THE CORNISH PILGRIMAGE - PHASE 1
MORWENSTOW TO LAUNCESTON
Discovering The Cornish Pilgrimage – Walking north to south.
PHASE 1 - MORWENSTOW TO LAUNCESTON
Beginning from the parish of much-loved Reverend Hawker, the first section of the Pilgrimage sets off in search of the ancient capital of Cornwall.
START: Morwenstow Church - Waymarked as The Cornish Coast Path with National Trust signs.
DISTANCE: 28 miles broken down into two parts.
1) Bude - 8 miles of coast path - Strenuous. (The cycle route is 10 miles and also arduous).
2) Bude to Launceston - 20 miles - Moderate.
ROUTE SUMMARY: It is possible to complete this section in one hit, though we strongly advise that you tackle it in 2 phases, using Bude as a stopover.
Starting close to the border of Cornwall/Devon at the village of Morwenstow, follow the church path to the coast and turn left onto the National Trust Footpath which the Pilgrimage adopts as a route to Bude.
Cyclists can use the coast lanes via Coombe and Stibb (marked in yellow and black taped bands) to reach Bude. Both routes are physically exacting!
Formally named ‘Bede Haven’ after its resident monks, who dutifully lit up the Breakwater with lanterns to keep seafarers safe at night. Standing as the last substantial outpost along the North Cornish Coast, Bude provides an interesting overview of past and present. It’s a popular mix, particularly during the Summer season when visitors come to surf the mighty Atlantic and spend evenings at local pubs overlooking the town’s famous canal.
Continuing the pilgrimage through this lively town, locate the Bude Canal (opposite the Falcon Hotel – near the Tourist Office).
The canal, a product of the Industrial Revolution when it shipped sand as fertiliser to inland ports, is now just a leisure waterway serving boaters, fishers and the Cornish Way Cycle Route.
From here join the Cornish Way Trail and walk the canal tow path for about a mile. Nearing the end, (carpark and tea room close by), bear left onto the cycle route, (way-marked in blue with white arrows - some have additional yellow/black tape). After crossing a small road bridge, follow the waterside path into Marhamchurch. At the top of the village, look out for the yellow/black taped road signposts and continue along the cycle route to Week St Mary (a further 4 miles).
WEEK ST MARY
Almost encapsulated in time, the community enjoys the ambience of a village green overlooked by its church: also nearby is a grocer shop and village pub.
On leaving Week St Mary, discard the cycle route and instead keep left along the Clubworthy road. Note that the remainder of this phase is marked with yellow and black bands on the appropriate road signs.
After a 4-mile country walk, turn off to North Petherwin, home to The Otter Sanctuary: then on reaching the village 2 miles later, branch left onto the Egloskerry Road. The journey from here crosses a river, turns left for Langore/Launceston and later passes a golf course on the way to St Stephen’s Church at the top of town.
Formally the county town of Cornwall, this old place still emanates medieval character accentuated by its gated entrance and ruins of a Norman castle. The Tamar Discovery Trail and Tamara Way both run through the vicinity and I began my first pilgrimage from Calstock to here in 2004. There are modern pubs and shops in the centre and a quaint narrow gauge railway operating near to the old abbey ruins.
GETTING TO THE START OF PHASE 1:
The Tamara Way
It’s likely that some walkers may wish to follow The Tamara Trail from Plymouth to the official pilgrimage start in Morwenstow.
This is the new National coast-to-coast trail linking the North and South Coasts of Cornwall, thus forming a complete walk around this ancient kingdom.
Alternatively, using public transport, the logical train route runs to Exeter St David's; then Okehampton where a bus service outside the station completes the journey to Bude.
There are also hourly daily buses from Plymouth Train Station to Bude (via Launceston) with a connecting service to Morwenstow (most days!). For more information contact Traveline - Tel: 0871 200 22 33
PLACES TO STAY: The Bush Inn at Morwenstow provides B&B throughout the year and usually permits pilgrims to camp for one night. Tel: 01288 331242.
The Globe Hotel, 13 Strand, Bude, EX23 8QU. TEL: 01288 352 085.
CAMPING:Efford Camping, Brendon Hill, Bude.
This campsite is situated close to the coast path behind the Brendan Arms Inn which is roughly 1mile from the town centre.
STAYING AT LAUNCESTON: Downhill from St Stephen’s Church is the White Horse, a traditional old pub which provides accommodation and food.
Tel: 01566 772084
Three miles south of Launceston is The Eliot Arms, Tregadillet. Tel: 01566 772051. [email protected]
There is also a campsite at a farm uphill from the Eliot Arms: the lady may be kind enough to offer a pitch to pilgrims for a small fee.