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Padstow Perambulation

A short stroll through the oldest part of Padstow followed by a walk alongside the Camel Estuary.

Distance 3 miles (4.8km)

Minimum time 2hrs 30min

Ascent/gradient 197ft (60m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Surfaced walkways, coastal footpath and country lane, 2 stiles

Landscape Traditional fishing village and estuary shoreline

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 106 Newquay and Padstow

Start/finish SW 917753

Dog friendliness Dogs on lead through grazed areas. Dogs on leads are welcomed in the grounds of Prideaux Place

Parking Padstow main car park on outskirts of village. Car park at Padstow Harbour and old railway station

Public toilets Main and harbour car parks. The Strand, Padstow Harbour

1 If you have parked at the town's main car park, leave from the bottom right-hand corner, to the left of a toilet block. Go down to a junction with a surfaced walkway and turn left. (If you park in the lower car park, leave by steps at the bottom of the car park and turn left along the walkway.)

2 Follow the walkway to reach the churchyard of St Petroc's Church,. Turn left, facing the church porch, and walk through the churchyard between tall cypresses. Go through a metal gate into Church Street, opposite the charming Poppy Cottage, then turn left and walk up to a junction with Tregirls Lane.

3 Turn right and then go right again into High Street. The houses and buildings in this part of Padstow feature some of the town's finest vernacular architecture.

4 Just before High Street's junction with Cross Street and Fentonluna Lane, go right into a fascinating passageway called Marble Arch. Watch your head at low sections as you pass through to reach steps that lead down into Church Street once more. Turn left here and join Duke Street at a junction with Cross Street. Walk down the raised terrace of Duke Street and, where the terrace ends, cross over and go right along Middle Street, passing the attractive Victorian almshouses on the left. There are some fine galleries and craft shops in Middle Street.

5 At the end of Middle Street, turn into Lanadwell Street, passing the Golden Lion Inn and then the London Inn with its handsome timber-framed façade in red brick and slate. In summer the whole inn is a veritable hanging garden of colourful flowers. At the end of Lanadwell Street reach Broad Street. Turn left here and walk along the busy Market Place then on down an alleyway past the impressive building of the Old Ship Inn, to emerge at the Strand and the Harbour.

6 The next section of the walk takes you alongside the estuary of the River Camel. Walk along the harbour's North Quay past Abbey House, a distinctive medieval building, slate hung and with an open mullion window below which is a stone head in a niche. Continue to where the road forks, just past the tourist information centre.

7 Keep left here and uphill, signposted 'Coast Path' and 'To Lower Beach'. Follow the walkway through Chapel Style Field and on to a war memorial at St Saviour's Point and then to St George's Cove and Gun Point. Continue along the path above an area of sand dunes, then reach a stile into a field. Follow the field edge to a T-junction with a stony track and turn left and uphill to Tregirls Farm.

8 Follow the surfaced lane from in front of the farm for about 1?3 mile (536m), then pass beneath an archway and reach the Elizabethan building of Prideaux Place. Continue to the end of Tregirls Lane and then turn left down Church Street. Opposite Poppy Cottage go through the churchyard gate and retrace your steps to the car park. Alternatively you can continue down Church Street and back to Padstow Harbour.

The North Cornish port of Padstow takes its old name of 'Petroc's Stow' from Cornwall's patron saint St Petroc. Padstow is a delightful town and is particularly famous for its May Day festival of the 'Obby Oss', during which symbolic hobby horses, made of great hooped masks with trailing black skirts, are danced round the streets in celebration of ancient fertility rites. It is an unforgettable experience, although attempting a quiet stroll, like the one described here, is perhaps best left for any other day of the year than May Day.

What to look for

Along the banks of the Camel Estuary, at Gun Point and above the dunes, look for maritime plants such as early scurvy grass, with its glossy leaves and pink flowers, the red-tinged sea beet and the deep-rooted sea rocket, a straggling plant with green fleshy leaves and pale lilac flowers. Look for Coltsfoot too with its yellow daisy-like head and a silvery stem.

While you're there

The Church of St Petroc is a substantial building with a broad nave and aisles and fine wagon roofs and artefacts, including a splendid font in Cataclews stone from Cataclews Point at nearby Harlyn Bay. St Petroc's has a pleasing gloominess created by its darkly shrouding trees and by the dark mossy slate of its walls and tower. At the end of the described route is the splendid Prideaux Place, an Elizabethan house that has been lived in by the Prideaux-Brune family for over 400 years. There are guided tours of the house and its sumptuously furnished rooms. The landscaped gardens are also open to the public. Open Easter, and late May to September, Sunday-Thusday, 1:30-5.

Where to eat and drink

In Padstow you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to the finest Cornish cuisine. The celebrity chef Rick Stein has a number of establishments in the town and these are more than matched by other fine restaurants and a host of food outlets at all levels. The town also boasts a number of excellent pubs and traditional inns. There are no food outlets on the estuary section of the walk but Prideaux Place has the very pleasant Terrace Tea Rooms.

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