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Introducing Padstow

If anywhere symbolises Cornwall's changing character, it's Padstow. This once-sleepy fishing port has been transformed into one of the county's most cosmopolitan corners thanks to celebrity chef Rick Stein, whose property portfolio encompasses several restaurants, shops and hotels, as well as a seafood school and fish-and-chip bar.

The 'Stein Effect' has certainly changed the place: Padstow feels more Kensington-chic than Cornish-quaint these days, with a rash of fancy restaurants and chi-chi boutiques sitting alongside the old pubs and pasty shops. Whether the town's managed to hold on to its soul in the process is debatable, but it's still hard not to be charmed by the setting.

Across the Camel Estuary from Padstow is Rock, a once-quiet village that's been reinvented as an ├╝ber-exclusive holiday destination. It's worth a trip for the chance to dine at the Michelin-starred restaurants of Nathan Outlaw, the county's top seafood chef.

Between the two resorts is the silvery sweep of the Doom Bar, a treacherous sand-bank that's claimed many ships down the centuries.