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St Agnes is a small pleasant town with its own sandy beach. It gets very busy in the summer months, a long way off its historic mining heritage. Although not commercialized to a great degree, it does have some very nice little shops, a few cafes/restaurants and pubs. The city of Truro is not far away for any serious shopping that needs to be done. What most visitors to St. Agnes are impressed by is the St Agnes Beacon, now owned by the National Trust. The beacon rises 629 feet above sea level creating some very impressive cliffs.
TREVAUNANCE TRAIL The Trevaunance Trail follows the rise and-fall of the Manor of Trevaunance and the Tonkin family. From ancient times the Tonkin family monopolised the mining wealth of the area and when they saw that greater wealth could be achieved by opening up trade from Ireland and Wales they set about trying to construct a harbour at Trevaunance Cove. After three attempts a harbour was built in 1710 but the process had been costly over £6,000 had been spent on the harbour 'experiments' and the family were in debt. The estate was relinquished in 1719 and the un-maintained harbour was swept away into the sea in 1730. Sixty years later, a copper mining boom added new impetus to the quest for a harbour. The newly formed St. Agnes Harbour co. constructed the last of the St. Agnes harbours in 1798. The harbour enabled the development of pilchard fishery and general seaborne trade. The harbour stood for 118 years but again due to the lack of maintenance it was washed away in the storms of 1915/16. Walks from 30 minutes to two hours are possible based in and around Trevaunance Cove. A leaflet highlighting these walks and points of interest on the way is available at many outlets in the area.
ST. AGNES WALKS The cliff walks of the St Agnes area offer a wonderful route of discovery through mine ruins, valleys and woodland and along beaches. Whether you prefer a challenging walk or just a gentle stroll, there's an unspoiled landscape waiting for you to explore. From St Agnes, the Coast Path heads west toward Porthtowan or east toward Perranporth. A particularly popular local walk through the Jerichco Valley runs inland from Trevellas Porth. Parking in Trevellas Coombe is limited although a new parking area at Wheal Kitty provides an alternative to the steep, descent into Trevellas Coombe. From the car park a circular walk following the stream up to the footbridge will then allow the walker to ascend out of the valley to the B3285, turning right along the grass verge and immediately right again into a farm lane known as Football Lane back to the car park.
Trevaunance Cove to Porthtowan - Approx. 2hrs Beginning at Trevaunance Cove (Grid Ref. SW 721516), where there are refreshments and ample parking, walk out past Trevaunance Point and onto the cliff tops. It is approximately 45 minutes to St Agnes Head, (Grid Ref. SW 698515) where there is also plenty of parking. Continue west past Wheal Coates engine house - with beautiful views of the Beacon, Chapel Porth and the coastline to St Ives, an outstanding photo opportunity. If you're feeling tired by the time you reach Chapel Porth (Grid Ref. SW697495), there is a superb Beach Café offering a mouth-watering range of refreshments to get you fully energized and back on your way up the cliffs towards Porthtowan (Grid Ref. SW 693479), 30 minutes away.
At Porthtowan there are a number of shops and plenty of parking. If you're still not tired, you can continue along the cliffs to the far side of Porthtowan toward Portreath, if you don't mind the walk back! The Ordnance Survey 'Explorer 104' Redruth & St Agnes is an ideal companion for the area. The walks offer the opportunity to observe a range of wildlife and an array beautiful flowers and heathers, and if you're lucky, some passing dolphins or seals.
The St Agnes Beacon offers panoramic views of the village and, on a clear day, the coastline from St Ives to Trevose Head near Padstow and inland to the china clay district near St Austell. Paths radiate out from the Beacon in every direction. Make your own choice or take the path that leads past the Coast Guard Lookout to St Agnes Head and along the cliffs, or across the meadows and back to the village through Goonvrea.
The Beacon Walks - Approx 1 Hr - Park either in the village car park and walk through Higher Bal to the Beacon, or in the lay-by before the turning to St Agnes Head (Grid Ref. SW 698515) where there is limited parking. The walk begins with a steady climb to the top of the Beacon (Grid Ref. SW 710502). For those who prefer to amble at an easy pace, there is a seat approximately half way up. From the top there are 360-degree panoramic views of mid Cornwall and beyond as well as coastal vistas from St Ives to Trevose Head near Padstow. Historically, fires were lit on the Beacon in times of danger to warn villagers of impending attack. The Beacon was part of the chain of warning fires that carried the news of the approaching Armada in the sixteenth century. Descending the Beacon, you can take the main path, toward either Goonvrea or back toward the village. For the more adventurous, walk toward St Agnes Head and back along the cliffs.
Blue Hills Situated in Trevellas Coombe, it is clear to see from the tin residue in the cliffs how Blue Hills was named. As with many of the walks around St Agnes, there are routes over the cliffs as well as inland. Parking for Blue Hills is close by at Trevellas Porth. Whilst at Blue Hills, take the opportunity to visit the working tin streaming centre, the last remaining in Cornwall. Blue Hills/Trevellas - Approx 1Hr
From Trevaunance Cove (Grid Ref. SW 721516), where there are refreshments and ample parking, start by walking east up the cliffs overlooking Trevaunance Cove. Over the cliff, the path winds down into Trevellas Coombe. From here one path leads down to Trevellas Porth beach (Grid Ref. SW 726519) and continues in the opposite direction through Jericho Valley, whilst another will take you onto the cliffs toward Perranporth and along the edge of the airfield.
St Agnes Beacon: The visitor to St. Agnes can not fail to be impressed by St. Agnes Beacon, owned by the National Trust. St. Agnes derives its old Cornish name, Bryanick (pointed or prominent hill) from this dominant landmark. It's 629 feet appear all the greater because of it's isolation in the landscape. The view from the top of the Beacon offers a truly panoramic view of the cliffs from St. Ives in the south to Padstow in the North.
Bolster & Chapel Porth: A greater earthen bulwark believed to date from the Dark Ages. It originally ran from Chapel Porth to Trevaunance Cove. Legend has it that Bolster was a giant who fell in love with a young maiden called Agnes. As proof of his love Agnes demanded that the giant fill a small hole at the edge of the cliff with his blood. Being such a small hole the giant willingly did so. However, unbeknownst to him, the hole was bottomless and opened into a sea cave. Bolster continued to fill the cave until he was so weak that he fell into the sea and was no more (the blood stained cave may be found at Chapel Porth).
St Agnes Parish Museum: The St. Agnes Parish Museum offers an opportunity to study in more detail the landscape and the history of St. Agnes. The Museum is run entirely by volunteers and is a registered charity established to promote the heritage of St. Agnes. The mining and seafaring history of St. Agnes are vividly explained in displays and on film. The natural history display includes a 700lb leatherback turtle. Free parking is available in the main car park in the centre of St. Agnes village.
Wheal Coates: One of the best known and most picturesque groups of clifftop mine buildings in Cornwall, offering superb coastal views. The buildings are owned by the National Trust.
Presingoll Barns: The Cornish Craft experience. Situated on the B3277, Presingoll Barns is a unique complex surrounded by beautiful countryside. Visitors have the chance to see pottery, candle carving and fudge making and also for a small charge can try their hands at the potters wheel or at plate and pot decoration. New for 1995 visitors can dip their own candles. The Bakehouse offers light lunches and cream teas-or why not bring your own picnic. Entrance to Pressingoll Barns is free. For further details telephone (01872) 553007. To book pot throwing telephone (01872) 553170.
St Agnes is renowned for it's four stunning beaches which offer a range of water sports including surfing, boating, diving, fishing/angling and hang gliding. With it's cliffs lined with historic mine ruins, plus it's many rock pools, the St Agnes stretch of the North Cornwall coast has an appeal to young and old alike offering a superb beach holiday, or a historic journey into Cornwall's mining history with some superb coastal walking thrown in! St Agnes has come a long way from it's original small fishing village roots, although it retains it's quiet historic charm. The four beaches include Chapel Porth, Trevellas Porth, Porthtowan and Trevaunance Cove, commonly known as Aggie Beach. Each has it's own individual character with top surfing at Chapel Porth and Porthtowan Beach, rock pools and caves at Trevaunance Cove which is popular with families, and snorkelling and fishing at Trevellas Porth.
Chapel Porth beach: Looks small at high tide, but low tide reveals a vast expanse of idyllic sandy beach and good surfing conditions with all the usual surfing lessons available. Amenities are good, with a large National Trust car park adjacent to the beach, plus a beach cafe which has great views over Chapel Porth, lifeguard services, toilets. The beach itself is about 2 miles from St Agnes centre.
Porthtowan Beach: Further along the St Agnes coastline is another top surfing beach, Porthtowan, which is also well equipped with the popular Blue Bar right on the beach, plus a number of shops. Parking, toilets and a full lifeguard service in peak season are all available here at Porthtowan combined with it's beautiful setting of backed on sand dunes, and picture postcard white sands.
Visitors should note that neither Porthtowan or Chapel Porth beaches are dog friendly. No dogs on either of these beaches, if your pet is accompanying you head for either Trevaunance Cove or Trevellas Porth Beaches, both of which are dog friendly Cornwall beaches!
Trevaunance Cove Beach: Beach families visiting the St Agnes area for weekend breaks and holidays tend to head for gentle Trevaunance Cove with it's many rock pools and caves. There's some superb cliff walks easily accessible from Trevaunance Cove too, plus an adjacent car park and toilets. A full lifeguard service operates here during peak season, plus there's some reasonable surfing to be had at times, but a lot calmer than Porthtowan and Chapel Porth, ideal for beginners! Exploring the caves and checking out the many rock pools on Trevaunance will keep the kids occupied for hours! Trevaunance Cove is also the site of the old St Agnes harbour, which proved a difficult exercise on these steep cliffs. Not much remains of the old harbour, which for a period from the late 18th Century was a key site for copper and tin export was once a bustling industrial scene. It's well worth making a visit to the excellent social history museum in St Agnes which has photos and diagrams of the old harbour.
Trevellas Porth Beach: Is really for those interested in fishing, or activities such as snorkelling. It isn't recommended for swimming as the currents are unpredictable here, and there are no lifeguards present on this beach. It is good for walking with your dog though when the tides out. Both Trevellas Porth Beach and Trevaunance Cove Beach are dog friendly Cornwall beaches!
Schooners Restaurant, Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes, TR5 0RY. Tel: 01872 553149. Situated right on the edge of family favourite St Agnes Beach, Trevaunance Cove, Schooners is popular with visitors and locals alike. Great food in an informal, friendly atmosphere.
Mining: St Agnes has an extremely rich mining history due to the high quality tin found in the area. The mining trail begins at the famous Wheal Coates tin mine on the cliffs near Chapel Porth, continuing along the Coast Path to the old workings at Polberro and Wheal Kitty and finishing at Blue Hills at Trevellas, the last remaining tin production centre in the UK.
Wheal Coates Tin Mine: The mine itself at Wheal Coates goes all the way down to the sea and at high tide you can hear the waves crashing against the rocks through a grate on the floor of the ruin. This mine shaft is accessible through a large cave at the far end of Chapel Porth beach at low tide. Legend has it that Wheal Coates is haunted by the ghosts of the minors that have tragically died there...
The unique high quality tin of St Agnes was formed by action between the granite and the complex rock around the area's cliffs. As the mines around the coastline grew ever deeper, it became necessary to develop new technology to deliver fresh air to the miners and to remove water and ore from the lower levels. Horses, water powered pumps, adits and levers were introduced, as was gunpowder, which was an important breakthrough for the mining industry.
The mining that occurred in and around St Agnes shaped the landscape, economy and society of the village. This is still evident today in the ruins of the mines themselves, the harbour where ore was shipped and coal received, as well as in the magnificent houses of the mine owners.
St Agnes Attractions: Although St Agnes is a beautiful area, what draws people in such large numbers. Accessibility is quite straight forward by car, follow the A30 all the way to the roundabout at Blackwater and turn off onto the B3277. It is virtually all dual carriageway up to this point, it is then only a short drive into St Agnes. The town is very pleasant with a laid back attitude. It does not have the night life of such resorts as St Ives and certainly not the hectic night life of Newquay. What it does have is quiet little pubs and restaurants with lovely views and walks overlooking the sea.
Just a few attractions close to St Agnes: Presingoll Barns is Cornwall's first factory outlet. There are lots of different shops on site, fudge kitchens, where you can watch fudge being made, and purchase lots of different flavoured and coloured fudge, biscuits and sweets.
There's a Glass painting shop with an assortment of Mugs and Glassware, which you can purchase. You can watch as masterpieces are being created, in the back of the shop.
The Candle Shop (which was the incentive for this visit), this is where you can watch a plain candle turn into a beautifully carved coloured candle. We love burning scented tea lights, and Presingoll barns have an unbelievable range of them, with really powerful scents, they smell wonderful.
Presingoll barns, has free parking for a 100 cars. They have a Pottery shop where you can purchase hand made pottery made locally at Liskeard. A gift by design shop, with cups, silk flowers, novelty gifts, collectable dolls, nautical and fishy gifts and Teddies Galore. You can have a bite to eat in the Rafters Bakehouse while you are there because they have their very own restaurant, where you can buy freshly prepared food, cakes which are baked daily, home-made dishes, which are all sensible priced. Last but not least there is a Clearance Cabin, with discounted stocks, end of line and seconds all at half price or less.
St Agnes Pottery: St Agnes is on the north coast of Cornwall, about twenty miles up from St Ives (or ten miles as the seagull flies). It is the source of St Agnes clay, long used for body on its own or mixed with other clays. The Pottery is run by John Vasey who was born in 1941 in Salford Lancashire. John had no formal training in ceramics, learning the skills by working in various commercial potteries around the country. In the early 1970s he settled in Cornwall and set up his own pottery in Fowey on the south coast where eastbound users of the coast road, the A3082, have to take the ferry to Bodinnick and all points beyond. He then took over Grigg's Forge at Lelant, which had previously been a blacksmith's shop, and converted it to a pottery. John bought the existing pottery at St Agnes, which was then called Wayside Pottery, when its owners decided to emigrate. It is said that Wayside Pottery was the birthplace of Arthur Homer's Reverberating Furnace - a patent design of gas or oil kiln, but this may be apocryphal. He worked for some time from the original premises, which now belong to the National Trust, and then moved to Vicarage Road, the main street of St Agnes, where he can still be found. Most of his work is sold from the pottery shop, but his work can also be bought at the Craft Centre at Trelowarren near Helston.
The accommodation in Agnes is quite spread out as the town itself is quite small. In and around the town there are: St Agnes guesthouses. These are often quite large houses converted into guesthouses. St Agnes self catering. These are split into two categories: St Agnes apartments & Cottages in St Agnes. 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 Agnes are not numerous considering the town's popularity but they tend to be of excellent quality. St Agnes camp sites and caravan parks. Are all on the outskirts in the surrounding countryside.
St Agnes is basically a place for families and visitors touring around. It does not have the lively night life of Newquay or the more tranquil night life of St Ives. It has friendly little pubs, some good restaurants and magnificent scenery.
Further information on St Agnes can be obtained from the Cornwall Tourist Information office Tel. 0345 484950.
Most visitors to the town arrive by private car. The road is mainly dual carriageway until the latter stages. As a guide, Exeter is approximately 2 hours and Bristol about 3 hours. By Coach. By Air - to Newquay airport - hire cars available.
For for further information about St Agnes: St Agnes Tourist Information centre is near the centre of the town.
For additional information for the whole of the country, the Cornwall Tourist Board will be able to assist