St Just-in-Roseland to St Mawes

A circular walk on the Roseland peninsula to St Mawes from the subtropical gardens of St Just church, along Carrick Roads where Europe's only fishery entirely under sail catch oysters using the traditional methods that have sustained their stocks.

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The walk descends through St Just churchyard to the side of St Just Creek follows this to its confluence with Carrick Roads. The route then follows the edge of Carrick Roads to St Mawes Castle. The walk continues on the harbour-front road and follows this all the way through St Mawes to Polvarth. The walk then follows a footpath up the Percuil River to the bluebell woods of Bosloggas and the return route is along the National Trust permissive path through the fields of Tregear Vean.


  • Note that most coastal walks in Cornwall have paths close to unfenced cliffs.


Lovely selection of butterflies in many of the fields and barrel jellyfish in the water.
It was a fabulous walk and we very much enjoyed it.
First walk using @iwalkc and was spot on. Beautiful walk from St Just-In-Roseland to St Mawes and back finish with cream tea #walk500miles

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Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 105
  • Distance: 6.1 miles/9.8 km
  • Steepness grade: Moderate
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots; wellies after prolonged wet weather

OS maps for this walk

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


  • St Just church set in sub-tropical gardens
  • Views over Carrick Roads and the Percuil River
  • Tudor castle at St Mawes

Pubs on or near the route

  • The Rising Sun Hotel
  • The Victory Inn


  1. Turn right out of the car park onto the road and immediately right through the churchyard gate. Then bear left down the concrete path and make your way through the churchyard to the church (keeping left after you pass the well), and walk around the church to the side facing the creek.

    St Just In Roseland Church is based on a 13th Century building that was remodelled in the 14th and 15th Centuries and then reworked fairly heavily in a 19th Century restoration.

    During Victorian times, the area around the church was landscaped into gardens using semi-tropical species that are able to survive in the mild climate beside the river. The granite blocks alongside the path to the church are inscribed with quotations from the Bible.

  2. With the church on your left and creek on your right, follow the creek-side path to reach a pedestrian gate.

    The wreck of a wooden boat on the beach beside the church in St Just-in-Roseland was a mackerel handlining boat called "Pride of the Isle" which was abandoned there in the 1930s. Three stone slabs rest on the wooden frame and these may have been used as ballast to keep the boat steady when fishing in rough seas.

  3. Go through the gate and follow the path along the edge of the creek until it emerges on a concrete ramp beside the boatyard.

    The parish of St Just in Roseland was recorded in 1046, just before the Norman invasion, as "Ecciae Sci Juste".

    The first records of the settlement around the church are a little later, from 1202, but this used the Cornish name Lansioch. The name contains the Cornish word lann, meaning "enclosed cemetery", which is typical of settlements dating from the Dark Ages. The remainder of the name is thought to be from a Celtic saint's name. It's therefore likely that the church is on the site of an older churchyard, possibly dating from the Dark Ages, and the presence of the Holy Well further supports this.

    When maintenance work was carried out on the church in the early 20th Century, a Roman coin was found beneath the floorboards, indicating that there may have been settlement in the vicinity of the church prior to the Dark Ages.

  4. When you reach the concrete ramp, turn left to walk along the front of the boatyard and then along the track up the hill to reach a wooden public footpath sign.

    "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.

  5. From the sign, follow the track ahead, signposted to St Mawes. Keep left at Bar Point and walk a short distance further along the track to reach a gate on the left, marked with a National Trust Churchtown Farm sign.

    The name for the Roseland Peninsula derives from the Celtic word ros which can be used to mean a number of things including "moor", but the meaning most applicable in this case is "promontory".

  6. Go through the gate on the left and turn right in the field. Follow along the right hedge to reach a pedestrian gate in the far hedge.
  7. Go through the gate and follow along the right hedge past a gate on the right (leading to a beach) to reach a gate in the far hedge.

    At low tide, there is a shingle beach here and below a number of other gates along the route, leading on to the shoreline. At high tide, most of the beach is covered.

  8. Go through the gate and follow along the right hedge until you reach a fork in the path, just before the far hedge. Keep left at the fork to reach a pedestrian gate in the middle of the hedge.

    Blackberries are high in vitamin C, K and antioxidants. The seeds, despite being a bit crunchy, contain omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and further enhance blackberries' "superfood" status.

    Bramble flowers produce a lot of nectar so they attract bees and butterflies which spread the pollen between plants. One study found the bramble flowers as the fifth highest nectar producers out of the 175 species studied. Brimstone and Speckled Wood butterflies are particularly fond of bramble flowers.

  9. Go through the pair of gates and bear right slightly to a kissing gate in the bottom corner of the far hedge.

    The cluster of boats moored on the opposite side of the creek are at Mylor Harbour.

    Mylor is the name of the parish but there is not as such a village of Mylor. The closest thing to this are the separate villages of Mylor Bridge, which is the largest in the parish, and Mylor Churchtown which includes the harbour as well as the church.

  10. Go through the kissing gate, cross the footbridge and go through the gate on the other side into the field. Then follow along the right hedge to reach a pedestrian gate.
  11. Go through the gate and follow along the right hedge, passing a gate on the right (leading to a beach) to a kissing gate in the far hedge.

    There are nice views across the river from this field. The point opposite is Penarrow Point, where the Restronguet Sailing Club are now based.

    The Restronguet Sailing Club (RSC) was founded in 1933 and had its first Olympic gold medallist in 1948. By 1965, it had become so popular that it outgrew its location on Restronguet Creek and was relocated to its current position near Mylor Harbour. More recently, Ben Ainslie learned to sail here and went on to win a number of Olympic medals and receive a knighthood.

  12. Go through the gate and follow the right hedge to another gate.

    The Fal estuary is home to a native species of oyster known as the "flat" or "edible" oyster. These are fished sustainably by the last commercial fleet in Europe to use only sails and oars. The fishermen, known as "oyster dredgers" or "dregemen", work the oyster beds with triangular iron dredges which drag along the riverbed as the boat is allowed to drift. The use of non-powered boats is a local bye-law to guarantee the stocks. This has proven effective: the Carrick Roads stocks are as good both in quantity and quality as they were 50 years ago, whilst the Oyster fishing industry has died out on the East coast of England due to overfishing.

  13. Go through the gate and follow the right hedge to a stile beside a gateway.

    Falmouth harbour is one of the largest natural harbours in the world and the deepest in Western Europe. The large waterway of Carrick Roads, forming the junction of seven estuaries, was created after the Ice Age from an ancient valley which flooded with the rising sea levels as the ice caps melted.

  14. Go through the gateway and follow the right hedge past a gate on the right (leading to a beach) and a bench to reach a gate in the far hedge.

    During the last Ice Age, up to about 12,000 years ago, ice sheets up to 2 miles thick lay over the northern half of Britain. The weight of this ice was immense and it pressed down onto the Earth's mantle which is a treacle-like liquid rock. The mantle was slowly squished away from beneath the Earth's crust beneath heavy ice. When the ice melted, the pressure was released and the mantle began to flow back creating a super-slow motion rebound effect which will take thousands of years to level out. The result is that the north-western edge of Britain is rising and the south-eastern part is sinking. As South Cornwall has been slowly sinking into the sea over the past few thousand years, this has compounded the rise in sea levels, creating creeks from flooded river valleys.

  15. Go through the gate and cross the wall and follow the winding path across the field to reach a waymark. Continue ahead in the direction of the yellow arrow to reach some steps and a gate with a Newton Cliff sign.

    Where the inlet to Falmouth begins on the opposite side of the bay, the "corner" of the land on this side of it is known as Trefusis Point, after the name of the estate that overlooks it.

    King Henry VIII planned to build a castle in the field on Trefusis Point as part of the Falmouth coastal defences to go alongside the castles at St Mawes and Pendennis. However, the funds had to be diverted in order to finance the front line of his wars in France and Scotland, so the castle was never built.

  16. Go through the gate and follow the path along the narrow meadow, passing a gate on the right (leading to a beach) to reach some stepping stones over a stream to a gap in the hedge.

    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.

  17. Go through the gap into the next meadow and follow the path to the gap in the next hedge. Continue to the next gap, where there is a Countryside Stewardship sign on the left, and to another gap where there is a second sign.

    The large, round building on the headland opposite is Pendennis Castle.

    Pendennis Castle was built by Henry VIII to defend the coast against a possible French attack and was reinforced during the reign of Elizabeth I. During the English Civil War, more reinforcement took place and the castle withstood five months of siege from Parliamentary forces before it was captured. The castle was adapted for the World Wars of the 20th Century and the guardhouse has been restored to how it might have looked in the First World War. During the Second World War, underground tunnels and magazines were added which can now be visited.

  18. Go through the gap in the hedge and follow the path to a gap in the middle of the far hedge.

    In Elizabethan times, the town of Falmouth did not exist, only a few small settlements around Carrick Roads which had been there since mediaeval times. A few castles had been built during the Tudor period to defend the river system and there was a manor house of Arwenack which was owned by Sir John Killigrew. When Sir Walter Raleigh visited Arwenack in 1598, he was so impressed with the natural harbour of Carrick Roads that he recommended that it should be developed as a port. Following this, the town of Falmouth was created in 1613.

  19. Go through the gap and follow the path to reach a footpath signpost. Continue ahead from the signpost to a pedestrian gate.

    The name "Carrick Roads" is thought to be a mangling of the Cornish Karrek Reun meaning "seal rock". It is now known as "Black Rock" and located in the centre of the harbour entrance, between Pendennis Point and Carricknath Point, and marked with a large conical beacon. It is still used at low tide as a haul-out spot by seals.

  20. Go through the gate and follow the lane to reach St Mawes Castle. As the castle comes into view, continue up the hill until a small path departs to the right to the castle entrance.

    St Anthony's Lighthouse was built out of granite in 1835 on the eastern entrance to Falmouth Harbour to guide vessels clear of the Manacles rocks. In most directions, the light is white but a sector close to The Manacles rocks is coloured red, warning vessels to steer offshore. The lighthouse was featured in the UK version of the TV series "Fraggle Rock" as "Fraggle Rock Lighthouse". Until 1954, the lighthouse possessed a huge bell which hung outside the tower and was used as a fog signal. This was later replaced with a foghorn.

  21. Bear right down the path to the castle entrance. Continue past the entrance and follow the path to emerge onto a road.

    St Mawes Castle is part of the chain of coastal defences built during the reign of King Henry VIII to protect against an invasion threat from Catholic France and Spain after establishing the Church of England. St Mawes' clover-leaf shape was designed so that heavy "ship-sinking" guns could be mounted to face in three directions and together with Pendennis Castle could protect the important anchorage of Carrick Roads. Whereas Pendennis was further developed after Tudor times, St Mawes was not. Thus it is one of the best preserved of these fortresses and is also the most elaborately decorated of them all.

  22. Follow Lower Castle Road down into St Mawes to reach the quay.

    The quay at St Mawes dates from mediaeval times. The first record of it is from 1539 and there are many records of repairs during the 17th Century. It was also rebuilt at least twice during Victorian times.

  23. Continue along the road past the Quay towards The Idle Rocks Hotel until you reach a junction beside the Rising Sun.

    The holy well is a short diversion up the alley between the Ship and Castle and Victory Inn. When you reach the top, bear right and the well is the arch on your left. You can descend Bohella road to return to the harbour a little further along.

    St Mawes Holy Well dates from mediaeval times, possibly when there was a Celtic graveyard here. The age of the stonework around the well is the subject of debate, but is thought to be from either the 14th or 15th Century. In Victorian times the well was described as being "arched over" so that visitors could use it as a wishing well and drop pins into the water. In the 1930s, the well-house was rebuilt and the site was re-dedicated.

  24. Keep right at the junction to follow the road behind the Idle Rocks Hotel. Join the pavement at the Tredenham Road sign and follow this until it ends at a Summers Beach sign beside a ramp leading to the beach.

    The settlement of St Mawes originally had a Cornish name which was first recorded as Lavada in 1284 and last recorded in 1502 as Lavousa, after which it died out and was replaced by St Mawes. The Cornish name is thought to have originally started with Lan, which implies it was a Dark Ages religious settlement.

  25. Keep left to stay on the road and rejoin the pavement. Follow the road all the way around the long bend until you pass the driveway to Polvarth and reach Polvarth Lane.

    As you go around the corner, there is a view across the creek to Place house, behind which is St Anthony's church.

    The parish church of St Anthony was established by the Augustinian Priory of Plympton and was built in 1150 and included a priory alongside, where Place house is now located. After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538, part of the priory was used as a residence and other parts were pulled down and the stone was used to build St Mawes Castle. Despite being extensively restored in the 19th century, the church still retains its original mediaeval plan.

  26. Turn right down Polvarth Lane (after the driveway to the house called Polvarth) and follow it towards the boatyard to reach a footpath signpost on the left.

    Polvarth Quay was built by the American troops in WW2 in preparation for D-Day. It was used for training, leading up to the event. Meanwhile, the BBC ran a competition for French holiday photographs which were used to gather intelligence on suitable beaches to land the troops. Submariners then visited the candidate beaches at night to take soil samples. On D-Day, Polvarth Quay was used as an embarkation point for troops.

  27. Turn left and go up the steps signposted to Porthcuil. Follow the path until it eventually emerges on a driveway.
  28. Turn right onto the driveway and follow it towards the boatyard to reach a waymark on the left. Turn left down the waymarked path and follow it until it eventually emerges into a field.

    The quay associated with the boatyard was built during the first half of the 20th Century and is thought may have been constructed as part of the preparations for D-Day landings together with the other quay at Polvarth.

  29. Bear left slightly up the field to a waymark in front of the bushes.
  30. Follow the path from the waymark into the bushes to reach another waymark.
  31. Keep right at the waymark and follow the path downhill along the metal railing. At the bottom, keep right to follow the path above the creek. Continue until you reach a fork in the path, just before a gate marked "PRIVATE". Keep left at the fork and follow the path uphill to emerge into a field.

    Although most primroses tend to be pale yellow, in residential areas, extensive hybridisation occurs with pink and purple garden primulas to create all kinds of weird and wonderful mutants, with some even shaped like cowslips. However there is a pale pink variety of primrose (known as rhubarb and custard) that is thought to be a naturally-occurring variant of the pale yellow (rhubarb-free) version as it has been found miles away from any domestic plants.

    The growing conditions for trees varies from year to year (e.g. there might be a drought one summer). The "bad years" and "good years" are reflected in the widths of the rings. The pattern of good and bad summers is the same (more-or-less, depending of the location) for every tree so this forms a calendar - the known sequence of wide and narrow rings can be used to assign an exact year to each ring. This can also be done with dead and even fossil trees both to date them and get an idea of what the climate was doing at the time.

  32. Follow the right hedge of the field, then follow the path into the bushes and beneath the trees. Follow the path up a small inlet to reach a waymark.
  33. Turn right at the waymark and cross the stream and stile at the bottom of the valley. Climb the steps and follow the path to reach a footbridge over the stream.

    During winter, from November to March, winter heliotrope is visible along the edges of roads and paths as carpets of rounded heart-shaped leaves.

    The name of the plant is Greek for "sun direction" because the flowers turn to follow the winter sun.

  34. Follow the path over the bridge and up the steps. Continue until you eventually reach a waymarked kissing gate.

    Some estimates suggest the UK has up to half of the world's total bluebell population; nowhere else in the world do they grow in such abundance. However, the poor bluebell faces a number of threats including climate change and hybridisation from garden plants. In the past, there has also been large-scale unsustainable removal of bulbs for sale although it is now a criminal offence to remove the bulbs of wild bluebells with a fine up to £5,000 per bulb!

    The inner bark of the tree carries sugars created by photosynthesis down from the leaves to feed the rest of the tree. The inner bark dies over time to produce the outer bark which protects the living part of the tree.

  35. Go through the gate and turn left onto the track and follow it through a gate across the track. Continue to reach a junction of tracks at a farm.

    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. Keep right at the junction and follow the track through a gate. Continue on the track until it ends at a road.

    The settlement here is called Nanshuttal and was first recorded in 1327. It contains the Cornish word nans, meaning valley, but the origin of the rest of the name is not known.

  37. Cross the road and turn right. Follow along the verge past the water tower until you reach a track on the left with a stile marked with a National Trust sign for Tregear Vean.

    Tregear Vean was first documented in 1697 although it is thought to be much older, dating to the mediaeval period, if not before. The name Tregear is from from the Cornish word ker, meaning fort or earthwork and Vean means "small" in Cornish and survived for a long time in the local dialect, even when English replaced Cornish as the spoken language (e.g. "E'm only a vean child"). The gist of the name is therefore thought to be "little farm by the fort". However, no trace of an earthwork has so far been found so it has been postulated that "Little Tregear" might be in relation to the (main) Tregear in Gerrans Parish.

  38. Cross the stile and follow the path along the right hedge to the remains of a stile beside a gateway.

    The Carrick Roads area of the estuary is roughly a mile across. There are good views across the estuary from the fields here to Mylor Creek (with the yachts) and Restronguet Creek (next creek upriver).

  39. Go through the gateway and follow the right hedge to another gateway.
  40. Go through the gateway and cross the stile ahead into the field. Follow the right hedge to a stile and gate.

    The number of cows in Cornwall has been estimated at around 75,000 (a lot of moo is needed for the cheese and clotted cream produced in Cornwall) so there's a good chance of encountering some in grassy fields.

    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.
  41. Cross the stile (or go through the gateway if open) and follow the right hedge to another gate and stile.

    The small inlet further upriver from Restronguet Creek with a large white building on the point is Pill Creek at Feock. Above this the Fal estuary narrows to around one-fifth of the width of the Carrick Roads area.

  42. Cross the stile (or go through the gate if open) and cross the field to a gap in the far hedge.

    The outer area of creek on this side of the river now in view is known as St Just Pool which leads into St Just Creek where the church is located. On the opposite side is Messack Point which is owned by the National Trust.

  43. Go through the gap and bear right to a stile in the corner of the far hedge.

    If you had done this walk in 1992, a shocking orange plume of pollution would have been visible, stretching down Carrick Roads.

    After the pumps at the Wheal Jane mine were finally switched off in 1991, the rising water flooded the former working areas and exposed ore, picking up waste and dissolving the minerals. It turned out that Wheal Jane is connected to a number of unsurveyed 18th century workings, into which the rising water also flooded. In 1992, the acid mine drainage escaped through surface water systems into the Carnon Valley, and an orange plume of pollution flowed down Restronguet Creek into Carrick Roads, killing fish. Remedial measures were fairly quickly put in place to stop the pollution which have now been replaced by longer-term measures.

  44. Cross the stile and turn left onto the track. Follow the track to a gate and stile across the track. Cross the stile and continue following the track into a field.

    Keeping the pollution from leaking back into the creek system requires continued effort.

    At the time of writing, the ongoing cost of preventing pollution escaping from Wheal Jane is around £2 million per year.

    However, in the areas flooded with mine waste, scientists have found naturally-occurring algae that absorb many of the metals dissolved in the water. It is not yet understood which species absorb which metals, but it is hoped with some more research and development that it will be possible to extract the metals commercially from the algae and then use the waste organic matter for biofuel. If successful, the approach could be used worldwide to turn what is currently an expensive environmental problem into something that may even generate revenue.

  45. Follow along the left hedge of the field past a gateway to where the path bends left behind the hedge.

    Due to blackthorn wood's toughness, it was used to make tool handles, walking sticks and as a traditional Celtic weapon for clubbing people to death! It is still regarded as the ultimate wood for making walking sticks. Once cut and trimmed, the wood needs to be dried for at least a year (often several) which allows moisture to escape and the wood to shrink and harden.

  46. Keep left to follow the path between the hedges. Follow the path, continuing ahead when you reach a waymark, until it ends in a gate.

    One in five of all known fungi form lichens. Studies suggest that many species of fungi that form lichens started out from ancestors that lived on organic waste. Fossils have also revealed that the symbiosis between algae and fungi dates back more than 400 million years roughly to the time when plants first evolved from green algae.

  47. Cross the stile next to the gate and cross the driveway to a waymark. Follow the path from the waymark, down the steps, until you reach a waymark at the bottom. Turn right at the waymark and follow the path to return to the car park.

    The two gateways into the churchyard at St Just in Roseland, were originally built in 1632. From their condition, is thought that they might have been rebuilt in the 19th Century, possibly as part of the restoration of the church. The gateways are known as lychgates after the Saxon word lych, meaning corpse.

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