St Austell and St Austell Bay are prime Cornwall family holiday territory, with a selection of gentle sandy family beaches, easy access to the Eden Project, the Lost Gardens of Heligan and a choice of attractions including the Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum. There's lots to do around St Austell Bay, including visits to numerous Cornwall Gardens in the area, a sprinkling of golf courses, a castle, a Shipwreck museum and a choice of picture postcard fishing villages. St Austell's heritage is certainly industrial, as the key centre for china clay in the region, and crucial as a replacing industry to the declining tin mines.
By the end of the 1990s however, china clay was in full-scale decline, and today St Austell is the territory of Cornish Riviera Family Holidays, and currently receiving a multi-million pound makeover due in no small way to it's rescued status by the Eden Project. St Austell, like many Cornish resorts, is currently re-invigorating and re-inventing itself. St Austell Tourist Information Centre, Southbourne Road, St Austell, Cornwall, PL25 4RS. Tel: Local Rate 0845 094 0428, or 44 (0) 1726 879 500.
With a choice of family holiday parks around St Austell, plus a choice of family attractions such as the China Clay Country Park and the Pentewan Valley Cycle Trail, all boosted by a choice of superb sandy bay beaches - you've all you'll need for a great Cornwall family holiday. And of courses there's the milder Cornish Riviera climate round these parts. Sandy Cornish Riviera and St Austell Bay beaches abound, ranging from big bay beaches to small sandy coves. No rip roaring Atlantic waves here, just a gentle English Channel offering a choice of rock pools, and relaxing family holiday beaches - superb! No wonder families flock to this part of the Cornish coast for their holidays. You're conveniently placed in St Austell for more choice of beaches in Fowey Bay (see Fowey), but in St Austell Bay choose from Par Sands Beach. Par Sands Beach is popular, with a large flat sandy beach well equipped with facilities with a pub, cafe and sports facilities adjacent. Par Sands is dog friendly as well.
Smaller Polkerris Beach further down is also well worth a visit, with car park and pub to the rear. Crinnis Beach, which is also known as Carlyon Bay, is very popular with families. Carlyon Bay is a large, sandy, private beach with superb facilities which include a car park (charges by the day) and a host of water sports on offer! For naturists, situated at the very far end of Crinnis Beach is Shorthorn Cove which is an Official Naturist Beach. St Austell town benefits from it's very own adjacent Porthpean Beach. Ideal for families with all the facilities of St Austell town just on your doorstep, Portpean is a small, sandy beach, popular with swimmers and for water sports. A car park is situated close by, and no dogs are allowed on Porthpean Beach.
Moving down the west side of St Austell Bay, Pentewan Beach is another popular Cornwall family beach. It's a wide, sandy beach with plenty of space. Both swimmers and water sports fanatics head for Pentewan Beach. Ample facilities are adjacent, including a pub, cafe, tea rooms and plenty of beach type shops nearby. Moving down towards Mevagissey there's a superb choice of beaches. Portmellon beach is right next to Mevagissey, and is a cosy and fairly sandy beach, ideal for swimming, plus it benefits from a small slipway for boat launching. Dogs are welcome on Portmellon beach, the main beach associated with Mevagissey.
Further down is another family favourite, Gorran Haven beach. This beach is a small sandy cove with a lot of character. Plenty of facilities here, including a car park, shops and a cafe situated in the nearby village. Other choice beaches are nearby towards the Veryan Bay area and Caerhays Castle. Porthluney Cove beach (Caerhays) is a nice sandy beach welcoming dogs, with car park (daily charges apply) and a cafe situated to the rear of the beach. Nearby Carne and Pendower beaches further west are also great picturesque sandy beaches owned by National Trust. Car parks, toilets and cafes are available at both. No dogs though on either.
The China Clay Museum, China Clay Mining Heritage and Country Park is proving to be a similar success story to the Eden Project. It's a popular attraction, and you can see why. It's got the balance right between exploring the china clay heritage of St Austell and surrounds, combined with offering superb outdoor activities with the 26 acres of woodland in the Ruddle Valley. Numerous China Clay trails also branch out around the region! On the China Clay heritage front the park offers much, including interactive exhibitions on the men, women and children working and involved in the industry as well as a huge working water wheel. Other exhibits include a recreation of a Victorian China Clay mine, plus plenty of artefacts big and small such as locomotives and china clay mining equipment.
On the leisure front at the park, what choice. With such superb woodland surrounds acres of nature trails and woodland walks to view the many birds, wild flowers and wildlife are open to visitors. Other perks include a children's woodland play area, and a selection of educational activities such as kids activity sheets, guided tours, and kids activity days. A licensed cafe, gift shop and viewing platform over the working china clay pit are also provided.
Particular highlights include the Children's Adventure trails, crammed with romping assault course style adventures - perfect for burning off that steam! Alternatively choose the historical trails to explore the china clay heritage viewing water wheels, slurry pumps, and kilns. The Nature Trails are marvellous too, with plenty of spots for outdoor picnics!! Check out the China Clay Park Website for more details. A great fun family day out - guaranteed!
Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum & Country Park, Carthew, St Austell. Tel: 01726 850362. Entrance prices are excellent value.
A network of Cornish china clay trails for walking, cycling and horse riding have and are being continually developed in and around St Austell. Great news for outdoor enthusiasts with an interest in exploring the heritage of china clay in the area. The trails are good solid gravel trails, excellent news for visitors with disabilities as the trails are suitable for electric mobility scooters!
For full details on all the trails, and new ones on the way check the China Clay Trails website. One of the most popular is the St Austell link to the Wheal Martin Trail. Commonly known as the 'Green Corridor', it's 1 3/4 miles long, and this trail is suitable for cyclists, walks and horse riders. The St Austell Link trail means visitors can walk directly from the centre of St Austell from Tremena Gardens upto the Wheal Martin China Clay Park - fantastic and highly recommended!
For a more wild, longer and stunning trail park up at Wheel Martyn and take the 5 mile Wheel Martyn to Eden trail! This one really takes you close to some china clay mines, and crosses beautiful woodland and heathland. Alternatively head up the A391 to the old mining town of Bugle, hire a bike and hit the trail from Bugle to the Eden Project (4 miles). Car parking is available on Rosevear Road, the starting point of the Bugle to Eden Trail.
A walking path only, or cycling on minor roads will take you from Eden to St Blazey where you can then hook into the 3 mile St Blazey to Par Beach trail! A fascinating journey this trail is, into the heritage of china clay, and some of the finest in the worlds still produced around St Austell. The trail takes you through countryside close to Tywardreath, associated with Daphne du Maurier's novel, "The House on the Strand", then on towards Par Docks with it's tall china clay drying chimneys, and then on to Par Beach.
The Charlestown Shipwreck Museum situated right on the waterfront at Georgian joy Charlestown is a superb museum indeed. A must visit if you're in the area, this museum isn't just crammed with exhibits and artefacts from shipwrecks in the area, it also has fascinating display on diving equipment, the history of gas!, sea rescue, china clay mining heritage and an exhibition on Admiral Lord Nelson. It's a mix then of maritime history in the area, with a few surprise exhibitions thrown in.
From the 150 shipwreck artefacts included here in this Charlestown museum, included are some gems from the HMS Colossus which was one of Nelson's ships wrecked off the Isles of Scilly in 1798. Included in the collection from this ship are antique Greek vases, cannons and coins.
The museum takes a particular birds eye look at the history of Georgian port Charleston, and the china clay industry in the area. Once know as West Polmear, and just a small fishing village about 200 years ago, the discovery and subsequent boom of the china clay industry meant it needed a port, and Charlestown was it. For the history of Charlestown's Regency harbour, developed in the late 18th century, head for this museum. Today Charlestown pulls in the tourist visitors, and indeed the film crews. Fowey and Par have taken over what remains of the china clay industry. Historic ships now sit in Charlestown harbour Check with Square Sail Shipyard for guided tours!
The Shipwreck and Heritage Centre, Charlestown, St. Austell, Cornwall, PL25 3NJ. Tel: 01726 69897. Children under 10 enter free! A shop and very pleasant restaurant are also on-site.
St Austell Brewery is conveniently situated not far from the Eden Project (you'll pass it if you're on your way to the Eden Project). If you're into real ale, and Cornwall is renowned for it's fine real ales, then the St Austell Visitor Centre, Victorian Brewery tour, and on-site shop with St Austell brewery brand products on sale for excellent prices is a must visit!
Hicks Bar is also on-site so you've plenty of opportunity to take a tipple! The working Victorian Brewery is a fascinating tour! CAMRA members get 25% discount on visits! Large groups intending to visit St Austell Brewery are advised to book!
The brewery is open 7 days a week, expect Christmas day, Boxing day and New Years day. It's a great opportunity to sample a variety of not just Cornish real ale, but also wines and spirits!
St. Austell Brewery, 63 Trevarthian Road, St. Austell, Cornwall PL25 4BY. Tel: 01726 74444. Visitor Centre Tel: 01726 66022.
Carlyn Bay Hotel Golf Course, Carlyon Bay, Nr St.Austell, Cornwall. PL25 3RD. Tel: 01726 814250. An 18 Hole, Par 72 golf course. This course is situated on the cliff top, and combines spectacular coastal views with inland countryside views - the course moves inland and actually incorporates natural hazards like a disused mine shaft giving this Cornish Riviera golf course a real edge on the character side.
St Austell Golf Club, Tregongeeves, St Austell, Cornwall PL26 7DS. Tel: 01726 74756. St Austell Golf Club's course is an 18 Hole, Par 69 course requiring a handicap. It's a parkland countryside course, with excellent club house facilities including bar, restaurant services and a driving range.
Porthpean Golf Club, Porthpean, St Austell, Cornwall PL26 6AY. Tel: 01726 64613. An 18 hole, Par 67 golf course just down the coast from St Austell with superb views across St Austell Bay. A good choice for beginners, as there's no handicap requirement here at Porthpean Golf Club and all are welcome. On-site is a licensed club house, and bonus there's a floodlit driving range and discounts for junior golfers. A great Cornish Riviera family golf course!