Gannel Estuary and Crantock at Natural Retreats Fistral Beach

  • Start/Finish:Natural Retreats
  • Distance/Grade:4 miles, easy
  • Terrain:Gently undulating, steep sections
  • Circular walk:Yes
  • Obstacles/Gradients:Bridge

Walk one: Gannel Estuary and Crantock

This is a lovely circular walk, with the most notable challenge being getting the state of the tides correct in order to cross the river. You will encounter some lovely contrasting scenery along the way, from the River Gannel through countryside fields, into the pretty village of Crantock and back along the beach with the backdrop of the sand dunes.

  1. Turn right out of the reception entrance, walk up the road and turn left into Pentire Crescent and follow the footpath sign and path down to the Estuary.
  2. Turn left at the bottom of the path and cross the bridge. (It is not possible to walk all the way along to Crantock Beach on the right side of the river). Walking straight across the sand, with the bridge at your back you will come to a small road. Either follow the road up and to the right straight into Crantock or continue straight into the woodland for a more scenic route.
  3. Follow along the path heading inland to the pretty village of Crantock. Take time to visit the picturesque Norman church, all that remains of a once much larger religious settlement/college founded by St Carantoc in the 5th Century.
  4. You’ll also find the Old Albion Inn, a thatched pub which was once, so they say, notorious as a centre for smuggling! From the village continue onwards towards the secluded sandy bay of Polly Joke. You can then take the cliff path through the nature reserve and around the headland to the long, sandy Crantock Beach. For a shorter walk from the village, walk straight down to Crantock Beach.
  5. Walking along the beach or along the sand dunes you can return to your starting point via the Gannel Estuary, or (in summer) cross the low tide bridge at the river mouth at the Fern Pit cafe, up the steps and onto the end of Pentire Avenue.

Note: Take care if crossing the river on foot, the sand can be very soft and the current strong – particularly on the incoming and outgoing tides. The estuary is not at all passable on foot at high tide during spring, but is quite a sight to see completely flooded. The Fern Pit cafe, bridge and steps are closed in the winter, however there are some small rough paths leading up the hill between the river mouth and the cafe to Pentire Avenue if you look for them.

Newquay Headlands at Natural Retreats Fistral Beach

  • Start/Finish:Natural Retreats
  • Distance/Grade:Around 5 miles, moderate
  • Terrain:Mostly undulating, one steep hill
  • Circular walk:Yes
  • Obstacles/Gradients:Yes

Walk two: Newquay Headlands

An easy walk taking in most of Newquay offering stunning panoramic views from Crantock to Fistral. There are various benches placed around the headland to give you time to take in the scenery. If you keep your eyes open you may get lucky and spot a seal playing in the water or sunning themselves on the rocks!

  1. Start at Natural Retreats Fistral Beach reception. Turn right and follow the road to the headland at the end of Pentire Avenue.
  2. You can explore Pentire headland and stop for a drink at the Lewinnick Lodge before following the path which starts on the corner of the road to the right of ‘Kelly’s Ice Cream Hut’. Follow this path along the water’s edge to South Fistral.
  3. Walk down the steps and onto Fistral Beach or follow the pathway along the top of the dunes.
  4. At the end of this path keep left, skirting past the Headland Hotel on the right, onto the coastal path towards Towan Head.
  5. Here you will fi nd the old lifeboat station (now an artist’s studio) and from the top, amazing views along the north coast, past Watergate Bay and all the way to Trevose Head and lighthouse.
  6. Continue along the coastal path to the harbour, making sure that you make time to stop at the Huer’s Hut, a reminder of the once thriving industry of Pilchard fi shing up and down the Cornish coast.
  7. From the harbour, you can walk back the way you came or follow the road up from the Central Pub to the cinema across St Georges Road into Crantock Street, finally cross Tower Road into the smaller Atlantic Road and follow the path along the edge of the golf course and parking down onto Pentire Avenue.
Porth to Watergate Bay at Natural Retreats Fistral Beach

  • Start/Finish:Natural Retreats to Porth Beach
  • Distance/Grade:6 or 4 miles, moderate
  • Terrain:Gently undulating, one steep hill
  • Circular walk:Yes
  • Obstacles/Gradients:Yes

Walk three: Porth to Watergate Bay

One of our favourites in the area, starting from the calm, family friendly beach of Porth and ending in Watergate Bay. The walk is fairly gentle and is generally suited to the whole family. If you time your walk correctly you can admire the views from the top of the cliffs on the way to Watergate Bay and if the tide is low walk back along the beaches exporing the caves and rockpools.

  1. Longer walk: Turn left out of reception and follow the path along the golf course to the left of Pentire Avenue, up to the parking area (this cuts the corner at the roundabout.) The path brings you out onto Atlantic Road, where you can cross Tower Road into Crantock Street. Follow the high streets (Bank and East) past Berties cafe onto Cliff Road, (Lidl, Burger King and Pizza Express) to Tolcarne Beach at Narrowcliff Road where you will pick up a coastal path past Lusty Glaze Beach down into Porth Beach.
  2. Short walk: Drive through town to Porth Beach and park in the large car park on the right just after the Mermaid Inn.
  3. Head north along the beach (up the hill to the right of the beach) before joining the coastal path. Head out onto the headland and cross the bridge onto Porth Island. If you’re lucky – check out the blowholes along here; which when the sea conditions are right, send plumes of water high into the air!
  4. Follow the coastal path northwards as the cliffs get even more spectacular, winding past Whipsiderry Beach and along to Watergate Bay – which makes for a breathtaking sight – three miles of thunderous surf flanked by towering cliffs and further on, the sea stacks that mark the start of Bedruthan Steps. Drop down the steep hill and take a well earned rest in a café or the hotel and marvel at the array of kitesurfers, bodyboarders and surfers that mark this beach out as an adrenalin seekers haven. Either walk back the way you came along the cliff or at low tide along the beach or order a taxi to bring you back!