Feock to Devoran

The route passes St Feock's Holy well and follows tracks to the creek at Penpol. From here, the walk follows bridleways and footpaths above Restronguet Creek to reach Devoran. The walk then follows the route of the tramway that carried tin ore from the mines to the smelters on Point Quay, with an optional low-water route across the creek. The final part of the route is to Feock Church via the old postal route which used to terminate in a boat crossing from Restronguet Point.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 105 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 6.1 miles/9.8 km
  • Grade: Easy-moderate
  • Start from: Feock Church car park
  • Parking: Feock Church car park. From the double roundabout on the A39 at Playing Place, follow signs to Feock and then Feock Church. Satnav: TR36SD
  • Recommended footwear: waterproof boots

Maps for this walk

(dark blue corner = laminated version)

Highlights

  • Church and holy well of St Feock
  • Historic mining port of Devoran
  • Bird life along the creeks

Directions

  1. Bear right out of the car park past the Parish Council sign and onto the road; then follow it a short distance to Creek House where a track departs from the left, marked as a Public Footpath.

    The earliest known record of Feock is in a twelfth-century document where the settlement is referred to as "Fioc"; it is also recorded in 1264 as "Ecclesia Sancte Feoce". The name is taken from a Celtic saint to whom the parish is dedicated, but little is known about, although is generally assumed to be female.

  2. Bear left up the track and follow it until, just after Meadowside, you reach a public footpath sign.
  3. Go through the gate beside the sign into the field and turn right. Then follow the right hedge to a gate in the corner.
  4. Go through the gap next to the gate and follow the waymarked path between the hedges to emerge onto a driveway. Follow the driveway in the direction waymarked until it ends on a lane.

    St Feock's Holy well can be found on the track to La Feock Grange. Beside the track is a cast-iron pump and bucket stand dating from Victorian times and a flight of granite steps lead down the Holy Well, set into the bank of the neighbouring field. The well is thought to date from mediaeval times but was remodelled to add the stone house with a slate roof, some time around the late 19th Century.

  5. At the end of the driveway, turn right onto the lane and follow it to a junction.

    Before Christianity, the Pagan Celtic people of Cornwall worshipped wonders of the natural world. Where clean, drinkable water welled up from the ground in a spring, this was seen as pretty awesome. Where the springwater dissolved minerals, for specific conditions (e.g. deficiency in a mineral) or where the water was antibacterial, the water appeared to have healing properties. The sites were seen as portals to another world, and is why fairies are often associated with springs.

  6. Follow the path across the middle of the island to a gate on the opposite side of the road. Follow the steps over the wall beside the gate and follow the left hedge of the field to a waymarked stile in the corner.
  7. Cross the stile and continue straight ahead to follow the path down the field to the far hedge. When you reach the hedge, follow the path along this to reach a gate.
  8. Go through the gate and when you reach the track, bear left a short distance to reach a stile on the right. Cross the stile and follow the path between the fence and the hedge to reach a stile in the far hedge.
  9. Cross the stile and follow the path through a gap in a wall and between fences to emerge onto a driveway.
  10. Follow the driveway ahead until it ends at a T-junction then turn left down the lane and follow it past Trevallion Park until it ends in a T-junction at the bottom of the hill.
  11. Cross the lane to the bridge opposite the junction. Follow the small lane over the bridge and uphill until you reach a track on the left marked with a Public Bridleway sign.

    The settlement of Penpol at Feock was first recorded, spelt as it is today. The name is from the Cornish words common in place names, pen and pol, and taken together mean something along the lines of "head of the creek".

  12. Turn left down the bridleway and keep right when you reach the tarmac to follow the lane past Rope End and reach a Y-shaped junction.
  13. Follow the right-hand fork of the junction to the public footpath sign opposite. Follow the path, which opens out into a grassy track, until it ends at a junction of tracks next to a sign for Pen Olver.
  14. Continue ahead from the Pen Olver sign, down the hill to reach another junction of tracks.

    The settlement of Chycoose was first recorded in 1378, spelt "Chiencoys". The name is from the Cornish word chy for cottage and cos for wood. It's possible that the mediaeval version was an attempt to write down chy-an-cos which literally means "cottage of the woods".

  15. At the junction, follow the stony track leading between the hedges ahead. When the track approaches a wooden field gate, keep right to stay on the track and reach an iron gate across the track.
  16. Go through the gate and keep left to follow the track along the left hedge of the field to reach a gate in the corner, marked "Public footpath - no horses".
  17. Go through the gate and turn right at the waymark. Follow the path uphill along the right hedge to reach a gate and stile at the top of the field.
  18. Cross the stile and turn left onto the track. Follow the track until it ends at a gate (ignore the short track leading off to the left).
  19. Cross the wall next to the gate and then bear left down the field to a waymarked stile in the middle of the hedge ahead, in front of the telegraph poles. If there are fences across the field, find the sections which unhook to pass through them.

    Ahead is the Bissoe Valley, through which the River Carnon runs.

    The Great County Adit was a system of interconnected tunnels that helped drain water from the tin and copper mines in the Gwennap area near Redruth. Construction started in 1748 and it eventually consisted of nearly 40 miles of underground tunnels, providing drainage to over 60 mines. In 1839, it discharged over 14.5 million gallons per day into the Carnon River. Although it is unmaintained, it still drains many of the abandoned underground workings today; in the summer of 1980, the flow was measured at 500,000 gallons per day.

  20. Cross the stile and follow the path through the woods, keeping ahead when you reach a path to the left with a waymark. Continue through the woods to reach a wall; follow the path, keeping the wall on your right, until you reach a stream.

    Some estimates suggest the UK has up to half of the world's total bluebell population; nowhere else in the world do they grow in such abundance. However, the poor bluebell faces a number of threats including climate change and hybridisation from garden plants. In the past, there has also been large-scale unsustainable removal of bulbs for sale although it is now a criminal offence to remove the bulbs of wild bluebells.

  21. At the stream, turn right to follow the bank to a crossing and follow the path over this to a waymark in front of a wall. Cross over the wall and head across the field to the gate directly opposite.

    The stream is called Tallack's Creek and collects water from Carnon Downs. The first mention of the name Carnon Downs was in 1683, after a period when both Cornish and English were spoken in the county. The name reflects this as the first word, "Carnon", is from the Cornish meaning "rocky". In earlier times, a Cornish word such as ros, hal or goon would have been used rather than the English word "downs".

  22. Go through the gate and turn right. Follow the right hedge to a gate onto a lane.
  23. Go through the gate and turn left onto the lane. Follow it alongside the field on the left until you reach a stile next to the lane on the far side of the field.
  24. Cross the stile and follow the path along the right hedge to emerge onto a a track next to a gate.
  25. Continue ahead on the track, following along the right hedge, to reach a gap in the hedge leading into the next field.
  26. Go through the gap and follow the right hedge to a gate in the corner.
  27. Go through the gate and turn left onto the path. Follow the path into a field and along the left hedge to a stile.

    In the early 1820s, a young man called John Taylor obtained the lease on abandoned mines in the Gwennap parish near St Day, and after re-working some of the old deposits, discovered what was at the time the richest copper deposit in the world. Initially, the ore was shipped from Portreath but the transportation fees started to grow as news of John Taylor's good fortune spread. This greed backfired, as in 1824, John Taylor built his own tramway through the Carnon Valley to Devoran, and Devoran began to take over from Portreath for servicing the mines in the Redruth and Camborne area.

  28. Cross the stile and turn right onto the track. Follow it downhill to merge onto a lane and continue to reach a crossroads beside the main entrance to the churchyard.

    Devoran church was built during Victorian times as the hamlet expanded into a small industrial town. The school, built in 1846, was soon in use for church services which continued for nearly 10 year until the church was opened in 1856. The bell was replaced in 1889 after the original was cracked during an over-enthusiastic New Year celebration.

  29. Continue ahead at the crossroads, down the hill, to reach a phonebox at the bottom.

    The settlement at Devoran dates back to mediaeval times and the first record of it is from 1278 when it was spelled Deffrion. However, until the end of the 18th Century, Devoran consisted only of a few farms and tin streaming works. Stemming from its location on the confluence of two rivers, the name is thought to based on the Cornish word for water - dowr.

    During the 19th Century, Devoran was engineered as an industrial settlement based around a port at the terminus of a new railway. A town was planned and built which included the Church, built in 1855. A major part of the trade was the export of minerals from the Redruth and Camborne area and the import of coal and timber for use in the mines. During the winter of 1876, a drainage system connecting several deep mines, which had fallen into disrepair, clogged and burst. The deluge caused unrecoverable silting of Devoran harbour and ended its days as a port.

  30. Turn left at the phonebox and follow the long, straight lane past the village hall to a bend in the lane with wooden signpost with a number of footpath signs.

    The Redruth and Chasewater Railway was an early industrial line which evolved from John Taylor's tramway and eventually served many of the mines in the Camborne-Redruth area. The line ran to Devoran and Point Quay on Restronguet Creek and initially used horse traction. Later, steam locomotives were used but these terminated at Devoran. For shunting at Devoran and for the extension to Point Quay, trains were still hauled by horses. It was a single railway line all the way from Redruth with passing places. If two trains met between passing places, the drivers drew lots to determine who had to reverse.

  31. If the tide is out and you want to brave the stepping stones over the creek then you can follow the footpath signposted to Point on the track ahead, following the path which leads off it from the left; otherwise keep left around the bend to the left and carry on following the Old Tram Road. Continue along the foreshore or lane until reach the remains of an engine house where the footpath across the creek rejoins the lane at a footpath sign.

    A short one-way path to the right also leads to the right onto Narabo quay, if you want to explore this before continuing.

    Behind Narabo Quay in Devoran are a series of walls which are now used to store small boats. Originally these were ore bins, and the railway ran over the top of them. The wagons discharged their cargo through the bottom, directly into them.

  32. From the ruins of the mine, continue ahead on the tram road to reach Point Quay.

    The Restronguet creek contains deposits of alluvial tin, buried beneath the mud on the surface of the creeks. This has been worked for centuries and this escalated to an industrial scale in the late 18th Century. Large opencast works were carried out on the surface between 1785 and 1812 and submarine mining also began around this time too. The remains of the engine house near the mouth of Tallack's Creek is from a mine that operated for just 5 years in the 1820s but yielded a profit of nearly £30,000 which is equivalent to around £3 million at the time of writing. In 1833, another mine was opened a short distance downriver in the Carnon shipyard, and another mine was opened in the centre of the creek in 1871 to extract tin ore that lay below 60 feet of surface mud. There are still substantial tin reserves beneath the mud and tin dredging was considered during the 1980s until the price of tin fell.

  33. At Point Quay, continue following the lane until you cross a bridge over the river and reach a footpath on the right.

    Until the port of Devoran was built in the 19th Century, Point Quay was the main docking point in the area and was the site of a customs house. A map of 1841 shows that the wharf had a smelting works so that ore could be converted to ingots for more efficient transport. The smelting process required a source of carbon to act as a chemical reducing agent and strip the oxygen from the oxide ores to produce the elemental metal. In the early days, charcoal was used for this, but by the 19th Century, coal was being imported in large quantities to fuel the steam engines in the mines, so it largely replaced charcoal for smelting. Smelting technology had also moved on by the 19th Century so that the traditional waterwheel-driven bellows of the "blowing houses" were replaced by reverberatory furnaces where the ore didn't come into contact with the fuel.

  34. If the tide is out, you can follow the footpath and the foreshore to reach a boatyard. Otherwise, continue on the lane to reach a narrow tarmac path on the right and follow this to a lane, turn right uphill, and right again into Trevallion Park to reach the boatyard.

    A tidal mill is an ancient form of tidal power based on a water mill. As the tide comes in, it enters a reservoir created for the mill through a one way gate, which closes automatically when the tide begins to fall. When the tide is low enough, the stored water can be released to turn a water wheel.

    Bone mills used the power from a waterwheel to crush animal bones and produce bonemeal. The bonemeal was primarily used as a fertiliser to release phosphorus into the soil, which is a vital mineral for healthy crops. In the 20th century, fertilisers based on phosphate minerals, which could be mined cheaply, made bone mills uneconomical. However, the known phosphate reserves are expected to run out within a few decades and so organic phosphorus sources such as animal bones, and even urine, may become increasingly important for farmers.

  35. From the boatyard, follow the lane ahead past the 10mph sign and until you reach a junction of tracks with various footpath and bridleway signs.

    Despite the illusion of being a French word, Restronguet is pronounced as if it contained no "u" and it was like any other Cornish place name: "re-stron-get", with the emphasis on the middle syllable. The reason is that it was originally a Cornish name, starting with ros, meaning "promontory". The other part has been suggested as coming from tron (literally "throne", also used to mean "elevated") and koes (meaning "wooded"). Alternatively it could be from the less glamorous stronk, meaning "dirty water". It's possible that the spelling gained its French appearance after the Norman invasion.

  36. Follow the track ahead, signposted as a footpath to Harcourt, until you reach Penolva where a path departs to the left.
  37. Bear left onto the path and follow it over a stile into the woods. Continue until the path emerges onto a track.
  38. Follow the track ahead until you reach Harcourt House where a waymarked path departs to the left, just past the garage.
  39. Turn left up the path and follow it onto a driveway, and follow this to a road.

    The settlement of Harcourt was first recorded in around 1160 and was spelt "Harecrake". Also the quay on Restronguet Point now known as Marble Head Quay was originally known as Haracrack Quay, which is documented in a sale catalogue of 1783. It has been suggested that the name may be from the Cornish words ar meaning "beside" and crak meaning "sandstone".

  40. Turn left onto the road and follow it to a junction.

    The road to the right leads to Restronguet Point.

    Restronguet Point still has the remains of two quays. The quay facing into Restronguet Creek known as Marble Head Quay was used to ship copper ore, brought from the Redruth area to Devoran on the railway and then moved along the creek using horses. Copper was shipped to the coalfields of South Wales to be smelted as 16 tonnes of coal were needed for every tonne of ore. A second quay, on the tip of the point, was used for a ferry service across the creek to both Weir Beach and the Pandora Inn. A ship's bell was used to summon the ferry from the other side of the creek.

  41. Turn right down the lane signposted St Feock Church and follow the lane to the small opening into the churchyard beside the tower in the churchyard.

    The church at Feock dates from the 13th Century although may well be on the site of an earlier religious site. The bell tower is the only original part of the thirteenth century church and now contains three bells which were recast from one large mediaeval bell. The church was one of the last to give services in the Cornish language which was recorded as still being the case in 1640. The present church was rebuilt rather than restored in 1874, suggesting that it was in a derelict state and beyond repair by the 19th Century. However, the 13th Century font and some woodwork from the 16th century were salvaged from the previous church.

  42. Follow the path through the churchyard, keeping the church on your right, to emerge onto the lane. Continue a short distance on the lane to reach the car park.

    The wheel-headed cross in Feock churchyard is though to date to the 13th Century, when the Gothic style was being developed as it is more ornate than earlier crosses but less so than those that came later.

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 also very grateful if could you look out for the following:

  • If you have a large dog, let us know if you find problems with the stiles on this walk (e.g. require the dog to be lifted over). A rough idea of how many problematic stiles there are is useful as some single women can just about manage one or two but not a dozen.

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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