Walk - Wind in the Wyllows

5.8 miles (9.3 km)

Caffa Mill Car Park - PL23 1DF Caffa Mill Car Park

Challenging - Paths, rough lanes and quiet country roads, with a lot of ascent and descent.

A walk through medieval history on both sides of the River Fowey, entailing two ferry trips and some delightful woodland paths high above the creek. The area has inspired many writers, including Daphne du Maurier and Arthur Quiller-Couch ('Q'), who both lived here, as well as 'Wind in the Willows' author Kenneth Grahame. Look out for Ratty and Toad, messing about on the river!

In spring the heathland above the turquoise waters is bright with gorse and wildflowers and the hedges are decked in primroses and violets, while the woodland rings with birdsong and there are swathes of bluebells and wild garlic. It is lovely in autumn, too, when the leaves start to turn and heather adds its colour to the heathland.

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.

Fowey Hall Hotel - LFH

Perched above Fowey with sweeping views.Families welcome and activities to cater for children. This Queen Anne mansion is thought to be the inspiration for Toad Hall from Wind In The Willows.

No6 A Room with a View

Situated longside the Path at the top of Polruan with stunning views out to sea. Use of garden and private parking.

Hormond House B&B

Old Captain's house, family run, friendly B&B with delicious, home-cooked breakfast in our light & airy kitchen. Children welcome. Treat yourself and stay with us.

The Strand 61

The Strand 61 is a boutique B&B located 3 miles from Fowey, and just off the Coast Path, the ideal location after a long days walk.

Great Kellow Farm Caravan & Campsite

Great Kellow Farm is situated above the beautiful village of Polperro. We are a quiet family & dog friendly campsite. The campsite has sea views and easy access to country and coastal walks.

House On The Props B&B

B&B & Restaurant.16th Century timber building 'propped' up over the river on old ships timbers. On the Path overlooking Polperro Harbour & Quay

Carlyon Bay Hotel

Discover the finest luxury hotel in Cornwall, with an amazing cliff top setting overlooking St Austell Bay. Including spa, golf course and 250 acres of grounds.

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.

Meadow View Guided Hikes

Bespoke single/multi-day guided walks within South East Cornwall. Great for single walkers.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

If you are starting the walk at Polruan, begin at 9, continuing from 1 when you reach Bodinnick.

  1. From Caffa Mill Car Park, make your way to the Bodinnick ferry which is adjacent to the car park.  On disembarking walk uphill through Bodinnick until you reach a narrow path on the right, signposted Hall Walk.

The house to the right of the ferry slip at Bodinnick is Ferryside, where novelist Daphne du Maurier lived from 1926 until 1943. It was here that she wrote her bestselling novels 'Jamaica Inn', 'Rebecca' and 'Frenchman’s Creek'.

  1. Turn right and follow Hall Walk through the woods above the creek. If you detour along the path to the left to visit the crumbling remains of the fourteenth-century chapel, return to the main path to carry on ahead. 

Built in the fourteenth century, Hall Chapel was part of Hall Manor, one of the country seats of the Mohun family, Barons of Dunster in Somerset. Constructed of local slate, the mouldings around the chapel's doors and windows were formed of elvan from Pentewan. A bell turret was added in the following century.

Following Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries, the chapel was converted for domestic use. By the nineteenth century, it was being used as a farm building. After the roof blew off in a storm in 1976 the building begin to disintegrate and little remains today.

As you pull out of the trees towards Penleath Point there are stunning views down the river and over the harbour. This stretch of the path was where Charles I had a narrow escape in 1644 during the English Civil War. The Fowey peninsula was occupied by a Roundhead troop, led by the Earl of Essex, but most of the Cornish people supported the king, and the Parliamentarian troops were surrounded by a Royalist army. Charles was watching from here when a musket shot whistled past his head, killing a fisherman instead.

The granite monument to 'Q' was erected in honour of Cornish writer Arthur Quiller-Couch, who used the letter as his pseudonym. Best known for his literary criticism and his 'Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1900', Q was born in Bodmin and lived in Fowey. His friend Kenneth Grahame frequently visited him here. It is said that Grahame's 'Wind in the Willows' was set in Lerryn, upriver from Fowey. Ratty was allegedly based on Q, who liked nothing better than to mess around on boats.

  1. At Penleath Point the path turns left to follow Pont Pill (from the Cornish 'pons' and 'pol', meaning 'bridge' and 'inlet').
  2. Reaching the creek, turn right to follow the track down behind the cottages, emerging on the riverside.

The tiny picturesque hamlet of Pont sits beside the disused sawmill at the head of the creek, by St Wyllow's Bridge (see the Pencarrow Head & Pont Pill Walk). The quay dates back to medieval times when it served many scattered farms and hamlets throughout the area. Over the centuries the pill silted up, and today it is only accessible at high tide.

  1. Cross the footbridge and carry on ahead, to the left of the buildings. Ignoring the steps, continue up the path to the road, turning left here to take the path on your right. Follow the lane uphill to St Wyllow's church in Lanteglos-by-Fowey.

'Lanteglos' comes from the Cornish 'nant eglos', meaning 'church valley'. Daphne du Maurier featured the church in her first novel, 'The Loving Spirit', renaming it Lanoc Church, and she herself was married here in 1932St Wyllow was the sixth-century hermit and martyr who founded the first church on this site (see the Pencarrow Head & Pont Pill Walk).

  1. Coming out of the church turn left on the road to walk to the Lantic Bay National Trust Car Park. Cross the road to take the footpath in the field beyond, coming out on the South West Coast Path high above Lantic Bay.
  2. Turn right on to the Coast Path to walk to Polruan.
  3. In Polruan go through the gate and turn left to enter the field by the school.

Granted the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, the National Coastwatch Station in Polruan is one of 50 lookout stations manned by 2000 volunteers keeping watch around the British Isles. The NCI was set up in 1994 after two fishermen were drowned at Bass Point on the Lizard within sight of the newly-closed coastguard lookout.

The ivy-covered wall standing beside the lookout station is all that remains of the eighth-century St Saviour’s Chapel. A useful lookout and informal lighthouse itself in its early days, it was also an important place for pilgrims travelling to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. On the cliffs below, Punche's Cross was built as a further warning to sailors of the hazardous rocks at the mouth of the river. It is said to be associated with Joseph of Arimathea (see the Lammana Chapel Walk). It appears on very early shipping charts, and the monks in Tywardreath were in charge of repairing it when it was damaged by storms.

  1. Carry on along the Coast Path, leaving the car park at the western corner to head out towards the promontory. Before the point follow the path along the top of the field, carrying on along the rough track, following it to the left to the tarmac lane. Turn right downhill to the T Junction  (where you may detour to the left to visit the blockhouse, see below), turning right towards the quay.

One of a pair on either side of the river, the well-preserved blockhouse at Polruan was built at the end of the fourteenth century when Edward III ordered that a chain should be stretched across the mouth of the port as a defence against French ships. A boom defence was added in 1457 when the French did indeed launch a raid on Fowey Harbour. Each blockhouse had a tower, with separate staircases joining the ground floor to the first floor and the first floor to the battlements.

The ferry across to Fowey operates a regular service (CLICK HERE for details) and, depending on the tides, takes you either to Town Quay or in the summer to Whitehouse Pier (between 9.45 am – 5.15 pm).

Climbing to the road from Whitehouse Point, you pass 'The Haven' on the left, where Quiller Couch lived until his death in 1944.

  1. From Whitehouse pier turn right and follow the Esplanade to the town centre. Turn right again into Lostwithiel Street then left past the church and into Fore Street.
  2. From Town Quay head along Fore Street back to Caffa Mill car park where you started the walk.

Just before the Ferry car park, you pass on your left Fowey Lifeboat Station. In 1859 Fowey Lifeboat station started its life based at the small beach village of Polkerris. Following a fatal wreck near Gribbin Head, local landowner William Rashleigh donated land, stone and money. The first lifeboat was named after Catherine Rashleigh, his wife. Polkerris closed in 1922 and a new station opened in Fowey with a motorised boat which was used in more than 60 rescues saving almost 50 lives. During the first half of the 20th Century, most rescues were involved commercial shipping. Nowadays, 2 Fowey lifeboats mostly deal with incidents involving pleasure craft.

Public transport

Bus (number 24/25 First Kernow) from St Austell to Fowey via Par Railway Station. All year round TravelCornwall service between Looe and Polruan during the mornings and afternoons (weekdays only).  For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

Parking

In the Caffa Mill car park, in Polruan and elsewhere en route.

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