TEN THINGS TO DO IN ST AUSTELL
PUBLISHED: 10:30 10 January 2016 | UPDATED: 12:42 30 August 2017
Famed for its place for china clay production – the old market town of St Austell is a bustling market town sitting just a few miles from the coast and an array of amazing places on Cornwall’s riviera...
Step back a century or two and head to Charlestown and explore the Cornwall of smuggling and Poldark - and have fun trying to spot where Poldark was filmed.
When you’ve done looking out for Ross, head to the Charlestown Shipwreck and Heritage Centre, offering a great history lesson in smuggling and shipwrecking - as well as exhibitions on the Titanic and the Lusitania.
Eat & Drink
Make a special trip to the Knightor Winery which sits above St Austell Bayand makes quality English still and sparkling wines that are garnering quite a reputation among those in the know.
It is also a home to a popular restaurant which hosts some great evening events - and even weddings.
Next to China Clay - St Austell’s most famous export is probably the beer. St Austell Brewery offers a fantastic tour of its history in its recently refurbished visitor’s centre - where tours will take you through more than 160 years of brewing excellence for the family brewers - and handily has a pub at the end of it! In November they host the Celtic Beer Festival - the biggest party of the year for ale lovers across the country.
Eat at Sam's
Sam’s on the Beach is our favourite place to eat! Described as a relaxed US-style bistro and fish specialist in an airy former lifeboat station with harbour views, it sits overlooking Polkerris harbour. In the summer they take away the windows to give you a real flavour of eating al fresco.
Sam’s success has seen it open new places with Sam’s @ The Bay – a brand new Tikki hut in Crinnis on the shores of Carlyon Bay. One in Fowey and even Truro-based Sam’s in the City. Each venue is unique and a masterclass in relaxed socialising.
Staying with the outdoors we’re heading for the incredible Lost Gardens of Heligan. This month these re-discovered 200 acres playgrounds will be celebrating the traditional autumn harvest fetival (1-16 October) But you’ll always find me in the Italian Garden. Heaven!
We really can’t visit St Austell and not mention its most famous landmark! The twin biomed Eden Project was created on waste ground from the area’s china clay industry. If you’ve never been - where have you been! There are great entry deals for locals - and a seemingly inexhaustable list of events - from this summer’s fantastic Dinosaur’s Unleashed to the Eden Session concerts and the eagerly awaited winter ice rink.
Whatever happened to the days of going to a museum where the only thing that could be heard was shhhh!’ and stressed adults admonishing sticky-fingered off spring not to touch anything!
Well, you won’t find it at Wheal Martyn China Clay Heritage Centre which prudes itself on offering something for everyone - even the dog.
Instead explore Cornwall’s rich China Clay mining heritage, discover the Victorian clay works, stroll the nature trails or see modern mining in action at Pit Vie - as well as working water wheels and when the kids have done running around the museum, there’s a play area for them to work off some more steam.
With the 19th Century decline of tin and copper mining, the Cornish china clay industry grew rapidly, outstripping those industries in size, economic contribution, development of technology and research. For over 100 years the key industry in Cornwall, china clay production far exceeded all metalliferous mineral production. There’s always special events on - and in keeping with every good museum, local people are always involved.
Heaven by the sea
There are many, many beaches in easy reach of St Austell and each one is distinct - from the shingle beaches of Porthpean and Charlestown to the sandy magnificence of Carlyon Bay – which was turned into a giant outdoor cinema – set up by CEG (Commercial Estates Group) – with screenings of the classic Jaws (you really will never go into the water again!).