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

St Mawes

St Mawes FerrySet on steep slopes and surrounded by water on three sides, St Mawes has a harbour with a small fishing fleet, a sailing club and a ferry to Falmouth.

St Mawes CastleThe narrow winding road forms a triangle around the town passing St Mawes Castle, built in the mid 16th century to a cloverleaf design of three bastions around a low tower. The castle faces Falmouth's Pendennis Castle on the opposite side of Carrick Roads, and its grounds provide a splendid vantage point from which to watch big ships sail past.

St Just In Roseland

St Just In Roseland churchMost of the land surrounding the coastal path north from St Mawes is owned by the National Trust. The 13th century Church of St Just, overlooks the pleasure craft in St Just Pool and is the most photographed church in Cornwall.

The path to the church is flanked by granite tablets carved with verses, subtropical plants and fan palms tumble down to the waterside and there is an ancient well.

Just to the north a lane leads to the secluded National Trust Turnaware point with splendid views towards the parkland of Trelissick across the Fal. The spot was used by Allied troops in the D-day landings of 1944 and is commemorated by an obelisk.


TruroThe main town for Cornwall, Truro is a charming Cathedral city with a web of tiny streets.

CathedralIn the 14th century it became one of Cornwall's 'stannary' towns, where tin had to be brought for testing and stamping, and the town developed as a port until the 17th century, when much of its shipping trade was lost to Falmouth; now the Truro river is used mainly by pleasure craft.

Mining continued to bring prosperity to the town, as reflected in its many fine Georgian buildings, which include the Royal Cornwall Museum, containing minerals, archeological finds and mining artifacts. I bought a new bear called Kernow here.


Church of St MaryThe beautiful triple spired Cathedral was built from 1880 to 1910 and incorporates the old parish church of St.Mary that has occupied the spot for 600 years.

In the newly developed Lemon Quay there are some fine Georgian buildings and the Hall for Cornwall, built in 1846 and now a theatre complex. There are pavement cafes and outside the Coinage Hall is the Lander Monument to the Truro brothers who explored Africa.

Lemon Street Hall for Cornwall Coinage Hall


TrelissickThe 500 acre Trelissick Estate is bounded on three sides by the River Fal and two of its many creeks - the views are gorgeous. The parkland is owned by the National Trust and the landscaped gardens have subtropical plants, although the 18th century mansion is not open very often. The water tower is let as a holiday cottage.

Japanese cedar Trelissick view

There is also an art gallery and when we were there, a trail of outdoor sculptures amongst the flower beds. They were all for sale but the prices were a bit high.

Sculpture Sculpture

Sculpture Sculpture

King Harry FerryA garden bridge passes over a road through the estate leading to the King Harry Ferry. This carries 28 cars across the Fal, pulled by a diesel-powered chain drive and takes 8 minutes.

The channel is deep enough to be used by big ships waiting for a berth at Falmouth docks or making their last voyage to the scrap yard and provides a very useful shortcut back to the Roseland.

Loe Beach

Loe BeachAn extremely steep, narrow road from Feock village ends at a small bay where a sand and shingle beach is exposed at low tide. The name derives from the Cornish word for rock and harbour and is home to a water sports centre and a boatyard. The beach faces south with views down Carrick Roads towards Falmouth, with the rocky tip of Restronguet Point on the right.

Mylor Bridge

Mylor BridgeA ten mile detour around Restronguet Creek leads eventually to Mylor Creek, at the head of which is Mylor Bridge, a popular mooring spot for pleasure craft. Stepping stones cross just below the village.

Celtic crossA lane leads along the southern shore of the creek to the surprisingly large harbour of Mylor Churchtown with its quays and masses of picturesque sailing boats. It was originally built as an Admiralty dockyard but is now home to a sailing club and plenty of facilities.

Mylor Churchtown quayBeside the quay is the Norman Church of St Melorus with a set of stocks in the porch and the largest Celtic cross in Cornwall just outside, half of which lies underground.


FlushingIn the 17th century a local landowner, Francis Trefusis, transformed the hamlet of Nankersey into the town of Flushing. The name came from the engineers from Flessinghe in Holland who drained the marshland and built the sea walls.

FlushingA prosperous port in the 17th and 18th centuries, elegant houses, which were once the homes of naval officers and captains of packet boats, line the waterfront.

signNow tourism, boat-building and fishing are the principal sources of income and an unusual sign on the wall of the post office warns of swans crossing the road!



Penryn over the FalAt the head of Penryn creek, only half a mile from Falmouth, this is a far older port that was established in the 13th century by the bishops of Exeter. Most of the buildings are made of local granite, some of which was shipped from the town quay in the 19th century to build London's Central Criminal Court at the Old Bailey.


FalmouthWe actually visited Falmouth last year on our Lizard trip. It was a cold, wet October day and we shivered around the harbour and at Pendennis Castle. We went to visit the new Maritime Museum but found its opening date had been delayed. It is open now though.

Custom House QuayThe harbour and Carrick Roads form the third largest natural haven in the world but until the 16th century there was only a hamlet called Smithick, with Penryn and Truro being the larger and more easily defended ports.

Falmouth harbourIn 1688 a packet station was set up for the Post Office and ancillary business started to grow with twin-masted sloops delivering mail to the colonies The docks now handle ocean going ships and the reputation for yacht building is worldwide.

Queen's PipeTwo interesting things to see are the 'Queen's Pipe' at Custom House Quay and Jacob's Ladder in the town centre.

Jacob's LadderThe first is a freestanding brick incinerator dating from the early 19th century, then named the King's Pipe and used to burn seized contraband tobacco.

The latter is a narrow flight of 111 steps built by Jacob Hamblyn to provide access to his hilltop property.


Pendennis is a brooding castle, superbly situated on the headland, that was built by Henry Vlll as a defence against the French. There are sight and sound displays on the Tudor gun deck as well as the WWll defences and underground magazines. While we were there it poured with rain and we were very glad of a hot chocolate in the café.

Pendennis Pendennis

GyllyngvaseFalmouth's largest beach is called Gyllyngvase and it is a popular family destination with the usual gardens and hotels.

Swanpoolbeach and Maenporth

SwanpoolbeachThese are two more popular Falmouth resorts. Caravan parks line the road down to the first sandy beach with its cluster of brightly coloured beach huts. The name is from the swan pool that borders the road that is encircled with reeds and patrolled by swans. We parked beside the crazy golf course and had a free cup of tea at the beach café included in the fee.

MaenporthMaenporth has a water sports centre where equipment and boats can be hired. There was nowhere to stop except beside the beach and you have to pay an all-day fee which is pretty annoying.

Helford river empties into Falmouth Bay near the tiny hamlet of Mawnan. The 13th century church stands on high ground and its tower has been a landmark for sailors for centuries, and in times of war lookouts have been placed there to watch for the coming of invaders. We arrived just as a wedding was beginning and were unable to go inside.


Fox sculptureTo the west, the National Trust Glendurgan Garden is situated in a valley running down to the river. It was planted at the beginning of the 19th century by Alfred Fox and includes tulip trees as well as a cherry laurel maze and arrays of azaleas, camellias and hydrangeas. At the bottom of the garden is a steep 'cattle run' where animals could get to the stream to drink.

Maze Bamboo walk

DurganThere is access to the peaceful shingle beach at Durgan where for centuries the daily catch of fish was transported to Falmouth in donkey panniers. Several stone holiday cottages are set on the shore.

BamboozleNearby, Trebah 'Garden of Dreams' is planted in a ravine whose slopes descend steeply to a private sandy beach. It was created by another member of the Fox family, Charles, in 1826 and after a period of neglect, was restored in 1981. From the visitor centre, a path zigzags through a rare collection of Mediterranean plants and 100-year-old tree ferns.

Gunnera passageThere is a path through bamboos and a fantastic gunnera passage where you feel as though you are inside a greenhouse.

Polgwidden CoveVisitors are allowed access to the beach at Polgwidden Cove so we sat and had a local Roskilly's ice cream by the shore.

Helford Passage

Helford PassageWe parked above the village and walked down the narrow lane to the shingle beach. Over the estuary is the village of Helford and a ferry runs across in summer. The north and south banks of the Helford River have been linked by ferry since the Middle Ages and until 1910 a cart would have been carried across by boat while the horse, tied to a rope, swam alongside.

It is a pretty mooring spots and the tables outside the pub were mostly occupied. Boats can be hired, and there are river trips as well.

Porth NavasThe road from here to Porth Navas is ridiculously twisty and narrow but after several tight squeezes we arrived to see absolutely nothing. The creek is the centre of the Duchy of Cornwall's oyster fisheries but the tide was out and there was nowhere to stop.

Since Roman times there has been a Oyster Fishery in the Lower Reaches of the Helford. The granite walled Oyster Quay offers good views up Porth Navas Creek, and may offer the chance to buy either a gallon of mussels or a dozen fresh Helford Cornish Oysters.

We called it a day here as we had had enough of these roads and could also catch a ferry to Helford where we started last year.