Crantock Beach, Holywell, Perranporth Cornwall

A walk from the front door of Corisande Manor, Newquay, Cornwall

Cornwall walk, crantock

This walk takes you across the Gannel from Corisande at Newquay, Cornwall, and via Crantock to Porth Joke, Holywell and Perranporth (if you want to go that far). Again the beauty is that you can turn back at any time. The only thing you have to watch for is the incoming tide and getting back across the Gannel. The tidal bridge is covered by the rising tide about two hours either side of high tide (we have a tide table, so if in doubt check with us). In summer there are two ferries operating at high tide, in winter you have to walk all the way round the head of the Gannel if you cannot cross by foot. If the tides are wrong, you can always drive to Crantock and park there whilst you do the walk.

1) Go down through our garden to the beach. The two options are to paddle across the Gannel (its only ankle deep when the tide is out) or turn left and cross by the tidal bridge (you will see the bridge from the beach). The Gannel (from the same root as channel) is a small river, which was a major shipbuilding site a century ago, and an important port. Then with a change in tidal patterns it silted up, and it was no longer possible to keep it open for navigation. You will find various relics of the shipping age if you poke around the banks of the estuary

crantock beach

.2) Continue along the beach opposite Corisande. When you come to a small hut on the beach, selling ice-cream, you can follow the road up through a beach car park, to Crantock village. Use the church tower as a marker, and head for that. There is the bonus of a good pub next to the church.

The Church dates from an earlier site thought to have been first used by St Carantoc in the 5th century, the present church was built over a period from the 12th to the 15th centuries.

The story of St Carantoc himself is a mixture of truth and legend. Said to have been born in Wales, he went to Ireland to learn about religion from St Patrick. He is said to have left Ireland by coracle with his pet dove, and landed here in Cornwall. Carantoc took the behaviour of his dove (the holy spirit is

commonly depicted in early Christian art as a dove) to be a sign that he should settle here. He founded a religious community that became the headquarters of the company of priests that converted people to the catholic faith.

The college of priests survived in various forms until the reformation, when it was dissolved by Henry VIII. The church was stripped of its interior, and became derelict until the late 19th century, when a gradual restoration was commenced. The major restoration work was carried out by a new vicar, George Parsons, between 1895 and 1905. He created what Betjeman called one of the most attractive churches in Cornwall. Whatever medieval wood and glass that was still extant was incorporated into the restoration, and a magnificent wood carved interior was commissioned. The effect today is of a "mini cathedral", and is much more elaborate inside than you would expect from the outside.

old albion pub, crantock

The Old Albion, right beside the church lych gate, is thatched and looks what you imagine a Cornish pub to look like. Service is not always fast, but you are not in a hurry anyway. Under the stone floor is a secret chamber used by smugglers. However smuggling tales may have been hyped up in modern times, it is undoubtedly true that Crantock was a major smuggling centre

3) There are also a couple of tea rooms and two galleries in Crantock. Being an artist is a popular Cornish profession. You paint in the winter, and sell your products in the summer. One of the artists specialises in commissions of pets, so if you want you dog, car or even parrot painted try her (she is just about beside the Old Albion) You can either go back to the beach and continue along it, or take the road out of Crantock to West Pentire. At the end of Crantock Beach is Vugga Cove, which has two slipways hacked out of the rock, and the ruins of a storage shed. It was probably used for launching pilot cutters for the Gannel, when it was a busy port.

West Pentire is mainly a holiday village now, complete with pub (Bowgie Inn)

4) Continue on via the lower coastal path. There is a collapsed cave near the point. The pressure of the air in the cave was pumped up by storm driven seas, and literally blew the roof off. There are good views all round.

5) When you get to Porth Joke, you can either go across the sand at low tide, or continue round the path. Porth Joke is perhaps the loveliest beach round Newquay, and the absence of a road has meant that the masses have not overwhelmed it

6) There are some wonderful contrasts of black rocks, white sea foam and various wild flowers as you wander along the path towards The Kelseys. Rabbits abound, then there are hawks and skylarks, as well as seabirds to amuse you.

7) The Kelseys is a name given to the three enclosed fields south of the headland. The whole area is full of the remnants of ancient civilisation. There are remains of cliff castle ramparts and burial mounds, flints and pottery have been found. The dividing walls of the fields are medieval. The shape of these walls, vertical one side and sloping on the other, is believed to have been to keep deer out, but to let them escape if they did get in.

Please use the "sand ladders" wherever possible to avoid continuing erosion of the marram grass

8) The path then runs in to Holywell Bay. In a small rocky inlet, close to the low tide line, you will pass a rather insignificant cave, with a low sloping roof. This is one of two healing wells that gave Holywell its name. Since the middle ages pilgrims visited the well in search of cures. Inside the cave are steps and a number of pools and chambers


Holywell itself has become a bit of a shanty town, and the army camp at Penhale doesn't improve the local scenery. But this need not disturb you on the coast path. Try the Treguth Inn if in need of a drink.

9) The path continues on south to Perranporth. Again the town itself (much larger than Holywell) is not worth visiting, but it is a dramatic 3 mile long beach running along under the cliffs, which you traverse before reaching the town at the southern end of the beach. There are plenty of pubs and cafes in Perranporth.

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