Padstow and the Camel Estuary

A short stroll through the oldest part of Padstow followed by a walk alongside the Camel Estuary




3.5 miles (5.6kms)

197ft (60m)

About the walk

The popular north Cornish port of Padstow is a delightful town, particularly famous for its May Day festival of the ‘Obby Oss’, during which symbolic hobby horses, made of great hooped masks with trailing black skirts, are danced round the streets in celebration of ancient fertility rites. It is a truly unforgettable and slightly eerie experience, but well worth attending.

From St Petroc to Rick Stein

Attempting a quiet stroll here has become increasingly difficult since chef Rick Stein ‘set up shop’ in Padstow in the mid-1970s. Visitors flock here in their thousands to walk the narrow streets and soak up the sun on the harbourside, their numbers swelled further by those arriving by bicycle on the Camel Trail from Wadebridge and beyond along the former line of the North Cornwall Railway. But it is possible to escape the hordes by taking the coast path alongside the Camel Estuary towards Stepper Point; the views across the estuary to Brea Hill (Sir John Betjeman is buried at St Enodoc Church, in sand dunes beyond), Daymer Bay and, in the distance, Pentire Point, are stunning.

Padstow's history stretches back to Celtic times when the missionary St Petroc, son of a Welsh prince, founded a monastery here in AD 600. There are no remains of the monastery, but the 15th-century Church of St Petroc, visited on the route, is dedicated to the saint. A substantial building, the church has a broad nave and aisles and fine wagon roofs and artefacts, including a splendid font in Cataclews stone from Cataclews Point at nearby Harlyn Bay. The church marks the northern end of the 30-mile (48km) Saints Way, a walking route which crosses the county to St Fimbarrus Church in Fowey.

During the 17th century Padstow was home to a thriving shipbuilding industry and the town still has an active fishing fleet. Many of the quaint old fishermen's cottages now house holidaymakers, galleries, craft shops and cafés. After an exploration of the town, the walk goes along the estuary, before a return through fields and lanes to reach Prideaux Place in time for tea.

Walk directions

From the town's main car park, leave from the bottom right-hand corner, to the left of the toilets, signed 'Town Centre'. At a junction with a walkway turn left. (From the lower car park, leave by steps at the bottom and turn left.) Follow the walkway to the churchyard of St Petroc's Church. Facing the porch, turn left, then walk through the churchyard between tall yews. Go through an ornate metal kissing gate into Church Street, opposite Poppy Cottage.

Turn left up to a junction with Tregirls Lane. Turn right and almost immediately right again into the High Street. The houses and buildings in this part of Padstow feature some of the town's finest vernacular architecture.

Just before the High Street's junction with Cross Street, go right through a fascinating passageway, Marble Arch. Watch your head at low sections and reach steps that lead into Church Street once more. Turn left and join Duke Street at a junction with Cross Street. Bear right and walk down the raised terrace of Duke Street; where that ends go right along Middle Street.

At the end of Middle Street, turn into Lanadwell Street, passing The Golden Lion Hotel and The London Inn. At the end of Lanadwell Street reach Broad Street. Turn left here and walk along the busy Market Place, then on down an alleyway past the The Old Ship Hotel, to emerge at The Strand and the harbour.

Turn left and walk along the harbour's North Quay past Abbey House, a distinctive slate-hung medieval building, with an open mullion window below which is a stone head in a niche. Continue to where the road forks, just past The Shipwrights pub.

Keep left here uphill, signposted 'Coast Path' and 'To Lower Beach'. Follow the walkway through Chapel Stile Field and on to a war memorial at St Saviour's Point, then follow the coast path past St George's Cove and Gun Point. Continue along the path above sand dunes to reach a stile into a field. Follow the field-edge, cross another stile, and reach a T-junction with a stony track.

Turn left and uphill to Tregirls Farm (holiday cottages). Go through the gateway to your right and continue heading uphill. Follow the surfaced lane from the farm for about 0.33 miles (536m), then pass beneath an archway and reach the Elizabethan building of Prideaux Place. Continue to the end of Tregirls Lane.

Turn left down Church Street. Opposite Poppy Cottage go through the churchyard gate and retrace your steps to the car park. Alternatively continue down Church Street and back to reach Padstow Harbour.

Additional information

Surfaced walkways, coastal footpath and country lane; several stiles

Traditional fishing village and estuary shoreline

Dogs on lead through grazed areas. Dogs on lead are welcomed in the grounds of Prideaux Place

OS Explorer 106 Newquay & Padstow

Link Road car park on A389, and at Padstow Harbour and old railway station

Main car park; North Quay and South Quay

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About the area

Discover Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

Cornwall has just about everything – wild moorland landscapes, glorious river valley scenery, picturesque villages and miles of breathtaking coastline. With more than 80 surfing spots, there are plenty of sporting enthusiasts who also make their way here to enjoy wave-surfing, kite surfing and blokarting.

In recent years, new or restored visitor attractions have attracted even more visitors to the region; the Eden Project is famous for its giant geodesic domes housing exotic plants from different parts of the globe, while nearby the Lost Gardens of Heligan has impressive kitchen gardens and a wildlife hide.

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