A circular walk from Padstow along Little Petherick Creek and the Camel Trail

Little Petherick Creek and the Camel Trail

It is important that you carefully time this walk with the tide times: the footpath along the edge of the creek is underwater at high tide. Once you reach the slate tips at Sea Mills, there is no time pressure from this point on. The edge of the creek is quite muddy so ensure you have appropriate footwear.

A circular walk via the Victorian obelisk overlooking Padstow, the creek-side church at Little Petherick and the tidal enclosure of Sea Mills, returning via the Camel Trail bridge which carried the railway that brought the first Victorian tourists to Padstow and Cornish fish to London.

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From Padstow, the route climbs Dennis Hill to the obelisk where there are panoramic views of the area. It then follows the Saint's Way up Little Petherick Creek through meadows and woodland to reach Little Petherick's gothic church. From there the path follows the other side of the creek to reach Sea Mills. The return route is through fields and down a small track then along the Camel Trail over the old railway bridge spanning Little Petherick Creek.

Considerations

  • The footpath on the foreshore passes over an area of bedrock which is slippery when wet.
  • Note that most coastal walks in Cornwall have paths close to unfenced cliffs.

Reviews

A lovely peaceful walk along the creeks. The app told me the history of the area which is very helpful. Lovely views and wildlife. The last mile is along the Camel Trail. Beware of the tourists
Beautiful walk yesterday along Little Petherick Creek - thanks @iwalkc for the inspiration!

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Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 106
  • Distance: 5.3 miles/8.6 km
  • Steepness grade: Moderate
  • Recommended footwear: waterproof boots; wellies in winter

OS maps for this walk

OS Explorer 106 OS Explorer 106 (laminated version)

Click or tap on map for more info (blue=laminated)

Highlights

  • Historic fishing village and harbour at Padstow
  • Panoramic views of the creeks and estuary
  • Wildflowers in the woodland along the creeks
  • Ornate gothic church at Little Petherick
  • Remains of a tidal mill enclosure at Sea Mills
  • Wading birds such as curlews and egrets
  • Local Cornish food in Padstow

Pubs on or near the route

  • The Golden Lion Hotel
  • The Harbour Inn
  • The London Inn
  • The Old Customs House
  • The Old Ship Hotel
  • The Shipwrights

Directions

It is important that you carefully time this walk with the tide times: the footpath along the edge of the creek is underwater at high tide. Once you reach the slate tips at Sea Mills, there is no time pressure from this point on. The edge of the creek is quite muddy so ensure you have appropriate footwear.

  1. Facing the National Lobster Hatchery, turn right and follow the path to the no entry signs. Follow the lane between the buildings until you reach the start of the Camel Trail.

    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 2-3 months 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.

  2. Keep right to follow the main trail ahead until you reach another Camel Trail signpost with a "Newquay 18" sign.

    Lobsters are among the planet's oldest inhabitants with fossil remains dating back more than 100 million years. They are also extremely long-lived with some individuals reaching ages in excess of 80 years. A specimen of over 50 years old was caught in Cornwall in 2012 and was given to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay - it was a metre long and weighed 4kg. The heaviest lobster recorded was caught in 1934 and weighed an immense 19kg!

    The name lobster is originally from the Latin word locusta which means either locust or lobster. In mediaeval English, a word specifically for lobster (loppestre) was created, it is thought, by merging the Latin word for "locust" with the Old English word for "spider" (loppe - from which we get "lobe" for "dangly thing"). Perhaps the mediaeval rationale was that lobsters' legs are somewhat spider-like.

  3. From the signpost, continue ahead on the trail towards Wadebridge and Bodmin a short distance further until you reach a bench on your left, opposite a path into the bushes on the right.

    Alexanders is a member of the carrot family and grows along roadsides in places similar to cow parsley. The leaves are more solid than the lacy cow parsley leaves and the flowers are yellow rather than white. The name arises because the plant was introduced to the UK by the Romans and was known as the "pot herb of Alexandria". It is also sometimes known as horse parsley.

    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.

  4. Go down the path between the bushes on the right and descend the steps towards the lake. At the bottom of the steps, turn right and follow along the edge of the lake to reach a lane.

    Feeding bread to ducks is quite bad for them although not feeding ducks anything at all is potentially worse as many have now become reliant on being fed. White bread lacks many of the nutrients that ducks need but ducks will gorge on it to the point of ignoring other foods, effectively becoming junk food addicts. The problem is that by filling up on just this, they can become malnourished, deformed and even die. Some healthier things to feed ducks are leftover peas, sweetcorn, seeds, rice and salad.

  5. Turn left onto the lane and follow it a short distance to two tracks on the left. Take the second one marked with a Saint's Way sign and follow this a short distance to a waymark in front of the gate.

    Wild Clematis, also known "traveller's joy", produces white silky seeds in autumn which give rise to another name: "old man's beard". These stay on the plant through much of the winter and provide both food for birds and fluff for lining their nests. The tangled structure of their stems also provides cover and nesting sites for birds. During the summer months, their flowers are a good source of nectar for bees.

    The French name is "herbe aux gueux" - beggar's herb. It is said to be because the sap was used deliberately to irritate the skin to give it an ulcerated look to induce more sympathy. The sap contains a chemical called protoanemonin which causes blistering.

    Cornwall was a popular tourism destination in Victorian times, but until the railway was extended from Wadebridge to Padstow in 1899, Padstow was scarcely known to holiday makers and remained undeveloped. Initially the focus of tourism in the area was Trevone Bay, and it wasn't until the 20th Century that tourism finally caught on in Padstow. Despite the late start, tourism quickly became Padstow's dominant industry, though a number of the older industries such as farming and fishing still survive. Padstow now gets hundreds of thousands of visitors per year.

  6. 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.

  7. Go through the pedestrian section on the left of the gate (upper latch) and follow the right hedge to a stile at the top of the hill.

    If there are sheep in the field and you have a dog, make sure it's securely on its lead (sheep are prone to panic and injuring themselves even if a dog is just being inquisitive). If the sheep start bleating, this means they are scared and they are liable to panic.

    If there are pregnant sheep in the field, be particularly sensitive as a scare can cause a miscarriage. If there are sheep in the field with lambs, avoid approaching them closely, making loud noises or walking between a lamb and its mother, as you may provoke the mother to defend her young.

    Sheep may look cute but if provoked they can cause serious injury (hence the verb "to ram"). Generally, the best plan is to walk quietly along the hedges and they will move away or ignore you.

  8. Cross the stile and go through the gate. Follow the left hedge downhill to an opening into a large field.

    The obelisk was erected on Dennis Hill 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.

    Royal Jubilees began with George III celebrating 50 years on the throne in 1809 with a Golden Jubilee, followed by Queen Victoria in 1887. Victoria was the first monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Elizabeth II celebrated a 25 year Silver Jubilee in 1977, a Golden Jubilee in 2002 and Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

  9. Bear right across the field to the bottom hedge to reach a waymark post beside a path leading into the woods.

    You may remember from school geography lessons that the faster-flowing water around the outside of the bend causes a meander in a river to slowly grow as the outside edge is eroded and sediment is deposited on the inside by slower-moving water. At this point, your school geography teacher probably got excited about ox-bow lakes and never got around to explaining exactly why the water flows faster on the outside in the first place. So that you don't go to your grave feeling short-changed, an attempt at an explanation follows...

    Flowing water piles into the outside of the bend and creates a higher pressure there. Close to the riverbed, water is moving very slowly so the high pressure pushes water across the bottom from the outside to the inside. This drags the faster-moving water across the top of the river to the outside to take its place. This spiralling current both erodes the outside edge with faster-moving water and also transports the sediment back across the bottom to the inside

  10. From the waymark, follow the path down into the woods to a footbridge.

    Wild garlic grows alongside the path, which is noticeable in spring and early summer.

    Despite the pungent smell, the leaves of wild garlic are quite delicate in flavour so can be used quite large quantities in cooking or more sparingly within salads. They are at their most fiery early in the season.

    The formation of most of the world's coal deposits from wood occurred during a single geological period suitably-named the Carboniferous. It was postulated that this might be because white rot hadn't evolved by then so dead wood just accumulated. However, it's now thought more likely to be due to the formation of particularly deep swamps from the crust-buckling collisions of tectonic plates in this period which allowed wood both to accumulate in a low-oxygen environment and then be compressed into coal.

  11. Cross the bridge and follow the waymarked path up the steps to emerge in a field at a waymark.

    The ferns with solid leaves are appropriately called hart's tongue as the leaf resembles the tongue of a deer. It's an evergreen so leaves can be seen all year round but there's usually a flurry of new growth in mid March when new leaves can be seen gradually unfurling over a number of days. The Latin name for the species means "centipede" as the underside of the leaves have rows of brown spore cases that form a pattern resembling centipede legs. The plants thrive in shady places and are tolerant of the lime used in mortar so are sometimes found growing in old walls.

  12. Follow the right hedge of the field to reach a stile and gateway.

    Many place names 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.

  13. Cross the stile (or go through the gate if open) and follow the left hedge to a stile in the far hedge near the corner of the field.

    The River Camel runs for 30 miles from Bodmin Moor to Padstow Bay, making it the longest river in Cornwall after the Tamar.

    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".

  14. Cross the stile and follow the left hedge to another stile.

    The sea fish known traditionally in the UK as bass, but internationally as the "European seabass" (to distinguish from river species particularly in North America), is a member of the perch family. Given they are normally found in the sea, bass are surprisingly tolerant of freshwater and sometimes venture quite a long way upriver. Bass is very nice to eat but is a slow-growing species and therefore threatened by overfishing. Since 2010, two-thirds of the population has been wiped out in what has been described as "an unfolding environmental disaster" and although there are emergency EU measures in place to restrict both commercial and recreational catches, there is evidence that commercial catches are still well above sustainable levels.

  15. Cross the stile and follow the left hedge to a waymarked path, leading into the woods.

    The Camel Estuary is a nursery ground for bass and is a designated conservation area. Young bass spend their first 3-4 years in estuaries and then move into inshore waters. At 6-7 years the bass are sexually mature and migrate out into the Atlantic into deeper water to breed during the winter, returning each summer to coastal waters. Fishing for bass is illegal in the estuary during the summer and autumn to help protect the breeding population.

  16. From the waymark, bear left down the path into the woods and follow it to a gate.

    Common gorse flowers have a coconut-like scent but rather than fresh coconut, it is reminiscent of desiccated coconut or the popular brand of surf wax, Mr Zoggs. However, not everyone experiences the smell in the same way: for some people it's very strong and for others it quite weak. One complicating factor is that Western Gorse flowers don't have any scent, so you need to be sniffing a tall gorse plant to test yourself.

    Flower scents are volatile organic compounds which drift though the air and has evolved as an advertisement to pollinating insects that nectar is available. Squeezing the flowers releases these compounds onto the surface where they can evaporate and therefore intensifies the smell. Similarly the warming effect of sunlight helps the compounds to evaporate faster and so the smell is more intense on sunny days.

    The pockets of woodland along the creek provide a habitat for bluebells.

    According to folklore, it's unlucky to bring bluebells into a house and also unlucky to walk through bluebells as it was thought that the little bells would ring and summon fairies and goblins.

    Gorse is present as two species along the Atlantic coast and size is the easiest way to tell them apart: Common Gorse bushes are up to 10ft tall whereas Western Gorse is more of a mat - less than 1ft tall. Common Gorse flowers in spring whereas Western Gorse flowers in late summer - early autumn.

  17. Go through the gate and follow the wooden walkway and another one to reach a flight of steps leading to a gate.

    Sea purslane (Halimione portulacoides - Americans call a different plant "sea purslane") grows along estuary mudflats and is immediately recognisable by its grey-green leaves forming a large carpet near the high tide line. The greyness of the leaves is partly due to tiny hairs which reflect sunlight to reduce water loss. It's also due to salt expelled through special glands in the leaves drying on the surface.

    Sea purslane leaves are edible (and often feature on Masterchef amongst "sea vegetables"). They are very salty raw but when cooked, this diminishes to more mellow levels. They turn bitter if overcooked, so a short dunk is ideal. The young, green leaves are the most tender which are most abundant in late spring/early summer.

  18. Go through the gate and turn left to follow the path into a small meadow. Follow the right hedge to the top corner of the meadow where a path leads into the woods.

    A pair of buzzards have a territory which includes a number of possible nesting sites which can be as many as 20. They move nesting site each year which prevents build-up of nest parasites such as bird fleas. The new nest is decorated with fresh green foliage.

  19. Follow the path from the top corner of the meadow, through the woods, until it emerges into a field. Then head for a waymark by the gateway ahead.

    The path through the woods is the remains of an old "sanding" track leading up from Credis Creek. Sand from a nearby beach was unloaded from boats and hauled up the track to the fields, where it was spread as a fertiliser both to increase the pH and improve the drainage of the heavy clay soil.

  20. Turn left at the waymark and follow the hedge to the corner.

    A small copper mine was located in the field above Credis Creek, near Little Petherick, and was worked in the 1820s. The shaft was no more than thirty fathoms deep yet over £9000 of copper ore was raised and the mine employed around forty men. Mining stopped soon after the 1820s to avoid litigation with a neighbouring landowner and the mine appears to have finally closed in the late 1860s; a reopening was proposed in 1872 but never took place.

  21. At the corner of the hedge, turn right and follow the hedge to a stile.

    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.

  22. Cross the stile and keep right along the path through the woods, passing through a gate, and eventually descend from the woods to emerge beside a small boathouse at a waymark.

    The woods are carpeted with contrasting celandines and bluebells in spring.

    The name celandine is thought to be derived from the Greek word for swallow, based on the arrival of swallows being a sign of spring. Lesser celandines are one of the first flowers to appear in springtime, and start flowering in March before the bluebells come out in April. They continue flowering through the bluebell period into May so they are often seen together.

    Ferns evolved a long time before flowering plants and dominated the planet during the Carboniferous period. The bark from tree ferns during this period is thought to have been the main source of the planet's coal reserves.

  23. Bear left onto the track and follow it through the gate. Continue on the track until it eventually ends on a lane next to the church.

    In early spring, the small stream at the start of the track is surrounded by an impressive array of snowdrops.

    Snowdrop bulbs are poisonous but contain a chemical compound which is used in the treatment of early Alzheimer's, vascular dementia and brain damage. The plant produces another substance in its leaves which inhibits the feeding of insect pests. This is being researched to see if this substance can be introduced into other plants to reduce the use of pesticides.

    Both navelwort's Latin name and common name are based on its resemblance to a belly button. Other common names include wall pennywort and penny pies due to the shape and size resembling an (old) penny.

  24. Turn left at the junction and follow the lane over the bridge until you reach a track on the left marked with a Public Footpath sign.

    The church at Little Petherick was built originally in the 14th century and was rebuilt in 1745. Since then it has been restored twice, each time by a famous Gothic architect: initially in the 1850s by William White, and the second time in 1908 by Ninian Comper. The result is impressively ornate.

    The church is dedicated to St Petroc who, according to legend, came this way when he fled to Bodmin from Padstow. The parish is known as St Petroc Minor to distinguish it from Padstow (formerly Petrocstow) - "Petherick" is derived from "Petroc".

  25. Turn left onto the track and go through the kissing gate on the left of the gate. Follow the track to another kissing gate.

    Originally, the religion of the Cornish Britons was Celtic polytheism - a pagan, animistic faith, assumed to be led by Druids. Celtic Christianity was introduced to Cornwall in the year 520 by Saint Petroc, a Brython from the kingdom of Glywysing, and other missionaries from Wales, as well as by Gaelic monks and holy women from Ireland.

  26. Go through the gate and follow the track past the entrance of the water works until you reach wooden fence with a path leading ahead through a gap.

    During Victorian times, Little Petherick Creek was used for trading, and along the left-hand side of the creek (looking down the creek from Little Petherick) are remains of quays where grain was loaded and a limekiln was also located. The Old Mill (which is now a bistro) near the bridge was a corn mill dating from before 1840 and still has a waterwheel. The tidal mill at Sea Mills, and Melingey Mill upstream of Little Petherick were both also used to grind corn.

  27. Go through the gap and follow the path to a footbridge. Cross the bridge and walk across the top of the creek to reach a stile into a field.

    Lichens grow on some of the small trees on the path down and also dead trees at the edge of the creek.

    Lichens often grow on sick or dying trees so some gardeners assume that the lichen might be harming the tree. In fact, it's purely because these trees have fewer leaves so there is more light available for the algae inside the fungus to photosynthesise. It's too dark under many healthy trees for the lichen to grow.

  28. Cross the stile into the field and follow the left hedge to a small opening in the bushes leading to a gate and footbridge. Follow the path through the opening to the gate.

    The creek provides a habitat for a range of wading birds, the larger of which can often be spotted from the fields alongside the creek.

    Although herons primarily eat fish, they will eat frogs, rodents, moles, ducklings and even baby rabbits! They are quite brave birds and will venture into gardens and parks to eat the ornamental fish. They have also been known to visit zoos to steal fish during penguin and seal feeding.

  29. Go through the gate and cross the footbridge, then follow the path up into a field. Follow the left hedge to a stile in the hedge opposite.

    Daisy flowers are not actually a single flower but a composite made of lots of little flowers. Each tiny yellow dot making up the central area is a tubular flower. Similarly each petals is a specially-adapted miniature flower.

    Cornwall bounces by around 4 inches every time the tide goes in and out. As the tide rises, the extra weight of water on the continental shelf deforms the Earth's crust; as the tide goes out, it springs back. The tidal range is greatest on the southwestern side of the British Isles and so Cornwall is one of the bounciest places in Britain.

  30. Cross the stile and follow the left hedge to a stile in the corner of the far hedge.

    Once you've made your sloe gin, don't throw away your gin-soaked sloes! Instead buy some cheap sweet "cooking" cider (the kind that comes in 2 litre plastic bottles preferably with words like "value", "basic" or "economy"; do not commit heresy and waste good quality drinking cider) and replace the gin with this. Ensure your lid is on tight so your cider doesn't lose its fizz. Leave to infuse for a few more months for your cider to become osmotically fortified. The resulting delightful drink is known as "slider" (after several glasses anyway). Based on "experience", small-sized glasses are recommended.

    Blackthorn stems are often covered in fungi or bacteria and if a thorn punctures skin, these can sometimes cause infection. Any splinters left in the skin can also disintegrate over time and result in an immune response. If a puncture wound becomes infected, it's a good idea to get it checked-out in a minor injuries unit in case antibacterial or anti-fungal treatment is needed to prevent it escalating.

  31. Cross the stile and the one ahead of it; then follow the path through the copse until you reach a stile on your left.

    The little egret - a white member of the heron family - can be seen on many of the creeks in Cornwall and yet is only a very recent settler in Britain. The birds first appeared in Britain in any number in 1989 and the first to breed was in 1996 in Dorset.

  32. Pass around the stile and turn right along the creek. Follow along the edge of the creek until you reach a low wall.

    The walled enclosure in the river was for the tidal mill here.

    In 1602, tide mills were described by Richard Carew in his Survey of Cornwall:

    Amongst other commodities afforded by the sea, the inhabitants make use of divers his creekes for grist mills, by thwarting a banke from side to side, in which a flood-gate is placed, with two leaves; these the flowing tide openeth, and, after full sea, the waight of the ebb closeth fast, which no other force can doe: and so the imprisoned water payeth the ransome of driving an under sheete (i.e. undershot) wheel for his enlargement.
  33. Continue along the creek edge, keeping the slate tips on your right until the path eventually ends on a lane.

    The tidal mill in Little Petherick creek was first recorded in 1675 as "two salt water grist mills". The mill closed in 1899, apparently due to the restriction of the tidal flow in the creek, caused by the construction of the North Cornwall Railway across the mouth of Little Petherick creek. The mill building was demolished in the early 20th Century and the outbuildings have been converted into houses; the garden of one of these is where the mill used to be located. The enclosing wall of the mill pond is still mostly intact, although the interior is now filled with silt. Further along shore, there are slate tips and, behind this, the slate quarries that yielded the stone used to build the mill and retaining wall.

  34. Turn left onto the track and follow it through the gate marked "Private - Footpath only" until you reach a path on the right signposted as a public footpath.

    There is a story that a previous owner of Sea Mills near Little Petherick, who was a member of the Total Abstinence Society, tried to persuade the people of Padstow to abandon the drunken revelry of their "Obby Oss" celebrations by offering them a free ox to roast for the next seven years if they would cease the festival. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this was not well-received by the Padstow residents, and despite other schemes by the society such as the creation of a rival "Blue Ribbon 'Oss", the ancient festival survived.

  35. Turn right onto the path and follow it to a stile.

    Ivy is unusual in that it flowers particularly late in the year - from September to November - and therefore provide vital nectar for insects such bees and moths. Ivy berries are an important winter food source for birds and will remain on the plant all the way through the winter until spring. The berries also have a high fat content so provide a dense source of energy at a time when animals need lots to keep warm.

  36. Cross the stile and follow the path between the hedges to reach a stile.
  37. Cross the stile and follow the left hedge to another stile.

    A survey of over 5 million clover leaf found that the frequency of four-leaf clovers is about one in 5,000 (twice as common as originally thought).

    The world record for collecting four leaf clovers in one hour was set at 166 (in 1998). One very determined collector managed to amass 170,000 four-leafed clovers in a lifetime.

  38. Cross the stile and follow the left hedge past the house until you reach a stile in a gap in the hedge just before the first telegraph pole.
  39. Cross the stile and walk down the steps; then turn right and follow the drive away from the house to a gate. Go through the gate and turn left onto the lane, following it until it ends beside the creek.

    Periwinkle, also known as myrtle, is a native plant in Europe and both the greater (Vinca major) and lesser (Vinca minor) forms are common, both with blue-purple 5-petal flowers that resemble turbine blades.

    The "greater" form has wider teardrop-shaped leaves whereas the leaves of the "lesser" form are thinner and lance-shaped. The flowers on the lesser form are also smaller.

    The name may be from the Russian name for the flower - pervinka - which is based on the word pervi, meaning "first", as it is one of the earliest spring flowers. Some flowers start appearing in November.

    The speed with which the tide comes in or goes out follows a sine wave: slow at low tide, speeding up to the fastest at mid-tide (known as the "tide race", when currents are at their strongest) and slowing down again towards high tide. Thus high and low tides are also referred to as "slack tide" when tidal currents are at their minimum.

  40. Turn right along the edge of the creek and follow the path to a footbridge.

    Sea beet is also known as "wild spinach" and is the ancestor of sugar beet, beetroot and Swiss chard. It can be eaten raw or cooked. The leaves are at their best during March and April and become tougher as the year goes on.

  41. Cross the bridge and head straight across the field to a stile next to the metal gate in the opposite hedge.

    Crows are omnivores and their ability to eat anything from animal feed to potato chips has allowed them to capitalise on food sources created by humans. Their problem-solving skills also allow them to access food that less savvy animals cannot, for example tugging on bin liners and tucking each fold under their feet to raise the contents of waste bins in motorway service stations.

  42. Cross the stile and turn left onto the track. Walk a few steps to reach a kissing gate on the right and go through this into a field. Bear right slightly across the field to a stile in the bushes approx 50m to the left of the houses and gate.

    Dandelions are dispersed very effectively by the wind. The tiny parachute-like seeds can travel around five miles. Each plant can live for about 10 years and produces several thousand seeds each year.

    The offshore rock at the mouth of the estuary is Gulland island.

    Gulland is the most westerly and largest of the 3 rocky islands around the Camel estuary, lying between Stepper Point and Trevose Head. The name "Gulland" is likely to be a corruption of the Cornish word goelann meaning "gull", and the rock appears as "the gull rock" on map of 1576. It is reported to be used by seals as a nursery. Puffins can also sometimes be seen here and it is postulated this might be a small colony distinct from the larger colony on The Mouls.

  43. Cross the stile and bear right to a stile approx 5m to the left of the gateway.

    The large headland on the right of the bay is Pentire Point. Pen is the Cornish word for "head" and tir is "land". The "Point" was added later by someone who didn't speak Cornish and thus ironically missed the point that the name already conveyed this.

  44. Cross the stile and turn left onto the track. Follow between the posts marked "no cycling" and continue following the track until it ends at the Camel Trail.

    The settlement of Tregonce is likely to date from Early Mediaeval times. In 1201 it was recorded as Tregendros. Apart from the obvious tre (meaning "farm"), a couple of different possibilities have been suggested for other elements of the name. One thought is that the name may be based on the Cornish word ros which can mean a few different things including hill-spur or promontory. This would fit the geography, surrounded on 3 sides by rivers and streams. Alternatively the name might simply derive from its owner. Cornish place names expert Craig Weatherhill suggests "Cyndrod's farm".

  45. Turn left onto the Camel Trail and follow it back to Padstow.

    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.

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