Home of Cornwall's China Clay industry, the St Austell Brewery and the nearby Eden Project. This large town on the south coast is a good base for touring the county.
St Austell Bay
The curve of St Austell Bay, with its many sandy beaches, is a haven for watersports and family holidays and is also fantastic for walking and cycling, with a mixture of trails through a variety of landscapes. At its centre, the town of St Austell, has grown from the riches of the China Clay industry. Walk along Fore Street and you will discover the fine Holy Trinity Parish Church and opposite, the Italianate facade of the Market House. The town centre also has a cinema, restaurants, cafes and shops.
The town is also home to the St Austell Brewery Visitor Centre with an interactive museum telling the story of over 150 years of pubs, beers, wines and spirits created by the Hicks family. If you’re really keen, book yourself onto a tour of the brewery, taste the beer and enjoy a proper pasty!
Nearby is the beautiful Georgian port of Charlestown, star of many recent films and the Poldark TV shows. Just along the coast, the Carlyon Bay Hotel offers quality accommodation, a spa and a golf course.
At the eastern end of the bay, the little village of Polkerris shelters behind its beach and harbour wall. It's a great place for watersports and eating! It's also the start of a coastal walk out to Gribben Head, a landscape immortalised by the author Daphne du Maurier who lived nearby.
Going west from Charlestown, the sandy beaches at Porthpean and Duporth can be accessed between rocky outcrops before reaching Black Head where fantastic views across the bay reward a good walk.
North of St Austell, is an industrial landscape of working pits, extracting white China clay from the ground and creating vast spoil tips alongside. The clay villages are more akin to the Welsh mining valleys than the Cornish coastline, and much of the area is out of bounds to the public. St Austell grew as a town because of the industry, with a railway leading down to the harbour at Pentewan, plus other harbours at Charlestown and Par.
Those wanting to discover more about this part of Cornwall and the clay industry should head for Wheal Martyn Museum on the edge of St Austell. It's a great place to learn about the industry as you walk around the old workings, but also an enjoyable area to explore, especially in the spring when the site is full of wild flowers.
Austell Ceramic is a project that celebrates the areas culture and links through China Clay. Over the last few years it has lead to a number of sculptures erected in and around the town, including the 14 meter high 'Earth Goddess' in the town centre.
The other attraction associated with this landscape is the Eden Project, built in the remains of a former clay pit, though you would hardly believe it as you wander around this verdant wonderland.
Those wishing to explore the area on foot, or by bike, should check out the Clay Trails, nine mainly off-road routes that link the Clay villages with tourist attractions and points of interest.
Plan your trip
Everything you need to know to plan your perfect trip to St Austell
Follow the M5 to Exeter, and join the A30 crossing Bodmin Moor. Once past the town of Bodmin take the A391 to St Austell.
There are several car parks in and around the town centre.
National Express serves St Austell from destinations throughout the UK. From St Austell Bus Station (beside the railway station) you can catch local busses to Fowey, Bodmin, , Mevagissey, Newquay and Truro.
St Austell is on the mainline down through Cornwall served by both GWR and Cross-Country trains. From the station busses serve other nearby towns and villages.
At Par, just one stop from St Austell, the branchline heads off to Newquay.
The historic harbour has been home to many old ladies of the sea over the years. These days it is home to a number of vessels, the main one being the Anny of Charlestown, a topsail schooner built in Denmark in 1930. There are also a couple of Looe luggers, a Bristol Cutter and several other historic boats. Of course, being boats, means they may not always be at Charlestown, and there's always a chance others may be visiting.
Best thing to do is go down and have a look?
The town itself is set a little back from the coast, but there are beaches at Carlyon Bay, Charlestown and Porthpean that are close by.
St Austell is the largest town in Cornwall ,with a population in 2013 of over 27,000 people. Truro, although Cornwall's only city, only has a population of around 21,000.
That all depends on how interested you are in what's on offer there? We believe it's an amazing place to visit, but agree it's not the cheapest 'attraction' in Cornwall. However, if your interested enough you can easily spend four or five hours looking around the site, and where else in the UK can you visit a tropical rainforest?
...and it's a good place to go to keep warm in the winter months!!
Discover your Cornwall
Long sandy beaches, hidden coves, rugged moorland, quaint fishing villages, deep wooded valleys, bustling seaside resorts, industrial heritage, rocky headlands, colourful gardens, idyllic rivers and a bijou city, Cornwall has a bit of everything for those who want to explore.
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