Walk - Padstow and Prideaux Place
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 Meadow take the Coast Path northwards, following the Tarmac path through the park to the memorial, ignoring the steps up to the left.
- At the memorial, continue along the Coast Path and follow it along as it runs above the beach to Gun Point. If you want to go down onto the sand there are numerous small paths leading to the beaches along the way to Harbour Cove, but for this walk, stay with the main path around the dunes.
St George's Well, supposedly off the path above the beach, is one of many holy wells in Cornwall. In early times, sources of water were highly prized, especially by travellers, and the Celts and Roman ascribed healing properties to their springs and wells. A few centuries later, saints arriving by sea would have had cause to bless these springs and wells as welcome drinking fountains.
There is said to be another well, dedicated to St John, near the daymark tower on Stepper Point. This one is believed to have been marked by a beacon chapel, although nothing now remains of either.
Rather more recent (from the start of the nineteenth century, in fact), are the ruins of a Napoleonic gun emplacement and fortifications at Gun Point, a little further on from St George's Well.
Looking out across the estuary, at low tide the sand on this side of the water extends almost to Doom Bar. According to a traditional ballad, the Mermaid of Padstow fell in love with local lad, Tom Yeo, who mistook her for a seal (or so he said), and shot her. In the awful rage of a woman scorned, she called up a mighty storm, wrecking all the ships in the harbour and throwing a huge sandbar across the river to imperil all future sailors venturing in.
- From Gun Point the path turns slightly inland around the edge of Harbour Cove until it reaches a small inlet, where a track joins it from your left.
Harbour Cove known locally as Tregirls, provides a quiet contrast to the summer bustle of Padstow. The flat crescent shaped beach of golden sand can be quite secluded. At lower tides Harbour Cove merges with Hawker's Cove, to the north. Dogs are allowed at both Harbour Cove and Hawkers Cove beaches.
- Having explored Harbour Cove beach turn left onto the track mentioned at 3 and follow it back to Padstow, dropping onto the road southwards at Tregirls Farm and ignoring the tracks leading away on both sides shortly afterwards.
Before you reach Padstow, you pass on your right the Tudor Mansion of Prideaux Place.
The Prideaux family origins go back to the 11th century. They are said to descend from such diverse characters as William the Conqueror, King Edward I and Queen Eleanor of Castile. Jane Austen was a close relation. Since the completion of the house in 1592, 14 generations of the family have lived at Prideaux Place . Nowadays of its 81 rooms, 46 are bedrooms although only 6 are habitable! The rest are as the American Army left them at the end of the Second World War, complete with such notices as 'Lance Sergeants' Mess'.
The gardens of Prideaux Place were first recorded in the 1730s. Edmund Prideaux landscaped hedged walks and built such buildings as a classical temple, a grotto and a small stone arbour. Today efforts are being made to restore the gardens to their former glory.
Prideaux Place has been extensively used as a film location. Among the stories featuring its classical lines on-screen are several by Cornish-born author, Rosamunde Pilcher, who started her writing career penning Mills and Boon romances under the pseudonym Jane Fraser. Using her own name, Rosamunde published her first novel in 1955. In 1987, at the age of 63, she wrote the international best-seller 'The Shell Seekers' which sold 5.5 million copies. She gained enormous popularity in Germany, where the TV station ZDF has since produced nearly 40 of her stories for TV.
The filming of 'Coming Home' at Prideaux Place has proved to be a great draw for Pilcher fans worldwide, as have the other productions made for German television such as 'Flowers in the Rain', 'The End of Summer, The Long Weekend' and 'The Red Dress'. Prideaux Place has also been a film location for ITV's detective series, 'Wycliffe', and 'Most Haunted'.
- Reaching the houses, follow Tregirls Lane around to the left as it becomes Church Street and then turn right down Duke Street to reach the centre of Padstow again.
Walking around the northern side of the harbour, take the Coast Path northwards, up the ramp, back to the start of the walk.
There are numerous restaurants, pubs and tea shops in Padstow.