logo Walking Britain

Cornwall AONB Walk
Gribbin Head & Polkerris from Polruan

Region - Cornwall AONB

County/Area - Cornwall

Author - Paul Deane

Length - 8.5 miles / 13.8 km

Ascent - 2050 feet / 621 metres

Time - 6 hours 20 minutes

Grade - moderate

Start - OS grid reference SX131507
Lat 50.32652 // Long -4.627162
Postcode PL23 1QL (approx. location only)

Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Gribbin Head & Polkerris from Polruan Photo from the walk - Gribbin Head & Polkerris from Polruan Photo from the walk - Gribbin Head & Polkerris from Polruan
Click thumbnails for larger images.

Fowey has to be one of the most beautiful towns in Engalnd. It sits on the West bank of the River Fowey overlooking the natural harbour formed by the river and the Polruan Headland. Nowadays the harbour is mainly used by pleasure craft although large commercial ships still travel upriver to load cargoes of china clay. The local countryside is typical of south Cornwall. The hills are not as high as the north of the county and the coastline is less rugged.

We started our Cornwall walk from the Polruan side of the estuary because we thought that it would be fun to begin our walk with a ferry crossing. It is, however more practical, if less interesting, to start in Fowey. The walk begins at the car park in Polruan (Grid ref. SX131 507) Turn left out of the car park and follow Fore Street all the way down the steep bank to the bottom. When the road levels out you will see the ferry quay in front of you.

After a brief crossing the ferry will deposit you at the quay on the West bank (Grid ref. SX123514). Walk up the quay, past the ferry's shelter, then turn right up the bank. When you reach the road turn left and head south west along Esplanade and on to Tower Park. Where the road forks bear left along Readymoney Road and walk downhill to the wonderfully named Readymoney Cove (derived, mundanely enough, from the Cornish Redeman meaning pebbly). At the bottom you will find a coast path fingerpost that directs you south east through the woods the out on to Allday's Fields.

Follow the coast path as it trends south west to Southground Point and then round the corner into Polridmouth. It's quite a surprise to leave the trees and the coastal farmland to enter private grounds with manicured lawns and lakes that are situated at the head of the inlet. From Polridmouth follow the coast path SSW up a steep, grassy bank to the Gribbin Tower (Grid ref. SX098497). The tower was built in 1832 as a daylight navigation aid for shipping. Prior to this Gribbin Head had been frequently mistaken for St Anthony's Head near the port of Falmouth - a dangerous mistake on such an unforgiving coastline. From the tower the path heads west north west, skirting a wood and entering heathland and farmland before turning north all the way to Polkerris. This section is typical of the SWCP; the clearly defined path cuts through dense 4ft bracken and blackthorn, right next to the sea. Perfect.

Near Polkerris the path ascends and to you left you'll see a steep wooded area with the coast path zig-zagging down it. We followed the path downwards for a break at the Rashleigh Inn on the sea front at Polkerris. However, the walk route heads east, along the track, to the road. Turn right at the road and follow it for about 100m until you see a fingerpost indicating the Saints' Way.

Walk Northeast down the track to the farm and follow the farmer's (very clear!) directions to leave his land over the footbridge. From here the route heads East over gently undulating farmland until it reaches the woods (Grid ref. SX107518). The wood closes in on the path as it slopes downwards to a bridge that carries a stream overhead. From here it's a short walk south east to the road. Turn right on to the road and walk southwards past the Lankelly-Fowey RFC, before turning left in to Rashleigh Lane. 300 metres along Rashleigh Lane turn right in to Love Lane, following Saints' Way signposts. The track enters a wood and slopes downward, becoming rocky and slippery, before emerging at Readymoney Cove. From here it's a simple matter of retracing your steps back to your starting point.

Please maintain social distancing - keep at least 2 metres away from other walkers.

Maps Ordnance Survey Logo Anquet Maps Logo

Ordnance Survey Explorer 107Sheet Map1:25kBUY
Anquet OS Explorer 107Digital Map1:25kBUY
Ordnance Survey Landranger 204Sheet Map1:50kBUY
Anquet OS Landranger 204Digital Map1:50kBUY

It is recommended you take a map. The preferred scale is 1:25k.

GPS files - right click or option-click the button and choose "Save As..." to download this file.


Recommended Books & eBooks

Walking in Cornwall

Walking in CornwallThis guidebook includes routes to 40 day walks in Cornwall. From short, easy strolls to longer, wilder routes, there is plenty to appeal to both families and experienced walkers. The walks explore the interior and coasts, including walks through picturesque villages, old tin-mining areas and the Lizard and Land's End Peninsulas.
More information

The National Trails

The National TrailsThis inspirational guidebook looks at each of the UK's 19 National Trails, with information that allows ease of comparison and contrast, inspiring you to find out more and to take up a long-distance challenge. Some Trails are short and easy, others much longer, many have strong themes - they may follow a coastline, or traverse ranges of hills.
More information

Social Media

Follow Walking Britain for the latest news.

Facebook Twitter

Walking - Covid 19 update

Regular updates on how Covid 19 will impact on walking in the UK More info.

Mountain Weather

Stay safe on the mountains with detailed weather forecasts - for iOS devices or for Android devices.

Digital Mapping Guide

Digital Mapping Guide - a simple guide of how to start using digital mapping. Includes advice and useful links.