A local

A local's guide to St Mawes

Kate W 24 July 2019

Out on the remote and beautiful Roseland Peninsula, you’ll discover a slow way of life where peace and tranquillity will ensure a truly relaxing getaway. Protected by St Anthony’s Head and with the bustling harbour town of Falmouth across the estuary, St Mawes is a welcome respite for holidaymakers seeking a scenic coastal retreat.


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The beaches


The walking


Food and drink


About the town:

About the town of St Mawes

With pastel houses that appear to be climbing the side of the hill and stretch all the way to the water’s edge, this beautiful yet remote coastal town is just the place for a quiet holiday by the sea.

You’ll be well provided for with plenty of boutique shops, including bakeries, where you can pick up doughy goodness for breakfast back at your holiday cottage, as well as a couple of art galleries where you can browse the sea-inspired works.

A ferry connects St Mawes with Falmouth, so why not head over to the high street that exists in this busy, artsy town, visit the harbour and enjoy dinner out, before returning to a warm and welcoming holiday home in the scenic town of St Mawes.

The beaches:

Pendower Beach

Near pretty Veryan (9 miles), a village known for its round thatch houses, there’s the sandy, south-facing Pendower Beach where shallow waters and facilities make it a delightful choice for families after a holiday by the sea. A hidden gem that often makes our lists of best Cornish beaches, Hemmick Beach is up near Dodman Point. Found at the end of a steep road, it’s tricky to reach but with lots of secret coves to explore once you arrive – we’d recommend this if you are planning The Dodman Long Loop walk mentioned below, but otherwise there are plenty of beaches closer to St Mawes where you can have a wonderful time without venturing far.

Porthbeor (8 miles) and Towan (7 miles) are both quiet south-facing beaches that you’ll pass on your way to St Anthony’s Head, while Porthcurnick Beach (6 miles) is a bit busier and laden with rock pools, making it another great place for families and kids.

If you decide to hop aboard the ferry to Falmouth you also have the opportunity to visit pretty Gyllyngvase and Swanpool, two beaches a coastal walk apart, and there’s a café and opportunity for water sports - sea kayaking is a particular local favourite!).

The attractions:

St Mawes Castle

The wonderfully preserved artillery fortress of St Mawes Castle once worked in conjunction with Pendennis Castle over in Falmouth to counter an invasion threat from France and Spain back in the 1500s. Take your time exploring the grounds which stretch down to the Fal Estuary, and peer across at Falmouth’s Pendennis across the way. English Heritage often put on shows in a location to rival The Minack, so book in for a memorable night of open-air theatre. It’s a top place for kids too with events where little ones can get swept back in time with dress-up and games.

A rolling programme of exhibitions takes place at Trelissick House and Gardens (6 miles from St Mawes) so check in to see what’s on while you’re here. You can take a ferry across Carrick Roads to reach this National trust site. Discover the history of the house, see beautiful creative pieces in the art gallery and stop for a cream tea in the café. Dogs are welcome in the grounds so follow one of the woodland trails with your canine companion by your side for a pet-friendly experience.

More arts and crafts are featured at Melinsey Mill (7 miles) where wood and willow sculptures sit in the gardens of the 16th-century watermill.

While in this direction, plan to visit the renowned botanical gardens, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, 17 miles from St Mawes. Stroll through the beautiful Pleasure Grounds, venture into the outdoor jungle garden and top your trip off with a bite to eat at the Kitchen and Bakery where they make good use of the produce they grow onsite and supplement with food from local suppliers.

The walking:

St Just

Walk from village to village along a stunning coastal trail with the St Mawes to St Just trail – a walk whose name betrays it completely. Ever-lovely St Just Pool is a particularly deep harbour you’ll pass, and up from here you can enjoy a sense of peace and tranquillity with a visit to the pretty 13th-century church. The trail itself leads you along the shores and banks of Carrick Roads, the estuary that dominates this landscape, so there’s no doubt you’ll see boats and even ferries sailing up and down the river, as well as fishing boats docked in the shallow waters.

The remote and rocky St Anthony’s Head (8.5 miles from St Mawes) is another strategic military point and learned types may enjoy seeing and hearing about St Anthony’s Head Battery (you can even tour this late Victorian gun platform) and the lighthouse. A circular walk leads you around this Site of Special Scientific Interest, renowned for its birdlife, and past the sand and shingle beaches of Porthbeor and Towan – both of which are dog-friendly so it’s a great choice for a relaxed dog walk around the coast. There’s also an ‘easy access walk’ that passes a bird hide and the lighthouse, ideal for those who prefer gentle relaxing exploration.

Real adventurers may be happy to venture 17.5 miles to the highest headland on the South Coast. The Dodman Long Loop is an invigorating 5-mile walk that rewards you with breathtaking views and the option to head to Gorran Haven for delicious ice cream or a sandwich down by the harbour. Your dog can, of course, join you on this walking trail too!

The accommodation:

Four-person holiday cottage in St Mawes

Any and every holiday cottage in St Mawes is a coastal cottage as this village is surrounded by water on three sides - exactly what made the ideal spot for a defensive castle and now the perfect spot for a UK holiday!

Pick a property with views of the estuary and Falmouth beyond for a relaxing break, Aloft (pictured above) is prime example of the sought-after cottages in our collection. Imagine waking up in the morning and heading straight onto this beautiful balcony to enjoy the gentle sea breeze and people watch the other early risers as the village comes to life.

If this sleepy coastal town is still too busy for you, peruse our hidden Rose Peninsula gems, holiday escapes scattered throughout this remote and breathtaking landscape. Or for a busier, bustling town, Falmouth across the estuary is an artsy and foodie-centric holiday destination – with an annual yacht festival that you could make a beeline for during the warm, sunny month of August.

The food and drink:

The Hidden Hut foodie hidden gem

Pop into Cafe Chandler’s for a morning coffee before your stroll by the harbour. Style and substance can both be found down at elegant bistro, The Watch House, a perfect choice for lunch where they serve everything from burgers to oysters.

Come evening, you can take your pick of pubs along the St Mawes shorefront; sit outside and watch the light of Falmouth bounce off the water at The Rising Sun, relax with beer in hand at contemporary The Victory Inn, or enjoy the ambience of this peaceful village from the terrace at The Bohella Bar.

Finally, we come to this seaside foodie dream. During your time exploring the Roseland Peninsula, drop by The Hidden Hut, an outdoor food hut behind dog-friendly Portscatho beach serving fresh seasonal produce during the day that you can take down to enjoy on the seafront. After nightfall, the evening food options get even better as they hold regular feast nights that have included dishes like lobster and chips, mackerel grill, and sticky ribs. 

Ready for that peace and tranquilly found down on the beautiful Roseland Peninsula? Browse through our collection of holiday cottages in and around St Mawes and pick out an idyllic coastal escape.

Discover more of Cornwall:

Guide to Cornwall

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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