The ancient stannary town of Lostwithiel dates back to the 12th Century and used to be Cornwall’s capital. These days it’s known as the antiques capital of Cornwall thanks to its wide range of antiques shops and regular fairs. The town is packed with independent shops that stock everything from deli produce and Cornish pasties to haberdashery and hosiery. But it’s not just the lively shopping scene that draws the crowds, there are beautiful riverside walks to enjoy, brilliant play parks for kids and plenty of excellent pubs, cafes and restaurants ready for when hunger strikes.
Getting to Lostwithiel
You can either drive and park up in the free community centre, or alternatively, you could catch the train. It’s on the mainline Penzance to Paddington line, so it benefits from a fairly regular schedule. Well, by Cornish standards at least!
Once you’re in the town it is easy to navigate your way around as there are plenty of signs you can use for direction. If you get stuck, just ask a local, there’ll gladly point you in the right direction.
If you enter town from the station, you’ll cross the beautiful 13th Century bridge. It was first bridged by the Normans (who founded Lostwithiel) originally had nine arches, but the four most westerly arches are now said to be under North Street. It was rebuilt in the 15th Century and very narrowly escaped being blown up by the Parliamentarian Army in 1644 during the English Civil War. These days it serves as a great link between the two sides of town and is a very pretty focal point. It’s also great fun for paddling around in the summer!
Shop ‘til you drop
The main action is on Fore Street, which runs from where the local Co Op is, all the way up to the A390. Although Lostwithiel has a big reputation for antiques, there are plenty of other options to explore.
Anna Dianne Furnishings is set in The Old Duchy Palace, the oldest secular medieval building in the country! It makes a beautiful backdrop for the shop's furnishings. You can stock up on beautiful items for your home both big and little. I’m a big fan of their huge selection of chalk paint and it’s only the reminder of how bad I am at DIY that convinces me not to buy a few sweet shades.
Just up the road is Different Crumble which sells an impressive selection of retro gifts. It’s the perfect place to pick up birthday presents with a difference that you wouldn’t find on the normal high street.
Next up I took a look in the Romantic Englishwoman, which was established over 20 years ago and now has a shop in Fowey too. It’s a visual treat just to take a step into this beautifully curated space where every product seems to have been selected with great care. Even the smallest item promised to add a dash of luxury to your life, from lavender print hangers to whimsical lace nightgowns.
On the same side of the road, I meandered up to Deja-Vu Antiques which is a treasure trove of French and Scandinavian furniture. Alongside the bigger pieces you’ll find paintings, studio pottery and plenty of well-loved books. Across the road I was drawn into Curiouser & Curiouser which is packed full of all manner of things, but I was particularly taken with the rails of vintage clothes they had on offer.
Past a few shops I stumbled across Watts Trading – an eco-emporium which aims to satisfy everyday needs in as environmentally friendly a way as possible. It’s jam-packed with gems such as British made bamboo and linen towels and natural painting brushes.
Further up the street on the other side is Bellamama Deli, which is a real foodies' paradise. It is packed to the rafters with all sorts of goodies. The cheese selection is huge and features Cornish as well as continental varieties. They also serve freshly made sandwiches and coffee. I picked up a few goodies to take home and by now my stomach was definitely rumbling!
Food and Drink
I headed back down Fore Street to a restaurant that had caught my eye earlier - Calegros. This busy bistro is run by a Sicilian head chef whose menu reflects his Italian origins. I ordered the vegetarian Puttanesca which was studded with perfectly plump olives; a very tasty lunch and definitely did the job of refuelling.
If Italian inspired food isn’t your favourite, there are plenty of other places to try. Trewithan Restaurant is also on Fore Street and the menu focuses on local produce with an imaginative twist. If you are around at 11am, they serve a brunch with a glass of Buck’s Fizz!
If it’s dinner time dining, Asquiths Restaurant is the place to head. It’s located in a more residential area on North Street, but don’t let that put you off.
For something more low-key you could try out the pubs. The Globe, The Royal Oak and The Earl of Chatham are all easily accessed from the centre of town and offer up traditional pub food. If you’re after something lighter, you’ll find both the Duchy Coffee Shop and Country Flowers & Confectionary on Fore Street selling sandwiches, cakes and other treats.
Or just around the corner you’ll find 2 Quay Street which is a beautiful craft emporium serving coffee, tea and cake. If you’re into knitting or crocheting, head here at 10am on Wednesday for their ‘Wooly Wednesdays’ where participants meet up and knit, natter and drink tea!
After lunch we take a little wander around the rest of the town through the backstreets admiring the quirky homes and impressive architecture. One particular stand out is the church.
We stroll back through town and along the river; there is a fabulous football field which features a skate park, basketball courts and a very fun looking park. In fact, I definitely tried out the zip wire. You know, purely for research purposes.
We ended strolling along the river taking in the beautiful views. The daffodils were out and the sun was shining, the perfect end to a lovely day!