Also see: Waves Surf School

St Merryn … some facts and history

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St Merryn

Covering 3,798 acres and including excess of 5 ½ miles of coastline, St. Merryn boasts some of the most dramatic cliffs and beautiful beaches in Cornwall.  The parish is bound to the north and east by the Lyn stream and to the south, a millstream divides it from the parishes of St. Eval and St. Ervan. 


The history of St Merryn is varied and interesting. It was probably in the second half of the 6th century that the missionary priest Merryn arrived from Wales and established a chapel upstream from Harlyn Bay. Merryn was one of several Welsh missionary priests who spread the Christian word in the 6th and 7th Century.

In it’s history St. Merryn church has been through various stages of construction 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 Gothic arches of stone called Cataclews, which was quarried on Trevose Head. 

Seven bays for seven days

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 high tide, 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 and Padstow. The 7 beaches have varying aspects, offering the potential for shelter or surf, depending on wind direction and the state of tide. Most beaches offer 'crabbing and netting' rocks at their west end, a favourite pursuit for the little ones.

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. 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 steam traction rally, Carnival featuring floats and parade, Church fete and regular coffee mornings in the Church Hall, skittles touraments (in the 'Young Men's Green' opposite the Cornish Arms), various events and auctions at the Community Hall, and in some seasons 'The Amazing Maize Maze', a nearby attraction for all the family. 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, golf courses, riding stables, Waves Surf School and Restaurants, all add to the colour and vitality of this age old but still expanding community.