Situated just a stone’s throw from the bars, amusement arcades and general chaos of downtown Newquay lies the beautiful Gannel Estuary – county wildlife site and area of great scientific value. Whether you are a casual stroller, bird watcher or dog walker, the River Gannel Walk is sure to capture your imagination!
River Gannel to Crantock Circular Walk
When it comes to the River Gannel walk, I am a little biased. My sister and I would spend many summers with my Grandmother who used to live just a 5-minute walk from the Gannel.
During our school holidays, we would be packed off to Newquay for weeks at a time, where we would have the most wonderful summers playing and swimming in the Gannel estuary.
In June 2017, I headed back to Newquay with Didem and wasted no time in heading to the Gannel to share its beauty and the many wonderful childhood memories that suddenly came flooding back!
Where is the River Gannel?
The Gannel Estuary sits to the south of Newquay acting as a divider between the town and the village of Crantock, immediately to the estuary’s south.
Where to park for the River Gannel walk?
If you are driving to the Gannel to commence your walk, there is a perfectly located (and free) car park that we used just off Gannel Road/Tregunnel Hill.
The car park is small so it is wise to get there early, especially if you are visiting in the summer! If you are not lucky enough to grab a spot at this location, you can head for the Tregunnel Carpark.
If you are planning on staying for a few hours you should expect to pay approximately £6.00. It is around a 10-15 minute walk to the Gannel estuary from here.
Check out the location of both car parks, marked with an orange ‘P’ on this map.
How to get to the River Gannel Car Park?
If you are approaching Newquay from the east, the chances are that you will be arriving on the A392 and via the A3075 if approaching from the southwest.
Just to the south of Newquay, you will reach a roundabout where you will take Trevemper Road (A392), signposted ‘Newquay’.
Continue for 0.9 miles and then turn left onto Gannel Road. In 200 metres the Gannel car park will be on your left.
- Grid Reference: SW808607
- Latitude , Longitude (decimal): 50.406089 , -5.0859380
- River Gannel postcode (nearest): TR7 2AU
- this map
- Additional Location Details (Click on the map pointer for more information)
The River Gannel To Crantock Walk Description
The Gannel is a tidal estuary and as such experiences dramatically varying tides throughout the day. So, before you head down there to commence your walk, check the Gannel tide times to avoid disappointment and to remain safe. Also, check out a map of the area to get a sense of where you are headed.
Alongside the Gannel car park is a slipway that leads you down onto the Gannel estuary and your River Gannel walk is underway. Continue along the right-hand side of the estuary for approximately 800 metres until you see the small wooden Penpol footbridge.
The bridge is typically passable for 3-4 hours on either side of low tide. Again, remember to check the tide times prior to setting out!
Choose Your Route To Crantock
Once across the bridge, head directly ahead of you across the sand and into Penpol Creek where you will soon see a sign for Crantock. Head to the right and up Penpol Hill where in approximately 150 metres you now have a couple of options:
1. Continue on small country roads into Crantock, or
2. Take the South West Coast Path to Crantock
Check out this map to view these two options in more detail.
We chose the road as we were in more of a hurry not knowing exactly how the tide would affect our trek back up the Gannel estuary. The Coast Path does however look like the more picturesque choice if time is not an issue.
Continuing on Penpol Hill road, you will soon meet Trevelveth Road where you will turn right and shortly after you will take a left turn onto Vosporth Hill which leads you directly into the centre of the picturesque Crantock village.
Welcome To Crantock
The small coastal village of Crantock dates back to 460 AD and really is a charming little stop-off point during your walk. It is well worth having a stroll around the village just to take in the wonderful architecture dating back hundreds of years.
You will quickly notice that many of the quaint cottages are dedicated to the flourishing Cornish holiday rental market of which Crantock is a part.
Find out more about Crantock’s history.
You Won’t Go Hungry In Crantock
If you are feeling a little peckish you certainly will not go hungry in Crantock! I can certainly vouch for two of the village’s eateries that will leave you far from disappointed. If you fancy something on the light side, the Cosy Nook Café is the place to go. Try one of their Cornish cream teas; it would be rude not to!
If you are on the lookout for something a little more substantial, head on over to one of the two Crantock pubs, the Cornishman and the Old Albion Inn. Here you will find a wide selection of traditional pub grub that should satisfy anyone’s hunger. I have never actually eaten in the Cornishman but online reviews are certainly positive.
The Old Albion Inn, on the other hand, has presented many pleasurable culinary experiences over the years. Online reviews very much back up my opinions!
You should now be feeling stuffed and ready to burn off some of those newly acquired calories. From the centre of Crantock village, head for Beach Road and follow this for approximately 500 metres down the hill to Crantock Beach Cornwall.
River Gannel Walk – Return Section
Once you hit the beach you will need to walk the short gentle incline over the dunes and then you will see the vast expanse of Crantock Beach out to the west.
If you are a dog walker you will be happy to know that both the Gannel and Crantock Beach are dog-friendly. Find out about other dog-friendly beaches in the Newquay area.
At this point, it is time to head east back up the Gannel Estuary sticking to the south side of the river channel. If you have planned your River Gannel walk well and the tide is sufficiently out, there will be plenty of sand to walk on and there should be little danger of getting your feet wet.
Just a little way up the estuary on the left-hand side you will see the Fern Pit Café perched on the south-facing bank of the estuary. At low tide, the Café is accessible via a small wooden footbridge.
Approximately 3 hours on either side of the high tide there is a small Crantock ferry that can take you across the estuary when the footbridge is underwater. The ferry is operational between the hours of 10:00 and 18:00 between the end of May and Mid September.
In approximately 500 metres you will see the Penpol footbridge but this time on your left-hand side. Once again, cross the bridge, turn right and within 10 minutes you will be back at the Gannel car park.
Your River Gannel walk is complete!
A Little History For You
The Gannel Estuary was once home to Reeds Boatyard, one of a number of boatyards in the Newquay area during the 1800s. It was owned by the Clemens family who built schooners and ketches.
The last boat constructed by the family was the Triumph which was completed in 1881. In later years the area was used by pilchard and mackerel boats to moor up out of the fishing season.
What Can You Expect To See
Just down from the picnic area (that will appear on your right-hand side 5 minutes into the walk) you will find sea purslane and common glasswort. Common glasswort, also known as marsh samphire or poor man’s asparagus can be found growing amongst the salt marshes and sandy shores.
Heading west down the estuary, cliff vegetation takes over and spring guill, kidney vetch and wild carrot will be readily visible. Kidney vetch is one of Britain’s most colourful native wildflowers.
Look out all year round for Goldfinch, Linnet, Thrush, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Stonechat and the Great Spotted Woodpecker. In the summer, Whitethroat, Swallows and House Martin frequent the area.
The salt marshes around the Gannel are home to the Grass Snake and Newts can be found in the pools around Penpol Creek.
These salt marshes also give much-needed shelter to the wide variety of gulls that visit the area. These include the Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser and Great Black-backed Gull.
Throughout the year you can also regularly spot Heron and Kingfishers. During the winter months, look out for Widgeon, Redshank and Redwing.
River Gannel to Crantock Walk – Our Thoughts
Ever since I was a child I have been enjoying this walk and I still love it as much today as I did all those years ago. Both the Gannel and Crantock are beautiful places for all to enjoy and are ideal environments for children and dogs.
The walk is relatively easy and Crantock is a lovely, quaint village and an ideal location to enjoy a spot of lunch or a Cornish cream tea!
Then, of course, you have the wonderful Crantock Beach and Gannel Estuary at your disposal should you wish to take a dip.
Giver Gannel to Crantock Walk – Q & As
How far is the River Gannel to Crantock walk?
Approximately 3.73 miles (6 km) total
How long does the walk take?
Is the walk difficult?
No. This is a relatively easy walk.
Can you walk across the River Gannel?
Yes, you can. But only attempt this crossing 3-4 hours on either side of low tide. That said, prepare to get mucky and/or wet shoes, unless you cross via the small wooden Penpol footbridge.
Is there a bridge over the River Gannel?
There are a number of footbridges over the River Gannel, including Penpol footbridge used for the walk to Crantock. These are all typically covered at high tide, so make sure you check the tide times prior to setting off.
Is Crantock Beach busy?
Crantock Beach is incredibly popular, especially during the summer months. If you are planning on visiting by car, please be aware that the car parks can fill quickly.
Does Crantock Beach have toilets?
Yes, there are public toilets at Crantock Beach car park.
Is Crantock Beach dog friendly?
Yes. Dogs are allowed on Crantock Beach throughout the year.
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