A Guide to Polruan’s Best Kept Secrets

Are you interested in exploring the picturesque village of Polruan? There are so many hidden gems in this charming coastal town in South East Cornwall. From historic landmarks to thrilling adventures, Polruan has something for everyone. 

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If you’re a history buff, you’ll love unravelling the mysteries of Polruan’s historic landmarks. With a rich past dating back to the medieval era, there are plenty of stories to uncover. Explore the remnants of the village’s ancient fortifications, stroll along the winding lanes and discover the quaint Polruan cottages and charming gardens. You could also learn about the Jane Slade Project; she lived in Polruan in the late 1800s and did not conform to the traditional role of women in Victorian society. 

For adventure seekers, Polruan is a haven of exciting activities. Whether you’re into hiking, kayaking, or sailing, there are plenty of opportunities to get your adrenaline pumping. Take a guided tour of the rugged coastline, or hire a boat and explore the hidden coves and beaches. 

Foodies will love taking a culinary journey through Polruan’s local delicacies. With fresh seafood caught daily, you’ll be spoilt for choice. From traditional Cornish pasties to freshly baked scones, there’s something to satisfy every appetite. 

If you’re looking for a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, Polruan is the perfect destination. With its idyllic location on the banks of the River Fowey, you can unwind and soak up the peaceful atmosphere. 

Table of Contents

What do you need to know?

Polruan Cornwall is an ancient fishing village across the water from the better-known Fowey. Built on a very steep hill, Polruan is bounded on three sides by water: Pont Creek to the north, the River Fowey to the west and the English Channel to the south. At the top of Polruan Hill stands St Saviour’s Ruin, which pre-dates all of the churches in the area and is built on a site first occupied by St Ruan, after whom Polruan is named. The ruin dates from the 8th Century, although it was enlarged by Sir Richard Edgcumbe in 1488.

Things to do in Polruan

The seaside village has secret coves, spectacular beach walks, and stunning views! From kayaking, sailing, and canoe rides to exploring the many wildlife-rich areas, Polruan has something for everyone. Come and be captivated by the gorgeous scenery and marvel at the ancient culture and traditions!

The Quay

As the name suggests, Poluran Quay is where you can sit and watch fishing boats, charters, and the ferry cross the water. Motor boats can be hired across the water in Fowey, and arrangements can be made to moor in Polruan. Also in Fowey, there’s kayak, stand-up paddle board and self-drive boats to hire. 

🐾 Dog-friendly

Polruan Beach

Front Beach is almost touching the Polruan Quay, just a pebble’s throw away from most of the properties in the village. Excellent at low tide when little ones can race around, collecting water for sandcastles when sunny and flying kites when windy – the infamous Winkle Picker shop on the quay is right on hand for crabbing lines and ice creams if you run out. Back beach is situated to the left of the quay and is slightly quieter, which is better if you like sunbathing uninterrupted.

🐾 Dog-friendly

Polruan Pool

The Polruan Pool is a haven for small boats. Two blockhouses were built in Polruan and Fowey in the 14th Century to protect the harbour from attack by pirates or the French. A chain was pulled tight across the river between the blockhouses to stop vessels from entering during a crisis. Although the one on the Fowey side is collapsing beyond repair, the one on the Polruan side has been lovingly restored. 

🐾 Dog-friendly but highly recommended to keep them on a lead. 

Polruan Castle

The Grade II listed building is now a maintained ruin. It was erected around 1540 and was last used in 1666 – one of Henry VIII’s forts erected to guard the entrance to Fowey River. The floors and roof are now gone; it was once three storeys. You can see the remains of the fireplace and slate lintel on the first floor. 

🐾 Dog-friendly. I’d recommend keeping your dog on the lead because of steep drops and uneven ground.

Polruan Village Hall

The Village Hall in Polruan has the excellent tagline “Where great things happen”. It opened in 1912 but has recently been extensively refurbished and upgraded. Past events at the hall have included garden parties, dances, theatre productions, family parties and summer BBQs. It has a beautiful view of the harbour and across to Fowey from the outdoor seating area. 

🐾 Not dog-friendly

St Saviours 

It is believed that St Saviours Chapel dates from the 8th CenturyIt was a prominent landmark for mariners at sea, marking the entrance to the harbour. At night, a beacon was lit in the tower. It also was a helpful lookout point, giving notice of approaching enemy ships. A chart of Fowey Haven, drawn in the reign of Henry VIII, shows the Chapel consisted of a tower and a nave, with no less than three large windows. After 1572, St Saviour’s Chapel fell into disrepair following the dissolution of the monasteries. 

🐾 Dog-friendly

South West Coast Path

In Polruan, the starting point for the South West Coast Path can be found at the top of St Saviour’s Hill and is well signed posted throughout the village. From Pencarrow at the edge of Lantic Bay, you can take a further path towards St Wyllow Church and onto the Hall Walk.

If you wish to walk from Polruan to Polperro or Looe, it is best to catch a bus to Polperro or Looe and walk back as public transport is limited.

🐾 Dog-friendly

Hall Walk

The Hall Walk is one of the most popular walks in Cornwall. The whole walk is 4 miles (6.5km). It is classed as a moderate grade because the footpath contains some steep climbs in places, but there are benches at regularly spaced intervals where you can have a rest and admire the views. It is a circular walk, and two ferry crossings complete the circle. The walk can be started from either Fowey, Bodinnick or Polruan. 

🐾 Dog-friendly

Polruan Fishing

If you are partial to a spot of fishing, the areas around Polruan are a fisherman’s dream. Cast off from the quay or castle, go crabbing from the slipway or take a full day’s deep-sea fishing. All sorts of fish can be caught in this region, from dogfish and mackerel to coalfish and conger. There are several fishing trips to choose from.

🐾 Some boats are dog-friendly

Fowey Ferry to Polruan

The Fowey Polruan Ferry is a passenger ferry going between Fowey Harbour and Polruan. It runs every day of the year, apart from Christmas Day. It departs from each side every 10-15 minutes. Dogs, bikes and pushchairs are welcome, but note that there are steps at each landing point. The operating hours are listed at each ferry landing. Tickets are sold as singles and are £2.80 per adult, £1.20 for children ages 3-13 and dogs are 40p. Cash or card is accepted. 

🐾 Dog friendly

Visiting Fowey

First things first, Fowey is pronounced Foy, rhyming with joy. I know; I got it wrong, too! Wander around hidden alcoves, set foot in ancient buildings, and soak up the atmosphere of this medieval fishing settlement. Highlights include the sandy, secluded beach of Readymoney Cove, which leads to St Catherine’s Castle. Discover all of the things to do in Fowey.

Polruan Shops

Polruan has just a couple of shops for essentials, including fresh bread, milk, fruit and vegetables. It is in Fowey where you’ll find art galleries, boutiques, homeware, tasty treats and souvenirs. 

Food and Drink in Polruan

To me, Cornwall brings three things to mind regarding food: exquisite cream teas with crumbly scones and clotted cream, the delicious homely Cornish pasty and fresh fish caught that day. There are only a few places to eat in Polruan. Jam First is a lovely little café serving fresh sandwiches, toasties and cakes. The Russell Inn serves traditional pub grub in the evenings. Think fish and chips, burgers, platters and pizzas. 

The Lugger Inn Polruan is the most well-known. It is cosy in the winter with a roaring open fire and delightful in the summer with stunning harbour views. The food is typically coastal – sustainable fish, fleshy mussels from the River Fowey, juicy burgers and seasonal vegetables.

🐾 Dog friendly

Get 50% off food 

Did you know you can get 2-for-1 on meals or 50% off food with a Tastecard? There are independent and chain restaurants to choose from and various cuisines. Get a 2-month free trial here:

Car Parking in Polruan

If you are visiting or staying in the village, you need to be steady on your feet. The Polruan Hill Car Park is at the top of the village, and it is a steep walk down to the harbour or your Polruan accommodation. The only way back up is to climb, and there are some uneven paths. I would be no good living in Polruan; it took me a good few minutes to catch my breath. 

Polruan Map

Polruan to Polperro

The drive between the villages of Polruan and Polperro is only 20 minutes. Regular readers will know Polperro is like my second home, as I often visit. With narrow streets, pretty cottages that cling to the hillside, and a harbour, Polperro is undeniably attractive. You can’t drive into the village, meaning you explore on foot. Alongside shops, there’s also a newsagent, bakeries and plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants. There are plenty of places to eat in Polperro, and the food quality is outstanding. Alongside this, there are so many things to do in Polperro

Polperro to Looe

Looe is a small seaside town next to Polperro. It is split into two, East Looe and West Looe, with the river Looe running through the centre. The beauty spot has a rich history, fun attractions, activities, beaches and wonderful places to eat. There are plenty of things to do in Looe that will keep you entertained.

Polruan Holidays

If you know when you’d like to travel, try to book in advance and as soon as possible. Prices rise the closer you get to the travel date. However, there is a vast array to accommodate all budgets. You can also plan with LastMinute.com. Stay at great hotels at a fraction of the price.

Cornwall Hideaways

Cornwall Hideaways have a massive selection of luxury holiday homes to make your next staycation perfect. Whether it’s a romantic getaway or a family holiday, there’s plenty to choose from. You’ll be able to find properties with the things on your tick list, including dog-friendly, sea views, walking routes or even a log fire. There are barn conversions, cottages, lofts and manor houses – perfect for self catering holidays.

🐾 Dog friendly

Sykes Cottages

Sykes Cottages has over 17,500 holiday cottages to rent across the UK, including in Cornwall and the surrounding areas. There are pet-friendly cottages, large holiday homes and even houses with hot tubs. They’ve been operating for over 30 years, so you know you’re booking is in good hands.

🐾 Dog friendly

National Trust Holidays

You can stay in cottages, converted farmhouses and campsites in Cornwall with National Trust Holidays. With countryside views, you’ll have all the facilities and home comforts to hand, including patio areas or gardens and BBQs to enjoy in warmer weather.

National Trust Holiday Promo Code

Get 15% off selected cottages for bookings made and taken between 1 June and 12 December 2023. Use discount code NTAF.

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