Saltash to Charlestown / St Austell to St Anthony / St Mawes to Helford Passage

We covered this part of the coast whilst staying staying in a National Trust cottage called Porth Farm at the bottom of the Roseland Peninsula. We spent a week with Helen, Alison, Gary and Mark.

Porth Barn Us

Coast PathThe Roseland is bounded on the east by Veryan Bay and on the west by the River Fal. The name comes from the Cornish word 'ros' that means promontory.

The South West Coast Path runs around the peninsula and is hard work in places, but very pretty. We were very close to Towan Beach, which was fortunate because we had to keep going there to get a signal on the mobile phones. Helen and Gary even went to the beach with the laptop to get on the internet. Modern technology - and I thought we were trying to get away from it all.

Touching both hedgesMost of the roads are like this!

We also covered the north coast from St.Ives to Newquay, so that we could 'slice off' the foot of Cornwall and avoid travelling so far another time.


St Austell

CarclaseThis busy town developed in the 18th century when kaolin was discovered nearby. Also called china clay, it is decomposed granite, used in the making of paper, medicine, dyes and porcelain. It is still quarried and spoil-heaps survive to the north and give the area a white 'moonscape' look.

Wheal MartynThe Wheal Martyn China Clay Heritage Centre is a restored 19th century site including an 18ft water wheel and two working clay pits.

St Austell

In the town centre, narrow streets spread out from the Italianate market hall, built in the 1840s. The nearby Holy Trinity Church has a carved 15th century tower, and its central aisle was constructed in a sharp curve.

Brewery visitor centreThere is also the St Austell Brewery to see which was founded in the 1850s.

We didn't have enough time here and are intending to revisit the town for longer when we pick up the tour from the east.

The Eden Project

EdenNear to St Austell is the Eden Project. We spent a whole, glorious sunny day there - it was magnificent.

Tropical Biome

The Eden Project is a 21st century garden that tells of man's dependence on plants. The scale and beauty of the place is quite unbelievable - even Helen and Gary were impressed.

Tropical BiomeBuilt in a disused quarry, there are two massive biomes that span half a mile and house four climatic regions. Between them is a grass covered restaurant. There are acres of car parks and we walked down to the entrance and into the large visitor centre. We emerged to a view over the whole site - there is as much to see outside as in the biomes - and caught a small train/bus down into the quarry.

Temperate biomeIn the tropical biome is a massive waterfall coming from the top of the quarry face and falling to a river at the bottom. As we climbed higher, the temperature rose several degrees and everyone was peeling off layers of clothes! We passed areas that were planted to look like Africa and Malaysia, giant palms, buildings, sculptures and so much more.

Grass ladyWe had lunch in the restaurant and then went into the temperate biome with landscapes of California and many other regions. There are interactive displays and all sorts of facts and figures.


Outside, the gardens are beautiful and still maturing. I definitely want to come back in a few years.

Porthpean and Pentewan

PorthpeanPorthpean is just south of St Austell, there is a sandy beach that looks across St Austell Bay towards Gribben Head. The village was once a fishing community, and the old fish cellars are now used by the local sailing club.

Black Head
A couple of miles to the south is a promontory called Black Head that is owned by the National Trust. There is a small memorial stone to the historian A.L.Rowse. The coast path here is pretty strenuous.

PentewanPentewan's harbour is now separated from the sea by dry land. Before the harbour silted up it was used for shipping coal, timber and clay for centuries, but the river always had the problem of silting up from tin and china clay sites. Now the long sandy beach is backed by caravan parks.

Lost Gardens of Heligan

'New Zealand'Nearby are the Lost Gardens of Heligan, where a long-neglected 19th century garden now features a jungle, a lost valley, ravine, woodland and walled gardens.

Cut flower gardenThe gardens were forgotten for 75 years and featured in a television series as they were painstakingly restored. Andy liked this better than Eden and it was lovely, but not as unusual.

Useful directionsPlenty of work is still being done but the kitchen and flower gardens were so lush and colourful it was amazing.

We had lunch in an area with picnic tables and then walked down into the lost valley, where we nearly got covered in caterpillars that fell out of a tall tree.Lost Valley

JungleThe jungle is the best, and around it is a boardwalk through bamboos and palms and over bridges. Apparently when it was discovered and cut back, the light flooding in spurred all sorts of dormant plants into life.

The return path was through a woodland with two really nice sculptures of a Mudd Maiden and a Giant's head.

Mudd Maiden Giant's Head


Mevagissey main streetDriving through this village is an experience to be avoided.

Mevagissey harbour roadTo reach villages to the south, it is necessary to travel on the one steep, narrow street and much backing up and squeezing past vehicles and tourists has to be done. We even used a cul de sac at one time so other vehicles could pass.


It is not surprising that visitors are directed to large car parks at the edge of the village. I'd hate to be a local - poor things.

Sign with stickersWe were amused to see signs at the car park entrance completely covered with coloured stickers from Eden and Heligan, as they were removed from jackets and jumpers.

Mevagissey harbourIt's heart is the large harbour with fishing boats and pleasure craft and surrounded by traditional cob and slate cottages, nestling in the hillside.

When the pilchard industry was booming, the village had street lighting powered by pilchard oil and was the starting place for Pears soap. There is an aquarium and a small museum, but we spent our time wandering round the little shops and munching on pasties.

Pasty timeIt is picturesque and therefore very busy - For the rest of the week we referred to the place as 'Mega Busy'. I visited the place when it was much quieter about 35 years ago and was delighted to find the Wheelhouse restaurant is still open!


PortmellonThere were settlements here in the bronze age and two burial urns have been uncovered.
The former fishing and boat-building village of Portmellon has a serene quality, but high tides sometimes lash the shore and as a defence against the sea, the houses are protected by stout shutters and fronted by thick concrete walls.

PortmellonThe lowest point of the village beside the pub is below sea level and under water at high tides, hence the strange road sign: 'Beware of waves'.

Gorran Haven

Gorran HavenPub at Gorran HavenGorran Haven is one of those places that you only reach if you are either lost or intend to be there. We were trying to find refreshment after a long, hot walk and the pub was excellent.

There is a safe sandy beach which at low tide connects with the longer and sheltered Great Perhaver Beach to the north. This is another former fishing village with plenty of tourists and very steep narrow roads.

Gorran Haven BeachThe old pilchard-curing cellars are now used to house boats.

Dodman Point

Over Vault BeachThis is an imposing headland that follows the course of a massive Iron Age earthwork known as the 'Bulwark'. The tree-lined track from Penare joins the coast path and has fantastic views over Vault Beach to the east and Hemmick Beach to the west.

NT signOn the clearest days you should be able to see back as far as the Lizard and as far forward as Rame Head.

Dodman CrossBeside the 360 ft cliffs at the tip is a granite cross, erected in 1896 by a local rector as a navigational aid. We thought it was going to be a stroll across the headland from the car park but the walk was pretty strenuous but very satisfying.

There is also an 18th century watch house, a survivor of a chain of Admiralty signal stations that is now used as a shelter for walkers.

View westFrom the cross we decided to take the path down to Hemmick Beach and found it to be pretty steep to say the least but very attractive. There were some Shetland ponies sheltering amongst the bracken and heather and gorgeous views.

Hemmick BeachThe roads do not come much narrower or steeper than those approaching this cove with its many rock pools.

There is almost no parking and it is impossible to pass - it was hard enough just walking back up the road to the car park at Penare!

Porthluney Cove

Porthluney CoveThe wide expanse of sand as backed by a decent sized car park and is therefore pretty popular. We didn't mind paying as we were glad to get off the winding lanes for a while.

Pasty time againWe were able to buy pasties and sit in the sun by the cafe before a stroll on the sand.

It is part of the Caerhays Castle estate, that can be seen from the beach. The 19th century castle is the work of the architect John Nash whose works include Marble Arch and the Royal Pavilion.

Caerhays CastleThe woodland gardens were created from the discoveries of the plant hunters in China. It is a spring garden and is at its best in March, April and May so is only open at this time.


One mile west along the coast path leads to the twin villages of East and West Portholland, each set in its own valley behind a shared beach and joined by a winding cliff top road.

West Portholland East Portholland


Portloe from coast pathIt is well worth the tortuous drive to the unspoiled tiny harbour here, set in a deep ravine with its fishing boats, winches and lobster pots. In stormy weather the narrow gap in the towering rock face is impossible for boats to negotiate but crabs and lobsters are still potted.

PortloeThere is a large hotel, previously a 17th century smuggler's inn, so the village is pretty appealing to tourists. The village became the fictional 'St Gweep' in the TV series 'Wild West' that starred Dawn French.

Nare Head

Nare Head is not as high as Dodman Point, but wide-ranging views take in Gull Rock about half a mile offshore, that is a nesting site for sea birds such as kittiwakes and guillemots. It was used in the 1950's as a film set for Treasure Island.

Veryan round housesJust inland is the village of Veryan with five very cute thatched round houses. These were commissioned by a 19th century vicar called Jeremiah Trist, the idea being to stop the Devil from lurking in corners! Each house has a crucifix on its roof.

Melinsey Mill Nearby, on a tight bend, is Melinsey Mill, a medieval water mill that has been refurbished and houses a working wheel fed by the mill pool, a small museum, craft shop and tea room.

Pendower and Carne Beach

Pendower BeachAt low tide Pendower Beach and Carne Beach join into one long stretch of sand but the great thing is, that to get from one beach to the other by road involves about 5 miles travel!

At its western end, Pendower Beach is crossed by a stream which flows down the wooded Pendower Valley. There are two hotels here and the coast path runs behind them.

Carne BeachThe same happens at Carne and there is an ancient raised beach here. By a lane to the northeast is Carne Beacon, one of the largest Bronze Age barrows in Britain and reputed to be the burial place of the Cornish saint, King Gerennius. The Iron Age Celts built circular forts, the remains of which are locally known as ‘ringarounds’.


PortscathoPortscatho is a charming village of whitewashed houses and narrow lanes. At one end is the sandy beach of Porthcurnick with steps down from a large car park and a path to the village. Stone-built houses are gathered around the harbour and there are a few shops, cafes and pubs.

no through roadThe cash machine at the back of the minimarket was useful but driving through the village almost ended up in the sea - well it didn't say 'no through road'.

Towan Beach

Towan BeachOur home for the week was a National Trust cottage at Porth Farm, just beside this beach.

Towan BeachAlthough towan is the Cornish word for sand dune, there are no dunes here today. It was common practice at one time for farmers to remove the sand and mix it with seaweed to enrich the soil.


Ali up the wreck postThere is a 'wreck' post above the beach that was put up by the coastguard service, so a breeches buoy could be connected to practice the rescue of ship's crew.

Porthbeor beachWe spent the week here and had fabulous weather every day. Ali and Mark even went swimming. The beach was particularly nice as the sun was setting and one evening we sat and watched the waves with a glass of wine.

The six of us decided to walk around the coast path to St Anthony, passing the secluded sandy beach of Porthbeor and Zone Point on the way.

St Anthony Head

St Anthony lighthouseThis is the southernmost point of the Roseland with a lighthouse marking the entrance to Carrick Roads, the estuary of the River Fal. There are excellent views of St Maws Castle and Pendennis Castle at Falmouth.

St Anthony BatteryOn the cliff behind the lighthouse are concrete remains of the St Anthony Battery, in military use until the 1950s. The old officers' quarters have now been converted into holiday cottages. Seals are occasionally seen around here in the early morning.

Over Carrick RoadsJust around the corner at Place, a passenger ferry crosses the Percuil River for St.Mawes. Percuil was once a busy trading port, but now the tiny harbour is dominated by a boatyard and pleasure craft.