Camel Trail to Padstow round
Cornwall is located in the far south west of England on a peninsula that stretches into the vast Atlantic Ocean, with a dramatic coastline of almost 300 miles it is almost completely surrounded by the sea. The county is split into three sections North Cornwall, South East Cornwall and West Cornwall. Cornwall has many leafy estuaries, captivating fishing harbours and villages, spectacular beaches, and an abundance of exotic gardens and beautiful meadows that flourish in Cornwall’s mild climate. Cornwall is also home to the captivating wilderness of the Bodmin Moor with fascinating prehistoric remains, fantastic walking trails from gentle strolls to challenging hikes, many castles, intriguing towns and villages and holds many local legends. At the beginning of the 19th century Cornish mines were some of the largest anywhere in Europe and the copper industry, centred in West Cornwall, grew beyond any other sector in the British economy. In the old industrial heartland, the landscape has been awarded World Heritage Site Status and is dotted with remnants of its mining past illustrating Cornwall’s enormous contribution to the Industrial Revolution with engine houses, museums and miles of recreational trails. Cornwall’s martime legacy is never far away where local fishermen land their daily catch of fresh seafood and where tall ships, luggers and ketches unfold their sails in the Cornish breeze. Cornwall has long been one of the most popular UK holiday destinations and is a truly wonderful and beautiful county. Its natural environment is recognised nationally as the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which can be enjoyed by everyone and can be accessed by the South West Coast Path. The flourishing tourist industry provides a host of accommodation options such as holiday cottages, camp sites, caravan parks, hotels, bed & breakfast and guest houses.
North Cornwall is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and of important geological and scientific interest. The coast of North Cornwall is the only part of the county that is formed of carboniferous sandstone, a type of rock that is around 300 million years old, the rest lies on Devonian Sedimentary Strata and the granite of Bodmin Moor. Famous for its remote, bleak coast line North Cornwall from Bude to a place called Rock close to the Camel Estuary has been protected from development by its sheer inaccessibility. From Padstow to Portreath the North Cornish Coast, exposed to westerly storms and pounding surf, is a landscape carved and sculptured by the sea and the coves and caves portray many tales of smuggling and wrecking. The sea with its gigantic Atlantic rollers has made the Cornish north coast famous for perfect surfing conditions. Other extreme sports such as coasteering, zapcat, scuba diving and rock climbing are also very popular. The North Cornwall’s dramatic Atlantic Heritage Coast has 60 miles of cliffs, coves, sandy bays, market towns, country houses, historic castles, farmsteads and the wilderness of Bodmin Moor. Some of the most visited places to visit in North Cornwall are Bude, Newquay, Wadebridge, Bodmin, Bodmin Moor, Tintagel, Boscastle, Camelford, Padstow, Launcester and Port Isaac all with their own unique history and a variety of things to see and do. Padstow a working fishing port was made famous by celebrity chef Rick Stein, Port Isaac is the where the television series “Doc Martin” is filmed and Tintagel has long been associated with King Arthur and Tintagel Castle being his birth place. The Camel Trail is another popular activity for walkers and cyclists running for 18 miles it follows the River Camel from the Camel Estuary at Padstow to Wadebridge, Bodmin, Poley’s Bridge and finishing at Wenfordbridge.
The River Camel rises on Hendraburnick Down on the edge of Bodmin Moor and flows through the Camel Valley for 30 miles before entering the Celtic Sea area of the Atlantic Ocean between Stepper Point and Pentire Point. The river has four main tributaries the River Ruthern, the De Lank River, the River Allen and the River Stannon and together they drain a great deal of North Cornwall. Camel is a Cornish word meaning “the crooked one” named recently after the rivers winding course, the river was originally divided into three named stretches. The River Camel is tidal as far up as Wadebridge and Egloshayle and is an excellent for bird watching and fishing. The River Camel’s estuary stretching from Wadebridge to the open sea at Padstow Bay is known as the Camel Estuary and offers a wide range of water sports such as sailing, water skiing, windsurfing, surfing and kite surfing. The estuary between Padstow, Rock and Wadebridge is only a small area of Cornwall’s designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and there are five Sites of Special Scientific Interest along the length of the River Camel. The river has also been designated by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee as a Special Area of Conservation as being of European importance for the Otter and the Bullhead. With the large areas of salt marsh on the estuary the River Camel provides an excellent location for large flocks of waders, Mute Swans, Shelduck, Shoveller and Mallard and further upstream Teal. There are Peregrines in the area and a migrant Osprey is often seen in the spring and autumn stopping off for a few days to feed on the fish. The Camel Estuary was one of the first places to be colonised by Little Egrets mainly seen in the mudflats at low tide. The estuary is also a Sea Bass conservation area and further up river Flounders, Salmon and Sea Trout can be found. Basking Sharks and bottlenose dolphins can sometimes be seen in the mouth of the river.
The Camel Trail that follows the River Camel is the old dismantled Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway Line which ran from Wenfordbridge to Padstow. The railway was built intended to carry sand from the Camel Estuary to inland farms for the use as fertiliser and rock and minerals to the sea for shipment. The railway, one of the oldest in the world, was opened in September 1834 with the locomotive Camel pulling a train load of 400 passengers. It was one of the first railways in Britain to carry passengers and the last passenger train left Wadebridge railway station in 1967 following cut backs. In the late 1980’s the railway line’s transformation into the Camel Trail provided a just over 17 mile traffic free route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. Starting at Padstow the trail is 5¼ miles to Wadebridge then onto Bodmin is a further is 6 miles and then onto Poley’s Bridge is another 6 miles. The trail managed and maintained by Cornwall Council was extended in 2006 from Poley’s Bridge through the old clay dries to Wenfordbridge (this is the only part of the trail that is on roads shared with normal traffic) and from Scarlett’s Well car park at Bodmin up into the town increasing the trail by another mile to just over 18 miles. There are car parks, cycle hire, bike parking and many other facilities at Padstow, Wadebridge and Bodmin so you can pick and choose how you explore this wonderful trail with beautiful scenery and an abundance of wildlife.
Padstow a town and fishing port situated on the west bank of the River Camel estuary has become a very popular tourist destination and yachting haven with only some of its former fishing fleet still working. In the mid 19th century ships carrying timber from Canada would arrive at Padstow and offer cheap travel to passengers wishing to emigrate. Ferries have crossed the Camel estuary for centuries and today the Black Tor Ferry carries pedestrians between Padstow and Rock daily. The South West Coast Path, which runs on both sides of the River Camel estuary, crosses from Padstow to Rock via the ferry. The Coast Path is England’s longest long distance footpath and a designated National Trail mainly funded by Natural England and maintained by a dedicated South West Coast Path Team. It stretches for 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset, along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall to Poole Harbour in Dorset. The path was originally for the coastguards to be able to walk from lighthouse to lighthouse patrolling for smugglers hence the path runs close to the coastal edges so that they could look down into every bay and cove. Another long distance footpath The Saints’ Way runs from Padstow to Fowey on the south coast of Cornwall. The main attraction to Padstow is the celebrity chef Rick Stein. He owns four restaurants, cafe, deli, patisserie, fish and chip shop, fishmongers, gift shop, the seafood school and has many self catering cottages and properties. Padstow is also best known for its ‘“Obby ‘Oss” festival which starts at midnight on May Eve and finishes in the late evening.
We park in the car park at Lower Halwyn and walk up the steps onto the Camel Trail and turn left for Padstow. We follow the track crossing over the iron bridge over Little Petherick Creek for 1½ miles. On entering Padstow we walk across the Harbour car park and past Rick Stein’s wet fish shop and deli on the left. We then walk at the side of the harbour to the Tourist Information Centre and take the South West Coast Path on the left uphill. The path leads us across an open grass field with wonderful views of the estuary to the War Memorial. We keep heading forwards past the War Memorial and follow the coast path round St George’s Cove and past Gun Point. The views of Padstow Bay and the white sandy beaches are stunning. We bear left following the hedge on our right for a very short way then go over the stile in the hedge into another field. We keep heading round the edge of the field until we come to a track where we turn left. We follow the track to Tregirls Farm, turn right and immediately left and follow the tarmac track for just under ½ mile. When we get to the double yellow lines we turn left at the footpath sign and follow the track through the field until we arrive back at the War Memorial. We now retrace our steps down into Padstow and follow the Camel Trail back to the car park.
The Camel Train is flat easy walking and the walk north of Padstow is on paths and tracks that are in places a little uneven.
Elevation: Lowest point approx -0.31m (0.98ft) highest point approx 68m (222ft).
Distance and Start Point
Approx 7.5 miles allow 3hours using OS map 106 Newquay and Padstow.
Start Point: Lower Halwyn free car park at the side of the Camel Trail near Padstow.
Padstow is situated on the banks of the River Camel Estuary in North Cornwall in the South West of England.
Directions and Parking
From the M5 take junction 31 and merge onto the A30 towards Bodmin and Okehampton then take the A395 at a roundabout towards Hallworthy and Camelford. At the t-junction turn left onto the A39 towards Wadebridge. After passing Wadebridge take a left turn onto the A389 at Hal’s Grave. On reaching Trevance take the first right and follow the minor road to a t-junction at Trevilgus Farm on the right. Turn right and then first left and follow the single track road until you reach the free car park just below the Camel Trail at Lower Halwyn.
Toilets and Refreshments
There are four main car parks in Padstow and the public toilets are in the Harbour car park. For refreshments there are ample shops, cafes, tearooms, bakeries, take-away, pubs and restaurants.