Padstow town

The walk follows Padstow harbour to the North Quay and then the Coast Path to the war memorial overlooking the estuary. The route then follows back lanes to Prideaux Place and re-enters the town through the churchyard where the Celtic monastery of Lanwethinoc is though to have been. The walks cuts down a "drang" from the harbour to join the Saint's Way and follows this to the obelisk on Dennis Hill where there are exceptional views. The return to Padstow is along the Camel Trail past the National Lobster Hatchery.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 106 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 3.6 miles/5.7 km
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Start from: Padstow harbour
  • Parking: Padstow. Satnav: PL288BL
  • Recommended footwear: walking shoes, or trainers in summer

Maps for this walk

(dark blue corner = laminated version)

Highlights

  • Padstow's historic harbour
  • Panoramic views of the Camel Estuary from the memorial
  • Ornate Elizabethan manor of Prideaux Place
  • Panoramic views of the river and creeks from the obelisk
  • Cornish food in Padstow

Directions

  1. Make your way around the harbour past the Shipwrights to the coast path sign opposite the Tourist Information Centre. Follow the ramp up from the harbour in the direction of the coast path sign to reach a metal gate.

    Padstow is a very old port town facing into the Camel Estuary (formerly Petrockstow after St Petroc). Possibly from as early as 2500 BC, Padstow has been used as a natural harbour, linking Brittany to Ireland along the 'Saints Way' from Fowey. In the Middle Ages, it was known as Aldestowe (the 'old place', to contrast with Bodmin, which was the new place). The Cornish name Lannwedhenek or Lodenek derives from the Lanwethinoc monastery that stood above the harbour in Celtic times.

  2. Go through the gate and keep right on the lower tarmacked path and follow this to the war memorial.
  3. At the memorial, double back and follow the upper path. Follow this onto a lane and continue until you reach a junction opposite a post box.

    The top of the High Streetin Padstow is the head of what once was a tidal creek, overlooked by the church until the tidal seashore was reclaimed over the past three centuries. Whilst Tokyo is perhaps more famous for its reclaimed land, Padstow got there first!

  4. At the junction, turn right and follow the lane until it ends in a T-junction.

    The large house on the left at the far end of the lane, known as the Dower House, was once the home of the town Doctor.

    The Dower House is situated by Prideaux Place in Padstow. The house was formerly known as The Nook and Dr Henry Frederick Marley, born 1831, practised there for about 50 years. On returning from a visit to Padstow in 1842, Charles Dickens dined with his father, Dr Miles Marley. They agreed that Marley was an unusual name and Dickens exclaimed (somewhat confidently), "Before the New Year, your name will be a household word!" He then used the name 'Jacob Marley' for Scrooge's partner in 'A Christmas Carol', which was finished at the beginning of December 1843. The book sold 6,000 copies by Christmas Eve, which at the time was a record, and Dicken's confident claim was realised.

  5. At the junction, turn left and follow the lane to another T-junction.

    The manor house to your right is Prideaux Place.

    Prideaux Place, situated at the top of Padstow, is an Elizabethan manor house which has been the home of Prideaux family for 14 generations. It was built in 1592 by Nicholas Prideaux and survived unaltered until the 18th century when Edmund, Nicholas's great grandson, influenced by his Grand Tour through Italy in 1739, created a formal garden and updated the house by installing modern sash windows and coal burning grates.

    Consequently, the house combines some traditional Elizabethan architecture with the 18th century exuberance of Strawberry Hill Gothic. Of its 81 rooms, 46 are bedrooms and only 6 of those are habitable (the rest are as the American Army left them at the end of the Second World War). The deer park is thought to be the oldest in the country and has been dated back to its enclosure by the Romans in 435 AD.

  6. Turn left onto Church Lane and follow it a short distance to a gateway into the churchyard on the right.

    According to legend, St Petroc arrived from Ireland around 520 AD and settled here. After his death, a monastery called Lanwethinoc was built on the hill above the harbour in Padstow. The monks there acquired land from Portreath to Tintagel. After the Viking raid of 981 documented in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the monks moved inland to Bodmin taking the relics of St Petroc with them. The site of the monastery has never been identified with certainty, but it is thought to be based on the present parish church with an extension towards Prideaux Place.

  7. Go through the churchyard gate and follow the right-hand path to the church door.

    There have been 3 churches on the site of St Petroc's in Padstow. The first, was built in the early 6th Century by Petroc and was destroyed in 981 by the Vikings. In the 12th Century, another church was built, which is thought might have been of sandstone and therefore didn't last long. This was replaced by the current church in the early-mid 15th Century. The cream-coloured stone in the interior, used for the columns, was imported from Normandy; the dark stone used for the font and windows is blue elvan quarried from Cataclew Point between Harlyn and Mother Ivy's bay.

  8. With your back to the church, follow the path to the left onto Church Lane and follow this until you reach a junction at the Golden Lion.

    The Golden Lion is the oldest inn in Padstow, dating back to the 14th century. Many sales of salvaged goods took place in the "Long Room" behind the Inn. During the May 1st Obby 'Oss festival, the Golden Lion acts as "stable" for the Old 'Oss.

  9. Go straight ahead past the Golden Lion onto Lanadwell Street and follow this to a junction beside Stein's Patisserie.

    The celebrity chef and presenter Rick Stein lives in, and is heavily invested in, the Padstow area. At the time or writing, he and his (ex wife) business partner own four restaurants, four shops, a cookery school, a cluster of self-catering holiday cottages, a pub and 40 guest rooms in and around Padstow! Unsurprisingly this is controversial: Padstow is cynically referred to by some locals as "Padstein", whilst others point out his enterprises employ over 400 local people and potentially attract more visitors to Padstow than perhaps otherwise would have been the case. Either way, there are now lots of places to eat in Padstow.

  10. Bear left and continue a short distance to a junction, then turn right and walk alongside of the Chough Bakery to reach the harbour, continuing until you reach a tiny alley marked "Drang" on your right.

    If you can see fish swimming around in the harbour are likely to be grey mullet.

    Grey mullet are related to the perch family (such as the bass) and surprisingly unrelated to the "red mullet" (which is in fact a type of goatfish). Mullet caught in the open sea are excellent eating fish and can be used in similar dishes to bass. However, those living in muddy water (such as the harbour) generally taste of mud. This can apparently be diminished by soaking them in acidic, salty water but the flavour is still described as "earthy".

  11. Turn right up Drang and follow the cobbled alley until it emerges on a road.

    Although most of the buildings in Padstow are from the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries, the street pattern near the harbour dates from the mediaeval period.

  12. Turn left and follow the road to a bend. Keep right to stay on the road around the bend and continue until it ends at a T-junction.
  13. Bear left at the junction and cross to Dennis Road opposite. Follow this in the direction signposted for the Saint's Way until you reach a junction at a bend.
  14. Keep ahead onto Dennis Lane and follow this until you reach the second of 2 tracks on the left, opposite a Saint's Way sign.

    The Saints' Way runs for 30 miles from Padstow to Fowey, and follows one of the likely routes of early Christian travellers making their way from Wales and Ireland to the Continent during the Dark Ages. Rather than risk a premature martyring on the rocks around Land's End, they would disembark their ships on the North Devon and Cornish coast and cross the peninsula, on foot, to ports on the south coast such as Fowey. The Bush Inn at Morwenstow is thought to be one of the stopovers from the North Devon ports. The route from Padstow to Fowey was in use before the Dark Ages which is evident from Roman coins found along the route. However it is thought that it was likely to have been in use even earlier still, in the Iron Age.

  15. Follow the track marked with the "footpath" sign a short distance to a waymark in front of the gate. Turn right at the waymark and follow the path uphill to a waymarked gate.

    The settlement of Dinas, to the south of Padstow, was first recorded in 1327 when it was spelt Dynays. The name Dinas (the Cornish word for fort) is thought to have arisen because the neighbouring Dennis Hill (which is likely to have once been called Dinas Hill) has a natural geological formation which resembles an Iron Age hillfort.

  16. Go through the gate and follow the right hedge to an old iron gate on the left at the top of the hill.

    Many placenames in Cornwall containing "Dennis" are corruptions of Dinas which is the Celtic (Cornish and Old Welsh) word for a fort or citadel. The boy's name Dennis has an altogether different origin, from Dionysus - the god of wine. St Dennis (in Cornwall) and the shortened version of it in Australia - Sydney - are both of the latter origin.

  17. Go through the iron gate and follow the path to reach the Obelisk.

    The obelisk was erected to commemorate Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887; it is a magnificent viewpoint. To reach it, go through the green metal gate on your right. Once you're done, retrace your steps to the stile.

  18. From the obelisk, retrace your steps to the lane (follow the path back into the field, follow the left hedge to the gate, go through it to a waymark, bear left to reach the lane).
  19. Turn right onto the lane and take the second track onto the right (where the trees thin out) passing alongside a lake to reach a flight of steps on the far side of the lake.
  20. Climb the steps and turn left onto the Camel Trail. Follow this until it ends at a large Camel Trail information board.

    The Camel Trail is a recreational walking and cycling track along the track bed of an old railway running from Wenfordbridge to Padstow. The railway, where the Camel Trail now runs, was originally built in 1831 by local landowner, Sir William Molesworth of Pencarrow. The line from Wadebridge to Wenfordbridge, with a branch to Bodmin, was intended to carry sand from the Camel estuary to inland farms for use as fertiliser. Later, the railway was used to ship slate and china clay from inland quarries to ships in Padstow and also transport fish, landed in Padstow, to London and other cities. The last passenger train was in 1967 and freight finally ceased in 1983, when a need to invest in new track forced closure of the line.

  21. From the information board, continue ahead on the lane until it ends in a car park.

    The River Camel runs for 30 miles from Bodmin Moor to Padstow Bay. The name Cam-El is from the Cornish meaning "crooked one". It is documented that only the upper reaches of the river, above Boscarne, were originally known as the "Camel". The section from Boscarne to Egloshayle was known as the "Allen" and below this, it was known as "Heyl".

    The River Camel is classed as a SSSI and Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the EC Habitats Directive. Bullhead, Atlantic Salmon and Otters breed in the river.

  22. At the car park, bear right along the pedestrian path past the Lobster Hatchery. Follow the pedestrian signs to the car park exit.

    The National Lobster Hatchery, located on the quayside at Padstow, are aiming to create a sustainable shellfish fishery in Cornwall by providing a predator-free environment for lobsters to grow past the zooplankton stage where they normally mostly perish. The lobsters are reared in captivity until they are a year old - the age when they set up home in a burrow. They are then released at different points around the coast to replenish stocks caught by fishermen. There is a visitor centre there where you can find out more about what they do and meet the lobsters.

  23. Turn right out of the car park and follow the pavement back to the harbour to complete the circular route.

    The black-and-white L-shaped building arranged around a courtyard, that you pass on your left, was the Padstow Courthouse.

    Padstow Court House, situated on Riverside, was originally built in the 16th Century and extended in the late 17th and 19th centuries. Sir Walter Raleigh lived in Padstow at the end of the 16th Century when he was Warden of Cornwall and his Court House was the administrative centre for the collection of taxes and dues. Before the 19th century remodelling of the harbour, the water's edge would have been directly in front of the house.

Help us with this walk

You can help us to keep this walk as accurate as it possibly can be for others by spotting and feeding back any changes affecting the directions. We'd be also very grateful if could you look out for the following:

  • If you have a large dog, let us know if you find problems with the stiles on this walk (e.g. require the dog to be lifted over). A rough idea of how many problematic stiles there are is useful as some single women can just about manage one or two but not a dozen.

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