The Cornish Saints’ Way – 27 miles – 3 days – Padstow to Fowey. This pilgrimage, forming part of the longer Cornish Celtic Way, takes you across Cornwall from the North coast to the South coast, following the probable route of early Christian travellers making their way from Ireland and Wales to Brittany and the European mainland. The route came to light when some walkers found a series of forgotten granite stiles, and realised that it featured ancient footbridges, old tracks and fascinating medieval churches. You will pass through valleys, woodlands, pastures, moors and ancient field systems. The route is also known as the Mariner’s Way, because it would have been used by early Celtic traders and pilgrims crossing the Irish and English channels in flimsy wooden coracles, and would have wanted to avoid the dangerous currents, rocks and pirates around Land’s End.
You begin at 15C church of St Petrock, then up onto the St Breock Downs, past a huge standing monolith stone, then 15C church of St Nivet, the geographical centre of Cornwall, in the parish ‘Lanivet’, a word meaning both ‘church site’ and ‘pagan sacred place’, then up to the Helman Tor nature reserve overlooking the marshy Red Moor. Then towards Lanlivery and its medieval St Brevita church, and 12C Crown Inn, still the original building, which has since been in continuous use as an Inn. Then to Golant, a riverside village associated with ‘Tales of the Riverbank’ by Kenneth Graham, and its St Sampson’s Church and Holy Well, the alleged site of the wedding between King Mark and Iseult (already fatefully in love with Tristan), and therefore the birthplace of the modern myth of romance. From Golant you follow the river to its mouth at Fowey, a fitting finish for pilgrims who would have subsequently embarked on a sea voyage.
St Breock Downs Monolith
Helman Tor Nature Reserve
900 year-old pub in Lanlivery, still going…
Kenneth Graham’s beloved village of Golant
Picturesque Fowey Harbour
The Saint’s Way is covered by the OS Explorer sheets 106 and 107 and the Landranger sheets 200 and 204. Access by rail requires changing at Liskeard for stations to Lostwithiel and Fowey. Leave the A30 at Bodmin for Padstow. There are a number of accommodation options along the route including a youth hostel in Golant.
An alternative route (covering the last 11 miles) passes through Luxulyan, St Blazey and Tywardreath site of a medieval priory.