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. In 1984, some walkers found a series of forgotten granite stiles, and this discovery led to a route being created that 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 who would have wanted to avoid the dangerous currents, rocks and pirates around Land’s End.
You begin at C15th church of St Petrock, then up onto the St Breock Downs, past a huge standing monolith stone, then C15th 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, and towards Lanlivery and its medieval St Brevita Church and 12th-century 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 Grahame, and its St Sampson’s Church and Holy Well, the alleged site of the wedding between King Mark and Iseult (who was already fatefully in love with Tristan), and therefore is associated with the birth of the modern myth of romance. From Golant you follow the river to its mouth at Fowey Harbour, from which pilgrims of old would have subsequently embarked on a sea voyage to Brittany and the European mainland.
St Breock Downs Monolith
Helman Tor Nature Reserve
900 year-old pub in Lanlivery, still going…
Kenneth Grahame’s beloved village of Golant
Picturesque Fowey Harbour
Holy Places along route listed in our book Britain’s Pilgrim Places: Constantine Bay; Golant.
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) is followed along Cornish Celtic Way through Luxulyan, St Blazey and Tywardreath site of a medieval priory.
For an extended version of the description above
Click to buy printed guidebook to the Saints’ Way
Click to download route/s in GPX file format for your smartphone’s map app
Instructions for using a GPX file to show you the route offline on your smartphone
The route starts beautifully, rising above Padstow and then going along the creek. I would recommend that you download the route so that you can follow it closely as it’s not always easy to navigate.
There is quite a load of road walking, but on quiet Cornish lanes.
Some fields had cows in and I did navigate carefully around the edges of the field to avoid them!
I walked it in August and it was very peaceful – I virtually saw no one all day.
You can pick up a free passport in the churches and they all have stamps for you to follow your progress.
None of the churches on route have a passport stamp book, very disappointed,
Unable to find out how to perches a book prior to starting the walk, on line or by post,
Even tryed buying one. To no avail.
Unfortunately not all pilgrim routes have passport schemes, something we’d like to work on. As an alternative the Cornish Celtic Way (not to be confused with the Saints Way) does have a good scheme however. You can purchase a book from their website. http://www.cornishcelticway.co.uk
My wife and I walked the Saints Way in May 2022 from Padstow to Fowey over 3 days. We were surprised that we encountered no other walkers doing it, and the poor condition of walk in certain places. Some stiles and paths heavily overgrown and some signage broken or missing. There is also very little accommodation or refreshments en route. We stopped overnight at Hustyns near St Breock Down which is tired and expensive, and The Crown at Lanlivery which is excellent. Other than at Lanlivet we came across no places for refreshment, water or toilets between our overnight stops. There is a lot of road walking in the second half, and 2 stretches which are quite dangerous with speeding cars on blind corners for walkers – 1) about 1 mile of minor road running parallel to A30 Bodmin bypass; and 2) after the Vets, crossing the A390 above Lostwithiel (take great care!). I am surprised there are not more warning signs for drivers in these places. Overall – we enjoyed the Saints Way but think it needs some investment to make it safer, maintained and more user friendly.