A Car Free Day Out around St Austell CL08
Grid Ref A1
This 7 mile (c. 12 km) circular trail winds its way around the little known expanse of Goss Moor. The Trail is mostly flat – much of it off road – allowing novice walkers and cyclists and the disabled easy and safe access to the moors.
The trail is surfaced to be suitable for walking, cycling, horse-riding and for wheelchair or mobility scooter users and buggies. Note: If you are using a wheelchair / mobility scooter you may need to have someone with you in some areas, as there are gates to open on parts of the trail.
About Goss Moor
Goss Moor is a 480 hectare National Nature Reserve (NNR), the largest surviving remnant of the Mid-Cornwall moors. The Moor is a unique wild and undeveloped environment with a rich natural and industrial heritage to explore and enjoy.
The name is believed to derive from the Celtic word “cors” meaning a boggy or marshy place. The moor has a rich and interesting history. It is a legendary hunting ground of King Arthur, and was later recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as part of the manor of Tremodret.
Today’s fascinating mosaic of wetland, heathland and scrub is the result of tin streaming; quarrying sand and aggregates and livestock grazing carried out across the centuries, forming a wild windswept landscape which hosts a rich biodiversity, providing a habitat for an outstanding range of rare plants and animals.
From a distance, the view is deceptive, for the heathland hides a maze of waterways, marshes and still, mysterious pools. The site is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Using the Trail
You can join the Trail at various points around the c. 7mile circuit. Information map panels are located along the route and a PDF can be downloaded from the Natural England website. Click here for details
The Trail is ideal for cycling. Bicycles can be hired at Screech Owl Sanctuary, which is alongside the Trail near Indian Queens. A range of cycles are available for adults and children, including tandems and tag-along trailers. Tel. 01726 860182
Screech is open from mid February – late October and light refreshments are available.
A network of local buses cross the area. From St Austell, Western Greyhound service No. 521 to Newquay serves St Dennis and Indian Queens (for Screech Owl Sanctuary). There are c.16 services each way Mon-Sat ; c. 5 on Sundays. Click here for more details at [http://www.westerngreyhound.com www.westerngreyhound.com]
Travelling by bus from the St Austell area, ask to alight at the edge of Indian Queens to walk to the Cycle Hire at Screech Owl Sanctuary, or walkers can join the Trail directly from the edge of the village. (Opposite Gnome World)
Along the Goss Moor Multi-use Trail
There’s much to see as you explore Goss Moor using the Trail. From Screech Cycle Hire, the first part of the Trail runs east along the route of the old A30 across the Moor. (There is a car park at the end of this stretch, including space for disability vehicles).
This section of the former A30 was notorious for traffic jams and its restricted height railway bridge, but is now a level traffic-free part of the Trail and is particularly suited to those with mobility problems. The new dual-carriageway A30, opened in 2007, runs to the north of the moor and avoids the low bridge and Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Goss Moor National Nature Reserve is a unique combination of wetland and heathland. The headwaters of the river Fal cross the moor – on the circuit you go over the stream which becomes the world’s third-deepest natural harbour when it reaches the coast at Falmouth!
Goss Moor is home to breeding birds and a number of scarce insects including damselflies, butterflies and moths. The Moor is one of the main breeding sites in England for the rare Marsh Fritillary butterfly.
Working with local farmers, Natural England has started grazing hardy traditional breeds of cattle and ponies on and around Goss Moor. Look out for the distinctive British White cattle as you enjoy the Trail.
Since the early 20th Century, high-voltage power lines and cables have crossed the Moor. The present large pylons were erected in the 1960s, and tracks built for access. The sub-station near the Trail controls the electricity supply for most of Cornwall.
The railway line crossing Goss Moor is the “Atlantic Coast” branch line between Par, on the Cornish mainline, and Newquay. The Trail crosses the line at Tregoss level crossing and again by bridge at St Dennis Junction. In places, the Trail follows the tracks of old mineral railway and tram lines.
Goss – and neighbouring Tregoss – Moors held Cornwall’s largest deposits of alluvial tin. Tin streaming is recorded in the 11th and12th centuries, and the industry reached its height in the 19th century. In the 1930s – 1950s, sand and gravel were extracted, dramatically reshaping the moor.
At nearly 500 feet above sea level, the village of St Dennis is visible to the south from much of the route. In particular, you can see St Dennis (originally St Denys) Church high on a hill, once the site of an Iron Age fort.
The china clay industry, which developed in the 19th Century, dominates the area to the south of Goss Moor. The distinctive peaks seen from the Trail, fondly known locally as “Flatty” and “Pointy”, are actually spoil heaps from earlier china clay working.
Help us protect Goss Moor
Goss Moor is a National Nature Reserve and is managed by Natural England. Please help look after this reserve and follow the Countryside Code.
- For your own safety keep to marked paths.
- Be aware of dangerous pools and bogs.
- Keep away from livestock.
For further information contact the Senior Reserve Manager on 0300 060 1765.
Please be considerate to other users – there is also a Code of Conduct for all users of the Trail, shown on signs at access points.
Shops, places to eat or stay and public toilets can be found in the neighbouring villages.