Our local town, St Austell, is famous for the Eden Project and its eponymous brewery. There are also other fabulous attractions, great beaches and excellent outdoor activities in and around this welcoming Cornish town.
We’ll take a closer look at why St Austell is a top Cornish holiday destination.
St Austell (named after 6th century hermit, St Austol) began life as a small hamlet, and soon grew when tin began to be mined at Polgooth in the 18th century. However, the Cornish town really took off when a chemist named William Cookworthy discovered kaolin deposits in the area, better known as china clay.
It turned out that Cornwall has the biggest china clay deposits in the world. Kaolin is used in many applications, from porcelain to paper to petrochemicals, so it’s not surprising that china clay mining took over from tin and copper extraction in the St Austell area.
When tin mining declined, china clay extraction continued, making St Austell one of Cornwall’s more prosperous towns.
The railways brought tourism to St Austell from 1859, and grand hotels and later holiday parks began to spring up along this lovely part of the Cornish coastline.
You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches near St Austell. Porthpean Beach is the closest beach to The Cornwall, and is a great place for watersports. Sandy Pentewan is a great beach for families, and there’s a quiet little beach near Mevagissey.
If you want to make a day of it, it’s a quick drive to the beautiful beaches at Gorran Haven and Carlyon Bay.
There’s plenty to do in and around St Austell. Here are the top local attractions.
This is one of Cornwall’s (actually, make that the UK’s) most famous attractions. It’s a must-visit for gardeners, families, foodies, music lovers, and anyone who cares about our planet. The iconic biomes are housed in beautiful landscaped gardens, reclaimed from a disused china clay pit.
These wonderfully diverse gardens were “lost” after the First World War, and have been painstakingly rediscovered and restored. Explore sub tropical woods, farmland and kitchen gardens, all in one stunning site.
Learn about the history of kaolin mining in the fascinating museum, then explore the site’s woodland footpaths. You even get a glimpse of a modern china clay mine in action.
In 1851, the famous brewery made its first beer, and owner Walter Hicks bought his first pub, the Seven Stars in 1863. Today, you can call into the visitor centre and shop, or book a behind-the-scenes tour of the legendary brewery.
Head a little way out of town to St Austell’s historic port, Charlestown. This beautiful little harbour is so unspoilt, it’s often used as a film location. While you’re here, visit the fascinating and recently refurbished Shipwreck Treasure Museum.
All of the attractions we mentioned above are great for kids, with family-friendly activities and good facilities. If you want somewhere specifically kid-focused, try Kidzworld Adventure Play, which has indoor activities for children of all ages.
Have a go at Cornwall Football Golf, the sports mashup you really don’t want to miss, or try the swimming pool and soft play at St Austell Leisure Centre. St Austell is also a straightforward drive to many of Cornwall’s top family attractions, such as Newquay Zoo, Lappa Valley and the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth.
If you love the great outdoors, then St Austell is the perfect destination. Follow the South West Coast Path to the charming old harbours at Charlestown or Mevagissey. While you’re in Meva, hop on a boat tour and explore the coast from the sea.
Prefer pedal power? The Pentewan Cycle Trail is a lovely route between St Austell and Meva, with a linked path to Heligan.There’s also a path through pretty King’s Wood.
Inland, follow the Clay Trails, a network of multi-use paths through the dramatic industrial landscape of the clay pits. The paths take you close to those distinctive pyramid-like spoil heaps, known as “the Cornish Alps”.
Fancy something rather more extreme than a gentle cycle ride? Go back to the Eden Project and book a session with Hangloose Adventure, whose thrill-seeking offers include a zip wire across the Eden pit, aerial trekking, and a giant outdoor swing.
St Austell is a typical mix of high street favourites and independent shops. White River Palace is the town’s shopping centre, with plenty of places to shop or grab a coffee, as well as a cinema, gym and car park. Call in at the legendary Lobbs Farm Shop near Heligan for fine local produce.
Popular places to eat include Edie’s for delicious French cuisine, Springtide in Charlestown for seafood, and the bar at St Austell brewery for quality pub grub. And of course, there are the welcoming restaurant, bar and tea room here at The Cornwall!
St Austell is easy to get to: simply take the A391 from the A30. There’s a mainline station in the town, with a direct train from London Paddington (typically 4 hours, 40).
Cornwall Airport Newquay is about 18 miles from St Austell, and you can pick up a taxi transfer or book a hire car.
If you want to know any more about our fabulous home town, please just ask us at The Cornwall.