St Erth

St Erth Church, near Hayle
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St Erth Church, near Hayle

St Erth is a tranquil village, with a post office, shop and tea-room, and The Star Inn at its centre. There is a pretty church near the bridge over the River Hayle.

St Erth bridge near Hayle
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St Erth bridge near Hayle which was once the main crossing for the river

The village is named after St Erc one of many Irish saints who brought Christianity to Cornwall. Before the Hayle Causeway was built in 1825, the 600 year old stone bridge in the centre of the village was the main crossing point of the River Hayle to West Cornwall. For walkers there is a scenic riverside walk that stretches from the bird sanctuary at Hayle Causeway upstream as far as Relubbus.

St Erth was once a busy copper mining and tin smelting area with a large work force. Hayle River provided water energy to drive large and noisy mechanical hammers called ‘stamps’ that would pulverise the ore rock so that the valuable minerals could be washed out. Very different from the peace and tranquility of the valley today!

St Erth Church, near Hayle
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St Erth Church, near Hayle

The small Parish Church is predominantly 15th Century though the tower is older and a 10th Century cross in the churchyard shows that it has been a holy place for much longer. It was here that Richard Trevithick married John Harvey’s daughter Jane, and there are several gravestones belonging to the Harvey family in the churchyard.
The Methodist chapel in the village was built in 1797 to cater for the growing tide of Methodism. There is a farmers’ market here on Saturday mornings.

Beside the post office in the centre of the village look out for an early stone cross with an unusual rectangular head.

St Erth Pits Geological Nature Reserve sign
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St Erth Pits Geological Nature Reserve sign

[[Image:Hayle_StErth_Pits.jpg|thumb|right|200px|alt=St Erth Pits Information sign|St Erth Pits Information sign at the Star Inn]]
A sign outside the Star Inn indicates a circular walk that can be taken around
St Erth Pits; a Geological Nature Reserve owned and managed by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. This old sandpit, formerly known as Harvey’s Pit is of national geological importance – the rich diversity of fossils include both animal and plant remains.

The clay from the pits has been used for pottery (Bernard Leach, the famous St. Ives potter used St Erth Clay) and as the ‘lining’ for Penzance harbour. Sand, also found here, was used at Harvey’s Hayle Foundry for casting metal components.

This protected site with its semi-mature woodland is now a haven for wildlife. To reach the pits – from Fore Street going uphill turn left into Vicarage Gate. Keep to the left side and walk to the end of the houses where a grassy path continues alongside the playing fields. Follow this grassy path a short distance as it bears round to the right. The entrance to St Erth Pits is a little way along this narrower path between the trees on your right. Look for the hand gate and steps.

St Erth Railway Station, a short distance from the village centre lies on the main Penzance to Paddington line. From here runs the St Ives Bay line, a scenic route that follows the coast to the lovely resort of St Ives, a trip well worth taking.

For more information on St Erth and its surrounding area please visit st-erth.co.uk