The Clay Trails

The Clay Trails

St. Austell TIC, Southbourne Road, PL25 4RS,
Tel: (01726) 879500


Don't just trail about

Leave the traffic behind. Discover Bugle, Wheal Martyn, Par and the Eden Project as you cycle or walk through Clay Country in mid Cornwall.

Whether you cycle, walk or horse ride, these tranquil, mostly traffic-free Trails, three to five miles long are perfect for you and your family. Explore Cornwall's Clay Country on the Bugle, Wheal Martyn and the Par Beach Trails. The Wheal Martyn and the Bugle Trails both lead to the Eden Project too.

You'll discover the stunning colours of mica dams, peaceful lakes, clay tip peaks reaching to the sky and how the china clay industry has shaped the landscape seen today. You can take the Trails at your own pace, and because they are surfaced they are accessible all year round.

The Trails connect with local towns, bus stops, railway stations and with National Route Three of the National Cycle Network, part of the Cornish Way linking Bodmin and St. Austell.

Surrounding the Cornish town of St. Austell and its neighbouring villages is a landscape well known for its clay tips and pits, created by the 250 year old china clay industry. This striking and dramatic scenery, visible from distances of many miles, has been made more accessible by the development of trails for walking, cycling and horse riding.

Cornwall's miles of scenic clay trails were first opened in March 2005 and new trails have continued to be made available, enabling visitors to enjoy this unique area of Cornwall. Be among the first to discover these quiet pathways and enjoy the beauty and sense of peace they offer.

The surface of the trails are mainly gravel, easy for walking and cycling and most are suitable for horse riding. Trails and pathways can also be used by electric 'mobility' scooters, making beautiful areas of Cornwall previously inaccessible, available to a wider group of outdoor enthusiasts. If you are using a mobility scooter you will need to have someone with you in some areas, as there are a few heavy gates to open on parts of the trails.

Waymarked Paths and Trails

The St. Austell to Wheal Martyn Trail - 2 miles

This trail, known as the Green Corridor, is an easy walk - a gentle slope which would cause no problems for most people. This is the new link which connects the Wheal Martyn trails with the centre of St. Austell and was officially opened at the end of March 2006. It's an excellent route for people of all ages to enjoy, giving the opportunity to cycle, walk or horse ride to and from the China Clay Country Park. The start/end of this trail is in Tremena Gardens, St. Austell. The pathway starting from St. Austell, looks over the railway viaduct with views of the clay hills on the skyline. Turning to run parallel with the Bodmin road, the path winds through a wooded hillside. Along the way you discover old abandoned clay driers, grown over with foliage, tall brick chimneys towering upwards. The path links up with the William Cookworthy Bridge.

Wheal Martyn to Eden Trail - 5 miles

This trail is a little harder walking - the slopes are as easy as they could be made but some are still quite steep. Wheelchair users may struggle in places. You can start your exploration from Wheal Martyn on the Bodmin road leading out of St. Austell. Look for the China Clay Country Park by the village of Carthew. This trail leads you into some unique clay country, the white gravel path cutting through areas of rocky ground, grass and heather. The trail crosses woodland, heathland and reaches close to working mines and clay pits which have formed luminous green pools. Shelters are being built using cob. Extraordinary vistas stretch before you which ever way you turn. This is a wild and beautiful trail, covering some of the clearest views of the working clay mines. As you progress from Wheal Martyn you may notice ancient chimneys partially hidden by the undergrowth, reminders of the clay driers of the 19th century. Further on you can see today's working mines where powerful hoses are used to wash out the clay from the pit. After passing through the hamlet of Trethurgy the trail ends at the plum car park of The Eden Project.

Bugle to Eden Trail - 4 miles

The Bugle to Eden trail is quite easy walking, with one moderate slope on the road section after Bowling Green. The trail is good for families and those with perhaps less mobility. The trail starts from Rosevear Road in the old mining town of Bugle. Car parking space is available at the trail's start. These quiet off-road paths meander through lightly wooded areas which frequently open to reveal a wider landscape and lead on to the tiny village of Bowling Green. Pick up the path again and walk through the heathland of Treskilling Downs, on past woodland and lakes towards Eden. The first part of this trail provides a quiet walk through pleasant countryside and as you continue you will discover wider expanses and beautiful scenery.

Par Beach to Eden Trail - 4 miles

A section of the trail from Eden to St. Blazey, is a walking-only footpath but it is possible to cycle this section on a parallel country road. From the town of St. Blazey you may cycle the route that leads to Par Beach. The cycling section of the trail is quite flat and easy, while the walking only section involves a few slopes and is more uneven under foot. Enjoy the changing scenery as you begin to leave behind the clay areas of tips and pits, making your way towards villages and towns as you approach the sea, where fine clay, the product of the clay mining industry, is shipped to many parts of the world. Continue through countryside close to Tywardreath and its beautiful surroundings - the setting for Daphne Du Maurier's novel, The House on the Strand. You will travel close to the marshes of the old river estuary that once flowed to St. Blazey. As you approach Par you will see tall chimneys with their white clouds of steam billowing up into the sky. On a clear day when the sky is blue this can be a stunning spectacle. But it always has a unique beauty, even when the sky is misty and grey. Clay-drying chimneys situated in Par Docks are the source of this steady out-pouring of steam. Par is a busy working port which ships china clay to many destinations around the world. The history of this port, built for shipping minerals, goes back to the early part of the 19th century. Clay mined in this area is some of the finest in the world.

Pentewan to St. Austell Trail - 3.5 miles

The Pentewan trail is quite flat and provides easy walking. It is many years old but recently has been developed and extended. It begins from the village of London Apprentice, just south of St. Austell and leads to Pentewan beach. Along the route pathways branch out that will take you uphill into beautiful King's Wood. If arriving by car you can park at London Apprentice at the start of the trail. Bicycles are available for hire at Pentewan village. The trail runs along the bed of an old narrow gauge railway from St. Austell to Pentewan, which ceased to operate in 1918. Much of the main trail has been given a firm surface. You may prefer to walk or cycle the narrow pathway that runs parallel to the main trail, keeping alongside the White River. Smaller pathways branch off in various directions, interweaving through the woods. Although not strictly a clay trail, these trails arose directly from the mining industry. Pentewan was once a busy harbour and the remains of rail tracks leading to the harbour-side where clay and other minerals were loaded onto boats, can still be seen. Railway sidings, now utilised for other purposes, are still in evidence as your approach Pentewan beach. Walk or cycle along these wooded paths until you arrive at the village of Pentewan. Here you can pick up the trail again alongside the river, past the old railway sidings, until you reach the open sea and the sands of Pentewan beach.

The Clay Trails

Opening Times

All Year

Admission Free

St. Austell       Mineral Tramways Trails       The Eden Project       Walks and Walking in Cornwall       Cornwall's China Clay Industry

Par       Pentewan       Wheal Martyn Museum       Cycling in Cornwall       The Cornish Way       Cornwall's Railways

St. Blazey       Cornish Cafes       Cornish Pubs