Walk - Carnevas to Padstow
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2020. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- From the entrance to Carnevas Holiday Park turn right and walk along the road past Trethias Farm.
- Just past Trethias, pick up the footpath on the left through the field. Coming out on the road beyond, turn left, turning left again at Treyarnon Farm. At the beach take the track above the sand towards the Youth Hostel.
- Reaching the Youth Hostel, carry on past it along the South West Coast Path to Treyarnon Point. Continue ahead along the road to drop down onto the beach at Constantine Bay. Cross the beach to the rocks at the far end and then climb the wooden steps to pick up the path around the coastline again.
St Constantine was one of many Celtic saints working around Cornwall in the sixth century to counteract the tide of paganism. The remains of his hermit cell and the associated well (labelled as St Constantine's Church on the map) have been preserved in the middle of the golf course to the right of the path ahead.
Booby's Bay is named after a small white seabird, similar to a gannet, with a yellow head and black wing tips. The name is thought to come from the way the bird dives offshore in stormy weather.
- A path heads inland to the right, with another linking to it a moment later, ignore them both. Continue ahead along the path above the rocks to the Round Hole at Dinas Head.
The cliffs on this part of the Cornish coast have been spectacularly sculpted by the sea's erosion. In places you can hear the hollow boom of the sea washing through caves in the ground below your feet, where the pounding of the waves has exploited a weakness in the rock. The air pressure caused by this action weakens the roof of the cave. Where it is close to the surface, the roof eventually falls in. The one here is particularly impressive, but there are others around Stepper Point, including another sizeable crater just beyond Trevone. Pepper Hole and Butter Hole on the Stepper Point peninsula are smaller sea caves. It is thought that they were used by smugglers.
Dinas Head gets its name from the Cornish word 'dinas', meaning 'fort'. It is likely that there was a promontory fort here in the Iron Age, sometime between the eighth century BC and AD 43. The fort used the cliffs to defend the seaward side of the site and one or more earth banks across the neck of the promontory to protect the landward aspect.
- After the headland turn left onto the road to the lighthouse and then turn right onto the path around Trevose Head, passing Cat's Cove and Barras Bay, with Chairs Rock lying between them, and then the remarkable chain of islets at Merope Rocks, to the road running to the Lifeboat Station.
The rocky coastline is hazardous for shipping, and in 1827 a lifeboat was built by the Padstow Harbour Association, stationed at Hawker's Cove on the River Camel. A new boathouse was built there in 1931 for a second boat, but both had closed by 1967, and a new boathouse with a 240-foot slipway was built here, to be replaced by the current building in 2006.
- Crossing the road, carry on along the Coast Path, going through the gate by Mother Ivey's Cottage to walk around Cataclews Point and Big Guns Cove. The path continues above a series of small cliffs along tiny sandy coves before dropping onto the beach via steps.
Mother Ivey was a sixteenth-century white witch who laid a curse on the family living in the cottage still bearing her name (see our Trevone walk leaflet).
- Crossing the beach, pick up the path once more by the car park, turning left to carry on around St Cadoc's Point and going on to pass a number of rocky headlands, a small round hole and a sandy cove.
As you leave Trevone Bay, look out on the inland side of the path for 'Round Hole' a huge collapsed sea-cave, which is aptly named.
From here to Stepper Point, the high cliffs are battered by the full force of the Atlantic, and home to nesting sea birds, with peregrine falcons often being seen.
Stepper Point is a stunning headland, with its tower serving as a navigation beacon for seafarers. Much of the cliff land is farmed as part of the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme - an environmental scheme where no sprays or fertilizer are used and field margins are left uncultivated.
Harbour Cove used to offer safe mooring until about the 1920's when the sand banks moved and it became too shallow. Across the mouth of the estuary is the infamous 'Doom Bar' a treacherous sandbank that has been the cause of several hundred shipwrecks. Legend has it that the Doom Bar is the result of a mermaid's curse. There was once a mermaid who watched over the vessels that went in and out of Padstow. One day, for reasons unknown, she was shot by a sailor on a visiting boat. Before she disappeared for good under the waves, she raised her hand and issued a curse that the harbour would become desolate from that time on. Shortly after a great storm came, wrecking many of the ships in harbour and throwing up the sandbank.
- Following the Coast Path you reach Gun Point, where there are remains of the fortifications that protected Padstow from invaders.
Just off the path is a cast-iron water tank dated 1888, and a granite marker dated 1868, but it was already called Gun Point on maps produced in 1801. The fortifications may date back to the time of the Spanish Armada.
Moving onwards you tread a track thought to have been built to serve the fortifications at Gun Point. At the bottom of the hill after Gun Point, the path passes close to a spring known as St George's Well, reputed by some to have magical properties. However the spring itself is now hidden in vegetation, and drinking the stream water is not recommended. From here a number of paths lead onto the beach. At low tide it is possible to walk along the sands back to Harbour Cove or on to the ferry steps near St Saviour's Point. This section of the beach has a seasonal dog ban between May 1st and September 30th.
From St Saviour's Point, you get great views up the estuary towards Bodmin, and out to sea. On the opposite shore are the dunes below Brea Hill, and in the distance Pentire Point, which is a long extinct volcano. The estuary itself with its sheltered waters is now a playground for sailing craft.
- Follow the Coast Path down the hill from St Saviour's Point. From here walk to the harbour, home to fishing boats bringing in their catches to be served in the many local restaurants, including of course, Rick Stein's. From here you can also catch the ferry across to Rock, or take pleasure boats on a trip along the coast.
Adjacent to the car park at the end of the walk is the visitor centre of the National Lobster Hatchery. Local fishermen bring “pregnant” female lobsters in to the hatchery, to give them a chance to release their delicate offspring in captivity, where there are no predators. The young lobsters are then raised to a size where they can be released back into the sea and look after themselves.
- Take the Western Greyhound 556 bus from Padstow stopping at the Tredea Inn, a short walk from Carnevas.
Around Padstow harbour are numerous places to eat and drink, and there are pubs and shops in Trevone and Harlyn Bay.