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St Mawes is dominated by its artillery fort, St Mawes Castle, built between 1539 and 1545 as part of Henry Vlll's coastal defences. It is one of two forts guarding the entrance to Carrick Rhodes. The other is Pendennis Castle, standing on the Falmouth side of the estuary.
Carrick Rhodes is a large waterway created after the ice age creating an immense natural harbour, the world's third largest, navigable from Falmouth to Truro.
A pedestrian ferry runs to Falmouth on a regular basis taking about 25 minutes, a very pleasant scenic trip.
In the summer months a further passenger ferry runs to St Anthony headland across St Mawes outer harbour.
There is a guided walk available around the village. The walk is every Wednesday morning from the 4th, April to the 3rd October, taking about 90 minutes and led by Peter Messer-Bennetts, a local blue badge tour guide. It starts from the Roseland Visitor Centre in the main car park at 10.30 a.m. - no need to book, just turn up, the cost is £3 p.p.
The walks around St Mawes and the whole Roseland Peninsula are both extensive and include some of the best scenery to be found anywhere.
St Mawes Beach: More recognized as a sailing resort rather than a beach resort, there are stretches of beach by the sea front, some are rocky and some sandy. The longest stretch is Summers Beach and towards the headland there is Tavern Beach.
All facilities are in the town centre, these include toilets, car parking, restaurants, pubs and shops.
Dogs: Banned from Easter day to 1st, October.
Beaches close to St Mawes:
Porthbeor Beach: A stretch of sand about 500 yards long far below the coast path, it offers safe bathing and is very quiet.
Car parking close to the beach
No other facilities
Directions: Adjacent to the village of 'Bohortha', but access is difficult. Bohortha is on the tip of the Roseland Peninsula close to St Mawes.
Portscatho Beach: A small sandy patch more suitable for boating than bathing.
Parking in the village
All amenities in the village
Dogs: banned Easter to October.
Porthcurnick Beach: An isolated sandy beach backed by high cliffs and a 15 minute walk across the cliffs from Portscatho. Literally acres of open sand are exposed at low tide.
Carne & Pendower Beach: Probably the best beach in the area. Although they are two separate beaches they are one long beach at low tide.
The main beach is Pendower which has a car park more or less on the beach.
Carne Beach: has sand dunes with a small stream entering the sea. The car park is on the beach.
Facilities include toilets.
Both beaches are safe for bathing but occasionally there is a large swell making it good for surfing.
The two beaches are separated by a small headland where the Nare Hotel takes pride of place. This is open to non residents with bar meals/drinks etc.
The access roads to both beaches are very narrow, be prepared to reverse if necessary.
Dogs: Banned Easter to October
Directions: Tregony to St Mawes road and follow the signs for Veryan and Portscatho.
St Anthony Lighthouse: At the eastern entrance to Falmouth harbour and Carrick Rhodes guiding vessels clear of the Manacles Rocks, south of the harbour entrance.
The lighthouse was built in 1835 and up to 1954 possessed a huge bell used as a fog warning. The lighthouse was automated in 1987. It is now a popular destination for visitors who wish to enjoy the views and walk across the headland. There is a car park and toilets at the lighthouse.
St Just in Roseland: St Just in Roseland has a 13th century church and probably the most photographed and arguably the most beautiful in the country. The church was built on the site of a 5th century chapel.
Set above the tidal creek of the Pedcuil River, the churchyard has some extremely old graves slopes down steeply from the road, so steep in fact, that when looking at the church from the road you are looking down on the church tower. The path leading from the road to the church is lined with granite blocks carved with quotations and verses from the bible.
The church grounds have been planted to resemble a sub-tropical garden, of which many of the species are rare in England. These include, Fuchsias, Hydrangeas, Lilies and exotic shrubs. There are paths leading through the church with rhododendrons, camellias, bamboos, wild garlic and bluebells. There are also ponds with giant Gunnera and small streams.
Some of the paths converge onto the coastal footpath that leads through National Trust lands to St Mawes. The lovely walk is approximately 2 miles.
The Arcade: has 7 obtuse arches of granite supported on Monolith Pillars of the same material.
The Tower: is buttressed at the angles. It contains 3 bells, the oldest dating from 1684.
There is limited parking on the roadside at the entrance to the church.
If you continue on down this lane you will come to the creekside, there is additional limited parking here. The creek is also very popular with children who enjoy hunting amongst the seaweed and rocks for crabs. There is also a lovely view of the church from the creek, this alone is worth the visit.
Lamorran House Gardens:
Upper Castle Road
Tel. 01326 270800
Open from April – September every Wednesday and Friday from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
Admission is £5 p.p. children under 16 are free. Dogs are not permitted.
The gardens at Lamorran House, as now laid out, were started when Mr and Mrs Dudley-Cooke acquired the property in 1982. A large collection of Rhododendrons and evergreen azaleas were brought from their former garden and formed the basis for the early plantings. Situated on the Roseland Peninsula with extensive views of St Anthony's Head and the lighthouse, the gardens enjoy a favoured microclimate in an already favoured area, and frosts are very rare and not of any severity except in a very exceptional year. During the last 15 years, frost has only been recorded in the exceptionally cold January of 1987, (lasting for four consecutive nights the lowest temperature being -8°C) and again in 1997 a moderate frost of -3°C was recorded on one night only. More damaging to the large range of sub-tropical plants in the winter damp and, of course, because of the very close proximity of the sea (the garden is virtually bordered on three sides by the sea) the wind. The garden faces due south on a sloping hillside and use of extensive shelter belts of trees has greatly moderated the influence of the wind, although careful choice of planting sites has to be made. Growth in the garden is virtually twelve months a year and advantage has been taken of the benign climate to pant a very diverse range of plants from all over the world with considerable emphasis on Southern Hemisphere plants and sub-tropical vegetation. The garden was conceived and designed as a whole albeit that the garden was constructed in three separate stages. The intention was to create an intimate garden very much in the mould of Mediterranean gardens but with water ever-present both as a backdrop to the garden and with running water featured in the many pools and streams. Many features are included to divide the garden into intimate compartments - i giardini segreti - which the visitor can find and explore. Hence there are areas of woodland, a water garden in Japanese style as well as temples and archways in the steeper parts of the garden and a small bridge on which to lean to look out over the bay in the steeper parts of the garden and a small bridge on which to lean to look out over the bay exhibiting a distinctively Venetian influence. Inspiration has been drawn by Robert Dudley-Cooke, for the design of the garden from many quarters. Initially influenced by the Japanese style of gardening, the design for the garden has blended Japanese with and incorporated many features or ideas from the Mediterranean gardens, particularly those laid out and planted by the English around the turn of the century.
Veryan: The earliest settlers who left traces at Veryan were tribes from the bronze age. Close to Veryan is Carne Beacon, one of the largest burial mounds in Britain.
At present the population of Veryan is about 900. Although a very rural village and well off the beaten track it still only takes about 20 minutes drive to either Truro or St Austell. St Mawes is just a short drive.
The village has several shops, 2 pubs, 2 hotels and a few guest houses. About a third of the parish boundary is the sea, dominated by the imposing Nare Head and also includes the excellent beaches of Carne and Pendower.
The Veryan roundhouses are also a popular attraction - five unusual cob thatched houses built in 1820, all are lived in.
Trist House Gardens, Veryan - Trist House was the penultimate parish vicarage and was sold by the Church during the late 1980s. When the present owners took over in 1994 the gardens were overgrown and abandoned to nature. Set on a hillside and now, after a huge amount of work, surrounded by formal lawns and herbaceous beds around the old house, the five acres of garden spreads out into woodland, sloping down to a little lake and the great rockery, built in the 1840s of huge blocks of quartz-veined rock. There are two Italian terraces, a croquet lawn, a bluebell wood and a number of themed walks - a 150 foot rose pergola, a hydrangea walk, a magnolia and azalea walk and a small canal leading into a pond. From the daffodils and tulips in spring, through summer perennials to the hydrangeas in autumn, the Trist House gardens are always full of colour. The gardens are open Sundays and Tuesdays from 2 - 5.30pm (other days by arrangement), there are plants for sale and cream teas are served in the courtyard, shaded by a giant magnolia. 01872 501422 and www.tristhouse.co.uk
Nare Head: Just a short drive from St Mawes and mid way between the little fishing village of Portscatho and Portloe.
An outstanding area of natural beauty, a favourite with walkers although you never seem to see very many. Car park at the beginning of the headland
Also good for fishing off the rocks but the climb down is quite difficult and steep, and the climb back is even worse.
Portscatho: A picuresque little fishing village about 5 miles from St Mawes.
Many of the little fishermen's cottages are now holiday homes but there is still a small permanent population. The village has a small sandy beach and a harbour. If you fancy a mid day meal or drink there is a choice of pubs.
To the east of Portscatho is Porthcurnick Beach. An excellent 15 minute walk along the cliffs. At low tide there is literally acres of open sand.
Portloe: Portloe is considered by many to be the jewel in the crown of the Roseland peninsula and one of the prettiest villages in Cornwall. It's steep sided valleys has meant that it has managed to escape development over the years and many buildings differ little from when they were built. Sir John Betjeman said of Portloe "One of the least spoiled and most impressive of Cornish fishing villages".
It's name develops from the Cornish Porth Logh meaning "cove pool". The naturally sheltered position meant that the village grew in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as a busy pilchard fishing port. At the beginning of the twentieth century there were more than fifty boats fishing here - now only three boats work from the cove mainly for crab and lobster.
The village's beauty has made it a popular film location over the years. In 1935 Portloe was chosen to shoot "Forever England" starring John Mills, a war story with Portloe doubling for the Mediterranean! Disney chose Portloe to film scenes for their 1949 version of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic Treasure Island. 1991 saw Channel 4's "The Camomile Lawn" shot in the village and at nearby Broom Parc House. More recently it has been the base for the locally controversial TV series "Wild West" and the feature film "Irish Jam" with Portloe doubling for Ireland!
Heading west up the hill the Ship Inn dishes up fine food and ale in a relaxed atmosphere. In the centre opposite the church you can get a lovely cream tea and stock up on basic provisions and snacks at the tiny post office.
The accommodation in St Mawes is mostly close to the town centre and comprise of:
St Mawes guesthouses - Considering the popularity of St Mawes these are not numerous, there are a limited number in the town area but as the whole area around St Mawes consists of small resorts other guest houses are found throughout the region.
St Mawes self catering - this consists in the main of small cottages:
Cottages in St Mawes, these are quite numerous, many are basically second homes being let out when not in use by the owners. Unfortunately, like most popular places in Cornwall this tends to increase the cost of property putting it out of reach of the local population.
The hotels in St Mawes, of which there are only 3 are of excellent quality.
Many of the hotels in St Mawes like the guest houses are supplemented in surrounding other small resorts.
The St Mawes camp sites and caravan parks are all on the outskirts in the surrounding countryside. The size and geography of St Mawes does not lend itself to this type of accommodation.
For further information on St Mawes or any other area in Cornwall.
Full details can be obtained from the Cornwall Tourist Information office Tel. 0345 484950.
St Mawes is well off the beaten track, at the very end of the Roseland Peninsula, most visitors to the town arrive by private car. The road is mainly dual carriageway, but after Bodmin the road deteriorates into single carriageway.
By Coach - St Mawes centre is very narrow and not at all suitable for coaches
By Air - to Newquay airport - hire cars available
For for further information about St Mawes:
St Mawes Tourist Information centre is near the centre of the village.
For additional information for the whole of the country, the Cornwall Tourist Board will be able to assist.