Set off the road at King Edwards Crescent, between Fistral Beach and Newquay harbour, you’ll find a small white Grade II* listed building that was once an integral part of Newquay’s fishing industry.
Whilst the Huer’s Hut is quite literally at the side of the road, I’ve described it as a hidden landmark seeing as I’ve been visiting Newquay for 23 years and had never seen, or heard about it until this year!
After setting up the pop-up tent at Fistral beach, we left our things with my brother as we embarked back up the beach towards The Headland Hotel – where The Witches was filmed. The staff on the gates were extremely helpful in getting us on the coastal path, which can be accessed from the hotel’s car park.
As you make your way around the back of the building, you’ll find a set of steps leading onto the path, which you follow round to the right. Along the route, you’ll spot the old Coastguard’s hut at the tip of Towan Head – which could be mistaken for the Huer’s Hut from a distance. But pass with this Newquay landmark on your left and continue on the coastal path, following the signs for Huer’s Hut.
There are a number of coastal paths you can take, some narrower and closer to the cliff edge than others. We took the safer, wider, gravelled path with the dogs, and it was just as gorgeous and picturesque. We did come across quite a few dogs – some of which were off lead – so do be mindful that it’s not a particularly quiet walk.
As you see the hut approach, stop and take a moment to look out to the sea at Cornwall’s rugged coastline with the boats bobbing in the water. From the path, glance to the right and you’ll spot Newquay’s War Memorial, just a minute’s walk from the hut.
The Huer’s Hut is a small, round dwelling with a huge chimney – a very distinctive building that can be seen from miles down the coast. It’s believed to date back to the 14th century where it was inhabited by a hermit, or used as a lighthouse before becoming the Huer’s Hut in the 1500s.
The huer’s job was to watch for signs of pilchard (sardine) shoals and alert the townsfolk to their arrival by shouting ‘hevva, hevva’. The people of Newquay would rush to the harbour, to the right of the building, and launch a fleet of boats to collect the fish. The Huer would also direct boats by semaphore using bushes covered in cloth, and would signal to fishermen various messages – such as if their wife had given birth.
As the building used to be a lookout, I figured it must have a pretty cracking view of the sea – and I wasn’t wrong! There’s even a telescope you can pay to use to look at the boats out at sea!
There’s a set of small stairs that you can climb to stand atop of the structure, and two windows you can look inside. Peeking through, you can spot an early fireplace, which was possibly added during a restoration in the 1830s.
In 2014, the Huer’s Hut underwent another crowdfunded restoration, which TV presenter Phillip Schofield contributed £8,000 to. Completed shortly before Christmas that year, the total cost amassed up to £30,000 – but it’s brilliant to see the historic building in such good condition 700 years on.
After admiring the hut, you can head back to Fistral via the coastal path (or the road is faster), or continue along the path to the harbour to spot the resident seals! It took us about 15-20 minutes to stroll to the hut, and about 10 minutes to get back to the beach, with stunning views and lots of smells for the dogs to take in!