A Car Free Day Out around St Austell SW04
Grid ref. B,C 3-6
St. Austell to Pentewan 5.5km (3 1/2mls)
O.S. ref SX 013 520 – 018 473
Managed by Cornwall Council 0300 1234100
Part of this trail is a section of route 3 of the Cornish Way…running the length of the county and itself part of a national network of cycle trails established by Sustrans.
Starting in St Austell town centre, follow the route 3 cycle way signs through town, south across the by-pass via Sawles Road to the trail alongside the Pentewan Road.
Although initially on or alongside public roads, much of the trail is on level, dedicated tracks beside the St. Austell (White) River* but is shared with walkers (with and without dogs) and horse riders. There are some short loops away from the river but each time, the way marked trail returns to the river bank. Look out for water birds such as herons, dippers and if you are really lucky, kingfishers.
Soon after passing the old stone bridge and Woodland Trust car park at Nansladron, the Cornish Way crosses the river on a modern purpose built bridge to Heligan Gardens, Mevagissey and beyond. If you are contemplating cycling this section, be prepared for some steep hills and loose surfacing!
The Pentewan Trail itself carries on along the river bank before changing direction left through broadleaf woodland. Soon after going through a water splash, (there is also a bridge over it) you pass some old ponds* visible through the trees to your right, before the trail ends at the Cycle Hire shop on the edge of Pentewan.
Access to the village, harbour and beach, is along the road to your left.
Part of the trail runs along the bed of a 19th Century narrow gauge railway. Starting as a horse drawn tramway in the 1820s, later converted to steam traction, it used to carry China clay from St. Austell down to the harbour at Pentewan, before closing in 1919.
The river’s commonly used name harks back to the days when China clay waste from nearby workings was routinely drained into it, turning it milky white.
When the harbour was operating, it had to be regularly flushed to clear out silt and sand by opening sluice gates in the ponds…of which there were three in line. The ponds became redundant when the harbour finally closed in the 1940s and the one nearest the village has dried out completely.