Great British Walks – Mevagissey and Heligan
This enjoyable walk starts in the picturesque fishing village of Mevagissey before heading inland through the medieval settlement of Heligan and its famous Lost Gardens. Back on the coast, the path takes you along magnificent clifftops that provide splendid sea views as you head back towards Mevagissey
Follow this guide to plan your walk. We've included details on how long it should take you to complete, where to park, and some places to stop for food and drink along the way.
We've also included a recommendation of where to stay if you're looking to book a pitch nearby and spend more time in this area.
You can begin this circular route anywhere that suits you, but we’ve chosen the charming village of Mevagissey as our starting point. People have lived here since the Bronze Age, and the harbour is on the site of a medieval quay. Once the centre of Cornwall’s pilchard industry it still boasts a working harbour. In the 18th century, Mevagissey was also notorious for the smugglers who skulked around in Mevagissey’s narrow streets.
From the car park entrance, turn right and walk up Valley Road before joining the footpath and cycleway to Heligan, just past the junction. Stay on the path, part of the Coast and Clay Trail and the Cornish Way cycle route, past the farm and up a gentle incline. At the top of the hill, you can pause for breath and take in the splendid views of the Heligan estate before continuing along the cycle path.
Heligan is well known for its Lost Gardens, created by the landowners in the 18th century but abandoned after World War I. After more than seven decades of neglect, they were restored to their former glory in the 1990s and are now one of the most popular visitor attractions in the area.
The path carries on through the countryside along the cycle route, crossing a wooden bridge and then under a 19th century bridge built for the Heligan estate before descending into the Pentewan Valley. Here the path follows the route of an old horse-drawn tramway, built for transporting china clay from the St Austell area to the harbour at Pentewan.
After crossing the St Austell river you start to head towards the coast at Pentewan. The route doesn’t pass through the village, but you could make a short diversion here for refreshments at the Ship Inn. From Pentewan, follow the South West Coast Path along the road in the direction of Mevagissey.
The path heads out onto the clifftops before descending into the cove at Portgiskey, then climbing to Penare Point where there are fantastic views over Pentewan Sands. After rounding Penare Point, you’re on the home straight. Just past dog-friendly Polstreath Beach, there’s a steep descent followed by a climb to the outskirts of Mevagissey.
Keep going until you come to the harbour, where you can treat yourself to a refreshing drink at the Harbour Tavern or some excellent fish and chips from the very good Fisherman’s Chippy on the quay. The old-fashioned pub, the Fountain Inn on Cliff Street, also serves up excellent fish and chips.
PLAN YOUR WALK
Route Circular route which starts and ends at Mevagissey, and takes in a stretch of the South West Coast Path
Distance 6.2 miles
Time 2.5 hours
Terrain The Coast Path section is steep in places, but the rest of the walk is on a cycle route, with a good surface and only gentle gradients to climb
Difficulty Moderately challenging
Parking Mevagissey car park
You need to see The Lost Gardens of Heligan. These extraordinary botanical gardens were developed by the Tremayne but were abandoned when World War I broke out. After the great storm of 1990 they were rediscovered and restored and are now a major tourist attraction.
FOOD AND DRINK
Harbour Tavern, Mevagissey
Fountain Inn, Mevagissey
The Ship Inn, Pentewan
WHERE TO STAY
HELIGAN CARAVAN & CAMPING PARK
Located within the original Heligan Estate and surrounded by natural beauty, Heligan Caravan and Camping Park is a magical destination that can be enjoyed all year round.
Whether you pitch a tent, bring a caravan or stay in one of their well-equipped holiday homes, you’ll be in the ideal place to relax, explore and enjoy time with family and friends. With the Eden Project only 30 minutes’ drive away and Pentewan Sands, Mevagissey and Charlestown close by, Heligan makes an excellent base for this part of Cornwall.
Quiet site, beaches nearby, next to Lost Gardens of Heligan and Pentewan Sands.
Heligan, St Austell PL26 6EL
OPEN 4 JANUARY - 17 NOVEMBER
Price from £11.40.
EAT & DRINK
Enjoy fantastic views and home cooked dishes made with fresh local ingredients on the upper deck of The Seahorse. Alternatively, try the award-winning HUBBOX’s popular range of handmade burgers, both located at Heligan’s sister site, Pentewan Sands Holiday Park.
• Shower and toilet block with wetroom
• Children’s play area
• Washing machine facilites
• Wheelchair-friendly facilities
• WiFi available
• Motorhome waste empty point
• Accepts tents, caravans and motorhomes
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