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Padstow and Camel Estuary

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Padstow and Camel Estuary
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 03 Jul 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Cornwall, Padstow
Walk Type: Coastal
Padstow and Camel Estuary
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 3.5 mile circular route from the picturesque town of Padstow on the north coast of Cornwall. The walk gives you the chance to explore the heart of the small Cornish town, before climbing out to follow the coastal path alongside the estuary of the River Camel. The route then returns along arable field paths and farm tracks passing the old manor house of Prideaux Place. Within the town you’ll have chance to explore the many quaint small shops, cafes and pubs or take a boat trip and once you’re out onto the coastal path the views are really breathtaking.

The walk follows a mixture of pavements, quiet tarmac lanes, stone paths and field side paths, the latter of which will be muddy after wet weather and can also be quite overgrown. The walk has several short steep climbs and also a couple of very long gradual climbs. There is one (very tight!) kissing gate by the church plus three stone stiles (these are relatively easy to climb but dogs may need a leg up on one of them). There are public toilets in the car park at the start and plenty of places for refreshment within the town. Approximate time 2 hours.

The walk starts from the Link Road long stay pay and display car park which is on the main A389 access road into Padstow, just near the junction with New Street. Approximate post code PL28 8DT. Padstow gets very busy particularly during summer weekends so you may need to use the overflow park and ride unless you arrive early at these times.

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Walk Sections

Car Park to Marble Arch
Car Park to Marble Arch

Start point: 50.5399 lat, -4.9419 long
End point: 50.542 lat, -4.9419 long

With your back to the road, leave the car park through the far right hand corner down the tarmac slope to the left of the toilet block, signed for Town Centre. As you reach the T-junction, turn left onto the level tarmac walkway with slate walls each side. Follow the walkway as it swings right and downhill and go straight ahead to pass under the lych gate to enter the church yard of St Petroc’s Church.

Padstow was originally named ‘Petroc-stowe’, meaning 'Petroc's Place', after the Welsh missionary Saint Petroc, who landed at Trebetherick around 500AD. The church of St Petroc is one of three said to have been founded by the saint and dates mostly from the 13th and 14th centuries. You may want stop to take a look at the range of ornate headstones. Many of these are for Master Mariners who died in the mid-1800s and some of these were aged in their 80s and 90s – a testament perhaps to the sea air!

As you reach the church porch ahead, turn left up the tarmac path and follow this as it slopes uphill to reach an ornate tall metal kissing gate. Pass through this gate and turn left onto Church Street, heading uphill.

Take the first right, Tregirls Lane, and then turn right again into the High Street – look to your right and you’ll be able to see Padstow Harbour over the wall. Follow the High Street downhill. Just a few paces before the end of the road, look carefully for an alleyway on the right called Marble Arch – set directly under the High Street sign.

Marble Arch to Broad Street
Marble Arch to Broad Street

Start point: 50.542 lat, -4.9419 long
End point: 50.5411 lat, -4.9392 long

Turn right here into Marble Arch and follow the narrow passageway along and down steps taking care to mind your head on the low ceiling. Turn left onto Church Street and pass by the Cross Hotel. Continue straight ahead onto Duke Street walking along the small raised terrace.

Go down the steps at the end of the raised terrace and then take the first right into Middle Street.

On the right you’ll pass Rick Stein’s shop and cafe. The influence of local restaurateur Rick Stein can be seen throughout the port, and tourists travel from long distances to eat at his restaurant or cafes.

At the end of Middle Street turn left into Lanadwell Street, passing the Golden Lion and then the London Inn to reach the junction with Broad Street.

Broad Street to Chapel Stile Field
Broad Street to Chapel Stile Field

Start point: 50.5411 lat, -4.9392 long
End point: 50.5432 lat, -4.9364 long

Turn left here to walk along Market Place and then continue ahead as the road narrows to a small alleyway passing The Old Ship on the left. Follow the lane as it bends right and you will emerge at the harbour.

Traditionally a fishing port, Padstow is now a popular tourist destination. Although some of its former fishing fleet remains, it is now mainly a yachting haven on this dramatic coastline. During the mid-nineteenth century, ships carrying timber from Canada (particularly Quebec City) would arrive at Padstow and offer cheap travel to passengers wishing to emigrate.

Turn left to walk alongside the quay with the harbour over to your right. On the left you’ll pass the Grade II listed Abbey House which dates back to the 15th Century. Now a private residence, it is thought to have been the headquarters of the Guild of St Petroc.

Continue past the Shipwright pub on the left and the tourist information centre on the right. At the fork on the path, keep left on the path heading uphill. Follow the path as it swings left and you will reach a gateway marking to entrance to Chapel Stile Field.

Chapel Stile Field to War Memorial
Chapel Stile Field to War Memorial

Start point: 50.5432 lat, -4.9364 long
End point: 50.5473 lat, -4.9351 long

Follow the tarmac path running with the field sloping up to the left, heading to the war memorial visible ahead. Soon you will have views over the Camel estuary on the right.

The approach from the sea into the River Camel is partially blocked by the Doom Bar, a bank of sand extending across the estuary which is a significant hazard to shipping and the cause of many shipwrecks. The name Doom Bar has been used for one of the most popular local beers, brewed by the nearby Sharp’s Brewery.

Follow the main path uphill to reach the war memorial.

War Memorial to Gun Point
War Memorial to Gun Point

Start point: 50.5473 lat, -4.9351 long
End point: 50.5508 lat, -4.9392 long

Continue ahead onto the stone track running parallel with the estuary over to the right. Take time to enjoy the spectacular views here across the water and to the dramatic coast opposite and ahead.

There have been ferries across the Camel estuary for centuries and the current service, the Black Tor Ferry, regularly carries pedestrians between Padstow and Rock so you are likely to see it in action.

As the path swings away from the estuary view, you will pass a post on the right marking the steps down to St George’s Cove (feel free to explore this if you wish). Continue along the stone path as it swings back round to the right. On the left you’ll find the first part of the remains of the Gun Point – a concrete structure now covered in ivy.

Gun Point to Stone Stile
Gun Point to Stone Stile

Start point: 50.5508 lat, -4.9392 long
End point: 50.5542 lat, -4.9442 long

Padstow was considered one of the few places on the north Cornish coast vulnerable to invasion in 1940, so four lines of defence were laid, one of which was the re-instatement of guns on the cliffs here.

On your left you will see the remains of the generator house (a concrete building with cast iron shutters now covered in ivy) which was used to power the searchlights for the gun point. As you follow the path round to the left you will come to more remains of the gun point on the right – the battlements where the gun was housed. The gun point was manned by 81 men and 3 officers of the Royal Artillery who were housed at Prideaux Place (which you will pass later on the walk).

Continue following the path along the edge of the estuary and after a while it will narrow to become a single sandy path. Eventually the path will lead you to a stone stile ahead.

Stone Stile to Tregirls Holiday Cottages
Stone Stile to Tregirls Holiday Cottages

Start point: 50.5542 lat, -4.9442 long
End point: 50.5497 lat, -4.9488 long

Cross over the stile and continue on the narrow path, which may be a little overgrown, with arable fields over to the left. Follow the path as it swings left at the end of the field, to cross a second stone stile into another field. Go ahead on the path still running with a crop field to the left. You will emerge to a T-junction with a grass/stone track.

Turn left following the track uphill. Follow the track climbing steadily for some distance and at the top you will come to the Tregirls Holiday Cottages – a set of stone cottages with slate roofs – on the right.

Tregirls Holiday Cottages to Prideaux Place
Tregirls Holiday Cottages to Prideaux Place

Start point: 50.5497 lat, -4.9488 long
End point: 50.5429 lat, -4.9453 long

Turn right immediately after the cottages over a stone stile (or the gate alongside may be unlocked) and then turn immediately left to follow the track heading uphill away from the cottages.

Follow the quiet vehicle lane climbing gradually to the brow of the hill and then continue on the gradual (and very welcome!) descent. As the path winds into a section under trees, on the left you’ll see a cobbled track. Do NOT take this, but you may want to take a moment to look at the stone spring and trough set into a slate wall – ideal for a doggie drink.

Continue following the main lane as it descends and swings right and you will pass under a stone arch marking the entrance to Prideaux Place – with the manor house to your right and the deer park to your left.

Prideaux Place to End
Prideaux Place to End

Start point: 50.5429 lat, -4.9453 long
End point: 50.5408 lat, -4.9428 long

For more than 400 years, Prideaux Place has been the home of the Prideaux-Brune family. Completed in 1592, the house has been enlarged and modified by successive generations. Today it combines the traditional E-shape of Elizabethan architecture with the 18th century exuberance of Strawberry Hill Gothic. The house is filled with treasures, including royal and family portraits, fine furniture and the Prideaux Porcelain Collection.

The deer park, with its herd of fallow deer, is thought to be the oldest in the country and has been dated back to its enclosure by the Romans in 435 AD. Legend has it that if the deer die out, so does the Prideaux family. Not wishing to test this alarming prediction, King George V sent a virile young buck from his herd at Windsor in 1927 when the Prideaux blood line was dwindling. The following morning the gamekeeper set out to cull the old lead buck and shot the King's buck instead by accident!

Continue straight ahead down the road, passing the Dower House on the left. At the T-junction at the end, turn left going downhill onto Church Street. Now retrace your steps to the car park – turn right through the kissing gate into the church yard, leave at the opposite side and follow the tarmac walkway before turning right back to the car park.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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