Callestick and Ventongimps

The walk starts at Penhallow and follows the lane from beside the pub to Ventongimps. From here the route follows byways, bridleways and footpaths through woods and fields to Little Callstock. The route passes though the woods surrounding Chyverton Park and circles the West Chyverton Mine which once employed over 1000 people but now the tips are overgrown with wildflowers including orchids. Footpaths and lanes then lead to Callestick Farm where the ice cream is made. The final stretch of the circular route is via Healey's Cyder Farm where tours of the cider-making process, museum and cellars are available.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 104 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 6 miles/9.7 km
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Start from: the lay-by in Penhallow
  • Parking: Lay-by in Penhallow, park at the far end to avoid blocking buses from pulling in at the bus stop.. Follow the A3075 from Chiverton Cross roundabout. The lay-by is just after the Cornish Cyder Farm and 40 mph signs. Satnav: TR49LT
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots

Maps for this walk

(dark blue corner = laminated version)

Highlights

  • Insect-eating plants in the Ventongimps Moor Nature Reserve
  • Engine house, wildflowers and martian landscape of West Chyverton Mine
  • Tours and tasting at Healey's Cyder Farm
  • Watch the Ice Cream being made at Callestick Farm
  • Wildflowers and butterflies in the fields and along the lanes in Spring

Directions

  1. Carefully follow the main road towards Newquay a short distance into Penhallow, past the turning to Healey's Cider Farm, to reach a lane on the right signposted to Ventongimps.

    Donald Healey was born in Perranporth and became famous in the 1930s as a racing driver and later as a car designer resulting in the Austin Healey sports car. During the years he lived in Perranporth he owned a number of businesses there including a garage (naturally). With the wealth that he accumulated, he bought Trebah House on the Helford River. His descendants set up and run Healey's Cyder Farm.

  2. Turn right down the lane signposted to Ventongimps and follow it to a crossroads.

    Ventongimps is a name that has clearly become mangled over the years. It was once known as Fentengempes. Fenten is the Cornish word for "spring". In Cornish, words starting with a "k" often change to a "g", depending on the word in front, and therefore the second word could be a variation of kemper, which means "confluence". There is a substantial river confluence a short way to the north of the small settlement of Ventongimps so it could be a reference to that, or there are also a number of small springs that join the river.

  3. Continue ahead at the crossroads and follow the lane until it ends at a junction beside a bridge.

    Ventongimps moor is one of the best places in Cornwall for damselflies, dragonflies, butterflies and moths with over 100 species being recorded. It also supports a number of rare bog plants including the sundew which catches insects on its sticky hairs which act like flypaper. It is estimated each plant catches 2000 insects per summer which are digested by the plant, providing nutrients which are scarce in the moorland peat. The boggy habitat is formed due to the layer of peat resting on a layer of clay, trapping water beneath the moor.

  4. Turn right over the bridge and follow the lane past some houses on the left including one named "foxgloves" until you reach a track on the left with a Public Byway sign.

    The common name "foxglove" dates back many hundreds of years but the origin is unknown. The "gloves" almost certainly refers to the shape of the flowers, and the latin name Digitalis (fingerlike) is along similar lines. The curious part is the "fox" and many different suggestions have been made as to where it came from. It is likely that it is a corruption of another word; possibly "folks" which was once used to mean "fairies".

    Foxgloves are reliant on bumblebees for pollination and bumblebees are much more active when the weather is good. As an insurance policy against bad weather, foxgloves have evolved to stagger their flowering over several weeks, starting with the flowers at the base of the stalk and working up to the top, where the higher flowers protrude over other vegetation that has grown up in that time.

  5. Turn left down the track and keep right at the fork as you approach a metal gate. Continue to follow the main track, passing a gateway on the right, until it forks at a pair of wooden gates on the right.

    Research suggest that Sycamore was common in Britain up to Roman times but then died out due to the warming climate apart from some mountainous regions such as in Scotland. During the Tudor period it is thought to have been reintroduced by landowners looking for a rapid-growing tree for their estates and was found to be salt-tolerant - essential in Cornwall. It has since spread widely as the seeds are extremely fertile and able to grow just about anywhere. In fact, in some areas it is regarded as an invasive weed. The timber was traditionally used for milk pails as it does not impart any flavour or colour. It is still used today for kitchenware and is recognisable by the light colour and fine grain.

  6. At the wooden gates, keep left and follow the track to where a path departs to the right, just before the track goes though a gate to the cottage.
  7. Turn right onto the path through the woods and follow this a short distance to reach a stile.
  8. Cross the waymarked stile and turn left. Follow along the left hedge and follow the path beneath the line of trees to re-emerge in the field. Continue ahead to pass between the trees in the middle of the field and then follow the line of trees to a stile in the fence at the edge of the woods.

    If there are sheep in the field and you have a dog, make sure it's securely on its lead (sheep are prone to panic and injuring themselves even if a dog is just being inquisitive). If the sheep start bleeting, this means they are scared and they are liable to panic. If there are pregnant sheep in the field, be particularly sensitive as a scare can cause the lambs to be stillborn. If there are sheep in the field with lambs, avoid approaching them closely, making loud noises or walking between a lamb and its mother, as you may provoke the mother to defend her young. Sheep may look cute but if provoked they can cause serious injury (hence the verb "to ram"). Generally, the best plan is to walk quietly along the hedges and they will move away or ignore you.

  9. Cross the stile and follow the path through the woods to reach a stile onto a track.

    On the far side of the meadow, on the left just before the stile, is a very furry tree.

    Lichens are a partnership of two different organisms: a fungus providing the "accommodation" and an alga or cyanobacterium providing the "food" through photosynthesis. The fungal partner provides a cosy, sheltered environment for the alga and tends it with mineral nutrients. However, the alga partner is more than simply an imprisoned food-slave: it is such a closely-evolved alliance that the fungus is dependant on the alga for its shape and structure. If the fungal partner is isolated and grown on an agar plate, it forms a shapeless, infertile blob.

  10. Cross the stile and turn right onto the track. Follow the track until you reach a waymarked stile on the right, opposite a track on the left.

    There are nearly 400 miles of public bridleway in Cornwall, marked with blue waymarks, which are also open to horses and cyclists, although there is no obligation to make them navigable by any means other than on foot. The general public are also legally entitled to drove livestock along public bridleways, and although Cornwall has more than its share of eccentrics, this is something we've yet to see.

  11. Turn left down the track and follow it to a gate. Go through the gate and follow the path through the woods to reach a waymark at a fork in the track.

    The association of holly with winter celebrations pre-dates Christianity: druids were known to use holly wreaths which, it is likely with some discomfort, they wore on their heads.

  12. Turn left at the waymark and follow the path to a pair of footbridges at the bottom of the valley.

    The bright orange colour of the water in the brook could be the result of water seeping from a nearby mine.

    Metal sulphide ores within mines react with air and water to form sulphuric acid and dissolved metals. When this acidic solution (known as Acidic Mine Drainage) meets other water, it is diluted and the reduced acidity causes dissolved iron to precipitate out as orange or yellow hydroxides, colouring the water and sticking to anything in the watercourse. In the case of copper mines, copper stays dissolved in the water and at higher levels this can be toxic to wildlife, particularly fish.

    Where there is a large amount of water coming from a mine which is not rendered harmless by natural dilution, reed beds have been found to be very effective in treating the acidic water. Plants and bacteria in the reed bed convert the dissolved metals into insoluble compounds that are trapped within the reed bed. There are even suggestions that the metals may be commercially recoverable after they have been concentrated in the reed bed over a period of time.

  13. Cross the waymarked bridge and follow the path uphill. Just before the path passes through a bank, turn right to reach stone wall with some blocks protruding. Climb over the wall and continue to reach a stile into a field.
  14. Cross the stile and head across the field to a gate to the left of the line of trees opposite.

    If you are crossing a field in which there are horses:

    • Do not approach horses if they have foals, make loud noises nor walk between a foal and its mother as you may provoke the mother to defend her young. Generally the best plan is to walk along the hedges.
    • Horses will often approach you as they are used to human contact. If horses approach you, do not run away as this will encourage them to chase you. If you are uncomforable with their proximity, calmly walk away.
    • Do not feed the horses with sweets or otherwise. Some food which is harmless to humans can be deadly to horses.
    • If you have a dog, keep it under close control in a visible but safe place, and as still and quiet as possible.
  15. Cross the stile next to the gate and follow the track along the right hedge to reach a gate in the far hedge.

    Evidence of windmills in England dates from around the 12th century and in Cornwall there are records of windmills as far back as 1296. Wind turbines may be viewed as the modern successor but actually themselves date back to Victorian times: the first large windmill to generate electricity was built in 1888 in the USA, and in Cornwall, a private house was lit using electricity generated by a wind turbine in 1890.

  16. Go through the pedestrian gate and turn right onto the lane. When you reach a signpost, follow the lane around a bend to the right and then continue until the lane ends in a T-junction.

    Navelwort grows on the vertical faces of the roadside banks as you descend the hill.

    Both navelwort's latin name and common name are based on its resemblance to a belly button. Other common names include wall pennywort and penny pies. It is a member of the stonecrop family which are able to survive in barren locations by storing water in their fleshy leaves. The succulent leaves can be eaten and used in a salad. Older leaves become more bitter so the younger leaves are recommended. Care should be taken not to pull roots out of wall when breaking off leaves.

  17. Turn left at the junction and follow the lane a few paces to a track between two wooden gates on the right. Follow the track until you reach a junction.

    On the opposite side of the lane is Chyverton Park.

    Chyverton Park includes a house and landscaped garden both created in the 18th Century, replacing an earlier house and garden. The gardens are planted with 200 species of magnolia, making it one of the largest collections in Cornwall.

  18. Keep right to follow the track around the bend and continue to a junction. Keep right at the junction and follow the track until you reach to a public footpath signpost, beside the engine house.

    In the second half of the 19th century, West Chyverton mine employed over a thousand people and produced around 45,000 tons of lead ore in the period 1859–86. The ore contained 45 oz. silver to each ton of lead. Refining the silver was profitable at levels above 5oz per ton, but at this level, the silver was worth as much as the lead that it was separated from. The ore also contained high levels of zinc and when lead prices fell in the 1870s, this became the primary product of the mine. Small pieces of the lead ore can still be found on the tips and along the byway.

  19. Continue ahead on the track and follow it until you reach a fork.

    The footpath on the right leads to the engine house and the bizarre landscape of the mine tips, some parts of which have been colonised by vegetation including some nice orchids. The bare parts form a sandstone canyon that looks like something from Colorado or the Australian Outback and has to be one of the most eccentric landscapes in Cornwall.

  20. Turn left at the fork and follow the track to reach a lane. Turn left onto the lane and follow it past one gate on the right until you reach a few metres of track leading downhill to another gate on the right. Continue on the lane past this a short distance to an opening in the hedge just before the next telegraph pole.

    If you see large birds of prey circling over the valley, they are almost certainly buzzards.

    Despite their reputation for being lazy and scavengers, buzzards are formidable predators. Diving on rabbits and small mammals from a slow or hovering flight, or from a perch, they nearly always make the kill on the ground. During their breeding season in spring, buzzards create spectacular aerial displays by soaring high into the air and dropping suddenly towards the ground.

  21. Turn right to go through the opening and follow the path to a stile. Climb the stile and follow along the left hedge of the field to reach the bottom. Then cross the overgrown area to a wooden gate on the far side.

    The farmland in this area with trees along the hedges provides an idea habitat for magpies.

    The magpie is believed to be one of the most intelligent of all animals. The area of its brain used for higher cognitive function is approximately the same in its relative size as in chimpanzees and humans. Magpies can count, imitate human voices and have been observed regularly using tools to keep their cages clean. In the wild, they form gangs and use complex social strategies for hunting and tackling predators. It has even been suggested that magpies may feel complex emotions, including grief.

  22. Go through the gate and head straight across the field to a waymarked gate in the middle of the opposite hedge.

    Where footpaths cross an electric fence, there is often a section that unclips with plastic handles to allow access through. Ensure you re-clip this on passing through so animals cannot escape. The connecting cord between the handles is conducting so avoid touching this and be aware of any dangling rucksack straps.

  23. Turn left at the waymark to stay in the field and follow along the hedge to reach a gateway.

    The small stream along the right-hand side of the field is fed by a lake which you'll encounter shortly. In the fields behind the stream was a lead and silver mine known as Chiverton Moor Mine. There are various lumps and bumps between the fields where the the waste tips have grown over with grass and gorse.

  24. Go through the gateway and follow the grassy track out of the field. Keep following the track to eventually emerge into a field.

    The lakes and surrounding wetlands support a range of aquatic life including dragonflies and damselflies.

    Dragonflies are named after the way they hunt, as both the larvae and adults are carnivorous predators. Their two sets of wings beat out of phase, and the frequency, amplitude and the angles of each set of wings can be controlled. This allows dragonflies to hover in a completely stationary position for over a minute, perform extravagant aerobatic manoeuvres and even fly backwards.

    Damselflies are predators similar to dragonflies but are easily distinguishable by the way their wings fold back parallel to the body when at rest whereas the dragonflies' wings are fixed at a right angle to the body. The Damselfly has a much smaller body than a dragonfly which means it has less stamina for flight. Nevertheless, it can hover, in a stationary position, long enough to pluck spiders from their webs.

  25. As you emerge into the field, keep following the track alongside the right hedge to reach a gate in the far hedge. Go through this and follow the track a short distance further to reach a lane.

    Note how the trees here are sculpted by the wind. On your left the tips of the conifers all lean and the deciduous trees form "ramps" where the trees in the lee of others can each successively grow a little taller. In the right-hand hedge, straggly branches protrude across the path in the lee of the wind; on the windward side the branches are much more compact. Since the prevailing wind direction is southwesterly, it's possible to use the trees as a compass.

  26. Turn right onto the lane and follow it until you eventually reach a T-junction outside Callestick Farm (of Ice Cream fame).

    Callestick Farm near Ventongimps has been farmed by the Parker family for a number of generations and has been making ice cream since 1989. They were the first ice cream to be awarded Red Tractor status for animal welfare and land management. The small fields, wide margins and ancient hedges provide a valuable habitat for insects, small mammals and ground-nesting birds. Their ice cream is made from the milk from their small herd of dairy cows and their sorbets are made with water from a spring which rises on the farm.

  27. Keep left at the junction and follow the lane past Healey's Cider farm until it ends at a junction with the main road.

    As you climb the hill, the plantation of regularly-spaced trees on the right is the orchard for Healey's Cyder.

    Healey's Cyder Farm is located near Callestick. The family-run business was established in the 1980s and is now largest cider producer in Cornwall with over 3000 apple trees. Only wind-fallen apples are used to make their cider and they have won many awards.

    Their best known cider is Cornish Rattler - a crisp cloudy cider that has a strong cult following in Cornwall with sales steadily increasing over the last few years. Rattler is distributed by St Austell Breweries and thus available on tap in many of the pubs throughout Cornwall and is now also available in bottles in many supermarkets. The "original" version is 6% and very refreshing to drink by the pint which can result in rapid onset of singing Cornish Anthems, followed not long after by loss of the ability to play the accordion to accompany said Anthems; a 4% draft version has just been released to avoid the need to go to sleep half way through the evening, or for your nominated accordion player.

  28. Carefully (especially if some of your party have been cider tasting), turn left and make your way back to the lay-by.

    The UK produces nearly two-thirds of all cider in the European Union and by volume of alcohol, the excise duty on cider is lower than any other drink. Cider has had a huge resurgence in populartity over the last few years and three in five adults now drink it.

    Cider is part of the Westcountry heritage and this includes a tradition dating back to the early Middle Ages known as the "Orchard Wassail" where an offering of bread and cider was made to the apple trees and incantations were recited to promote a good harvest.

    Cornish ciders beginning to achieve popularly outside the county include "Cornish Rattler" from Healey's cider farm (distributed by St Austell Ales) and "Orchard Cornish" cider (a joint venture between Cornish Orchards and Sharp's Brewery). In the interests of research, both have been extensively tested and deemed very refreshing and conducive to the recital of incantations.

Help us with this walk

You can help us to keep this walk as accurate as it possibly can be for others by spotting and feeding back any changes affecting the directions. We'd be very grateful if could you look out for the following:

  • Any stiles, gates or waymark posts referenced in the directions which are no longer there
  • Any stiles referenced in the directions that have been replaced with gates, or vice-versa

Take a photo and email contact@iwalkcornwall.co.uk, or message either IWalkCornwall on facebook or @iwalkc on twitter. If you have any tips for other walkers please let us know, or if you want to tell us that you enjoyed the walk, we'd love to hear that too.

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