Fistral to Perran Sands
Directions: Newquay Fistral Beach to Crantock Church
Distance: 3 miles/5km by Penpol tidal footbridge (5.5 miles/9km by Trenance footbridge)
Before setting out, look at the tide times so that you can cross ‘The Gannel’ river. In high season, there are two boat ferry points that can carry you across the estuary, or you may be able to cross the water, as we were fortunate enough to be able to do, by the Penpol Tidal Footbridge. This is submerged and hidden except for two markers; and is only revealed for a couple of hours either side of low tide. At all times you can follow the coastpath inland and around by the Trenance footbridge.
At Fistral Beach follow the golf course fence, keeping the golf course on your left hand side, the beach dunes on the right until you come to the west end of Fistral Beach. You come to Pentire Headland, one of the oldest places of settlement in Cornwall, an iron age ring.
At the car park on Pentire Point, find the road ‘Riverside Avenue’ behind and among the houses.
You need to cross the River Gannel. For the Summer Ferry go down by the ‘Fern Pit Café’ or continue walking half a mile down until the path drops down to the river (The first signpost may lead you to a riverside path which is impassable at high tide). The second path drops down to a wooden bridge marked by a yellow and red sign. This is the Penpol Tidal Footbridge.
(If this is impassable you will have to walk further inland to the Trenance footbridge.)
Cross and go straight up a small river valley opposite the Penpol Tidal Footbridge, then get on a bridge going up a lane to the right.
Continue on the road bearing left at the top of the hill to the village of Crantock (you can avoid two sides of a field on the road, by following a footpath right across the field).
In Crantock find the Church.
Directions: Crantock Church to the Holywell Bay Golf Club
Mileage: 2 miles/3km
Time: 1 hour
Leave the village green in Crantock, passing the Post Office/shop on your left. At the junction turn right towards West Pentire. Just after leaving Crantock village, take a left down the farm lane towards Treago Farm, past farm buildings, following the lane into a valley.
Then follow footpath signs across common land to Holywell following the post markers up the hill. You gain an expansive vista crossing Cubert Common, and Porth Joke and Holywell Bay are particularly stunning areas of coastline.
Keep straight ahead at the first footpath junction.
Pass the five bar gate on your left and then bear immediately left with the field boundary on your left.
Bear right at the next junction towards Holywell, follow the path along the golf-club boundary.
At the golf club find the Holy Well: take a right along by the fishponds, find a white path at the top of a hill near a hut and trees. At this point bear left to the T-off for the 17th hole to find steps down to the Holy Well.
Directions: Holywell Bay Golf Club to St Piran’s Oratory
Leave Holywell Bay Golf Club. At the road, turn left along the pavement by the road to Cubert village. Once again, St. Cubert’s Church spire inspires (!) and spurs you on your way.
Go to the back of Cubert Church graveyard, through the houses to find a footpath stile into a field. Follow the boundary to the right and down, coming upon Trebisken House.Turn right on the farm lane, then at the footpath junction turn left, through the gate and down a path by a hedgerow and under trees. This comes out at a bridge. Follow the path through a wood and marsh, over grassland to a lane.
Turn right up the steep hill for nearly a mile to Gear Farm. After this take the right-hand footpath to St. Piran’s Church and Oratory. The church is to be found after ¾ mile(1km)v by following the white stones and black acorn footpath markers. The oratory is to west of the church.
We found both difficult to find. If you lose your way, go to the modern cross erected in 1969 high up on the dunes. You can look down from that higher point to locate both the oratory and church.