Lerryn to St Veep

A circular walk from Lerryn, along wooded creeks and across fields, to the church of St Veep which is the only one in England where the bells were cast in perfect tune.
The route follows the quayside through Lerryn and then on a path winding through the woods along the edge of the River Lerryn to its confluence with the River Fowey. At Cliff Pill, the route turns inland and follows a bridleway and footpaths across fields to St Veep parish church. The return route is relatively quick, on footpaths and small lanes to Lerryn.


fabulous and so pretty

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 107 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 5 miles/8.1 km
  • Grade: Moderate-strenuous
  • Start from: Lerryn Car Park
  • Parking: Car Park by the stepping stones PL220QB. Turn beside Lerryn River stores and park beside the river
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots, or trainers in summer

OS maps for this walk

(dark blue corner = laminated version)


  • Views over the creeks from Lerryn and the footpaths
  • Wildflowers along the footpaths and lanes
  • St Veep church and churchyard

Adjoining walks


  1. Head out of the car park towards the road and turn right down the lane before Lerryn River Stores. Follow the lane along the waterfront to reach a humpback bridge. If there is a high tide covering the lane, use the Public Byway on the far side of Lerryn River Stores to reach the bridge.

    There were four lime kilns at Lerryn, the most obvious of which is beside the road opposite the public toilets. The coal and limestone for these was brought up the creek from the port of Fowey on cargo barges, when the creek was less silted than it is today.

    Internally, a lime kiln consisted of a conical stone or brick-lined chamber which was loaded from the top with alternating layers of limestone and carbon-rich fuel such as charcoal, peat or coal. At the side of the kiln was an alcove known as an "eye" which was used to access the kiln and remove the quicklime from a hole at the bottom of the chamber. The kiln was often run continuously with more layers of fuel and limestone added to the top as the previous layers worked their way down through the kiln. Air was drawn in through the bottom of the kiln and heated up as it passed through the quicklime (also cooling the quicklime) before it reached the level where combustion was taking place.

  2. Cross the bridge and keep right to follow the lane along the creek. Continue until you reach a public footpath sign, just before the lane goes through a gate.

    The source of the River Lerryn is near West Taphouse and it flows across the Bocconoc Estate where it is joined by a number of small streams, draining from the valleys of the estate. More streams join near Couch's Mill and the river then flows another mile and a half to Lerryn where it enters the ria (flooded river valley) that gives rise to the tidal creeks leading up to Lerryn and St Winnow from the sea at Fowey. At one time, the 4 miles of creek to Lerryn was navigable from the sea by cargo barges. Since then, mining activity in the river valleys has caused the creek to silt up so that it is now only navigable by small boats.

  3. When you reach the gate, turn left and follow the path into the woods. Keep right at the gate to pass the waymark and follow the path to reach another gate and waymark.

    Under trees, keep a close eye on the description of the "endpoint" of the direction you are following as occasionally your GPS position might not be accurate enough for the app to know that you have reached it. If you stand still, the position will often "wander around" and eventually "catch up". If your GPS position "misses" a direction location, you can manually tell the app to navigate from the next direction using the button next to it on the directions screen.

    The reason that trees trouble GPS receivers is that branches and leaves absorb the frequencies of radio waves used to transmit GPS signals, so summer is also slightly worse than winter. The result is that GPS receivers lose the signals from some of their satellites and therefore the position accuracy degrades. Phones with dual GPS/GLONASS support, such as the iPhone and newer Android phones, tend to fare a little better as they have access to more satellites. Once the new European Galileo positioning system is fully deployed and supported, satellite positioning under trees is expected to improve massively.

  4. Keep right to follow the path along the fence in the direction waymarked. Follow the path across a small stream and along the edge of the creek until you reach a fork where a path rises to the left or descends to the creek ahead.

    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.

  5. Keep right to descend to the shore and follow the stepping stones to the path along the grassy bank. Follow the shore around the corner until you see a path on the left leading to a waymark.
  6. Bear left up the waymarked path and follow it until it descends to the creek shore once again, just before a river.

    Due to their spectacular flowers, Rhododendrons have been popular ornamental plants for over two centuries and the species that we now call the Common Rhododendron was introduced in 1763. The plants thrive in the UK climate and were once native but were wiped out by the last Ice Age.

    Rhododendrons are so successful in Britain that they have become an invasive species, crowding out other flora in the Atlantic oak woodlands. They are able to spread very quickly both through suckering along the ground and by abundant seed production. Conservation organisations now classify the Rhododendron explosion as a severe problem and various strategies have been explored to attempt to stop the spread. So far, the most effective method seems to be injecting herbicide into individual plants which is both more precise and effective than blanket cutting or spraying.

  7. Cross the river via the stones and follow the path from the other side (take care as some parts are very close to the edge). Continue until you reach a wooden gate in a fence.

    The path approaches the confluence of the River Lerryn with the River Fowey.

    The River Fowey rises close to Brown Willy on Bodmin Moor and is fed by 7 tributaries along its 25 mile course, many of which also start on Bodmin Moor. The upper reaches run through 2 Sites of Special Scientific Interest and the Fowey valley is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The river has populations of Sea Trout and Salmon as well as Brown Trout which make it popular with fly fishermen.

    The name is from Fowydh, based on the Cornish word for tree, gwydh, and more specifically beech, fawen.

    The Fowey is used as a conduit for the public water system to feed water from the Siblyback and Colliford reservoirs on Bodmin Moor down to Restormel where it enters the water mains. The increased demand for water from summer visitors has the effect of buffering the river levels in the drier months from the reservoirs.

  8. Keep left to follow the path along the fence and continue around the fences to reach a fork in the path just before a shed at the bottom of the garden. Keep left at the fork, into the woods, to reach two wooden steps and a gate.
  9. Descned the steps and follow the path, over a stile, until it ends on a driveway.
  10. Cross the driveway to the waymarked path opposite and follow the path to emerge onto a lane.
  11. Turn right onto the lane and follow it down the hill to the creek, to reach a Public Footpath sign just after the cottage.

    There is a nice view both ways along the creek from beside the rock out by the boats, which can be reached except at the very highest point of the tide. To get there, cross over the stream and then follow around the left-hand edge of the creek where the ground is stony. Avoid venturing out onto the mud: one of the locals digging bait nearby became trapped chest-deep in the mud and was fortunately rescued at the last moment before he was drowned by the rising tide.

  12. Turn left up the footpath and follow it to a gate.

    A particularly good patch of wild garlic grows alongside the bridleway. There is also some along the lane at the end of the walk if you'd rather not carry it all the way back.

    Wild garlic is best harvested in early spring before it flowers and the leaves start to die off. Unlike domestic garlic, the leaves are the useful bit rather than the bulb, so cut/pull off the leaves (don't pull up the plants). The leaves are quite delicate, so you can use quite large quantities in cooking; therefore, harvest it in the kind of quantities that you'd buy salad leaves from the supermarket. There are some lillies that look fairly similar (and some are poisonous) but the smell is the giveaway: if it doesn't smell of garlic/onions, then it's not wild garlic.

  13. Go through the gate (you need to slide the metal block up to move the catch) and then bear right up the field, crossing the terrace, to a stile in the fence at the very top of the field, roughly above the hedge where you went through the gate.

    As you reach the top of the field, there is a nice view behind you, looking across the River Lerryn and along the River Fowey. The village of Lerryn is split across the two parishes of St Winnow and St Veep. The parish in which the walk route is located is St Veep. The land on the other side of the Lerryn River is in the parish of St Winnow and its creekside parish church can be seen on the banks of the River Fowey.

  14. Cross the stile and bear right across the field to a stepped stone stile in the top right-hand corner of the field.

    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.

  15. Cross the stile and turn left. Follow the left hedge to a gateway.
  16. Go through the gateway and follow the right hedge to reach a gate onto a lane.
  17. Go through the gate and bear left onto the lane. Follow it to a public footpath sign beside the track to Pennant.
  18. Turn right down the track and then bear left down the path indicated by the white waymark to a stile. Cross this and follow the fence on the right to a white gate.
  19. Go through the white gate and the one opposite, then follow the path across the garden to the waymark and stile.
  20. Cross the stile and follow the right hedge to a gate in the corner of the far hedge.

    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.
  21. Go through the gate and follow the left hedge to a waymarked gate in the corner of the field.
  22. Go through the gate and bear right to a stile in the hedge opposite, roughly half-way between the church tower and the right-hand corner of the field.

    Although it's obvious that you should ensure any gates that you open, you also close, what about gates you find that are already open?

    If the gate is fully open then leave it alone as it may well be providing livestock access to a water supply, and by closing it you could end up killing them.

    If the gate is ajar but not latched then it's possible that the gate was left open a by previous group of walkers. Properly closing the offending gate behind you will not only bring joy to the landowner but you can feel good about saving a small child from being run over by a car swerving to avoid a cow in the road.

  23. Cross the stile and follow the right hedge to a gateway onto a lane.
  24. Cross the lane to the driveway opposite, marked with a Public Footpath sign, and follow the driveway to a bend with a waymark on the right between The Close and The Coach House.

    The parish church was originally dedicated to St Veep, but when it was rebuilt in 1336, it was re-dedicated to St Quiricus and St Julietta (which may be the same saint that the chapel at Tintagel castle and St Juliot's church in Boscastle are dedicated to). The six bells were cast in 1770 in the field beside the church. They were created in perfect tune and no further tuning was needed after they were removed from their moulds. This is termed a "Virgin Peal", and this is the only known example in England.

  25. Bear right down the path indicated by the waymark and follow it to a stile.
  26. Cross the stile and follow the left hedge to a stile in the far hedge.
  27. Cross the stile and cross the corner of the field to the stile opposite.
  28. Cross the stile and follow the right hedge to a stile in the corner of the field.
  29. Cross the stile and follow along the left hedge to a stile in the corner of the field.
  30. Cross the stile and descend to the track. Turn left onto the track and follow it until it ends on a lane.

    On the opposite direction, the track runs for about a quarter of a mile to the creekside hamlet of Penpoll, which is a Cornish name meaning something along the lines of "top of the creek". The Penpoll creek lies along the valley of the Trebant Water, into which all the streams here flow, and into the valley of which the route will also itself descend fairly shortly.

  31. Turn right onto the lane and follow it until it ends in a junction with another lane.

    During the last Ice Age, up to about 12,000 years ago, ice sheets up to 2 miles thick lay over the northern half of Britain. The weight of this ice was immense and it pressed down onto the Earth's mantle which is a treacle-like liquid rock. The mantle was slowly squished away from beneath the Earth's crust beneath heavy ice. When the ice melted, the pressure was released and the mantle began to flow back creating a super-slow motion rebound effect which will take thousands of years to level out. The result is that the north-western edge of Britain is rising and the south-eastern part is sinking. As South Cornwall has been slowly sinking into the sea over the past few thousand years, this has compounded the rise in sea levels, creating creeks from flooded river valleys.

  32. Turn right onto the lane and follow it until it ends at a junction at the bottom of the valley.

    The valley in which you join the lane is crossed by The Giant's Hedge roughly half a mile further up the valley and forms the hedges of a number of the fields there.

    The Giant's Hedge is the remains of a wall from the Dark Ages which runs for ten miles from Looe to Lerryn. In some places it is still twelve feet high and it was recorded as being 16 feet high in Victorian times. Where it is best preserved, it is stone-faced and has a ditch running alongside. It is thought that it marked and defended the border of a Cornish Kingdom, which was otherwise surrounded by water from the River Fowey to the West Looe River.

  33. Turn left at the junction and follow the lane back to Lerryn, where it ends in a junction.

    As the road descends to Lerryn there is lots more wild garlic in spring along the bank on the left. The plants higher up will be further out of the range of splashing by cars, dogs etc.

  34. Turn right at the junction and follow the road past the Ship Inn to the car park.

    Along the river, you may notice some boats with names such as "Mole" and "Ratty". The reason is that Kenneth Grahame spent much time on the River Fowey "messing about in boats" along with fellow writer Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, on whom the character "Ratty" is based.

    When "The Wind in the Willows" was completed by Kenneth Grahame in 1907, it was met with critical disdain and rejected by publishers both in the UK and US. Fortunately Grahame had a stroke of luck: two years after the book was completed, US president Theodore Roosevelt wrote to Grahame to tell him that he had "read it and reread it, and have come to accept the characters as old friends". Roosevelt eventually persuaded US publisher Scribner to take it on. A.A. Milne was also a fan, stating: "The book is a test of character"... "The young man gives it to the girl with whom he is in love, and if she does not like it, asks her to return his letters. The older man tries it on his nephew, and alters his will accordingly".

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
  • 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 also useful.

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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