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Pentewan River and Woodland Trail

There are currently 1 comments and 4 photos online for this walk.

Pentewan River and Woodland Trail
Author: Claire, Published: 25 Jul 2018 Walk Rating:star1 Pentewan River and Woodland Trail, Cornwallstar1 Pentewan River and Woodland Trail, Cornwallstar1 Pentewan River and Woodland Trail, Cornwallstar1 Pentewan River and Woodland Trail, Cornwallstar1 Pentewan River and Woodland Trail, Cornwall
Cornwall, Pentewan
Walk Type: Woodland
Pentewan River and Woodland Trail
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Pentewan River and Woodland Trail, Cornwall boot Pentewan River and Woodland Trail, Cornwall boot Pentewan River and Woodland Trail, Cornwall
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0018_cloudy_with_heavy_rain Pentewan River and Woodland Trail, CornwallToday's weather
12 °C, Light rain, Wind: 7 mph SW
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A 4.5 mile circular walk from the coastal village of Pentewan in Cornwall. The village and its harbour date back to medieval times and make the perfect place to explore after your walk. The walking route itself follows the riverbank of the St Austell River heading inland before climbing high into Kings Wood that occupies the steep slopes of Pentewan Valley. The semi-natural ancient woodland is rich with wildlife and plants; look out for bluebells in the spring and plenty of butterflies in the summer.

The woodland is a network of many paths with few landmarks, so the iFootpath App’s live GPS map will be particularly useful to aid navigation. The walk follows a mixture of easy-going level paths, some steady gradients plus several very steep woodland slopes which can be slippery with loose stones and need care. The first unmade stretch of riverbank can be very muddy at times, along with the lower sections of woodland paths. The initial stretch of riverside path is narrow and can become a little overgrown. You will need to negotiate a simple bridle gate, some footbridges, a few flights of woodland steps and a series of boardwalks over the marshy section of woodland, but there are no stiles on route. You will not be sharing any of the paths with livestock. Dogs are welcome in the woodland, it is managed by the Woodland Trust. Allow 2.5 hours.

In terms of facilities, the square in Pentewan village has public toilets and the village also has a (dog-friendly) pub and several cafes.

Pentewan village is located about 3 miles south of St Austell, on the southern coast of Cornwall, and is accessed via the B3273. The walk starts and finishes at the free village car park on West End, directly opposite the Ocean Sports shop. (If this car park is full, there is also additional parking within The Square – just follow the main West End road beyond the village car park, past the pub to reach The Square). Approximate post code PL26 6BX.

Walk Sections

Start to Gateway
Start to Gateway

Start point: 50.2918 lat, -4.7838 long
End point: 50.2981 lat, -4.7964 long

Leave the car park via the vehicle entrance and, taking care of traffic, turn left along the road. Follow the road as it bends left. Continue for about 30 metres, passing Old Forge Cottage on your left, to reach a sign for the Pentewan Valley Trail on your right. Turn right to join this stone track, leading you past a cycle hire shop on your left.

Go ahead through the fence gap to reach the start of the stone cycleway, marked with a low stone plinth. Do NOT follow the obvious track ahead, instead turn left onto a narrow path leading you through a section of scrub and emerging to reach the river. The path bends right to continue as a riverside path with St Austell River running immediately on your left. Take care along this stretch, as there are a few parts with riverbank erosion.

Follow the path leading you over a small footbridge ahead and continuing through the woodland edge, with the river always to your left. The St Austell River is just 7.5 miles long, starting life as it drains the moorland high above St Austell and flowing into the sea at Pentewan beach.

After about 1km you will come to a wooden gateway ahead.

Gateway to Stone Bridge
Gateway to Stone Bridge

Start point: 50.2981 lat, -4.7964 long
End point: 50.3054 lat, -4.8007 long

Pass through the gateway and, just a few metres further ahead, you will see a pair of benches and a fingerpost marking a path junction. Ignore the path to the right (which we will use on our return journey), instead go straight ahead on the main riverside path. You will notice that this stretch of path is a wide stone track, as we have joined part of the Pentewan Valley Trail (more about that later).

You will also notice that the river here is shored up with stone block walls. This stretch of valley has historical links with Cornwall’s industrial past. The valley bottom and river corridor areas were once used for tin streaming. This hydraulic mining method allowed workers to collect the tin gravel deposits from within the riverbed. Tin was much heavier than most other river deposits, so a fast stream of water was passed over the mixed deposits, washing away the lighter gravel and sand and leaving behind the tin.

The tin streaming and upstream mining activity meant the river had the nickname Red River at one time. Surprisingly it also had the nickname White River, relating to a time when the wastewater from china clay quarrying near St Austell was emptied into the river, giving it a white colour. Today the river runs clear and is home to eels, brown trout, heron, kingfishers, dippers and damselflies.

After about 400 metres you will come to a footbridge over the river on your left. Do NOT take this, instead keep ahead on the track, with the river still on your left. The track ends at a wooden vehicle barrier alongside a stone river bridge and a small car park.

Stone Bridge to Kings Wood Entrance
Stone Bridge to Kings Wood Entrance

Start point: 50.3054 lat, -4.8007 long
End point: 50.3099 lat, -4.7993 long

Follow the stone path which passes immediately to the right of the car park. As you draw level with the end of the car park, you will see a National Cycle Network waymarker and a choice of two paths immediately afterwards. Take the right-hand option, passing between two low wooden barriers and following a stone path leading you into the woodland.

The path soon bends right, heading directly away from the river and road, to reach a fork with an earth mound at its centre. Take the left-hand option and follow this narrow (and sometimes subtle!) woodland path with a ditch on your left, then passing through a dip of tree roots and continuing along a raised bank of tree roots. Eventually you will be forced left down off the bank, to continue now with a small stream running on your left. Continue ahead, picking your way over tree roots and small fallen trees as needed, staying directly alongside the stream and emerging to junction with a bridleway path (with a footbridge immediately on your left).

Turn right along the bridleway and this will lead you to a T-junction with a tarmac access lane. Turn right (signed to Kings Wood) heading uphill. Ignore the Woodland Trust entrance gates ahead, instead follow the lane as it swings sharp left to reach a second set of Woodland Trust entrance gates.

Kings Wood Entrance to Concrete Track
Kings Wood Entrance to Concrete Track

Start point: 50.3099 lat, -4.7993 long
End point: 50.3088 lat, -4.7967 long

Pass through the wooden gate and follow the stone access track leading you uphill into Kings Wood. The ancient broadleaf woodland of Kings Wood sits on a steep valley side. The upper drier slopes are mainly populated with mature oak, ash, sweet chestnut, birch and beech with occasional holly. The age of these trees is anything between 75 and 165 years old. The broadleaves are complemented by firs and spruce planted in the 1960s and 1970s. Ground flora includes bluebell, common rush, dog’s mercury, bryophyte, bramble, bracken, heather and bilberry. The area provides an ideal habitat for many bird and insect species, including a good variety of butterflies such as the holly blue which is quite common in the wood. As a woodland species it is the national butterfly of Finland.

Stay with the main track which zig-zags uphill, ignoring any smaller paths to the side. The stone track ends at a turning circle with a bench ahead. Take the smaller stone path to the left of the bench, leading you up a slope and continuing ahead for just a few metres to reach a track junction. Take the right-hand branch, heading down through a dip and then continuing steadily downhill. If you glance through the trees to your left, you will be able to see part of the stone boundary wall at the top of the woodland.

A little way along, the track bears right and continues down some tree-roots steps and then man-made woodland steps. At the bottom of the steps, turn right for just 20 metres and go down a handful of steps to reach a T-junction with a concrete track.

Concrete Track to Grass Clearing
Concrete Track to Grass Clearing

Start point: 50.3088 lat, -4.7967 long
End point: 50.3006 lat, -4.7939 long

Turn left (uphill) along the concrete track for just 20 metres and then fork right, leaving the concrete track and passing through an entrance fence gap with a Woodland Trust sign. You will immediately reach a fork. Take the left-hand option which climbs fairly steeply and then continues with the stone boundary wall running on your left.

Simply keep ahead on this boundary path, always with the stone wall on your left and the woodland sloping steeply down to your right. Keep ahead for some distance and eventually the wall on your left ends. Continue straight ahead on the obvious stone path, passing a bench on your left and then bearing right and heading downhill. At the bottom of the first slope, stay with the main path which zig-zags down the hill, bending right then left to reach a path junction (there is a tree here that is home to a woodland fairy – you will notice the faded red door marked with a Number 9).

Ignore the path to the right, instead go straight ahead on a path which descends quite steeply down the hill. Your path now swings left, crossing a stream, and later swings right. Pause on this bend and look through the trees to your right where you will notice the ruins of a stone building. Continue on the stone path leading you steeply downhill and swinging right to reach a stone and grass oval-shaped clearing.

Grass Clearing to Boardwalks
Grass Clearing to Boardwalks

Start point: 50.3006 lat, -4.7939 long
End point: 50.2999 lat, -4.7957 long

Walk through this oval clearing but do NOT continue ahead on the obvious stone vehicle track. Instead, turn sharp left just BEFORE the end of the clearing to find the start of a stone path. The path leads you steeply downhill. At the bottom of the slope, follow the main path as it bends left, passing a giant log pile on your right.

Beyond the logs, the path swings right to cross a wooden footbridge. At the far side, follow the path as it bends right up a small bank, leading you through a section of holly trees and passing an old fallen tree immediately on your left. A few paces later you will reach a waymarker post. Turn left here, heading down a slope to reach the start of a section of boardwalks.

Boardwalks to Pentewan Valley Trail
Boardwalks to Pentewan Valley Trail

Start point: 50.2999 lat, -4.7957 long
End point: 50.2984 lat, -4.7961 long

Follow the raised stone walkways and boardwalks that lead you through an area of swampy woodland. This section of wet, marshy woodland lies along the valley bottom, next to the St. Austell River, and provides a safe haven for species that love wetter areas such as willow, ash and alder. These boggy areas are often interspersed with permanent and ephemeral ponds (temporary pools of water) as well as drier raised areas, banks and ridges. Ground flora in this marshy area includes flag iris and saxifrage.

At the end of the boardwalks, you will emerge to a T-junction with the wide stone riverside track (that you should recognise from the outward leg). Turn left to join the stone track for about 140 metres to reach a fingerpost and two benches at a track junction. Fork left here on the stone track signed as the Pentewan Valley Trail, heading away from the river.

Pentewan Valley Trail to End
Pentewan Valley Trail to End

Start point: 50.2984 lat, -4.7961 long
End point: 50.292 lat, -4.7837 long

This track makes for easy walking for our final section, a nice wide stone track once again. The Pentewan Valley Trail forms part of National Cycle Network Route 3 and runs along the bed of the former Pentewan Railway. This was originally built as a horse-drawn tramway in 1829 and was replaced by a narrow-gauge railway in 1874. It was constructed mainly to transport the china clay from the clay pits near St Austell to the harbour at Pentewan, although other goods were also carried including tin and coal.

As you continue along the track you will cross a couple of footbridges. At the end of the stone track you will emerge directly alongside the cycle hire shop. Keep straight ahead to reach the road. Turn left along this and follow it as it swings right to reach the car park where the walk began. Before returning to your car, it is worth continuing further along this road to reach The Square at the centre of the village of Pentewan. The village has a pub, several cafes and toilets as well as lots of pretty cottages.

Remember...the best way of following our walking guides is to use the iFootpath App (iOS and Android) where you will have all the information in the palm of your hand and see your exact location on the live map as you travel. You can also add comments, photos, ratings and track your own routes.

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network Pentewan River and Woodland Trail, Cornwall Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by iFootpath and the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 comments for "Pentewan River and Woodland Trail"

Fantastic description and so easy to follow. Thank you our dog loved having so much off lead and swimming time. Beautiful walk definitely recommend it.

By lbarratt on 16 Aug 2018

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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4 gallery images for "Pentewan River and Woodland Trail"

11239_0Richard1532528188 Pentewan River and Woodland Trail, Cornwall Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 25 Jul 2018
The fence gap just past the cycle hire shop
11239_1Richard1532528188 Pentewan River and Woodland Trail, Cornwall Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 25 Jul 2018
Bobbie enjoying a drink from the St Austell River
11239_2Richard1532528188 Pentewan River and Woodland Trail, Cornwall Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 25 Jul 2018
The lovely stone wall along the path at the top of Kings Wood
11239_3Richard1532528188 Pentewan River and Woodland Trail, Cornwall Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 25 Jul 2018
A fairy lives at number 9....

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