many believe it will have been connected to smuggling, the only or main farm directly off the Holywell beach, an ideal place for a wagon and horses to be readied full of contraband to stolen or plundered pickings from shipwrecks. The farm has many ghostly stories from ghostly children to women and a jolly ghost, but don’t let that put you off the fine foods here, the drinks just as good. It is a locals inn but it's very welcoming, mostly full of tourists from the local parks close by and very busy in the summer.


It's just a fantastic Inn to visit, the old thatched Inn is a must visit.


The Smugglers Den:

This 16th century smugglers haunt has a fascinating history and a story of a smuggler known as Black Face Kelly and Dancing Davy which we tell on our Newquay Smugglers Walk. Black Kelly was said to be a nasty piece of work in his time often frequenting the smugglers caves and dealing out death to any that crossed him, said to have been the owner in the 1700’s and his evil deeds went unpunished as he vanished and was never seen again, some say he vanished with tubs of gold, a tub was a small barrel. His last deed was to reek the revenge for his brothers murder after he was killed by a revenue officer by the name of Tristan.


Today the pub sits located in the picturesque hamlet of Trebellan near Cubert and less than a 15 minute drive from Newquay, it's a real discovery down a bank with a large car park over from the pub. All of its food is local, it's ales, cyders and fines wines. The pub has a fantastic history and caricature you expect from a 1500’s thatched Inn.


I would highly recommend there ploughman's, it was a real treat.


The Old Albion Inn, Crantock:

One of my most favorite of the smugglers Inns to visit is the Old Albion Inn in the outstanding village of Crantock which today is mostly owned by the National Trust, but in its heart lies a 400 year old smugglers inn. The pub has seen a tragic past from a fire to been used as smugglers hide and even said to be haunted by that of dead smugglers.


A real smugglers pub with a long smuggling history!

The pub has a fireplace in the main lounge with a blue stone, under that stone is the smugglers hole that leads to a large tunnel that goes through the entire village to the river. It was inside of this smugglers tunnel that human bones were found. It is said to be haunted by a man in a brown frock coat and a young boy from around the 1700’s. Many of it's timbers inside are also from old ships and the Inn takes its name from a Schooner that was built in the Gannel when it was an old shipyard.


If you do visit, paid parking is over from the Inn, it has outdoor seating but for me been inside speaks volumes with its history. If you take a look around the outside look for the ships lamps, the largest above the door was the kind used in making false lights or fog lights of a moored boat. A ship in fog would see this and think it a safe harbour to moor, only to end in peril and be dashed upon the rocks, the wreckers would make the light slowly bob up and down to mimic the ships movement in the water.


If you eat, try the nachos, they are good but vast, fine drinks, ales and cyders along with many wines and fine foods to be had.


In the graveyard next door you can also find the village stocks and a fantastic written peace of smugglers history.


If you want to venture out and find out more about Newquay's smuggling, pirate past then why not visit the Newquay Smugglers Walk and enjoy one of our tours, hear about these old pub on the tour then you can visit them and bring to life the old stories you know as you enjoy a cold pint immersed in Cornish history. www.newquaysmugglerswalk.co.uk

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