The parish and village of St Merryn, of 3,798 acres, includes more than 5 1/2 miles of coastline, with some of the most dramatic cliffs and beautiful beaches in Cornwall. On its north and east sides the parish is bounded by the Lyn stream and the parish of Padstow; on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. To the south a millstream which divides it from the parishes of St Eval and St Ervan.
For information on the beaches in the area please look at our beaches page.
The history of St Merryn is a varied and interesting one and it was probably in the second half of the 6th century that the missionary priest Merryn arrived from Wales who established a chapel just upstream from Harlyn Bay. Merryn was one of several Welsh missionary priests who spread the Christian word in the 6th and 7th Century.
The church has been through various stages of construction and extentions in its history and has been the centre of its community for centuries. This is clearly shown with the parishioners organising the building of the South Aisle, using stone from the original construction of the nave and chancel. The South Aisle was separated from the nave by a beautiful arcade of 7 pillars and Gothc arches of stone called Cataclews, which was quarried on Trevose Head.
St. Merryn village has a tourism motto “Seven bays for seven days”, displayed on the road signs as you enter the village. This refers to the bays & beaches in the vicinity which are (north-east to south-west): Trevone Bay, Harlyn Bay, Mother Ivy’s Bay, Booby’s Bay and the adjoining Constantine Bay, Treyarnon Bay and Porthcothan Bay.
The nearest to St Merryn village centre (the crossroads) is Harlyn Bay (1 mile north), the furthest (Porthcothan) 3.5 miles south-west. Only one of these, Booby’s Bay has no beach at the highest tides, the ribs of a wrecked ship appear periodically as the sand is relocated by the sea and prevailing currents. The widest beaches at low tide are Harlyn Bay and Constantine Bay. All the bays have fine golden sands and a backdrop of either rocky cliffs or sand-dunes, and all are popular with families as well as swimmers and surfers.
There is a sand-dune Conservation project at Constantine Bay, preserving an ancient haven for wildlife. This 20-year project involved planting tens of thousands of sea grass plants. The North Cornwall Coastal Path (follow the yellow arrows) leads even an average walker to dramatic coastal scenery; there are many notable viewpoints between Porthcothan to Padstow. The 7 beaches have varying aspects, offering the potential for shelter or surf, depending on wind direction and tidal state. Most beaches offer ‘crabbing and netting’ rocks at their west end, a favourite pursuit for children.
Many clifftop benches are dedicated to relatives of locals and visitors ‘who loved this place’. ‘Lark song and sea sound in the air, and splendour, splendour everywhere’ is one inscription on a bench between Treyarnon and Constantine Bays. Another nearby is the mysterious ‘The Captain and the Purple Lady – The sun is always over the yardarm’.
On Trevose Head (located between Booby’s Bay and Mother Ivey’s Bay visitors can see the Trevose Head Lighthouse, and go inside the Lifeboat Station. Between Trevone and Padstow, the estuary headland is topped with an old stone lookout tower, now unmanned.
In the summer, St. Merryn hosts a funfair, steam traction rally, St Merryn Carnival featuring floats and parade, the St Merryn Church fete and regular coffee mornings in the Church Hall, skittles touraments (in the ‘Young Men’s Green’ opposite the Cornish Arms public house, now run by local celebrity chef Rick Stein), various events and auctions at the Community Hall. In the winter months indoor activities include pool competitions, darts competitions, traditional Cornish euchre card games, and snooker (open to local residents and their personal guests).
From the medieval church, Bronze and Iron Age settlements, interesting inns, holiday complexes, caravan parks and a golf course and country club all add to the colour and vitality of this age old but still expanding community.
There are also several licensed restaurants and two pubs – The Farmers Arms and The Cornish Arms. At nearby Tresallyn Cross there is a very unusual front garden. Eight giant monoliths stand in a circle like a miniature Stonehenge. A ‘holy’ well and a twelve feet deep underground chamber complete this strange collection. At nearby Trewithen Farm, Tina’s riding stables cater for trekking through quiet narrow lanes.