Circular walk from St Clether to the Rising Sun

St Clether to the Rising Sun

A figure-of-8 walk from St Clether past the ancient chapel and holy well, with views over the Inny Valley, to the Rising Sun pub near Altarnun, serving beer made from the moorland springwater by a local micro-brewery.

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The walk follows the church path in St Clether to the chapel and holy well and continues through the nature reserve to the upper reaches of the Inny Valley. From there, the route returns through St Clether and descends to the River Inny, crossing a tributary by a waterfall, before crossing the main river in a meadow. From here, the route follows footpaths past a ruined barn to emerge onto a lane near the Rising Sun Inn. The return to St Clether is via tracks and footpaths, crossing fields and passing Basil Manor and the mill leat.

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Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 109
  • Distance: 5.6 miles/9.0 km
  • Steepness grade: Moderate
  • Recommended footwear: waterproof boots (marshy even in summer)

OS maps for this walk

OS Explorer 109 OS Explorer 109 (laminated version)

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


  • Historic church at St Clether, with restored chapel and holy well
  • Riverside meadows along the Inny Valley
  • Rising Sun Inn serving local beer from Penpont Brewery
  • Panoramic views over the Inny and Penpont valleys

Pubs on or near the route

  • The Rising Sun Inn


  1. From the church car park, go through the gate into the church yard, signposted towards the Holy Well Chapel. Follow the path around the left side of the church to where a grassy path departs beside a sign for the Holy Well.

    The church and holy well in St Clether are dedicated to Saint Cleder (or Clederus), one of the twenty-four children of Brychan. The church is of Norman origin, with a 15th century tower and (apart from the tower) was rebuilt in 1865.

  2. Bear left onto the grassy path and follow this to the gate at the back of the churchyard.

    Brychan was a legendary Celtic king (originally born in Ireland) who ruled over Breconshire in South Wales and was viewed as the father of the Celtic saints.

    Most of his children were reported to have evangelised Cornwall and North Devon, with many of the churches dedicated to them. Consequently, many of the place names in North Cornwall (St Teath, St Mabyn, St Endellion, St Minver, St Clether, Egloshayle, Egloskerry, Advent, Morwenstow, Lelant etc) are associated with the names of his children.

  3. Go through the gate at the back of the churchyard and follow the path along the side of the valley to a kissing gate.
  4. Go through the kissing gate and continue along the path to the restored chapel.

    The marshy fields to the left provide a good habitat for dragonflies and damselflies.

    Dragonflies are named after the way they hunt, as both the larvae and adults are carnivorous predators. Mosquitoes form a large part of their diet both for adults and particularly for the larvae (nymphs). One dragonfly can eat tens of mosquitoes in a day and an average of over 100 per day has been recorded for the nymphs of some species. It is thought that this is an important factor in keeping the mosquito population under control.

    Christianity in Roman Britain began in the 4th or 5th century AD. However there were no known cities west of Exeter, so the spread into Cornwall is likely to have been very limited. The majority of Cornwall is likely to have remained Pagan until "The Age of Saints" - the late 5th or early 6th century - when the Irish missionaries including St Piran and St Petroc settled in Cornwall.

  5. After entering the chapel enclosure and looking around, make your way back out of the gate then turn right to head downhill to reach a large boulder beside a path running along the valley. Turn right onto the path and follow this to a gap in the wall.

    It is reputed that St Cleder built his hermitage by a spring in the Inny valley, and erected the 4th century granite altar which can still be seen there; the altar is certainly over 1000 years old. The chapel was originally the village church until the Normans built one, on the site of the present church, in the 12th Century. In the 15th Century, the chapel and well were altered so that the water from the holy well ran through the chapel (past the relics of St Cleder behind the altar) and into the well at the front of the chapel where it would be collected by pilgrims. The flow past the relics was thought to increase the healing power of the water. By the end of the 19th century, the chapel was in ruins, with only the altar and some walling remaining, but was rebuilt around 1900.

    More about the chapel and holy well.

  6. Go through the gap and follow the path across the meadow to a wooden stile opposite.

    Before Christianity, the Pagan Celtic people of Cornwall worshipped wonders of the natural world. Where clean, drinkable water welled up from the ground in a spring, this was seen as pretty awesome. The sites were seen as portals to another world, and is why fairies are often associated with springs. Where the springwater dissolved minerals, for specific conditions (e.g. deficiency in a mineral) or where the minerals present had antibacterial/fungal properties, the water appeared to have healing powers.

  7. Cross the wooden stile and a stone stile into the field. Continue ahead across the field to reach a metal gate at the far end.

    The thistle is oldest recorded National Flower. The association with Scotland dates back to the 13th century. The origin is said to be from when barefooted Vikings attempted to creep up on a party of sleeping Scottish warriors, only to indicate their presence in a stream of Nordic expletives!

    "Holy wells" were created because the Christian church was unhappy with the people continuing their old Pagan ways and worshipping sacred springs. In the 10th Century, the church issued a cannon (law) to outlaw such practices. This didn't work, so they issued another one in the 11th Century, and again in the 12th Century. Even despite the church going to the lengths of building a chapel over the top of some springs to obliterate them, the people still hung onto their sacred springs. The church finally settled on a compromise and rebranded the springs as (Christian) Holy Wells, so the old practices could continue behind a Christian façade.

  8. Go through the gate onto a lane. Turn right and follow the lane to a crossroads.

    The lane leading off to the left from the crossroads leads to Trefranck farm.

    Trefranck, meaning "homestead of the French man", has been farmed by the Venning family for over 300 years. The first Vennings recorded anywhere in Cornwall were John and Mary, who were married in Altarnun church in 1629, when Charles I was still on the throne. The name Venning is probably derived from the Cornish ven, meaning low marshy land. There are farms named Treven and Trevenn either side of St Clether. Trefranck Bungalow (now Forget-me-not cottage) was built in 1916 for Venning's grandparents, and was said to be the first house in St Clether with a bathroom. Trefranck is still a traditional beef and sheep farm, but has also diversified into a wind farm and holiday cottages.

  9. At the crossroads, turn right towards St. Clether and follow the lane past the church to a junction.

    The building opposite the church is the old vicarage.

    The vicarage is an early 17th century building, extended to the rear of the left side in the mid-17th century to give it an L-shape. Thomas Hardy's poem "The Face at the Casement" is about William Henry Serjeant, who was dying in this house. The vicarage is now a private dwelling.

  10. At the junction, turn left and follow the lane straight ahead up the hill until, just past some houses, there is a public footpath sign to the right.
  11. Take the path from the footpath sign to the right, over a wooden stile into a field. Cross the field to a waymarked gateway on the opposite side.

    The settlement of Tremeer was first recorded in 1270 as Tremur. It is the Cornish for "large farm". The word for "large", meor, crops up in quite a few place names such as Porthmeor beach at St Ives.

  12. Go through the gateway then keep left along the top of the field to join a path leading out of the field. Follow the path until you eventually reach a footbridge.

    The Birdsfoot Trefoil has yellow flowers tinged with red that look like little slippers and appear in small clusters. They are followed by seed pods that look distinctly like bird's feet or claws. Common names referring to the flowers include "Butter and Eggs", "Eggs and Bacon" and "Hen and Chickens", and to the seed pods, the delightful "Granny's Toenails".

    It is a member of the pea family and is poisonous to humans (containing glycosides of cyanide) but not to grazing animals and can be grown as a fodder plant. It is the larval food plant of many butterflies and moths including the common blue and silver-studded blue, and an important nectar plant for many bumblebee species.

    Although the fronds of bracken die back each year, the black underground roots are perennial and spread extensively, sending up fronds at intervals. The root system of one bracken plant can stretch up to a quarter of a mile across making bracken one of the largest plants in the world.

  13. Cross the footbridge and a stile into a field. Bear right very slightly across the field to a gap roughly 30 metres along the right hedge.

    A waterfall lies just south-east of St Clether, along the footpath from Tremeer. Hidden by trees and reached by crossing a footbridge, it is particularly photogenic on sunny days, when sunlight dapples the water through the trees.

  14. Go through the gap and bear left to head downhill towards a gate in the bottom-left corner of the field.
  15. Go through the gate and bear left to the footbridge.

    The River Inny is a tributary of the Tamar and is approximately 20 miles long, supporting populations of trout, salmon and sea trout as well as otters and kingfishers. The name of the river was recorded in the 1600s as Heanye and may be from the Cornish word enys - for island. Penpont Water is its main tributary and has a status of Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Area of Great Scientific Value and Area of Great Historical Value. The source of the Inny is very close to the Davidstow Cheese factory, from a spring in the field opposite Pendragon House.

  16. Cross the footbridge and bear left up the hill to a gate in the top-left corner of the field.
  17. Go through the gate and follow the right hedge past the derelict stone barn and a gate beside it to the gate leading ahead onto a track.

    The barn contains a large elder tree, and there are more elder trees in the hedgerows of the fields.

    Elder trees were associated with witchcraft which may have arisen because their berries were used in medicines. Consequently there were many superstitions about cutting down or burning elder trees.

    Elder be ye Lady's tree, burn it not or cursed ye'll be.
  18. Go through the gate ahead and follow the rough track until it emerges into a field.

    The Ramblers Association and National Farmers Union suggest some "dos and don'ts" for walkers which we've collated with some info from the local Countryside Access Team.


    • Stop, look and listen on entering a field. Look out for any animals and watch how they are behaving, particularly bulls or cows with calves
    • Be prepared for farm animals to react to your presence, especially if you have a dog with you.
    • Try to avoid getting between cows and their calves.
    • Move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd.
    • Keep your dog close and under effective control on a lead around cows and sheep.
    • Remember to close gates behind you when walking through fields containing livestock.
    • If you and your dog feel threatened, work your way to the field boundary and quietly make your way to safety.
    • Report any dangerous incidents to the Cornwall Council Countryside Access Team - phone 0300 1234 202 for emergencies or for non-emergencies use the iWalk Cornwall app to report a footpath issue (via the menu next to the direction on the directions screen).


    • If you are threatened by cattle, don't hang onto your dog: let it go to allow the dog to run to safety.
    • Don't put yourself at risk. Find another way around the cattle and rejoin the footpath as soon as possible.
    • Don't panic or run. Most cattle will stop before they reach you. If they follow, just walk on quietly.
  19. As you emerge into the field, turn left to follow the gully along the left hedge and reach a stream in front of a gate.

    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.

  20. Cross a small stream and go through a gate; continue to follow the track to reach a lane.

    Gorse flower wine can be made using 5 litres of gorse flowers stripped from the stems and simmering these in 5 litres of boiling water. Once the flowers are removed, 1.3kg of sugar should be dissolved in the hot water and allowed to cool to room temperature. Then add 500g of chopped raisins and juice and zest of 2 lemons and ferment with white wine yeast and yeast nutrient. Although flowers are present year-round, they are best picked in spring (April and May) when they are most profuse and fragrant.

    Before the Industrial Revolution, gorse was valued as a fuel for bread ovens and kilns as it burns rapidly, very hot and with little ash. It was in such demand that there were quite strict rules about how much gorse could be cut on common land.

    In more recent times, due to reliance on fossil fuels, this is now out of balance and gorse has increased in rural areas which have been abandoned agriculturally.

  21. Turn right onto the lane and follow it to a crossroads. If an electric fence is present along the edge of the lane, bear right along it and step over the rope to reach the lane.
  22. At the crossroads, turn right and follow the road signposted to Davidstow, Camelford and the Rising Sun Inn, to a sharp bend opposite the Inn.

    The large building with the tall chimney close to the A39 at Davidstow is the cheese factory, more formally known as Davidstow Creamery. Davidstow Creamery is famous for producing both Davidstow Cheddar (using water from Davidstow holy well) and the ironically named Cathedral City cheeses (Davidstow Moor having neither a cathedral nor anything resembling a city).

  23. As the road bends sharply right, turn left past the Rising Sun Inn and follow the lane until you reach a junction with a track marked Unsuitable for Motor Vehicles and roads to South Carne and Altarnun.

    The Rising Sun Inn, just outside Altarnun, is a 16th Century Inn built originally as a farmhouse. The pub serves local food and real ales from the award-winning Penpont Brewery in Altarnun which uses springwater drawn from the moor. There are two open fires in winter.

  24. Continue ahead at the junction, signposted to South Carne, until you reach a track on the right marked by a public footpath sign.

    Compared to many native trees, the beech colonised Great Britain relatively recently, after the last Ice Age around 10,000 years ago. Beech trees have a shallow root system and are therefore often found in areas where water is plentiful such as near rivers. In the 17th and 18th Centuries, tall, stately beech trees were very fashionable in the estates of wealthy landowners and many mature beech woodlands today are the result of 18th Century parkland landscaping projects.

  25. At the public footpath sign, turn right onto the track. Cross the stile or go through the gate, and follow the track through a gate to a fork.

    Mosses are close relatives of the first plants to colonise the land 500 million years ago. They descended originally from freshwater algae but evolved an outer coating that protected them from the temperature changes and UV radiation that made life on the land more of a challenge than in the water. There are now estimated to be over 10,000 species of moss.

  26. Keep right at the fork (where the left fork leads to a farmhouse) and continue straight ahead to the end of the track.
  27. At the end of the track, turn left and follow the track (which becomes a lane) until you reach a stone stile on the left with a public footpath sign at a bend in the lane.
  28. Cross the stile, then follow the left hedge of the field past one metal gate to reach a second gate in the far hedge.
  29. Go through the gate, and bear right to cross the field diagonally to a pedestrian gate in the opposite corner.
  30. Go through the gate and follow the path down some steps and through a gate onto a lane. Turn left onto the lane and follow it to a gate on the right with a public footpath sign.

    Yellow Archangel is a native plant and member of the dead nettle family (and it's also known as the Golden Dead Nettle). The flowers are pale yellow, hence the first part of the name. The second part of the name (including the angelic association) is because it looks quite like a nettle but doesn't sting.

    A garden variety of yellow archangel known as "aluminium plant" (due to silvery metallic areas on its leaves) has escaped into the wild where it is spreading rapidly. It has been deemed so invasive that it is illegal to plant in the wild.

  31. Go through the gate beside the public footpath sign and follow the left hedge. As you approach the far hedge, bear right to a kissing gate just to the left of the track to the farmhouse.
  32. Go through the kissing gate and down the steps to a track. Turn left and follow the track to a metal gate on the right beside a waymark.

    The settlement of Trecollas was first recorded in 1350 as Curcalwys. The name contains the Cornish word cruc meaning barrow or hillock.

  33. Go through the right-hand metal gate and cross the field to a stile roughly 15 metres to the right of the left corner of the far hedge (roughly in the direction of the church).
  34. Cross the stile into the next field. Cross the field to a metal pedestrian gate roughly 15 metres to the right of the farm gate in the left corner of the far hedge.

    Despite how tough mature dock plants are, at the seedling stage docks are very poor competitors with other plants such as grass. On grazing land, farmers can use docks as a warning sign that there have been bare patches of earth. This could have been caused by livestock damage or uneven spreading of manure which has killed patches of grass by blocking sunlight.

    One of the nutrients that plants need are nitrates in order to make amino acids for building proteins. Plants in the pea family (also known as legumes) are able to manufacture their own nitrates from nitrogen in the atmosphere. The nitrates are later released into the soil when the leaves die and rot. The overall process of turning atmospheric nitrogen into nitrates in the soil is known as "nitrogen fixing" and this makes legumes useful in crop rotations to replenish nitrogen removed by other crops without resorting to chemical fertilisers. As well as peas and beans, clovers and vetches are also members of this family.

  35. Go through the pedestrian gate into the next field, and head downhill towards the large house, then make for the waymarked stile.

    The large house at the bottom of the valley is Basil Manor.

    Basil Manor is thought to be originally early 16th Century, with some remodelling in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It was restored and rebuilt between 1870 and 1880. The house now belongs to the Peredur Trust (for children with special needs).

  36. Cross the stile and a footbridge leading into an overgrown field. Stay close to the left hedge to join a path which takes you under the trees. Follow this to a waymarked footbridge.
  37. Cross the two footbridges to reach a pedestrian gate. Go through this and follow the path along the boardwalks. Keep following the path alongside the river to reach another pedestrian gate leading onto a lane.

    The road bridge near Basil Manor is over a mill leat, which was used to drive a water wheel to power all the barn machinery via a long above-ground drive shaft. Such shafts were notoriously dangerous for ladies wearing long dresses, which could trail and catch in the rotating shaft. The ruin of the mill is just upstream from the bridge, and the mill leat is now used to generate hydro-electric power.

  38. Go through the gate onto the lane, then turn right and follow the lane to a junction where a lane joins from the left.

    The large house on the left as you approach the junction is the Old School.

    The Old School in St Clether was built in the late 19th century in response to a government initiative which brought about compulsory education for children up to the age of 12. It was owned by the church and after it closed as a school in 1949, it was used as a village hall. It was sold in the 1970s to raise money for church repairs and is now a private residence.

  39. At the junction, turn left and follow the lane uphill to reach the church.

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