River Hayle

Cornwall Information & Accommodation Guide


The River Hayle, in Cornish, Heyl, meaning estuary, is a short river in the west of Cornwall.

The Hayle River meets the sea at St Ives Bay, on Cornwall’s north coast, after running its 12 mile (19 km) course from the parish of Crowan.

For its first 5 miles it flows westwards towards Mount’s Bay on the south coast passing through Clowance Ponds. At Binnerton, near Godolphin, the Hayle is joined by several small streams before running through a steep wooded valley near Trescowe Common before turning north near Relubbus.

Formerly, the river would have been tidal at Relubbus but in an area that was extensively mined, the waterway has long since become silted up. The river flows under Relubbus Bridge and along a pretty valley to St Erth where it passes St Erth Parish Church before being crossed by the four-arched St Erth Bridge.

There has been a bridge at St Erth for at least 700 years (although much of today’s bridge dates from the 17th century and it was widened during the 19th century).

After St Erth, the river runs beneath the Hayle Causeway or Causey built in the early 1800s. The Causeway was built with two bridges and was a toll road for the first years after its construction, in order to recoup the building costs. A coach was charged 6d to cross while each horse was charged 1d.

Hayle estuary contains the remains of Hayle’s important port which had its heyday during the busy mining period of the 1800s. Today parts of the harbour are being redeveloped.

On the Lelant side of the estuary are expansive salt marshes known as Lelant Saltings and Lelant Parish Church.

At Chapel Anjou Rock, there was formerly a chapel dedicated to St Anta. Little is known of St Anta other than her chapel on the rocks at the entrance to Hayle River. In the 1400s it was kept by a Guild and possibly housed a beacon light to aid mariners.

The Hayle estuary is the most southwesterly in the UK. The whole estuary is an RSPB Nature Reserve, providing a sanctuary for thousands of birds every year, including rare migrants. Areas around the estuary are designated as Sites of special scientific interest (SSSI)


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