Walk - The Gannel from Newquay Station

3.1 miles (5.0 km)

Newquay Railway Station - TR7 2TS Newquay Railway Station

Moderate -

A walk along the bank of the River Gannel (south of Newquay), once a bustling waterway but now a tranquil creek where wading birds forage for worms in the mudflats and curlews call from the fields above. Gulls wheel overhead and oystercatchers pipe shrilly as they strut along the shoreline among the boats. 

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 Site

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 Hotel

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.

C-Bay Cafe

Dog friendly Cafe with beautiful views sitting on the Coast Path at West Pentire Head. Also offer Self-Catering Crantock Bay Apartments

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!

What is on your list of things to do when you visit the Path? From walking companies, to help you tailor your visit, with itineraries and experts to enhance your visit, to baggage transfer companies and visitor attractions there are lots to people and places to help you decide what you'd like to do. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Newquay Zoo

Get close to over1000 rare & endangered animals in 13 acres of tropical gardens. Run wild and release your inner animal.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the front of Newquay Station car park turn left on Cliff Road and walk, bearing left along Berry Road. Cross Tor Road to keep going ahead. 
  2. At the traffic lights at the end of Berry Road cross the road ahead to carry on along Trenance Road. When the road starts to go downhill after Trelawney Road turn right onto Agar Road and follow it down past Linden Avenue to Rawley Lane. Bear left at the 'no through road' sign and keep going downhill until Rawley lane becomes a footpath. Carry on along it to Trenance Lane, turning left here to walk to the main road.
  3. Turn right on the main road, walking about half a mile along Gannel Road to turn left on Tregunnel Hill.

There was once a flourishing shipbuilding industry at Tregunnel, and in the early nineteenth century ships of up to 250 tons were built here.

Across the river, Trevemper was once an important centre of commerce. Goods landed at Penpol Creek, further downstream, were brought here by packhorse along a track which still links the two, and the old packhorse bridge at Trevemper is still in place, four centuries after it was built. 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.  Other cargoes were landed at Fern Pit, downstream on this side of the river, and were then transferred to shallow-draught barges to be carried on the flood tide up to Trevemper.

Evidence has also been found of trading dating right back to prehistoric times. All around the Gannel estuary Celtic and Roman coins have been found in ploughed fields, especially on the Crantock side, and on the grassy slopes below Trevemper archaeologists have identified the remains of an Celtic settlement known as the Treringey Round.

Trevemper is also the site of a modern curiosity – a solar farm, whose silent sun-catching panels generate nearly 2 megawatts of electricity for the national grid.

  1. At the car park take the small path running alongside the road and follow it alongside the creek until you are opposite Penpol Creek, about a mile downstream (where there is a footbridge at low tide).

At the highest tides the water in the Gannel is more than 7 metres (23 feet), while at low tide there is a very shallow channel running down the middle. The fluctuation of the water levels means that the mix of freshwater from the river and salt water from the sea is constantly changing. The sands and mud are always on the move, too, making this a hostile environment for all but the most specialised of plants, like the salt-tolerant sea purslane with its rubbery leaves and its minute starry pink flowers and the spiky stands of sea aster with its daisy-like flowers. In spring the estuary is fringed with fragrant scurvy grass, an edible member of the cabbage family with a peppery taste like watercress. It is rich in vitamin C and sailors used to eat it to prevent scurvy, a disease caused by a deficiency of the vitamin.

Further downstream, towards the sea, the cliff vegetation includes clumps of thrift, or sea pinks, as well as the creeping kidney vetch and the white-headed wild carrot with its feathery leaves.

At low tide waders can be seen in the mudflats, feeding on shellfish, as well as worms and crabs. In the winter up to 5000 birds have been recorded in the estuary, seeking shelter from the harsh weather further north, and ornamental ducks gather on the boating lake at Trenance, joined sometimes by wild tufted ducks and pochards and a number of different species of gull. One of Cornwall's larger curlew flocks – as many as 500 birds – feed in the fields during the day and fly down at dusk to roost on the Gannel. In the upper estuary, sometimes herons can be seen, or even little egrets. Other birds to look out for are snipe, rock pipit, ringed plover, redshank, wigeon and godwit.

In the low rock-face that extends seawards from here are a number of circles cut into the soft slate. Although they have been described as 'prehistoric carvings' it is thought much more likely that they are part of an unknown manufacturing process, probably from before the nineteenth century. There are other similar features in the cliffs beneath the headland.

  1. Fork right here, to follow the path uphill to Penmere Drive, continuing to climb to the T-junction. Turn left and follow the road as it curves around to join Pentire Crescent. Turn right and walk to the end of Pentire Crescent.

A little way down the road to the left, Pentire Point East overshadows the mouth of the river. People have been living and working on the high ground here for many millennia, and archaeologists have found the flint tools of hunter gatherers from Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) times, 7000-8000 years ago. There are also a number of barrows from the Bronze Age, 3000 years later, and the chunky hinged 'Pentire neckring' was found here, dating from the first century BC, in the Iron Age. More recently, rabbits were encouraged to live here, to keep them from the crops inland, and stone was quarried from the rocks for road-building. It is also an important site for rare mosses and liverworts.

  1. Turn right on the main road to pick up the footpath opposite and walk around the edge of the golf course to Atlantic Road.
  2. Turn left, following the road around to the right to walk along Crantock Street. Cross Tower Road to carry on ahead.
  3. At the end of Crantock Street turn right on St George's Road and then left on Manor Road. Keep going ahead as it turns into East Street, which will bring you back to Cliff Road. Keep going forward to return to the station.

Public transport

Click here for train times and tickets to and from Newquay.

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