Walk - Crantock & Penpol Creek

1.7 miles (2.7 km)

Crantock Car Park - TR8 5RB Crantock Car Park

Easy - Reasonably level, with one gentle climb at the start

A short walk offering beautiful views over a tranquil estuary and the sweeping Atlantic coast, as well as the chance to explore the pretty coastal village of Crantock. Children will love the long sandy beach backed by dunes, and the stories of ancient saints arriving on peculiar boats and a wicked population buried in sand! A great walk in springtime: listen out for kittiwakes nesting on the cliffs, corn buntings feeding in the fields and great spotted woodpeckers drumming in the woodland. Great in summer too: the sound of birdsong along this part of the walk on a sunny evening is a real treat.

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Smarties Surf Lodge

We offer a personable and comfortable stay, situated in a quiet street, perfect for relaxing after a long day walking. Our selection of double, triple and bunk rooms are mostly en-suite.

Treago Farm Caravan & Camping, Crantock

Small family run farm site, just off West Pentire Headland, with footpaths to Coast Path. Open from Easter to 1st Oct. Modern washroom facilities, laundry & well stocked shop and takeaway.

 

The Three Tees, Newquay

Family run licensed hotel, off street parking. Situated in quiet Lusty Glaze area of Newquay. Short walk from Coast Path and town centre.

You'll be spoilt for choice for where to eat and drink along the Path. With lots of local seasonal food on offer, fresh from the farm, field and waters. Try our local ales, ciders, wines and spirits, increasing in variety by the year, as you sit in a cosy pub, fine dining restaurant or chilled café on the beach. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Bowgie Inn Ltd

With unrivalled sea views, lots of seating inside & out, The Bowgie Inn & the surrounding area is the perfect place to explore all year round!

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the car park entrance, walk back up the road into the village of Crantock.
  2. Take a few minutes to look around the historic buildings before taking the lane to the right of the small antique shop.

The Cornish coast is full of legends of ancient saints arriving in a variety of unusual vessels to set up hermitages and convert the locals to Christianity. Historians believe that there was an influx of Celtic missionaries from Ireland, Wales and Brittany in the fifth and sixth centuries, when the area was under threat from pagan Anglo-Saxon invaders. A few miles to the south, St Piran arrived on a millstone from Ireland, landing on Perran Sands and subsequently becoming Cornwall's most famous saint. Here in Crantock, the saint was Carantoc, who is said to have arrived on an altar in the sixth century. Like St Piran, he built an oratory, a simple chapel near a well. The 'Round Orchard' in the centre of Crantock village is thought to be the site of this chapel, and in the centre of the village there is a seventeenth-century well, known as St Carantoc's Well.

The stained glass windows in the parish church of St Carantoc depict St Carantoc's life story. The church is Norman, although it was restored at the start of the twentieth century, and it is well-known for its woodcarving.

There was another saint here in medieval days: St Ambrose, also known as St Ambrusca. His chapel was first recorded in 1309, when Bishop Lacy granted 40 days indulgence to all pilgrims visiting the chapel. Although the chapel ruins were still visible in the churchyard in the eighteenth century, there is no sign of them today. However, St Ambrusca's Well can be seen beside Beach Road, with a modern door depicting the Celtic saint in the style of the bohemian artist Modigliani

  1. Follow the lane up to the crest of the hill and climb over the stone stile that faces you as the road turns sharp right. (If you find stiles difficult, you can follow the lane around to the right since you will join the path at the other end of the field.) Cross the field and climb over the stone stile at the other side before turning left down the lane.
  2. Pass the beautiful old farm of Penpol on the left before finding the Coast Path sign on the left hand side of the road. Take this path through the kissing gate and follow it across the field and through the copse alongside the creek. At another kissing gate you will emerge from the wood onto a more open area beside the Gannel Estuary.

Penpol Creek ('penpol' in Cornish means 'head of the creek'), is an inlet off the River Gannel. It was once known as the Port of Truro, and goods landed here were taken by cart or packhorse up the track to Trevemper, an important commercial centre three miles upstream. At low tide, you can still see the quays, steps, mooring rings and chains along the wooded western shoreline of Penpol Creek. Other vessels brought their cargoes into Fern Pit, across the water from Penpol, and this was then transferred to shallow-draught barges to be carried on the flood tide up to Trevemper, at the tidal limit of the river, where there is still a packhorse bridge today.

Until as late as the end of the nineteenth century the Gannel was used extensively by shipping. Iron ore from the Great Perran Iron Lode was brought here to be shipped to Wales, and Welsh coal was brought back for the Truro smelting works. There was also a lead and silver smelting works on this bank of the river. A lime kiln at Penpol is still visible today, where coal and limestone were burnt together to make lime, used mainly as a fertiliser.

  1. Keep the estuary on your right hand side and admire the fantastic location and views that the properties opposite command.
  2. Keep to the path and you will gently climb until you emerge at a crest of the hill and are rewarded with stunning views out over Crantock Beach to the Atlantic. Continue along the path until it drops down to the car park where you started.

Although you wouldn't believe it to look at the dunes today, this was once the site of the Lost City of Langarrow, buried by a sandstorm over 900 years ago. It is claimed to have been the largest city of its type in England. It had no fewer than seven churches, each with its own churchyard. Archaeologists have found extensive burial sites throughout the area, dating right back to prehistoric times, and human remains have been found in many of Crantock's cottage gardens. 

Langarrow was a land of plenty, with large tracts of richly productive agricultural land, mines yielding an abundance of tin and lead and a sea said to be overflowing with many different kinds of fish. Convicted criminals were brought here from all over the country to work in the fields and mines. They dredged the sand from the Gannel and built a harbour at its mouth. They lived in rough huts on the moorland outside the city and their principle food was the cockles and mussels they gathered from the shore. The landowners here, according to the legends, lived a life of luxury which soon turned to sin, calling down the wrath of God. A savage storm blew up, lasting for three days and three nights. The sand dunes from Crantock to Perran were formed. They wiped the city of sin from the face of the earth.

  1. Before dashing off, take a wander over the dunes to really admire the beach or visit the little church up on the hill (to the left of the road up to the village).

There are a couple of pubs near the church too, which will enable to quench your thirst!

Public transport

Bus services to Crantock run from Truro and from Newquay. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

Parking

National Trust Car Park (on sand) at the start of the walk (Postcode for Sat Navs: TR8 5RB).

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