I can’t believe I’ve never been to Polruan before, what was I thinking?
I’m a huge fan of Polruan’s neighbour, Fowey, and have lost count of how many times I’ve been there. But for some reason, Polruan has passed me by.
Sitting on one side of the Fowey Estuary, opposite Fowey, Polruan holds its own charm and appeal. With only one main road in and out, it feels more cut off and secluded compared to other Cornish towns and villages. Known mainly for its harbour and annual summer regatta, where there’s a tennis ball rolling competition, Polruan definitely has that “tucked away” feel.
Polruan’s nestled on the Polperro Heritage coast. When you visit, you’ll certainly be blessed with a sense of getting away from it all, as I was when I went for the day.
In fact, I’d say it’s a place to laze away a slow Sunday. I can just imagine getting cosy in one of the local pubs, perhaps snuggled up by an open fire. Even as someone who lives in Cornwall, I’d feel like I’ve escaped if I had a staycation in Polruan.
Unfortunately a romantic overnight stay wasn’t on the cards. Instead, I decided to hop in my car and acquaint myself with Polruan, almost on a whim.
All I can say is, I’m so pleased I finally made the effort.
Getting To Polruan and Parking
Coming from Truro, I headed to Polruan via Lostwithiel, driving through the pretty village of Lerryn.
You can get to Polruan by boat from Fowey, and in hindsight, I wish I’d taken this option. It makes it more of a day out and it means you can visit Fowey and Polruan in one day.
The Bodinnick Ferry takes cars and runs all year round. There’s a foot ferry too, from Town Quay in Fowey. Both are reasonably priced.
You may like this post on an afternoon in Fowey.
If you drive to Polruan like I did, there’s plenty of parking. I managed to bag the last space in a small car park at the top of the village, called Vevery. There’s a larger pay and display car park, closer to the village centre, near Polruan Academy.
The Blockhouse at Polruan
As I walked into Polruan, the first place I found was The Blockhouse, also referred to as the Chain Tower. It was built in 1380 during the Hundred Year war to prevent access to the harbour. A twin blockhouse was also built across the estuary in Fowey. They were joined by a chain that was raised at times of threat and attack.
The Blockhouse is a ruin now. All walls and no roof but definitely worth a visit. It’s free to enter and look around.
I walked out of the blockhouse, onto the waters edge. It felt quite risky given how windy it was. It was so blustery in fact, I had a problem holding my camera still!
I didn’t get too close to the edge, I really didn’t fancy swim. The River Fowey looked dark and grey under the milky, thick sky, and the wind was causing a fair few swells.
I decided to head out of the Blockhouse and wander around Polruan.
Exploring the Village
Polruan’s a small village, maybe akin in size to somewhere like St Mawes. Having visited I feel that Polruan is very much in Fowey’s shadow. It’s pretty and has retained its rustic, authentic Cornish charm and character.
There’s an abundance of small winding alleyways and narrow footpaths to discover in Polruan. It was like being in a little maze. Alleys link up with roads, which connect to other alleys and passageways. As I walked behind traditional cottages and houses, I’d get to the other end and say to myself, “Oh, I’m here.” The network of passages and alleyways made me realise that Polruan’s deceivingly smaller than it looks.
Wandering around Polruan, I was struck by how peaceful it is. I enjoyed taking in my surroundings, which I suspect haven’t changed much over the decades.
As such, there’s only a small number of places to eat in Polruan. There’s the Lugger Inn on the harbour, and the The Russell Inn which is just behind. It’s not far to stumble from one to the other ?.
As I walked around I noticed Crumpets Too, a small tea room. Sadly, it was closed, possibly due to seasonal opening times. Polruan has a village shop as well, so you won’t be caught short if you need anything.
Polruan Harbour and Ship Yard
I spent quite a lot of time around Polruan Harbour. Some local men were fishing although I didn’t see them catch anything. Actually, I’d imagine the harbour’s probably a good spot if you fancy a bit of crabbing.
Aside from the Fowey to Polruan ferry, the focus of Polruan harbour is the ship yard. Steeped in local family history, Polruan’s ship yard has been in operation for centuries. How wonderful that it’s still going strong today. What’s particularly lovely is, the shipwrights stem from the Toms family, who also run both the foot and the car ferry. Talk about a family with strong mariner connections!
Walking to Lantic Bay on the South West Coast Path
While I was in the area, I decided to walk on the south west coast path from Polruan to the much coveted Lantic Bay. If I’m being honest, I was on a bit of a mission.
I was relieved the weather had brightened up too. I didn’t fancy walking in the rain.
Lantic Bay belongs to the National Trust, and is about 2.5 miles from Polruan on the south west coast path. To put no finer point on it, it’s absolutely stunning.
Thankfully the coast path is well signposted but it’s a walk with several inclines. It’s also muddy depending on the time of year so make sure you wear the right footwear.
The main beach, Lantic Bay also has a small counterpart, Little Lantic, just next door. Both are in a crevice, deep below the cliffs. At high tide, they become separated but at low tide you can walk straight across.
All I can say is, you’ll know Lantic Bay when you see it. Bright golden sand, with the sea the colour of fine jewels. It’s beautiful. There’s a steep and technical approach down to the beach but it’s possible. Just be careful. And obviously keep an eye on the tide so you don’t get cut off.
Fowey and Polruan Hall Walk
If you fancy a different circular walk, why not try the well known and well trodden Hall Walk. A looped route that covers Fowey and Polruan, as well as passing Ferryside, Daphne Du Maurier’s first home, in Bodinnick. The Hall Walk takes you across creeks and woodland and involves taking both ferries that connect Polruan and Fowey.
At 5.5 miles long, it sounds like an excellent run to me! It’s certainly one for another time.
Have you been to Polruan? If so, how did you spend your time?