The landscape around St Austell, once an ancient medieval market town, is dominated by the white mountainous peaks known as the Cornish Alps. They, like the town, grew out of the China Clay industry which still thrives to this day and it is that industrial footprint on the landscape which also allowed the development of a tourist attraction like no other.
Although the centre of St Austell has some old buildings, plenty of shops and good local cafes there is little to entertain the visitor for long. Although on the recommendation of Roy Reed you should definitely pay the Holy Trinity church a visit. There is however plenty to do within easy stepping distance, you just need to know where to look. So here are my top picks for the best things to do in and around St Austell. Whether you are visiting on business, on a short break or as a family there is plenty to entertain.
The Eden Project
Just a couple of miles away is the internationally recognised wonder that is the Eden Project. Built in a reclaimed China Clay Quarry this award winning attraction is a must-see if you are visiting Cornwall. Tropical rainforest, waterfalls, sculptures and live concerts all nestled within the beautiful glass biomes. There are plenty of interactive activities to keep kids entertained. There’s even an ice rink during the winter and England’s longest zip-wire. Unmissable!
The St Austell Brewery
Founded in 1851 by the Cornishman Walter Hicks this brewery supplies the whole of Cornwall and beyond. It still remains 100% independent and is now one of Cornwall’s largest employers. The brand new visitors centre reveals some of the secrets behind 160 years of brewing and taking a tour behind the scenes lets you have a taste of what’s on offer. Proper job!
The Cornwall Hotel
This luxury 4* hotel is set in 43 acres of gardens and woodlands, if you are not already staying here (you lucky thing) then it is also possible to visit. Imagine a warm infinity pool with panoramic views, an aroma steam room, sauna, whirlpool and fully air-conditioned fitness suite. The Clearing Spa has all this and more. Or if you want to indulge your taste buds why not go for Afternoon Tea on the sun terrace served up with a glass of bubbly. Heaven!
The Shipwreck Museum
The village of Charlestown, just beside St Austell, has been used during the filming of Poldark since the first series. It’s not hard to understand why, it is an enchanting place that just oozes history.
Much of the china clay passed through here on its way to the factories across the globe. Just above the harbour the wonderful Shipwreck Museum is bursting with historical artefacts. In fact it boasts is the largest collection of its kind in Europe. As well as the history of the area you can see displays on the Titanic and see finds for over 150 other wrecks, a fascinating collections of diving suits, explore the underground tunnels and follow the i-spy trail.
The Holy Well Of Menacuddle
This is a rarely visited attraction in St Austell. One of Cornwall’s numerous Holy Well‘s and an ancient place that provides a haven of tranquillity tucked away in a wooded valley just outside the town. Built in the late 15th century, Menacuddle Well lay forgotten for many years until one St Austell family brought it back to life.
Around 100 years ago Admiral Sir Charles John Graves Sawles, of the Penrice Estate, restored Menacuddle Well. He bequeathed it to the people of St Austell in memory of his only son. He was killed in action at Ypres in November 1914 at 26 years old. Near to the well house and waterfall you will also find the carved stone known as the Druids Chair.
St Austell Beaches
St Austell is not on the coast but it is just a short hop from some of the county’s finest beaches. The endless sands and pop up beach bars of Carlyon Bay, the clear waters of Porthpean or the isolated calms coves of Gribbin Head, all there waiting to be discovered!
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