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Roche Rock

Roche Rock Cornwall

The Mysterious Legend of Roche Rock

Rising mysteriously from a wooded hillside minutes from St Austell lies the imposing craggy outcrop known as Roche Rock. Steeped in spine-tingling tales of white witches, dark magic and even the Devil himself, this iconic granite formation promises families a day out immersed in unique Cornish myth and legend amid enchanting natural scenery.

Our guide shows how to discover the truth around Roche Rock’s supernatural folklore for yourself through scenic forest walks, hidden holy wells and even modern day pagan rituals.

Roche Rock

Getting to Roche Rock

Roche Rock can be found just outside St Austell at Pentewan Valley.

By Car – Exit the A30 at Cornwall services and then take the B3274 through Victoria to Roche.

By Bus – Regular bus services connect St Austell and Roche village just 10 minutes walk from Roche Rock.

Opening Times and Entry Price for Roche Rock

Open access walking trails operate during daylight hours only. Car park gates open 8am til dusk.

No entry fee – free access site. Dogs permitted on leads.

Legend and History of Roche Rock

This iconic 30ft+ standalone rock pinnacle flanked by lush oak forest has stood here for thousands of years as a well known local landmark. However recent history imbued the site with an intriguing air of magic, deception and the occult still palpable for visitors today.

A Geological Giant from a Bygone Era:

Millions of years ago, molten rock deep within the Earth pushed upwards, eventually cooling and solidifying into the distinctive granite mass we see today. Erosion sculpted the softer surrounding rock, leaving Roche Rock standing proud, a testament to time’s grand design.

Traces of Early Residents:

Archaeological excavations near the rock have unearthed flint tools and pottery dating back to the Neolithic period (4,500–2,500 BC), hinting at the allure this natural fortress held for ancient people. Perhaps they sought shelter, held rituals, or simply marveled at its imposing presence.


St. Michael’s Chapel: A Sanctuary in the Sky:

In 1409, atop the rock’s flat summit, a chapel dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel was constructed. Its two stories, now weathered and worn, stand as a reminder of medieval faith and the desire for solitude. Some say a hermit took refuge within its walls, finding solace in the sky-high perch.

Whispers of Legend:

Roche Rock isn’t just a geological wonder; it’s a canvas for Cornish folklore. The most famous tale is that of Jan Tregeagle, a wicked squire condemned to roam the moors as a never-ending punishment. Bound to an endless task of collecting pebbles on the shore, his mournful cries are said to echo around the rock on stormy nights.

Another legend speaks of a hidden treasure trove guarded by a fearsome dragon. Adventurers have searched for centuries, lured by the promise of buried gold, but the secret, if it exists, remains locked within the rock’s silent heart.

jan treagle legend golitha falls

A Place of Enchantment:

Today, Roche Rock is a haven for hikers, climbers, and those seeking a dose of Cornish magic. The path to the summit winds through fragrant gorse and heather, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Reaching the top is a reward in itself, with the ruined chapel standing sentinel, inviting exploration and imagination.

Whether you’re drawn to its geological origins, historical whispers, or enchanting legends, Roche Rock remains a captivating landmark. It’s a place where time seems to stand still, where the past and present mingle in the whispering wind, and where imagination takes flight on the wings of myth. So, lace up your boots, let your curiosity guide you, and discover the magic that awaits atop this timeless Cornish giant.

Pagan Ceremonies

Back in the 1960s, self-proclaimed ‘King of the Witches‘ Alex Sanders would regularly gather a coven here to perform elaborate pagan ceremonies and cast spells amongst the trees, including initiating newcomers into his tradition of witchcraft. The secrecy around these late night forest meets helped cement modern local myths of dark practices and pagan sorcery haunting Roche Rock and its striking jagged outcrop.

Today pagans still conduct open rituals here honouring the Wheel of the Year during annual Sabbats like Litha (summer solstice). Grab a witchy souvenir ortarot reading in theholistic shop at Roche Rock’s car park.

Trails Around Roche Rock

Weave uphill from the central visitor area through lush oak woodland alive with bird call to discover remnants of Roche Rock’s rich history spanning centuries.

Here are three tempting options for your walking boots:

  • The Classic Climb: The most direct route to the rock, this path ascends through fragrant heathland, offering panoramic views with every step. Conquer the fixed ladders and be rewarded with the ruins of St Michael’s Chapel and endless vistas.
  • The Woodland Wander: Immerse yourself in the emerald embrace of Bugle Wood. This gentle trail follows the River Fal, dappled sunlight playing on the water’s surface. Keep an eye out for local wildlife – shy deer, flitting birds, and perhaps even a mischievous badger.
  • The Heritage Hike: This circular route combines the best of both worlds. Start with the climb to Roche Rock, then descend through the woodland, passing the 18th-century Treffry Viaduct, a marvel of industrial engineering. Finish with a pint at the historic Jamaica Inn, a smugglers’ haunt steeped in local lore.
Roche Rock

Reaching the top of Roche Rock is epic, but it’s not for everyone.

There’s a metal ladder bolted to the side that takes you up, but be warned: it’s steep and exposed. Think sheer drops, no railings, and wind that can whip your hair around like crazy.

Here’s the deal:

  • If you’re scared of heights or have balance issues, skip it. This is not a place to mess around.
  • Wear proper shoes with good grip. It’s rocky up there.
  • Take your time, watch your step, and hold onto the rungs..
  • Once you reach the top, soak in the incredible views, but be mindful of your footing. There are no walls to lean on, so keep a safe distance from the edge.

Bottom line: Reaching the top of Roche Rock is a rewarding challenge, but only if you’re up for it. Be smart, be safe, and enjoy the amazing views!

No matter how you choose to experience it, Roche Rock is definitely worth a visit. Just remember to be safe and have fun!

No matter your fitness level or interests, Roche Rock’s trails offer something for everyone. Lace up your boots, breathe in the fresh Cornish air, and let the paths lead you to your own slice of adventure.

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The woodland trails around the Roche Rock site offer adventurous kids plenty of scope to unleash their imagination or quieter toddlers space to roam safely within sight under the forest canopy.

You can scramble down fairly steep, uneven slopes for glimpses from below but take care near edges and supervise children carefully as winter wetness or loose scree and overhangs increase risks on exposed faces.

Refuel and Refreshments

After a your visit to Roche Rock, you’ll no doubt be ready for some delicious Cornish refreshment. Luckily, a plethora of charming cafes, tea shops, and pubs await near Roche, each offering a unique taste of local hospitality and ambiance.

  • The Victoria Inn: Just a stone’s throw from Roche Rock itself, The Victoria Inn is a traditional Cornish pub with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Refuel after your adventures with a hearty pub lunch featuring locally sourced ingredients. Think fresh seafood platters, juicy steaks, and comforting pies, all washed down with a pint of Cornish ale.
  • The Rock Inn: The Rock Inn in Roche, Cornwall, is a stone’s throw from the iconic rock itself, offering hearty pub fare, stunning coastal views, and a warm welcome. Imagine pints of Cornish ale next to crackling fires, seafood chowder with crusty bread, and succulent roasts with breathtaking ocean panoramas. Book ahead, as this popular spot gets busy!
  • The Jamaica Inn: Steeped in smuggling history, this iconic pub near Bodmin Moor offers a lively atmosphere and delicious food. Choose from roast dinners with all the trimmings, hearty pasties, or a seafood platter, all with stunning countryside views.

No matter your taste or budget, there’s a perfect cafe, tea shop, or pub near Roche waiting to welcome you. So, lace up your walking boots, explore the wild beauty of Cornwall, and reward yourself with a delicious local treat!

view from the east of Roche Rock

Nearby Attractions to Match with Roche Rock

Pair half a day immersed in myth and magic at evocative Roche Rock with…

  • Wheal Martyn – This former clay works near St Austell depicts Cornwall’s china clay industry through museum displays, a forest walk and the history of how local granite was transformed on an industrial scale.
  • Eden Project – Just a 15 minute drive from Roche Rock, this popular eco-attraction consists of huge biomes housing global plant collections in tropical conditions under gigantic domed greenhouses.
  • Charlestown Harbour – Used as a backdrop in Poldark and Alice In Wonderland, this picturesque harbour surrounded by beaches was built to export copper and china clay in the 19th century.
  • St Austell Brewery Visitor Centre – Go on a guided tour of this working brewery opened in 1851, to explore the brewing process and history before sampling their craft beers in an inn.
  • Carlyon Bay Beach – Found close to St Austell, this sweeping sandy Cornish beach surrounded by low cliffs has rock pools to discover at low tide and scenic coastal walks.
  • Polgoon Vineyard – This family-run Cornish vineyard near St Austell offers tours and wine tasting with sweeping views over the vines and rolling countryside – choose from still whites, rosés and sparkling.
  • Duporth Beach – Just outside Charlestown near Roche Rock, this gently sloping sandy beach is great for swimming and surfing, with striking Kelsey Head cliffs behind and some seasonal beach cafes.
  • Pentewan Beach – A short drive from Roche Rock sits this large Blue Flag family beach with golden sands, seasonal cafes, a nature reserve behind and water sport equipment available to hire.
  • Mevagissey – 4 miles from Roche Rock, this traditional Cornish fishing port has galleries, shops and cafés clustered around a tiny colourful harbour filled with bobbing boats.
  • Caerhays Castle – This grand turreted Neo-Gothic castle surrounded by a wooded estate dates from 1808. Its gardens are world famous for rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias near a sandy beach.

Roche Rock brings atmospheric tales of sorcery and the supernatural dramatically to life against the craggy granite outcrop still shrouded in mystery today. From ghost stories to goddess worship, it’s a fascinating landmark for a family day steeped in quintessential Cornish charm.

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