Cornwall Coast Path - Mevagissey to Polperro

Mevagissey Harbour
Mevagissey Harbour

This is a long stretch of nearly twenty five miles that takes in the interesting, though some might say ugly, china clay landscape as well as the steep cliffs and spectacular views which make up a stunning slice of Heritage Coast that extends from Polruan, on the east shore of the River Fowey, all the way to Polperro.

Go along the back of the harbour in Mevagissey before veering above and away from the quayside. You will pass Penare Point and a massive caravan park before descending to Pentewan, formerly a working harbour whose entrance has now silted up. There is a pub, a post office, several shops and a large camping and caravanning site. While it is possible to walk along the beach and avoid all this, be aware that there is little else in the way of refreshment for quite a few miles.

Pentewan
Pentewan

Continuing along the coast from Pentewan and through a largish wood will bring you to Hallane Mill Beach and waterfall, which is an excellent place for a picnic before a steep ascent to Black Head, a former rifle range now owned by the National Trust that offers superb views. Go around the headland and through some more woodland before a lane takes you down to Porthpean Beach.

Tall Ships in Charlestown Harbour
Tall Ships in Charlestown Harbour

At the far end of the beach is Charlestown, a relatively unspoilt working fishing harbour just two miles from the town of St Austell, home to the Eden Project. Charlestown’s harbour was the first to serve the china clay industry and is now the property of Square Sail, a company that owns and sails a fleet of picturesque tall ships, one or two of which can usually be seen at anchor in the harbour.

On to Carlyon Bay which consists of three beaches made of waste from the china clay industry known as 'stent'. The middle beach is a site of national ecological importance. The area surrounding Carlyon Bay, itself a peculiarly up-market oasis and home to some of the most prestigious hotels in Cornwall and an extensive golf course, was once a major part of the tin mining industry and is pock-marked with abandoned pits, as well as marking the start of the somewhat ugly, if interesting, china clay section.

Carlyon Bay Beach
Carlyon Bay Beach

The path takes you across the cliff top, through the golf course and slightly inland to the villages of Par, home to The Cornish Arms pub and a year-round café, and Polmear, where there is a seasonal café.

You pass through Polkerris, a former fishing village that now depends on tourism for its income, offering a variety of water based activities and accommodation, including another pub, the Rashleigh Inn.

Polkerris Cove
Polkerris Cove

Go down to the beach, turn left and up a ramp to rejoin the path. On around the stunning Gribbin Head which marks the start of the Heritage Coast, largely owned by the National Trust, that extends all the way to Polperro.

After rounding the headland you will descend to Polridmouth Beach. Walk around the back of the beach until you find some concrete steps and stepping stones that take you past a gorgeous house drifting away on the side of a freshwater lake. Fans of Daphne DuMaurier will probably recognise this as Menabilly, the author's former home and thought to be the inspiration for Manderley, the house that featured in the novel 'Rebecca'.

Fowey
Fowey from Polruan

After the lake the path veers steeply up and off to the right through some woods and a rocky lane to Readymoney Cove. From here a road will take you into Fowey.

The River Fowey can be crossed on the Polruan ferry. Polruan marks the start of the toughest walking on the whole of the south coast, although your exertion will be more than compensated by glorious views as you pas Lantic Bay, Pencarrow Head, Lantivet Bay and the coves and cliffs that lead all the way to Polperro.