Along the Coast Path from Polruan looking out to sea

A Great Walk in South Cornwall from Fowey

A fantastic scenic 5-mile circular walk along the South West Coast Path from Fowey, showing off the harbour and South Cornwall’s coast and countryside.

On this walk you will experience the best of Fowey’s coast, countryside, and riverside.  It is a wonderfully scenic circular walk along the South West Coast Path, crossing back through the countryside alongside the estuary.  It starts in Fowey before going on to Polruan, round to Bodinnick, and back to Fowey.

The walk is an extraordinary 5-mile hike, taking around 3-4 hours. It is definitely not flat, however, and, whilst there is nothing resembling a scramble up a sheer cliff face, there are some relatively steep uphill climbs. Suitable footwear is essential, as is a camera!

Cornwall is a popular family holiday destination so, in case you’re wondering, the walk isn’t suitable for buggies. However, we took our 3-month old baby on this walk in the baby carrier and it was good. We’re not saying it was easy, but it is totally do-able if you have a reasonable fitness level. Oh, and all the fresh Cornish air helped her sleep very well that night. Just one of the many reasons why we want to do this walk again!

If you like this and want another circular walk with spectacular views of South Cornwall read Walking the South Cornish Coast, Dreaming of Manderley.

The Fowey-Polruan-Bodinnick Walk

Start: Fowey End: Fowey Distance: 5 miles Duration: 3-4 hours Difficulty: Challenging

Start in Fowey on the quay. After Polruan there aren’t any places to stop for refreshments so, if you fancy a coffee or something to eat before setting off, now is the time. We very much enjoyed the coffee we had at The Havener’s with views out over the quay.

Take the Polruan Passenger Ferry across Fowey harbour to the start of the South West Coast Path (SWCP) section (you know you’re on the Coast Path when you see acorn signs). If you’re hungry and you didn’t eat in Fowey have something to eat in one of Polruan’s pubs before following the SWCP up to the village’s blockhouse.

Polruan Ferry looking towards Fowey - boats on water in foreground
View from Polruan of the ferry, looking towards Fowey

Blockhouses were used to keep ships out of the harbour by the raising of a chain (i.e. a block) across the harbour. The twin blockhouse on the Fowey side has suffered from the elements but the one in Polruan is in fairly good shape. The towers were built towards the end of the 14th century and were mounted with small calibre cannons originally. After they failed to stop a French attack in 1457 the chain was installed. However, it was subsequently confiscated in 1478 by Edward IV after two Fowey locals offended him. Whatever it was that they did, we can’t help thinking that the king overreacted somewhat!

Polruan Blockhouse
Polruan Blockhouse

After Polruan village the SWCP continues up onto the clifftops and wends its way towards Lantic Bay. The views along the way are unbelievably gorgeous and it’s impossible not to keep stopping to take photographs. However, be warned: although this section of the path is only a mile long its undulating nature makes it feel much longer.

Looking back over the cliffs on the coastal path
Looking back on the path

Undoubtedly, you will gasp as the sight of Lantic Bay comes into view. The white sand beaches are Great Lantic and Little Lantic, sitting side by side. If you yearn for remote beaches these will fulfil your wishes. Access is via a steep path so not many people venture here. If you want to incorporate a beach stop and sea swim into your walk this is the perfect place. We challenge you to resist the temptation to sink your toes into that soft sand and take a dip in the invitingly blue water! Read more about Lantic Bay on the National Trust website.

Looking towards the white sand of Lantic Bay
Looking from the Coastal Path towards Lantic Bay

As you approach Lantic Bay you can turn left to continue the walk. Turn right if you want to go down to the beach, or to see the views from Pencarrow Head.

As you continue the walk you will turn your back on Lantic Bay and head upwards. The path is a little confusing here because you seem to turn back on yourself as you near the top of the hill. If you keep following the path so that you end up near the National Trust car park for Lantic Bay you will stay on the right track.

For ideas on how to use your annual leave to get even more time off for work for experiences like this read How To Maximise Your Annual Leave.

The path continues to take you to St Wyllow Church, Lanteglos-by-Fowey, where the author Daphne du Maurier was married in 1932. (Click here to read an interesting write-up about the church). You will see the steeple in the distance and it is tempting to head towards it. However, instead, you need to walk along the road with the car park on your left as this will take you round to the church. Don’t worry if you feel like you are heading away from the church. So long as the car park is on your left you will be going in the right direction.

The church and tower of Lanteglos-by-Fowey
The church of Lanteglos-by-Fowey

You will see a path through the churchyard and then going downhill. Keep following this path down to Pont Pill Creek.

Signpost through the woods towards Bodinnick
The path after the churchyard going downhill

Pont Pill Creek is picture perfect. It’s very different to the sweeping majestic views from the SWCP and shows how varied the Cornish landscape is.

Small boat on the water of Pont Pill Creek lined with green trees
Picturesque Pont Pill Creek

Cross over the bridge and turn left to walk upwards through the woods. The path winds its way gently upwards, giving you glimpses of the river below. Once you get to the top there are stunning vantage points across the river towards Fowey and Polruan. One of the things we love about this walk is seeing Cornwall from different perspectives and this part of the walk provides yet another opportunity to do so.

Looking down from the hills towards the River Fowey to Polruan and Fowey
Vantage point looking towards the River Fowey to Fowey and Polruan

Continue to follow the path past the memorial to the Cornish writer, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, and on to the small village of Bodinnick. From here you can catch the car ferry back over to Fowey.

If you want to have a celebratory drink or something to eat at the end of the walk pop into the Old Ferry Inn on the banks of the estuary before hopping onto the ferry. Alternatively, do as we did and have a well-deserved cup of tea (or a glass of wine) at the Old Quay House in Fowey before an even more well-deserved Cornish Pasty from The Cornish Bakery.

If you like this and you want to know more about what to do in Cornwall you MUST read our article ‘A Guide to the Perfect Week in Cornwall‘.

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South West Coast Path | Fowey, Polruan, Bodinnick | Walks in Cornwall | See Cornwall | South Cornwall Walks
South West Coast Path | UK Walking Trails | Cornwall Walks | Fowey, Polruan, Bodinnick | Circular Walks | Scenic Walks | Great Walks in Cornwall

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