St Agnes: 5 reasons to visit, 5 fun facts, plus loads more…

Situated on the Cornish north coast between Newquay and Redruth, St Agnes is true Poldark country! This small coastal community has a long mining history of copper, tin and arsenic until the 1920s. It has left a legacy of industrial architecture and is a part of the UNESCO Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site.

From The Beacon to the beach, St Agnes is in a beautiful Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) with extensive heathland covering the clifftops. The small sandy beach at Trevaunance Cove is revealed at low tide along this Heritage Coast. Remains of the former harbour (the last of five failed attempts) are a reminder of the fierce storms that ravage this coast in winter.

5 worthwhile reasons to visit St Agnes

There are plenty of great reasons to visit St Agnes, but here’s a taster!

1

St Agnes Heritage Coast

The St Agnes Heritage Coast is a protected area and a Site of Special Scientific Interest best explored on foot. Hit the South West Coast Path on a scenic ramble northeast from St Agnes to Perranporth. Pass the golf course and remains of 6th century St Piran’s Oratory which was lost in the dunes for over 1,000 years. West of St Agnes, the undulating coast path offers stunning sea views and passes close to the ruined Towanroath engine house en route to Porthtowan Beach.

2

Driftwood Spars microbrewery

Here’s one for beer lovers! Located in the stunning setting of Trevaunance Cove, Driftwood Spars is an award-winning microbrewery that has built on its success since it opened in 2000. Part of the Driftwood Pub, it offers insightful tours of the small-batch five-barrel plant along with tastings for beer enthusiasts. As well as selling their own ales, they also have a good selection of cider. You can even craft your own wedding beer to serve to your guests as part of a Brew Day package.

3

The dramatic coastline

Explore this dramatic coastline around St Agnes in a two-hour guided adventure with Koru Kayaking. Starting from Trevaunance Cove, the trip takes in the heritage coastline and caves that were hand-cut by miners and later used by smugglers. Spot seabirds, dolphins, seals and herons on this back-to-nature tour.

4

Go coasteering

Another way to appreciate this rocky coastline is on a coasteering experience with Coastal Rush. Your expert guide will tailor the experience to suit every age and experience. Get ready to go swimming, cliff jumping, climbing and abseiling along this stretch of sea cliffs.

5

Living history surrounds St Agnes

History lovers will appreciate the living history that surrounds St Agnes in all directions. The Stone Age remains mark early settlement in this scenic area and The Beacon is the site of four Bronze Age barrows once marked by a line of cairns. The relics of more recent industrial and geological heritage are still clearly visible. Check out the landmark chimneys and roofless engine-houses of long-forgotten tin mines silhouetted against the skyline. They are now part of Cornwall’s UNESCO Mining World Heritage accreditation.

Wheal Coates tin mine opened in 1802 and worked until 1889. The image of the Towanroath Shaft engine house, famous on postcards, calendars, and on the telly represents for many the serene beauty of the north Cornish coast. In reality this industrial landscape holds a harsh and austere history.

5 fun facts about St Agnes

A little local knowledge about St Agnes…

1

Why is St Agnes called St Agnes?

St Agnes got its name from a local legend of a giant, Bolster, who terrified the village and was known to snack on small children. He fell in love with a local girl, Agnes, but she tricked him and he died on the cliffs. Agnes became a heroine for saving the village which then adopted her name.

2

Who wrote the Poldark novels?

The area around St Agnes featured heavily in the Poldark TV series based on novels by Perranporth resident, Winston Graham. Re-live the historic mining novel set in 18th century Cornwall featuring handsome Ross and Demelza Poldark and their antagonists, the Warleggans. The dramatic coastal scenery is even better in real life!

3

Why visit St Agnes Museum?

The award-winning volunteer-run St Agnes Museum is in a lovely building that was the former Chapel of Rest on Penwinnick Road! The museum has two floors of local exhibits and curiosities. Learn more about the mining history of the area, the rise and fall of local mining families and other fascinating insights.

4

How tall is St Agnes Beacon?

St Agnes Beacon stands 192m (630 feet) above sea level. Once the sight of a burning beacon, a Trig Mark and plaque now marks the spot. Enjoy panoramic views across the surrounding countryside to the white clay mountains of St Austell, Carn Brea and the peaks on Bodmin Moor. Turn your gaze seaward and spot boats tacking up and down the coastline and the distant Godrevy Lighthouse. It’s one of the best viewpoints in Cornwall and you can see about 30 miles in all directions on a clear day.

5

What happened to St Agnes harbour?

You might wonder why a mining hub such as St Agnes does not have a historic harbour for exporting the minerals and mine workings. In truth, all five attempts have been washed away by the sea. John Tonkin made the first attempt to build a quay at Trevaunance Cove in 1632. It never even reached completion. His grandson had no better luck in 1684 and again in 1699. Costing over £6000, the fourth attempt bankrupted the family. The final attempt by the optimistically named St Agnes Harbour Company cost even more. However, it was successful for a time. The final corner of the harbour wall finally gave up the battle with the sea in 2005.

5 places to sip and sup in St Agnes

St Agnes has developed as a foodie haven for epicureans in-the-know with some seriously good restaurants…

1

Schooners

Schooners overlooks the beach and serves incredible dishes such as Bedland Fish Tacos with crispy hake, pickled red cabbage and red aioli. It’s seriously good. So too is their Schooners Gravy Cheeseburger which is apparently a real winner. Open from noon Wednesdays through Sundays.

2

Taste

For tasty local seafood and unhurried lunches, Taste serves amazing food at very fair prices. From crab cakes to crostini and stir-fry to strudel, it has a mouthwatering menu that’s a refreshing change from the usual mundane cafe offerings.

3

Chapel Porth Beach Cafe

The quiet National Trust-owned beach cafe at Chapel Porth sells all the usual drinks, snacks and lollies but the real reason to visit is to sample their famous Hedgehog Ice Cream. It’s an indulgent ice cream cone topped with clotted cream and covered in hazelnuts. Truly delicious!

4

The Aggie

St Agnes has a plentiful choice of pubs and bars, but the best by far (IMHO) is at The St Agnes Hotel (or Aggie for short). Sample authentic Cornish beers such as the award-winning Proper Job from St Austell Brewery. The distinctly contemporary bar space includes the ubiquitous open fire. The menu has well-priced antipasti, burgers, steaks and fish dishes. They also dish up a mean cooked breakfast from 8am, and a hearty roast on Sundays.

5

St Agnes Bakery

Made with love since 1905, the St Agnes Bakery is a traditional business that has been serving up authentic Cornish recipes for over 100 years. Their famous Gold Standard Cornish Pasties make a mouthwatering snack while their celebratory cakes are as fabulously decadent as they look.

We’ll see you in St Agnes

☀️ Fancy a break in St Agnes? There are plenty of gorgeous holiday rental properties in this lovely coastal village.

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Get instant access to the latest travel buzz

Holiday Cottages in Devon & Cornwall is brought to you by the Jetset Boyz