Charlestown to Fowey

P1030971A bright sunny day between two storms encouraged us out to complete the walk around the lovely sweep of St Austell Bay.

Things had been deteriorating since the lovely open landscape of Nare Head and Gorran Haven. The switchback after Mevagissey had exhausted us and we had gritted our teeth through the closed environment of Duporth. Thankfully, this walk had ended in the joy of Charlestown where we started this day’s walk.

Exclusivity continued as we passed the Wisteria Lane look-alike of the Carlyon Bay estate. This disgorged onto the side of a golf course where we were regaled with signs warning us to beware of flying golf balls and warning about the danger of tripping over rabbit droppings and the like. These were tame dangers compared with the crumbling cliffs we would see later.

Carlyon Bay beach

The Carlyon Bay beach was fenced and surrounded by ‘Information Points’ to convince us that it was our dearest wish to see a large building constructed on the beach itself. Even if access across the golf course were possible, we doubted that the beach would ever be the same again if the development were go ahead. For now, rusty metal and an empty beach is all you get.

Mind you, the golf course did not look the most interesting we had seen, barely boasting a tree beside its fairways and having a rough only an inch deeper than the mown grass.

Par docks

In the distance was the delight of Par Docks and Factory, looking like something out of the Cornish space programme and blighting the view for some time. This is surely the worst eyesore we have yet seen on this glorious coast.

The path turned a sharp left and we followed a narrow fenced path around the inland side of the Docks. It felt like a path auditioning for a role in a Quentin Tarantino movie: something between a prison exercise yard and the stuff of nightmares.

Par beach

The village of Par was not one of the architectural delights but we managed to find a way through it, despite the poor signage, and onto the wide expanse of beach where locals were beginning to gather to make the most of the sun. The local judo club was even engaged in summer barbecue, set against the backdrop of the docks.

Normal cliff conditions soon returned as we strode out past Polmear, crossing the Saint’s Way that we had walked early this year, and so down to Polkerris cove for coffee.


Polkerris is a gem. Another Rashleigh C19 construction, like Charlestown, it contains little more than a decayed C18 pilchard cellar which looks like a small fort, and a pub. The arm of the breakwater curled around the beach and small boats like the paw of a cat protecting its kittens.

The beach filled up rapidly with local young enjoying the bright sparkling water.

P1030978From here the going was easy all the way to Gribbin Head with its large red and white day mark.

At least we were walking along tall cliffs, the rocks below peeking up like dragon’s teeth above a translucent blue sea.

Turning the headland, we headed down a steep downy hill and switched into du Maurier mode as we approached the wonders of Polridmouth bay, the setting for the key scenes from Rebecca.

‘The boathouse’ Polridmouth cove

It was not hard to imagine Max sinking the boat containing his first wife’s body in the clear sheltered waters of the cove. The stunning cottage with its little lake – no doubt rentable for a small fortune – was clearly recognisable as ‘the boathouse’ in the novel.

It was only a step onwards to St Catherine’s Castle, an English Heritage Henrician fort designed to protect the Fowey estuary from Catholic Europe. The remains of an earlier blockhouse stood at the foot of Polruan.

The Fowey river

We had been trying to ignore Polruan, a rather obtrusive village on the opposite headland. The uniformity of the houses their layout sadly diminishes what might have been a bearable development.

Our eyes turned instead the lovely view up river, to the the historic bulk of St Saviour’s chapel on the headland and Punche’s cross marooned on its rock.

It is a lovely river, enhanced on this day by the number of boats rushing to and fro in the bright wind.

We completed our walk with a stroll into town, beyond the Polruan ferry landing as we really felt that the day deserved a small celebration.

P1040005Having started the walk with one style of exclusivity, we ended it with another as we passed smart cars with personalised number plates: ABC1 was parked next door to 1ABC, next to L1ZYS. Braying voices emanated from a terrace above us.

We had walked over 10 miles in 3 and half hours. The height gain had been a mere 750ft compared with the last walk’s 1320, qualifying this as easy.

On the way home we (re-)visited Fowey and Tywardreath churches to capture some new photographs.