A former vibrant river port nestled on the confluence of the Tresillian and Truro rivers, Malpas is a popular destination with day trippers and holiday makers who come to enjoy the stunning river setting, breath-taking views and tranquillity of the natural surroundings. It is also the departure point for river cruises all the way to Falmouth. This quiet, pretty village is perfect for everybody seeking an escape from the madding crowd. It’s a place where you will find pristine nature, stunning walks, friendly smiles and a chance to just be.
Malpas is located within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Malpas Estuary is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is an important habitat of tidal mudflats, which are a feeding ground for wildfowl and wading birds.
Herons nest in the trees on the riverbanks and cormorants, curlews, grebes and egrets are a common site.
If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the kingfisher’s gold and blue plumage. Particularly in the evenings, the air resonates with the cacophony of bird calls. The banks of the estuary are covered in dense forests, some of which are part of the Duchy of Cornwall estate on the Tresillian River.
The Malpas estuary is popular with kayakers and paddle boarders, even occasional wild swimmers!
The river is accessible from the harbour, however there is no boat or paddle board hire in the village. You need to bring your own or hire it elsewhere. But once on the river, you can paddle as far as Trelissick, Restronguet Creek or Truro. You may need to check tide times to help you along. Note that most of the banks along the river are private property of the Tregothnan Estate and are not accessible outside public moorings.
A wonderful way to explore the local area is to take the ferry which goes down the Fal River as far as Falmouth several times a day in spring and summer.
The ferry docks at the quay in Malpas and tickets are sold on the boat. One of the stops is Trelissick House and Gardens. Once in Falmouth, you can either explore the town and what it has to offer or hop on another boat and cross the estuary to the holiday resort of St Mawes.
The ferries are dog friendly and the skipper offers a commentary of the voyage, peppered with Cornish humour, over the loudspeaker.
The Heron Inn
The friendly local on the riverbank in the centre of Malpas is a fine establishment serving tasty food and lovely wines.
The proprietor and award-winning chef Nick Hemming swears by fresh, local ingredients and the suppliers are visibly listed at the pub.
Check the specials board for the day’s pick of culinary delights. Seafood features prominently both on the regular menu and the specials board. Couple this with a drop of fine wine or one of the local ales on tap and you’re in for a real treat.
The Heron Inn of course benefits from the stunning river views.
On a warm day, you can sit on the raised terrace in front of the pub or in the garden above the river. The pub supplies blankets for when the day is sunny enough but a bit chilly, as well as sunglasses for those hot summer afternoons. A popular part of the terrace is the Heron’s Nest, a sheltered corner with cosy seating, an outdoors heater and of course an uninterrupted view of the river.
Newly refurbished in November 2019, The Heron Inn is not only a foodie destination, but a local hub organising regular quiz nights (Tuesdays). The New Year’s party is the place to be and the Easter Egg Tossing Competition has become somewhat legendary.
The Heron Inn opens at 9.30 am for a spot of breakfast and remains open throughout lunch and afternoon until after dinner time. Dogs are not only welcome, but positively spoiled!
There are many footpaths around the village, and you can choose to walk either across the fields above the village or along the river.
A favourite destination is the neighbouring village of St Clement with pretty old cottages and a venerable old church. Walk along the road to the end of the village, where you will see a sign for a footpath. Follow the sign onto what seems to be a private driveway behind private houses, but don’t be shy! You will find a footpath at the very end of the drive. Continue along the footpath through the forest, cross the stream on two footbridges and follow the footpath straight up a field. Continue to the top of the slope and then down to the village. The walk is about 2 miles and takes 30 min. It makes for a pleasant stroll on a late summer afternoon.
If you want to walk to St Clement along the river, then instead of entering the field after crossing the second footbridge turn right and follow the Denas Road footpath. This will take you to St Clement along the Tresillian River through the Duchy of Cornwall estate. On the way you will see some spectacular trees and the river is serenely beautiful.
Once you get to St Clement, it is well worth visiting the church. Although heavily restored in the 19th century, the church is medieval and there was a church at the site well before the Norman conquest. A vestige of ancient times, there is a Celtic cross in the cemetery, dedicated to “Ignioc, the son Of Vitalus” and dating to the 5th or 6th century. Part of the inscription is in the Ogham script.
The church in St Clement also has its resident artist! The studio is above the entrance porch leading to the church. Once inside the church yard, a sign will lead you up the external staircase to the left. The artist in residence will welcome you to her studio and show you her work, some of which is for sale.
From St Clement, you can continue your walk for another mile to the village of Tresillian on the same path along the river. Along the way you will enjoy mostly uninterrupted views of the river and see abundance of wild birds feeding on the mudflats: curlews, grebes, egrets, cormorants, maybe even a heron. Flocks of wild geese are not an uncommon sight either. Halfway the path turns into a causeway between the river and a pond. It’s well worth stopping for a while and quietly observing the wildlife on the pond and river. Once you reach the edge of Tresillian, you can either turn back or continue for another half a mile on the footpath along the main road to the centre of the village. There you will find refreshments in the form of excellent pasties at Mary’s Pasties shop (open 8 am to 4 pm). If a pasty won’t do, there is The Wheel Inn just a couple of hundred yards further up along the road. This traditional Cornish pub in a 13th century thatched building serves tasty home cooked meals and ales on tap. See our blog of the Malpas to St. Clement walk for more details.
Where to Stay
Fal River Cottage is perched on the riverbank in the centre of Malpas, only 3 doors down from The Heron Inn. It is a perfect base for river walks and cruises, as well as visiting Truro and exploring the rest of Cornwall. A perfect retreat from the madding crowd, it benefits from spectacular views and guarantees the highly sought-after privacy for a relaxing break from a busy everyday life.
Postcode: TR1 1SL (Trenhaile Terrace)
Nearby: Truro 2 miles, St Clement 2 miles (on footpaths) or 2.2 miles (via St Clement Road), Tresillian 3 miles (on footpaths) or 5 miles (via A390)
Transport links: bus to Truro
Boat trips from Malpas Harbour: Fal River Cruises (dog friendly). Ferry service runs from 01/04 to 27/09/2020.
Refreshments: The Heron Inn (dog friendly), booking recommended; tel: +44 1872 272773