The Saints Way is a long distance footpath in Cornwall. It is a beautiful and fascinating walk, stretching for some 33 miles linking Padstow on the North Cornwall coast and Fowey on the south.
It is an ancient track, dating back to the Bronze Age when traders and drovers used the route to avoid the treacherous waters around Lands End. In the Dark and Middle Ages it was used by Christian missionaries and pilgrims en route to Rome, Santiago de Compostela and the Holy Land, hence it’s name, The Saints Way.
As you walk along the path you are constantly reminded of the religious connections en route, passing shrines, holy wells, chapels and standing stones.
The walk generally takes two days and this post is a description of the first day’s walk from Padstow to the halfway point, Lanivet.
This walk totalled 19.5 miles and took us 8 hours.
Starting Point: St Petroc’s Church, Padstow
Halfway point: Bokiddick Farm near Lanivet, our B&B for the night.
We started early in the morning at the lych gate of St Petroc’s church in Padstow where the trail begins, and headed along Denis road heading for Denis creek with glorious views of the Camel estuary and the harbour below us. The granite obelisk on top of Denis Hill soon comes into view and a delightful vista of Little Petherick creek and Seamills, once a tidal mill. The path follows the wooded creek side to Little Petherick and another church dedicated to St Petroc.
We then followed the A389 for a short distance, turned right and enjoyed a track across fields to Melingey Mill and onwards through the hamlet of Trenance to the ancient settlement of Blable (its name derived from Blyth-Poll meaning wolf pit) reminding us of the dangers ancient travellers faced whilst walking this track!
The path then crosses the A39 and follows a track to West Park farm and Nomansland. (There is a pub, The Halfway House Inn about half a mile along the A39 in St Jidgey if you are in need of refreshment). We were ready for a break by now and as luck would have it we found an old plastic chair and fertiliser bag which did very nicely as seats whilst we ate our first snack of the day.
Duly refreshed we continued our climb to Pawton Springs and out into the icy north wind at the highest non granite uplands in the county – St Breock Downs. The views from the top are stupendous, taking in Bodmin Moor, the peaks of the St Austell china clay tips and the Camel estuary. We could see St Breock Longstone, a granite monolith dating back to the Bronze Age and a significant gathering place for ancient tribespeople.
We crossed some huge fields here – some of the signage was missing and we wasted time retracing our steps and getting maps out. The tops of these Downs are sprinkled with wind turbines, their new technology towering majestically above the ancient landscape. The path then follows the road towards Hustyn Wood and turns right to pass the gates of Hustyns Country resort. Withiel church can be seen across the valley and the distant outline of Helman Tor, our overnight stopping place. The path leads down an ancient rocky track to Tregustick. At the next valley bottom is a ford and two footbridges crossing the Ruthern river and upwards through Blackhay Farm to the charming unspoilt village of Withiel.
We stopped and ate our packed lunch in St Clement’s churchyard, pausing to admire the Old Rectory dating back to 1520 and the Tudor style building which houses the village school. What a pretty place this is. We then took to the fields again, skirting Trevidgeowe Farm and onto Withielgoose track which was knee deep in water and required a hedge climbing diversion to avoid getting wet feet. The lane emerged onto a minor road which we followed to Tremorebridge which formed part of the medieval route linking Padstow to Bodmin and St Columb.
The road continues uphill to pass Tremore Manor, built in 1815 and now housing a private school. We continued on to Tremore crossroads with its well preserved Celtic cross. The path then passes Higher Woolley Farm and crosses fields, passes the Council refuse centre, then follows Clann Lane to the centre of Lanivet, with its village shop, fish and chip shop and village pub, the Lanivet Inn – the half way stage of the trail.
We then had a short uphill walk past the village church to pass under the A30 Bodmin bypass and reaching Reperry Cross and crossing an old turnpike road from Bodmin to St Austell. The road then led us via brown accommodation signs to our Farmhouse B&B at Bokiddick Farm adjoining the route, nestled under the towering granite outcrop of Helman Tor.