Lantivet Bay and Lansallos

The walk follows the ridge of Pencarrow Head with spectacular views over Lantic Bay. The route then follows the coast around Lantivet Bay, past the old coastguard lookout to West Coombe, with paths leading down to some small coves along the way. From there, the walk turns inland and follows a wooded valley to Lansallos to reach the church. The return route crosses fields and woods to Trevarder and follows small lanes, tracks and footpaths across the fields to complete the circle.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 107 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 5 miles/8 km
  • Grade: Moderate-strenuous
  • Start from: Pencarrow Car Park
  • Parking: Pencarrow Car Park near Triggabrowne. Follow signs to Polruan and ignore the Frogmore car park (marked "Car park" and a short distance after a turning to Boddinnick). Continue until you see a sign "P 20 yds", and turn here for the Pencarrow car park. Satnav: PL231NP
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots, or trainers in summer

Maps for this walk

(dark blue corner = laminated version)

Highlights

  • Panoramic views over Lantic and Lantivet Bays
  • Sandy beaches at Lantic Bay and West Coombe
  • Pretty wooded path to Lansallos

Directions

  1. Turn left out of the car park, follow the lane to a junction and cross to the gate. Go through the pedestrian gate and follow the footpath to a gate into a field.
  2. Go through the gate and turn left. Follow the left hedge to a gate at the bottom of the field.
  3. Go through the gate and take the path ahead to a gate. Go through this and follow the path to a fork just before a large rock outcrop.

    The path leading downhill after the first gate leads to the beach.

    The crescent shape of Lantic Bay shelters it from the wind and its white, sandy beaches face south towards the sun. Within the bay, the main beach - Great Lantic Beach - is accessible via a flight of steps. At low tide, this joins to the other beaches in the bay - Little Lantic Beach on one side and some small coves on the other. As the tide comes in, these are cut off and there is no path up from them, so care should be taken in exploring them.

  4. Keep right at the fork and follow the path until it forks again, just as it enters a clearing.

    There are panoramic views both over Lantic Bay and Lantivet Bay from the top of the rock outcrop. On a calm day, it comes highly recommended as a picnic spot.

  5. Keep right at the fork and follow the path over the ridge to reach a waymark.
  6. Turn left at the waymark and follow the path to reach a crossing of paths.
  7. Follow the steep downhill path ahead and keep right along this path when you reach the wooden fence. Continue descending the steep slope then follow the path at the bottom to reach a gate.
  8. Go through the gate and follow the path to reach another gate.

    The hawthorn tree is most often found in hedgerows where it was used to create a barrier for livestock, and in fact haw was the Old English word for "hedge".

    The flowers of the hawthorn are known as "May Blossom" and were traditionally used as decorations in May Day celebrations. Now, however, the hawthorn generally doesn't flower until the middle of May. The reason for this is that May has moved! Until 1752, Britain used the Julian Calendar which had leap years every 4 years but no other corrections. This results in a length of day that is fractionally too long, so the first of May gradually slipped forwards over the centuries. By the 1700s, the first of May was 11 days ahead of where it is today.

    In Mediaeval times, bringing hawthorn blossom into the house was thought to bring death and it was described as smelling like the Great Plague. The explanation for this is thought to be that the hawthorn blossom contains trimethylamine which is one of the first chemicals formed when animal tissue decays. Young leaves of the plant can be used in salads as the chemical is not present in the leaves so these taste nutty rather than of death.

  9. Go through the gate and follow the path to another gate.
  10. Go through the gate and follow the path ahead to one final gate.

    The path to the right leads to the old Coastguard Watch House.

    In October 1835, smugglers landed 107 kegs of spirits at Lantic Bay and were in the process of carrying these up Pencarrow Head when they were discovered by a coastguard patrol. There was a fierce fight, sometimes known as "The Battle of Lantic Bay". Several of the smugglers were arrested but, to the dismay of the coastguards, they were acquitted by a jury in Bodmin. As a result of this incident, the watch house at Lantivet Bay was built and manned by coastguards to prevent any more smuggling in the area.

  11. Go through the gate and keep left along the path to reach a waymark as the path enters a field.

    The rocky coast provides a good habitat for limpets.

    Limpets wander around grazing on algae when the tide is in, but always return to the same parking spot as the tide recedes, gradually creating a depression in the rock at this point. In coastal communities it was traditional to gather limpets, mussels and winkles before Lent. The practice was known as "goin' a triggin'" and the gathered shellfish was known as "Trigg meat". The shells of limpets were known as "Croggans".

  12. Bear right from the waymark to the fence near the bench. Follow the path along the coast from here to reach a stile.

    Limpets are a favourite food of wrasse.

    One of the most common fish on inshore reefs is the wrasse. The name for the fish is from the Cornish word “wragh” meaning “old hag”. This is probably based on its lack of popularity for culinary consumption and is the reason why it is still quite common whereas most other species have been depleted by several centuries of fishing. Recently, wrasse has been “rediscovered” as a good eating fish if not overcooked. However, wrasse are very slow growing so are not an ideal culinary fish for conservation reasons: they cannot reproduce until they are 6-10 years old and large individuals may be over 30 years old.

  13. Cross the stile and follow the path along the coast to a gateway.
  14. Go through the gateway and follow the lower of the paths across the field towards the headland to reach a stile.

    As you cross the field, there is a small path leading from the bottom of the field that descends to Palace Cove.

    Palace Cove may sound grand but it is from a local dialect word for pilchard cellars (which were known as Pilchard Palaces). The term is thought to have its origins in the Cornish word for "place". Little remains of the old cellar at Palace Cove; it is now just a flat grassy area with some remnants of walls. The cove is rocky at high tide and has a good selection of rockpools, but care must be taken not to get cut off by the tide. As the tide falls, a sandy beach is revealed.

  15. Cross the stile and follow the path across the field to a gate.

    In 1930, the "Islander" yacht foundered on the rocks of Palace Cove in rough seas. The boat was in trouble for some time and attempted to anchor to stay off the rocks but the anchor would not hold fast under the force of the wind and was slowly dragged along the seabed. Flares were spotted by campers on cliffs, but the time taken to get 1930's cars stuck in muddy fields and then drive to Polperro to make a telephone call meant that the boat had hit the rocks by the time the lifeboat reached it. Despite the efforts of the lifeboat and local people climbing down onto Palace Cove in an attempt to rescue the crew from the shore, none of the 6 aboard survived. In part because one of the crew was an ex member of Parliament, the incident was reported all over the world. An investigation came to the conclusion that the crew may have been rescued in time by the lifeboat if the Coastguard lookout in Lantivet Bay had been manned.

  16. Go through the gate and follow the path down into the valley to a stile onto a footbridge.

    The disaster at Lantivet Bay ultimately resulted in 1931 in the establishment of the Coastal Life-saving Corps, later renamed the Coastguard Auxiliary Service in which volunteer rescue personnel were trained and co-ordinated by the Coastguard. The Children's Newspaper of August 1931 commented:


    A CHANCE FOR YOUTH TO DO SOMETHING
    LEND A HAND ON THE COAST
    A Good Idea Comes Out of a Sad Disaster
    ARMY OF OCEAN WATCHERS

    Something good has come from a sea disaster of a year ago, when the yacht Islander foundered and Commodore King and his five companions were drowned in Lantivet Bay. The Board of Trade is planning a new civilian, Life-Saving Corps, nearly 6000 strong, to supplement the present coastguard service. Here is a wonderful new chance for Scouts and Guides if the scheme comes into being, for they are to be specially welcomed as helpers. Women would also be enrolled in the corps. ... The idea of performing some national service is bound to appeal to a vast number of people. If the Government approves the scheme we can prophesy that all round the coasts of our little island there will be a great army of volunteers for serving the ships that pass in the night.

  17. Cross the stile and footbridge and follow the fence on the right to a gate. Go through this to a junction of paths and turn left onto the path heading away from the beach. Follow this to a gate marked Lansallos, just past the point where the coast path continues up the headland.

    Lansallos Cove is also known as West Coombe, after the valley. The sheltered beach is composed of sand and shingle and was used to launch small fishing boats. The same characteristics that made it a good launching spot also make it good for swimming, particularly at mid-high tide when the bottom is sandy (at low tide, rocks are exposed). The bowl shape of the cove also traps warm water as the tide rises over the rocks and sand exposed to the sun. Sand from the cove was used by local farmers to improve soil drainage and as a source of lime. Seaweed was sometimes also used as a fertilizer as it is rich in potassium and contains a number of trace elements needed by plants. The small waterfall on the side of the beach was once used to power a mill.

  18. Go through the gate and the one ahead of it and follow the path to a waymark. Continue ahead at the waymark and follow the path alongside the stream until it ends on a track in front of the churchyard.

    The footpath along the stream, known as Reed Water, is an ancient route from the village to the cove. It was cut out to form a cart track to serve both the cove and the mill, and ruts from the cartwheels are still visible. In March and April, celandines flower along the wooded path.

    The name Celandine is thought to come from the Latin word for swallow. It is said that the flowers bloom when the birds return in Spring and fade when they leave in Autumn. Celandine flowers close each night and open each morning. This is controlled by a circadian rhythm, so they really are 'going to sleep' at night and 'waking up in the morning'. It is likely that this has arisen to protect the internals of the flowers from any frost during the night as they begin flowering in March when frosts are still common.

  19. Turn right onto the track and follow it to a junction, then bear left along the churchyard wall to a stile beside the entrance to the churchyard.

    The church is on the site of an earlier Norman church and before that, Celtic missionary monks had an establishment here that the "Lan" in the name refers to. The present church building was dedicated to St Ildierna on 16th October 1321, was rebuilt in the 15th century, and contains a number of important architectural and historical features.

    In 2005, the church and many of its ancient artefacts were badly damaged in a fire which is thought was an act of arson. The now partly incinerated mediaeval chest gives an idea of the intensity of the blaze which also damaged both the roof and organ. Fortunately, the magnificent carved oak benches, made between 1490 and 1520, survived the fire.

  20. Cross the stile and follow the path alongside the churchyard wall to a stile at the far end.

    The inscription on a gravestone in Lansallos churchyard records the untimely death of John Perry at the age of 24 in 1779 "unfortunately killed by a cannon ball by a person unknown," probably as a result of an encounter with a Revenue vessel at sea.

    In Prime of Life most suddenly.
    Sad tidings to relate.
    Here view my utter destiny
    and pity my sad fate.
    I by a Shot which rapid flew.
    Was Instantly Struck dead.
    Lord pardon the offender who.
    My precious blood did shed.
    Grant Him to rest and forgive me.
    For all I've done amiss.
    And that I may rewarded be.
    With everlasting bliss.
  21. Cross the stile and follow the left hedge to a waymark, then bear right slightly and cross the field towards the buildings to reach a stone stile enclosed in wooden railings.
  22. Cross the stile, footbridge and stile into a field. Follow the left hedge of the field to a pair of gates in the bottom corner.
  23. Go through the gate in the fence ahead and the pedestrian gate in the fence beyond that. Then follow the path down the valley to a waymark. Turn right at the waymark and follow the stone steps between the wooden railings to a footbridge. Follow the path from the bridge to reach a gate.

    A copper mine known as Wheal Howell operated in the valley for around 20 years at the start of the 19th Century. The three mineshafts that are known about have been filled in but the National Trust recommend that you stick to the paths through the valley, in case you discover a fourth.

  24. Go through the gate and cross the field towards the clump of trees ahead, keeping the buildings and fenced-in stone structures to your right. Pass a standing granite post to reach a set of steps over the hedge.

    The local name for the steps, possibly coined by the bawdy miners of Wheal Howell, is the charming "Kiss Me Arse Steps"; two people climbing the steps in close succession will likely arrive at one possible explanation.

  25. Cross the hedge and turn left onto the lane and follow it until it ends at a junction.

    The Royal Cornwall Gazette reported in April 1825:

    During the last week the coast between Polperro and Fowey has been kept in a state of disorder as a consequence of a quantity of smuggled liquor found on the shore. It has been particularly annoying to the agents of Wheal Howell Mine, the miners having been in a continual state of drunkenness. On Wednesday last the whole of the men had assembled, and by stratagem succeeded in getting underground where they concealed part of a keg of brandy, and drank to usual intoxication - so much so that it was with extreme difficulty that several of them were brought to the grass.
  26. Go through the pedestrian gate on the right marked "Frogmore Carpark" and follow the path to emerge on the lane opposite the car park. Turn right and carefully follow the lane to a junction.
  27. Keep right at the junction (signposted to Pelynt) and follow the lane past Tredudwell Manor to reach a track and gateway on the left opposite a wooden gate on the right.
  28. Turn left and pass the gate to reach a wooded path. Follow this until it ends on a lane.
  29. Turn right onto the lane and follow it a short distance to a track on the left marked with a public footpath sign. Turn left up the driveway and follow the path alongside the cottages to an unsurfaced path beneath the trees. Follow this path, keeping right at the steps to stay on the path. Continue along the path until it ends at a gate into a field.
  30. Go through the gate and follow the left hedge of the field to a gate in the corner.

    The hedges along the fields and tracks contain many nectar-bearing flowers which attract butterflies.

    The Red Admiral, Peacock, Painted Lady and Tortoiseshell butterflies are all quite closely related and specialised for overwinter hibernation. Their wings, when closed, have a jagged outline and camouflaged colours that allows them to blend in with dead leaves. Their feet contain chemoreceptors (taste buds) which allows them to detect nectar-bearing flowers when they land.

  31. Go through the gate and follow the track a short distance to a waymark at a junction.
  32. At the waymark, bear left onto the track and follow this until it ends on a lane.
  33. Turn left onto the lane and follow this back to the car park.

    Lanteglos church is a short diversion to the right.

    The church is dedicated to St Wyllow who according to legend was born in Ireland in the 6th Century, lived as a hermit in Cornwall and was beheaded by the locals. The current church was built in the 14th Century and altered in the 15th. The brass of Thomas de Mohun within the church dates from this period and the brasses depicting John Mohun and his wife date from the start of the 16th Century. The bench ends were also carved in the 16th Century and carefully preserved during an 18th Century restoration. Daphne Du Maurier featured the church as 'Lanoc Church' in her first novel, "The Loving Spirit" and she was married here herself in 1932.

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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