Walking The Saint's Way, Cornwall
Luggage Transfers cover the full Saint’s Way route from Padstow to Fowey. Established in 2009, we move over 36,000 bags each year for visitors walking and cycling throughout the South West.
Below, you’ll find more information about the route, a popular itinerary for The Saint’s Way, as well as a link to our walker friendly accommodation for the entire route.
The Saint’s Way, or in Cornish, “Forth an Syns” is a long-distance path cutting right across Cornwall from Padstow on the north coast, to Fowey on the south.
As you walk this trail, you will doubtless be following in the footsteps of Christian missionaries and pilgrims en-route to Rome or the Holy Land, or early Celtic traders transporting gold from Ireland through Cornwall and onwards to the European mainland.
Arriving in the bustling old harbour town of Padstow you will find many superb restaurants and pubs to visit to relax before the walk.
Now refreshed and ready for the next day, the route will take you along the banks of the River Camel before gently rising to the beautiful windswept moors and villages dotted around scenic mid-Cornwall, where rolling pastures of ancient farmland, pretty riverside villages, quaint churches, standing stones and ancient bridges all make this a journey to remember before arriving in Fowey (pronounced Foy to rhyme with joy) a delightful historic town and port steeped in history and packed with places to eat and drink to celebrate the end of your journey.
This walk is a real Cornish gem.
Popular walking itinerary for The Saint's Way
Leave the busy streets and harbour of Padstow behind you and begin your cross-county pilgrimage hike. This route is well marked and is steeped in both the trading and religious history of Cornwall. Start at St Petroc’s Church and make your way up the River Camel estuary to St Petroc Minor Church at Little Petherick. The ancient trackway and pilgrim path lead you to St Breock Downs and the largest and heaviest monolith in Cornwall. Continue your hike along the valleys and pastures towards the central point of Lanivet with its 15th century church of St Niven. Lanivet was once home to many copper mines. Many walkers take this opportunity to stay in Bodmin with the chance to explore the gaol, now a major tourist attraction, and sample one of the many restaurants in the town.
Return to the path with the next step of the walk ahead of you. From Lanivet your hike takes you through more fields and sheltered woodlands before arriving at Helman Tor Nature Reserve. Whilst the route skirts the tor the summit provides a perfect vantage point to view the route behind and in front of you as well as appreciating the 6000 year old Neolithic settlement. From the nature reserve you have two route options to take you to Fowey….
This is seen as the most popular and well-walked route, taking you across the open heath and through narrow lanes to the village of Lanlivery. Take the time to stop and explore St Brevita, whose church tower was previously used as a landmark by sailors out to sea. Here you will also find The Crown Inn, thought to be one of Cornwall’s oldest inns, built in the 12th century. After some refreshment head onward towards Lostwithiel past Powderham Castle, through the ominously named No Man’s Land before some walking along the A390 which breaks the reverie of the previous mileage; thankfully this is short-lived and the route returns to its genteel nature through woodlands. Ahead is the alleged site of the court of King Mark of Arthurian legend made famous by the story of Tristan & Iseult. On the edge of Golant is the church of St Sampson which is mentionen in Simon Jenkins book, England’s thousand best churches. More literary heritage abounds here with both Kenneth Grahame and Daphne Du Maurier having affiliations to this hidden and unassuming little village.
Leaving Golant behind you, the walk climbs higher to give you views of the Fowey estuary as you follow the river’s journey onward to your goal. The ferry at Bodinnick gives a waymarker to the large house across the river, Ferryside, once home to Daphne du Maurier, now a National Trust property open to the public. As you wander down into the town of Fowey to complete your pilgrimage, visit the final church on the route, St Fimbarrus, now known as Fowey Parish Church, to feel you have truly walked with the pilgrims and traders of centuries gone by.
This route, whilst slightly longer, is considered to be the foundation track of the Saints Way. In 1984 two local men found the forgotten and overgrown granite stiles which may have formed the basis of not only a natural pilgrimage route bridging the Cornish coasts and favoured ports of Padstow and Fowey interspersed with shrines, churches and crosses, but also an obvious overland trading route avoiding the treacherous seas around Land’s End. By 1986 the route was officially opened to walkers of all levels of experience, who wished to set foot on a previously unexplored area of Cornwall. This route is a definite must for fans of Daphne du Maurier, as many locations are linked to both her and her writing.
From Helman Tor you walk across Lowertown Moor to Gunwen Chapel and onto the second nature reserve of the day at Breney Common, both managed by Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Take note, both reserves are wetlands and can be very sodden underfoot. Your journey will take you across open fields and farmland before descending into a streamed valley towards Luxulyan. It is here that you will find the granite stiles and pathway, which when uncovered, fbecame the foundation of this amazing path between the seas. Climbing up to the Luxulyan Quarry you get an overview of the ‘Cornish Alps’, a lasting testament to the china clay industry which still mines in Cornwall to this day and is evident in the local area. If deciding this is a good stopping point for refreshments, there is a local pub in the town.
As you leave Luxulyan you see further evidence of a more industrial age as you cross the train line and head through the valley before hiking across open farmland. To the east you will find Prideaux Castle, an Iron Age hillfort built to defend the upper Par Estuary (please note you do need the landowner’s permission to visit this site), from there you are afforded extensive views of St Austell Bay. Downhill once again and you travel through more ancient and peaceful woodland before reaching civilisation and the A390. Thankfully, walking along the main road doesn’t last long, and you re-enter tranquillity and find yourself approaching Treesmill Creek and the village of Tywardreath; a direct translation of this name is ‘House on the Strand’, one of Daphne du Maurier’s greatest works. This is an older description of the village prior to the silting up of the Par estuary and its inlets. The valley below shows the remains of a Benedictine priory of the Black Monks, founded in 1090. The route wends through the village and up over the hills to Polmear and for a short while joins the South West Coast Path. If you wish to take in the coastal route, detour uphill across the fields to Polkerris, a once thriving fishing community. Here you find Tregaminion Church and two Celtic crosses in the churchyard which had formerly marked the Saints Way but had been taken for other structures. The crosses were purchased by the monks of Buckfast Abbey before being placed in their standing spots today. After a short walk through the woods you enter the parish boundaries of Fowey and find yourself above the town at the remains of St Catherine’s Castle. Breathe in the sea as you reach Readymoney Cove and walk the final steps along the esplanade into Fowey. Before you end your journey in one of the many cafes or restaurants, take a few minutes to visit the last church of the journey St Fimbarrus, now Fowey Parish Church. You have travelled in the steps of many before you and those hoping to sail to mainland Europe to continue their pilgrimage would have given thanks here.