Marazion to Perranuthnoe

The route passes through the centre of Marazion where warm pasties can be picked up for fuelling the return journey. The route then joins a footpath leading over the hill to Perranuthnoe church, from which there are excellent views over Mount's Bay. After reaching the beach at Perranuthnoe, the walk returns along the coast path, passing several small coves tucked in the rocky shoreline. The final stretch is past the causeway and ferry to St Michael's Mount.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 102 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 4.8 miles/7.7 km
  • Grade: Easy-moderate
  • Start from: Marazion main car park
  • Parking: Marazion main car park. From the A30-A394 roundabout, follow the road signposted to Marazion and when it ends at a T-junction, turn left signposted Marazion Car Parks. Continue past one car park to reach the one marked "Main car park". Satnav: TR170EG
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots, or trainers in summer

Maps for this walk

(dark blue corner = laminated version)

Highlights

  • Views over Mount's Bay and St Michael's Mount
  • Visit St Michael's Mount as part of the walk
  • Sandy beaches at Perranuthnoe and Marazion

Directions

  1. Make your way to the coast path sign (in the left corner, if you are facing the sea). Follow the path signposted to Perranuthnoe to reach a memorial for the HMS Warspite, just past the lifeguard hut.

    The rock beside the causeway to St Michael's Mount is known as Chapel Rock.

    A mediaeval chapel was built on Chapel Rock (hence the name) in 1419. It was removed in 1645 by order of Lord Hopton.

  2. Continue ahead from the memorial, through the car park, to reach an information board beside the slipway onto the beach.

    In 1947, the HMS Warspite was under tow to the breakers yard by two tugs but the cable from one broke in the severe south-west gale. The tugs spent a day fighting against the storm but eventually had to abandon the ship which was driven ashore at Prussia Cove. It was partially salvaged here before being moved to St. Michael's Mount, where the salvage operation took several years. There is still a fair amount wreckage left on the seabed in the centre of Prussia Cove and interesting artefacts are still sometimes discovered by divers.

  3. Join the road ahead and follow this until it ends in a junction with the main road.

    Marazion is the oldest chartered town in Cornwall, granted by Henry III in 1257, and one of the oldest in Britain, possibly evolving from a Roman tin-trading port. It was the major town in southwest Cornwall throughout the mediaeval period until both it and the other major port of Mousehole were eventually overtaken by Penzance. The name is from the Cornish for the market here: marghas byghan, meaning small market, and Marghas Yow, meaning Thursday Market. The town was recorded as Market Jew on maps from the 17th Century - a name which still persists in the street name of Penzance.

  4. Bear right onto the main road and follow it past the Goldolphin Arms and the King's Arms to reach the Fire Engine Inn.

    A chapel was located on the site of the parish church during mediaeval times, licensed in 1309. The chapel later fell into ruin and was rebuilt in 1735. In 1861, it was demolished to make way for the present church.

  5. Keep following the pathway alongside the road away from Marazion until you reach the track alongside the cemetery just past St Anthony's House.

    In 1548, the governor of St Michael's Mount, Hugh Arundell, led a Cornish rebellion which culminated in a siege on Exeter. During the rebellion, the town of Marazion was burned. Exeter withstood the siege until reinforcements arrived and the rebel leaders were executed.

  6. Cross the road to the track beside the cemetery and follow this until you reach a waymark.
  7. Bear left onto the waymarked path and follow this until you reach another waymark at gates either side of the path.

    The overgrown area in the field to the left is the remains of Tolvaddon Mine.

    Tolvaddon Mine (not to be confused with Tolvaddon at Camborne) was a copper and tin mine that operated in Victorian times. The status of the mine was reported in 1865 as:

    Rock: clay-slate, influenced by carns of elvan. Number of persons employed, 75, made up by: 40 men, 20 females, and 15 boys.... Depth of mine to adit, 27 fathoms; under adit, 103 fathoms. Workings commenced in 1857.
    At one time the prospects in the mine were such as to encourage expectations of large dividends, which have remained unfulfilled. We are glad to hear, however, that the lode is renewing its productive character, in the bottom levels, and that a new range of the ground is likely to be opened by deeper sinkings, which, it is probable, will contribute to the success of the proprietory, who deserve well of the mining world, not only for their geological judgment in the selection of the ground, but also for the perseverance manifested in pursuing the ore deposits, which, as is the case in all mines, have occasionally shown phases of a discouraging nature; but these, we hope, are only temporary obstacles such as are incident to all mundane affairs, and which, when surmounted, open up a field of permanent prosperity.

    Between 1857 and 1866 the mine sold tin ore worth £2,353 (equivalent to over a quarter of a million pounds today), over 10,000 tons of copper ore plus a few tons zinc and lead ore.

  8. Turn left to follow the path to the left of the gate. Continue to emerge into a field at a waymark.
  9. Follow the path along the left hedge of the field to reach a gateway in the corner.
  10. Go through the gateway to the kissing gate opposite. Go through this and a second kissing gate then cross the field to a stone cattlegrid-like stile in the gap in the trees opposite.
  11. Cross the stile and follow the path between the hedge and fence to reach a small step into the next field.

    It is thought that the harbour on the island of St Michael's Mount may have been the location of the Roman port of Ictis described by Diodorus Siculus, which has been translated from Greek:

    The inhabitants of that part of Britain which is called Belerion are very fond of strangers and from their intercourse with foreign merchants are civilized in their manner of life. They prepare the tin, working very carefully the earth in which it is produced. The ground is rocky but it contains earthy veins, the produce of which is ground down, smelted and purified. They beat the metal into masses shaped like knuckle-bones and carry it off to a certain island off Britain called Iktis. During the ebb of the tide the intervening space is left dry and they carry over to the island the tin in abundance in their wagons ... Here then the merchants buy the tin from the natives and carry it over to Gaul, and after travelling overland for about thirty days, they finally bring their loads on horses to the mouth of the Rhone.
  12. Follow the path up the step and continue between the hedge and fence to reach a more substantial stone stile.

    After the Norman conquest in 1066, St Michael's Mount became the possession of the monks of Mont St Michel in Normandy. In the 12th Century they built the church and priory on the island. The original building was destroyed in an earthquake in 1275 and rebuilt in the 14th Century. When Henry V went to war with France, the priory was seized and the French monks evicted, ending the connection with Mont St Michel. After improvements to the harbour in 1727, the mount flourished as a sea port with 53 houses and 3 pubs recorded in 1811. The mount was given to the National Trust in 1954 but the St Aubyn family retained a 999 year lease to inhabit the castle.

  13. Cross the stile and follow along the left hedge to reach a waymarked flight of stone steps just before the far end of the field.
  14. Climb the steps beside the waymark and turn right. Follow along the right hedge to join the waymarked track ahead. Follow the track until you reach a telegraph pole with three waymark arrows.
  15. Turn right onto the path just past the telegraph pole and follow this to emerge on a driveway leading from the cemetery.
  16. Bear left onto the drive and follow this a short distance to emerge onto a lane.

    The village of Perranuthnoe is thought to get its name partly from the church being dedicated to St Piran and partly from the name of a mediaeval manor that was once here (Uthno). During the 13th Century, the manor was acquired by the Whalesborough family from Bude, and remained within their extended family for a number of centuries. The settlement in its current location dates back at least to Norman times when it consisted of 8 farmers, 7 villagers and 3 slaves. From the names of some of the fields, it is thought that area has been settled since prehistoric times and throughout the Roman occupation.

  17. Turn right onto the lane and follow it a short distance to a junction opposite the church.

    The church at Perranuthnoe dates from Norman times and a few elements from this period remain, including the font. The first record of the church is from 1348 which mentions it was dedicated to St Piran, and some remodelling of the original building had already been done by this point. In 1856 the church was also dedicated to St Nicolas but this has since been replaced by a dedication to St Michael.

  18. Turn left and follow the lane away from the church until it ends in a T-junction.
  19. Turn right and follow the road towards the beach to reach a Coast Path sign just past the car park.

    The beach at Perranuthnoe is also known as Perran Sands, but so is the much more well-known one at Perranporth, so the name only tends to be used in a very local context. The name is accurate in that the beach is sandy at low tide, with relatively little shingle compared to many of the neighbouring beaches. Winter storms can reduce the amount of sand by either throwing up shingle or dragging the sand out into the bay, but it usually returns relatively quickly. At high tide, the beach is almost entirely covered by be sea, but on a low spring tide, the beach stretches for nearly half a mile - most of the way to Trevean Cove.

  20. Cross the stile beside the coast path sign and follow the path to a small stone stile.
  21. Cross into the field and follow the path along the left hedge of three fields to where the path enters the undergrowth
  22. Follow the path leading from the field to reach a pair of benches on the point.

    Wheal Neptune, extending below Perranuthnoe, was one of the most successful mines in the area, extracting over 10,000 tons of copper ore; the owners became so prosperous that they issued their own bank notes! South Wheal Neptune was a smaller mine situated on the clifftop; just over 170 tons of copper were extracted in 1842-43, fetching £1049 (equivalent to around £100,000 today).

  23. Follow the path around the end of the point and past a National Trust sign for Boat Cove. Continue through two fields, and past a stone wall beneath some bushes on the point to emerge into field where a small path joins from the right.

    The offshore rock formation is known as The Greeb. With a bit of imagination and a look on Google Maps, you'll see why. Rocks such as these are a favourite spot for seabirds to dry off after fishing.

    The large black birds nesting on offshore rocks, known colloquially as the cormorant and shag, are two birds of the same family and to the untrained eye look pretty similar. The origin of the name "shag" is a crest that this species has on top of its head and the cormorant doesn't. The cormorant is the larger of the two birds with a whiter throat. The shag's throat is yellow, and mature shags have a metallic green sheen on their feathers which cormorants lack.

  24. Keep left along the coast and follow the path to reach a flight of wooden steps leading down to the shore on the next point.

    Tamarisks, also known as salt cedars, are able to withstand drought, soil salinity, and salt-water spray and therefore thrive in mild coastal areas such as the Cornish coastline. Their ability to accumulate salt and then excrete this though glads in their leaves prevents less salt-tolerant plants from growing around their base.

  25. Follow the path around the point and along the left hedge of the field to a gateway.

    Basking sharks are the second largest fish in the world with adults typically reaching 20-25ft in length and the shark with the smallest brain relative to its body size. They are slowly cruise along, usually in small groups, filtering plankton. They migrate in search of plankton blooms and are seen off Cornwall between May and October. Occasionally they come in close to the shore on sandy beaches, causing much excitement for swimmers.

  26. Follow the path through the gateway and across the small field to the gateway opposite.
  27. Go through the gateway then keep right to follow the path between the bushes. Continue until the path ends at a track.
  28. Turn left onto the track and follow it past a waymark and the buildings to where it forks at the coast.

    At Trenow, a mine known as the Trenow Consols operated during Victorian times. Prince Albert even visited Trenow Cove by steamship to be shown the copper and the 85-inch cylinder engine. Further inland there was another mine known as Wheal Charlotte, in which the engine boiler exploded in 1861, killing many men. The two mines were eventually combined into Charlotte United Mines.

  29. Turn right and pass the benches, then keep right to follow the small upper path past the National Trust sign for Trenow Cove and through a gap in the wall. Turn left and follow the narrow field to a gap in the wall at the far end.

    The Neptune and Trenow mines were drained by an extensive network of interconnecting adits. On the rocky shore of Trenow Cove, a small stream runs down the beach from a mine adit.

    An adit is a roughly horizontal tunnel going into a mine. In Cornwall these were important for drainage as many of the ore-bearing veins are close to vertical, through which water can easily seep. Drainage adits were sloped slightly upwards to meet the main shaft, so water trickling into the main shaft from above could be diverted out of the adit. Below the adit, steam engines were needed to pump the water up to the level of the adit where it could then drain away.

  30. Go through the gap and follow the path to the gap in the bushes opposite.
  31. Go through the gap and follow the path to a small flight of steps concealed in the bushes on the left-hand side of the far hedge.
  32. Climb the steps and follow the waymarked path along the left side of the field to the corner, where a small path departs.
  33. Bear left along the path and down some steps. Follow the path until you reach a fork.
  34. Keep left at the fork and follow the path down a flight of metal steps to the beach. Turn right and follow the shoreline to reach a path climbing from the beach.

    The cove here is named after Venton Farm, where the other path from the fork leads. The name is from the Cornish word for "spring", which makes sense as water would trickle down here from the area of elevated land around the granite outcrop beside the farm.

  35. Climb the path up from the beach and follow it into a field to reach a gate in the corner of the field.
  36. Stay in the field and keep the wall on your left to reach a concrete flight of steps at the top of the field.
  37. Climb the steps and follow the path to emerge onto a driveway. Turn right and follow the driveway until it ends on a road.
  38. Cross the road to the pedestrian path and turn left; follow it back through Marazion to complete the circular route.

    The causeway to St Michael's Mount has been repaired many times over the centuries and the locations of the two ends were altered at the end of the 19th Century. There are records from 1433 documenting funds for the causeway that suggest it may have been constructed shortly after the mediaeval harbour, started in 1427. It is thought that the more random areas of paving, located towards the centre of the causeway are likely to be the most ancient.

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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