Holiday Challenge: Cornwall’s Rugged Coastal Walk from Polperro
The coast of Cornwall is the stuff of postcards. It is the backdrop for Poldark and the inspiration for so many memories about holidays spent by the seaside.
There are a great number of ways to appreciate the coastline of the Duchy and there is sure to be plenty of debate as to which part of the county is the most beautiful. Without picking sides or favourites, we want to bring your attention to southern Cornwall and do our best to describe the amazing and enjoyable Polperro Heritage Walk.
For many enjoying a truly marvellous caravan park holiday in Cornwall, the urge to get out and explore is tremendous. And there may be no better way to fuel this need for exploration than getting out and enjoying Cornwall’s natural beauty.
If you are thinking about taking a walk whilst on holiday, here are some details that make Polperro so special:
A majestic walk
The village of Polperro itself starts (or ends!) your Cornish walking adventure. The village has a tiny sand beach and access just outside the main breakwater. Its small inlet is a popular launch for local boat trips, and it has a well-known tidal pool.
The village is just a 10-minute drive from Tencreek. Nestled in a cove – complete with steep sides and very narrow streets – it is easiest to park above the village and walk down into the centre. The main car park is easy to find, but day and evening charges do apply. More information can be found here.
There are guided walks that move west from Polperro towards Par. Part of the South West Coast Path, the walk from Polperro to Par will be memorable to say the least. There is a mixture of rolling, grassy hills along the rugged coastline. This is combined with steep inclines and declines as well.
Intrepid walkers can make their way towards the first main stop in Fowey. The first phase of the walk takes you through National Trust property, and is colourfully known as the Rollercoaster Walk. It is considered “hard” by the group and can take up to three and half hours. It includes the vistas off Pencarrow Head and Lantivet and Lantic bays. This portion of the walk is measured at 6.8 miles.
After a short ferry ride across the River Fowey, walkers can continue for another seven miles as the walk leads travellers to Par. This part of the walk is also considered by many to be quite challenging. With changing weather conditions, high cliffs and the headwinds making the walk not only visually stunning, but a true fitness test as well.
Locals know Polperro’s history is more than just walking
John Alden, who owns and operates iWalk Cornwall, is an expert on walking adventures in Cornwall. With an immense appreciation of local Cornish history, Alden describes the many reasons to enjoy the Polperro Heritage Walk:
“Polperro has one of the richest histories of the Cornish fishing (and smuggling!) ports, and it is no coincidence that the Victorian Natural History masterpiece ‘A History of the Fishes of the British Islands’ was based on studies of the fish landed in Polperro. Polperro was particularly known for the high quality of its fisherman’s jumpers, known as ‘knitfrocks’, and many women in Polperro had a sideline business of contract knitting during Victorian times. The museum by the harbour has a good collection of old photographs and memorabilia from this period.
Located close to Plymouth Sound, near the sailing routes along the English Channel, shipwrecks were common in stormy weather. Teak House, on Talland Hill, has rafters, floor joists, stairs and doors all built from the cargo of the Shepherdess that ran aground on The Bridges reef in 1849. The ship was carrying so many teak logs that passengers and most of the crew were able to walk to shore across the timber. There is also a block of the teak within the Polperro Museum.
The route includes the path to the lighthouse, walked regularly by the harbourmaster Reuben Oliver, even after he had become blind!”
Here are directions for a three-mile figure-of-8 route around the historic port of Polperro and its surrounding headlands. The walk is also available in GPS-guided form via the iWalk Cornwall app.
Food and libations
After taking in all this Cornish history, as well as being tested by the rigours of the walk itself, all participants should reward themselves with a lovely meal and a few celebratory pints of local ale or cider. Local expert Alden reckons The Three Pilchards deserves a mention for what may be the largest portions of any pub in Cornwall. Another favourite in Polperro is The Kitchen. Open since 2006, the restaurant has won a number of awards including the Taste of the West. They specialise in a diverse menu of locally sourced meat, fish and produce.
At the halfway point of the walk, The Ship Inn in Fowey beckons visitors to sit down and relax. Built in the 1500s, it is the oldest and best-known pub in the village. Alongside fresh food, enjoy a mid-walk pint of fine Cornish ale – or call it a day after seven miles and wait for the day to end and the sun to set in Fowey.
Finally, in Par, there are great food and drink choices to celebrate the completion of one of the greatest coastal walks in the country. The Par Inn is a welcoming, family-friendly pub with both indoor and outdoor seating to enjoy. To get back to Polperro, there is an hourly bus service leaving from the Par Green returning to Fowey and connecting to Polperro. More information on transportation options can be found here.