The Saints Way, Cornwall, United Kingdom

by on July 25th, 2014
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When most people hear the name Cornwall, they are immediately reminded of the legend of King Arthur, and most people automatically think of the ruins of Tintagel Castle, one of the most visited tourist attractions in Cornwall. In addition to the sites made famous by the King Arthur myths, Cornwall has a lot to offer tourists searching for a relaxing vacation. When visiting Cornwall, you are soon overwhelmed with a multitude of choices, from scenic beaches to diverse historical sites unrelated to King Arthur.

If you enjoy walking, and are looking for a way to see a wide array of diverse habitats, then hiking The Saints Way Trail in Cornwall may be the perfect way to see a selection of everything that Cornwall has to offer. There are numerous historic inns and cottages to stay along the way, as well as several campgrounds. The Saints Way is about 28 miles long, beginning in the North Cornwall port of Padstow, known for its beaches and surfing, and terminating in the South Cornwall harbor town of Fowey. While it is possible to walk the path in its entirety in one day, and many enthusiastic hikers do so, most people divide the trip into three days, covering 8 to 10 miles a day so that there is time to stop and see all of the magnificent sites along the way. In the Dark Ages, pilgrims travelling between Ireland, Wales and France used this trail to avoid the treacherous ocean voyage around “Land’s End.” The trail winds its way through scenic beaches, valleys and castle ruins. Throughout its length, The Saints Way is marked by a series of chapels, wells, churches and crosses all dedicated to early saints. There are also burial mounds, standing stones and pagan shrines along the way.

The trail begins in Padstow at the 15th century church of St Petrock. The path follows the Camel trail before heading up to St Breock Downs, most famous for its 16 foot standing stone that is known as “Men Gurta.” The trail continues south to Withiel, known for its 13th century church dedicated to St. Clement, and on to the larger parish of Lanivet. Here, the 15th century church of St Nivet stands in the exact center of Cornwall. The path continues on to Helman Tor, a Neolithic fort. The path continues south-east from Helman Tor to Lanlivery and the Church of St. Brevita with its 100 foot high tower. The tower is said to have been used by sailors for navigation in ancient times. The route continues from Lanlivery to Golant. In Golant, you can visit the church of St. Sampson, said to be the wedding site of the ill-fated King Mark of Cornwall and Iseult, two members of one of the most well-known and tragic medieval love triangles. From Golant, the path follows the river until it empties into the sea and terminates at the 13th century parish church at Fowey, which is dedicated to St. Finbarr. Local legend states that both Joseph of Arimathea and Jesus visited the town, and “Punches Cross”, stands in commemoration of the visit. Fowey also hosts the Daphne Du Maurier festival each May, and is the site of a spectacular beach at Readymoney Cove.

To begin your journey in Padstow, it is about 79 miles, and a little less than two hours by car from Exeter, which is just to the West of London or South of Bristol.

From Exeter, take the A30 (SLIP ROAD) to A38 (LAUNCESTON ROAD) and then A389 (LAUNCESTON ROAD). From A389 the road splits, turn right on to A389 (PRIORY ROAD), Follow A389 (HIGHER BORE STREET) where the road splits, Turn right at mini-roundabout on to A389 (DUNMERE ROAD) where the road splits, Take second available left on to A389 (DUNMERE ROAD) where the road splits, Take second available exit off roundabout on to A39, Turn right on to A389, continue for about 5 miles to arrive in Padstow, Cornwall. You can find more ways to plan your journeys within Cornwall by car, bus, or train, by visiting Transport Direct. For more information about places to visit and where to stay in Cornwall, please visit The Cornwall Guide.

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