Stephanie Boon hiking on the South West Coast Smiling at the camera.

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Padstow Harbour - a view across flat turquoise sea to sailing boats and stone shops behind

Saints’ Way Cornwall

Saints’ Way Cornwall is a 30-mile trail in mid-Cornwall that goes from coast to coast across beautiful open countryside. It starts in the bustling harbour town of Padstow in the north and heads south to the coast at Fowey following an ancient pilgrimage route.

Looking across turquoise sea from Padstow Harbour to sailing boats and the old town cottages and shops behind. It's a bright, clear summer's day

Padstow at the start of The Saints’ Way – worth exploring

Contents

St Petroc's Church Padstow. The tall Celtic cross outside the church in the graveyard marks the start of Saint's Way Cornwall

The Celtic cross at the start of the trail in Padstow is one of the first of many on this walk

How Long Does It Take To Walk Saints’ Way Cornwall?

If you’re a fit, regular walker you’ll be able to walk the trail over 2 days without any trouble (the midway point is the village of Lanlivery). And if you love a good long-distance day-hike the easy terrain will make Saint’s Way Cornwall a memorable stomp.

When I hiked it in July 2019 I decided to walk it over two days with a mid-way wild camp. I’d loved to have walked it in a day but if like me, you plan to get to Padstow by public transport you might find you can’t get there early enough. You could always stay in Padstow for the night before a long day-hike of course, but if you split the hike itself into two days you’ll get to spend more time taking in the sights along the way.

Do I Need A Saints’ Way Cornwall Map?

Saint's Way Cornwall fingerpost in front of a church in Padstow. There's a dappled light falling through trees and you can see the church through the lych gate and across a mossy stone wall.

The first Saints’ Way sign at the start of the trail outside St Petroc’s Church in Padstow

The short answer is no. The Saints’ Way is incredibly well-signposted with black and gold finger-posts as well as wooden posts with a black arrow and Celtic cross logo. However, I really recommend a map and the best Saints’ Way map is from Yellow Publications’ Zigzag series The Saints’ Way: Padstow to Fowey.

The route is shown on one water-proof walking map and uses OS mapping – and it’s a really good price too. You’re unlikely to too get lost without one (unless any signs have gone missing…) but the map also shows a shorter 11-mile section that you might prefer.

Is There A GPX For The Trail?

You can download my fully waymarked GPX of Saint’s Way Cornwall from the OS Maps App – and it’s completely free. Waymarks include interesting sights along the way, amenities I used as well as indications of dangerous road crossings, etc.

What Sights Can I See On Saints’ Way Cornwall?

It goes without saying that The Saints’ Way has plenty of spectacular views along the way, as well as Padstow and Fowey to explore. But there’s lots of historical interest too. Here are a few places I stopped along the way.

Padstow, Where The Saints’ Way Begins

A view through the harbour mouth at Padstow. The sans of the Camel Estuary are lit up on this cloudy day. There's a rib boat close to the harbour wall called Jaws 2

The entrance to Padstow Harbour

Padstow is a lovely town to explore, with its winding narrow streets that feel intimate as well as timeless. The harbour is beautiful on a sunny day and the harbour entrance has stunning views across the Camel Estuary. One thing I can never miss out on in Padstow though is a cream tea at Cherry Trees Coffee House – I guarantee it’ll set you up for a good walk!

A cream tea with a pot of jam, half a fresh strawberry, and a cappuccino. The tea is presented on a blue and white china plate and just in the corner in a bright yellow map of Saints Way Cornwall

Don’t miss out on a cream tea at Cherry Trees

Queen Victoria Obelisk

One of the first things you see as you climb out of Padstow is the Queen Victoria Obelisk. It was built in 1889 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s 1887 Jubilee. The granite spire is at the top of Dennis Hill and can be seen for miles. There are spectacular views out over the Camel Estuary, so don’t forget to look behind you!

Queen Victoria Obeliskk seen as you come towards it up the hill from Padstow. The scene shows the River Camel on the right with 3 horses in the foreground. There are a few fluffy white clouds drifting across a deep blue sky.

Heading up towards the Obelisk

Looking down the estuary towards the sea with horses and a sheep on the grass in the foreground. You can see a spit of golden sand and the roof tops on the outskirts of Padstow.

Looking out to sea with Padstow below and Rock on the opposite side of the estuary

Helman Tor

Views out above Saints' Way Cornwall from Helman Tor - a rocky granite outcrop in front of a single tree on a grey, cloudy day

Head to the top of Helman Tor for fantastic views out across to Bodmin Moor

There’s a track to the top of the Tor off the main route that’s easy to spot as you pass by. It’s worth it for the far-reaching views out across to Brown Willy and Rough Tor on Bodmin Moor. Be prepared for a bit of a windy experience on this high point of the trail!

Summer Solstice On Helman Tor

If you happen to be passing the Tor at 2pm on Summer Soltice any year, listen out for the local church choir singing out from the top. It’s been “going for years”, according to a member of the Choir I met in the lane. And after the singing? Well, you head back to church for a cream tea, of course. Gotta love a local tradition!

 

A pencil sketch of Bodmin Moor from Helman Tor.

A sketch I made from the top of Helman Tor when I hiked The Saints’ Way in 2019

Crift

When you come down off the Tor you take a track down to Crift, which is my favourite part of this walk in summer. The day I hiked the trail in 2019 the high Cornish hedges were full of tall foxgloves and red campions, and it felt like walking through a secret tunnel. It was just me, the birdsong, the sweet smell of honeysuckle and dog rose, and the blue sky above. And there were more meadow brown butterflies flitting about than I’ve ever seen in one place: an absolute joy.

 

View of countryside across St Breock Downs, central Cornwall

Looking out across St Breock Downs

Men Guthra (Stone Of Waiting) On St Breock Downs

St Breock Downs offers fantastic open views and the landscape is full of reminders of a long-lost history. As well as Men Guthra, Cornwall’s largest and heaviest standing stone, there are barrows, more standing stones, settlements, and a stone row in the area.

 

Men Gurta, Cornwall's largest standing stone, against a back drop of wind turbines on St Breock Downs, just off The Saints Way

Men Gurta on St Breock Downs (unfortunately you don’t get much sense of scale from this image, but it’s probably twice the height of your average woman!)

Churches, Celtic Crosses, And The Crown Inn At Lanlivery

On a pilgrimage route like this, you can, of course, expect to see plenty of medieval churches along the way, and I stopped in one or two to have a look around. But this route is also marked by lots of interesting Celtic crosses beside the tracks and lanes in various states of repair (and weathering). I wish I’d counted them – there seemed to be so many!

One of the other medieval treasures is the Crown Inn in Lanlivery, which is one of the oldest pubs in Cornwall and dates back to the 12th century. It’s an atmospheric place to shelter from the rain (as I did this time), but on a dry summer’s day, you can sit outside in the garden and enjoy a well-earned pint and meal.

Fowey, Where The Saints’ Way Cornwall Way Ends

Fowey is another pretty town that’s worth exploring, and if you need more time at the end of a day’s walk there are plenty of places to stay too. There are pubs and cafes where you can sit and watch the boats on the water, or take a ferry across to Polruan for a wander around the village. Check out this article An Afternoon In Charming Fowey from my friend Penny’s Cornwall lifestyle blog for more ideas.

Wild Camping And Places To Stay

I found a discreet place under some trees on the edge of a lane where I pitched up for the night. There were no views, but it was peaceful and I got a good night’s sleep and woke up to birdsong. It was about 11.5 miles into the hike.

I noticed a campsite at Lanlivery, Eden Valley Holiday Park, which I marked on my GPX file. No experience of it, but it looked good.

The midway point of the walk is at Lanivet where you’ll be able to find nearby b&bs. Lanivet also boasts the Lanivet Inn and a good convenience store. And you’re spoilt for choice if you want to stay in either Padstow or Fowey (links to visitor guides).

Transport

Padstow

Take the 11a bus service from Bodmin Parkway railway station operated by GWR to Padstow

Fowey

Get back to the mainline railway by the no. 25 bus service from Fowey to St Austell railway station operated by GWR

Sharing Is Caring…

I hope you enjoy this fantastic walk, it’s something a bit different and a great way to enjoy the countryside rather than the Cornish coast. I’d love to know if you hiked it too, and feel free to leave a comment if you’ve got any more questions.

Happy hiking

Stephie x

Looking For Another Walk?

Check out this page for my guide to Walking In Cornwall – some of my favourites here! Or this one for another coast to coast walk (that can be done in a day).

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