Mount Edgcumbe to Kingsand

The walk passes through the formal gardens of the Mount Edgcumbe Country Park then follows the coast past the blockhouse and Ionian temple to reach the ruin overlooking Plymouth Sound. The route then follows woodland paths and joins the Warn Sandway to Kingsand with views over Cawsand Bay. The walk then climbs up to the Maker Heights to reach Maker Church and then descends through the deer park to complete the circular route.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 108 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 5.7 miles/9.1 km
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Start from: Cremyll car park
  • Parking: Cremyll. From Trerulefoot Roundabout on the A38, take the A374 through Polbathic and turn right down the B3237 though Crafthole. Follow this through Millbrook and keep left at the bend when you reach the junction for Kingsand. Keep following the road until you reach Cremyll and the car park is on your left. Satnav: PL101HU
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots

Maps for this walk

(dark blue corner = laminated version)

Highlights

  • Gardens of Mount Edgcumbe
  • Deer Park and wooded paths of the Mount Edgcumbe estate
  • Views over Plymouth Sound and Cawsand Bay

Adjoining walks

Directions

  1. From the car park, cross the road and turn left onto the pavement signposted to Mount Egcumbe Country Park. Follow the road to reach a fountain where a path departs to the right.

    There has been a ferry service at Cremyll between Devon and Cornwall since mediaeval times, and is thought to have been established around 1204. A foot passenger service still operates. The journey takes around 8 minutes and lands at Admiral's Hard in the Stonehouse area of Plymouth.

  2. Turn right after the fountain and follow the path to the gate into the Country Park.

    The Mount Edgcumbe estate was the principal seat of the Edgcumbe family. The house was built between 1547 and 1553 but was badly damaged by German bombs during World War II. In 1958 a restoration process began to return the interiors to an 18th Century style. In 1971 the estate was sold jointly to Plymouth City Council and Cornwall County Council and the grounds were opened to the public as a Country Park in 1988.

  3. Go through the gate and turn left to follow the path to the castellated gatehouse to the Historic Gardens.

    The Formal Gardens at Mount Edgcumbe were planted between 1750 and 1920 in English, French and Italian styles. The Orangery in the Italian Garden is thought to date from near the beginning of this period, possibly around 1760. More recently, an American plantation and a New Zealand garden were added, reflecting the family's Commonwealth connections, and a Jubilee commemorative garden was added in 2002.

  4. Follow the path through the gatehouse and continue ahead towards the fountain. Keep left to pass along the front of the building and follow the path between the hedges ahead to a junction.

    The name Tamar is documented in the second century and likely to be substantially older. It is thought it might share a common origin with the River Thames and both might stem from an ancient Celtic word meaning "dark". The source of the river is within 4 miles of the North Cornish Coast and the river flows 61 miles south across the peninsula forming the majority of the historic border with Devon. Work is being done by the Environment Agency to improve the water quality of the Tamar and its tributaries by reducing the amount of run-off of phosphate fertilisers into the rivers.

  5. Keep left at the junction to follow the path along the coast to the blockhouse, with a battery of cannons on the seaward side.
  6. Continue ahead from the blockhouse until the path meanders and meets another path at a junction with a signpost.

    The island in the middle of Plymouth Sound was known during the middle ages as St Michael's after the chapel that stood on it, recorded in 1135. After Sir Frances Drake sailed from here in 1577 and circumnavigated the world, it was occasionally referred to as Drake's Island but became principally known as St Nicolas' Island until well into the 19th Century. It is only in comparitively recent times that it has become widely known as Drake's Island. From Elizabethan times, the island was fortified as a defence against the French and Spanish and it still contains derelict military buildings from the Napoleonic era. In 1995 the island was sold by the Crown Estate to a former chairman of Plymouth Argyle with a view to developing it as a tourism destination.

  7. Continue ahead at the junction of paths in the direction indicated for the South West Coast Path until you reach the end of the surfaced path by a stony beach and lake.

    Two species of seahorse live in Plymouth Sound (spiny seahorse and long-snouted seahorse). They hide in the sea grass which they grasp with their tails and live on a diet of shrimps and small crabs (of which they can eat around 30 a day!). Seahorses are famous for the males being the gender to brood the eggs within their bodies until they hatch as baby seahorses. They do this within a pouch, a little bit like that in female marsupials.

  8. Continue ahead across the grass to reach a waymark beside the building with pillars. Join the path and follow it to a gate.

    The circular Ionian temple near the lake in the Edgcumbe estate was built around 1755 and is dedicated to the poet John Milton. It contains a plaque inscribed with lines from his poem Paradise Lost.

  9. Go through the gate and follow the path ahead to meet a track.

    The ruin on the hill in Mount Edgcumbe County Park is an artificial ruin built as a folly some time around 1747. Formerly there was an obelisk there which acted as a navigation beacon. The folly still sufficed for this practical purpose but was deemed more aesthetic. It is built from mediaeval stones salvaged from the ruined churches of St George and St Lawrence at Stonehouse.

  10. Bear left onto the track and follow to a cottage then follow the path leading from it to a fence where the path doubles back on itself.
  11. Follow the path up the bank to emerge onto another path and continue up the steps opposite to reach a gate.
  12. Go through the gate and follow the path past the ruin and down the steps. Continue to reach a fork in the path.

    Constructed in 1812, the stone breakwater stretches for very close to a mile across the centre of Plymouth Sound and was described by Napoleon as "a grand thing" as he passed it on his way to exile on St Helena in 1815. The sea wall is constructed from granite quarried from the Luxulyan Valley near St Austell and is infilled with limestone from the Plymouth area. In total, nearly four million tonnes of rock were used in its construction. The lighthouse was added in 1844, and the fort during the 1860s when France was expanding its navy and the resulting nervousness lead to intensification of defences around major British sea ports.

  13. Follow the waymarked right-hand (less steep route) to join the lower path and then follow the zig-zagging path diversion to emerge onto a track beside a waymark.
  14. Follow the track from the waymark to reach a path leaving to the left at another waymark.
  15. Bear left at the waymark to join the path and follow this through an iron gate to a wooden gate.
  16. Go through the gate and follow the path to a fork with a gate on the left.
  17. Continue ahead on the path to follow along the edge of a field and reach a kissing gate onto a lane.
  18. Go through the gate and bear right onto the lane to reach the second of two wooden coast path signs, signposted to Kingsand. Bear left onto the path for Kingsand and follow the path to a fork.

    The exposed area of red rock beside Kingsand is the result of a volcanic lava flow around 290 million years ago which formed rocks known as rhyolites. When sea levels were higher, a wave-cut platform was created which was exposed when sea levels fell. This is the largest continuous piece of exposed rhyolite in the UK. The red rock has been used to construct a number of the buildings in Kingsand.

  19. Bear left at the fork onto the small path and follow this until you reach the end of the meadow then join the path above and follow this to emerge onto a lane.
  20. The walk continues uphill to the right but before continuing you may want to explore Kingsand to the left. Continue to the top of the hill to reach a pair of Public Footpath signs where the tarmac peters out.

    The name Kingsand was first used in the mid-16th Century when it was part of Devon and this is reflected in the English rather than Cornish name. The name denotes that the shoreline belonged to the King of England. Also dating from the 16th Century are the remains of the pilchard cellars on the shoreline just beyond Kingsand.

  21. At the signpost, follow the right-hand path, leading from the end of the tarmac to reach a crossing of paths.

    Until 1844, the border between Celtic Cornwall and Saxon Devon lay between Cawsand and Kingsand, defined by a small stream. On Garrett Street, just before you reach the Halfway House Inn, there is a house with a marker indicating where the border used to be.

  22. At the crossing, turn right and follow the path to reach a junction of paths at a waymark.

    During the spring, if you encounter a patch of plants with white bell-shaped flowers, smelling strongly of onions, and with long, narrow leaves then they are likely to be three-cornered leeks. The plants get their name due to their triangular flower stems and, as the name also suggests, they are members of the onion family and can be used in recipes in place of spring onions or leeks. They are at their best for culinary use from February to April. By May, they have flowered and the leaves are starting to die back.

  23. Continue ahead from the waymark in the direction indicated for Maker Heights to emerge onto a small lane.

    The walk route is in a small Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty known as the "Rame Head Heritage Coast" that includes Mount Edgcumbe Country Park and Cawsand Bay.

    There are 33 regions in England designated Areas Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which were created in 1949 at the same time as the National Parks. In fact the AONB status is very similar to that of National Parks. There is a single Cornwall AONB which is itself subdivided into 12 sections. 11 of these are sections of the coastline and the 12th is Bodmin Moor.

  24. Turn right onto the lane and follow it to a bend in front of some buildings where a track departs from the right.
  25. Keep left to stay on the lane and follow it along the wall to a junction.
  26. Turn right at the junction (signposted Fort Picklecombe) and follow the lane a short distance to a Public Footpath sign for Maker Church on the left.
  27. Go through the kissing gate on the left and follow the path across the field to reach another kissing gate.
  28. Go through the gate and continue ahead to a gate in the hedge opposite.
  29. Go through the gate and cross the stile and track to the path opposite. Follow the path to reach a stile into a field
  30. Cross the stile and turn right. Follow along the right-hand hedge to reach another stile.

    Due to the steep slopes in the Rame area, the land was ploughed with horse-drawn ploughs with just a single furrow that could be reversed. The models of plough used were presumably named from a slightly bawdy folk interpretation of the word "ploughing" as they included "Cock Up" and "Climax".

  31. Cross the stile and turn right at the waymark. Follow along the right hedge to reach the church car park.
  32. At the church car park, turn left and walk a short distance to reach the track passing the church. Turn right onto this and follow it into the Deer Park car park to reach a gate leading ahead into the park.

    In 705 AD the parish of Maker was given in an act of diplomacy by the King of Cornwall to Sherborne Abbey to give the Saxons control of the Tamar mouth, and it remained part of Devon until 1844. The parish church was was first mentioned in 1121 and there were a number of churches on the site dating back to mediaeval times. The current building dates from the 15th Century.

  33. Go through the gate and follow the track across the grass to a waymark where a path forks to the left. Bear left onto this path and follow it to a gate.

    In 1515, King Henry VIII granted Sir Piers Edgcumbe permission to keep a herd of deer in the park on the Edgcumbe estate. The deer roaming the park today are direct descendants of those Tudor deer.

  34. Go through the gate and follow the path to a driveway.
  35. Turn right onto the driveway and follow it past the car park to a fork.

    Plymouth grew from the mediaeval waterside village of Sutton to a port town by Tudor times and continued to grow throughout the Industrial Revolution. The three neighbouring towns of Stonehouse, Devonport and Plymouth were formally combined as the city of Plymouth in 1914. The city expanded further in the 1960s after post-war rebuilding of the bombed-out centre and incorporated Plympton and Plymstock. It is now the 30th largest urban area in the UK.

  36. Keep left at the fork, marked "All Vehicles", and follow the drive to a junction of driveways and paths.

    The story that Sir Francis Drake insisted in finishing his game of bowls before defeating the Spanish Armada is now thought to be an Elizabethan urban myth. The true delay in the launch of the English fleet is thought to be due to adverse weather conditions and currents. The story is recorded in print only 37 years after the event.

  37. Turn left (signposted for Orangery) and follow the drive to another junction, with a signpost.
  38. Continue ahead at the junction onto the track leading downhill in the direction signposted for "Orangery and Formal Gardens". Continue to reach another junction.

    In 1919, Oscar Hartzell, son of a farmer in Iowa, contacted many American in the mid-west who had the surname Drake. He claimed that he was a distant relative of Sir Francis Drake and had discovered that the estate had never been paid to his heirs, that it had gathered interest for the last 300 years, included the whole city of Plymouth, and that it was now worth $100 billion. Hartzell invited investment in his campaign to sue the British government and assured everyone a return of $500 for every dollar they invested. Approximately 70,000–100,000 Americans sponsored him— some with all the money they had. Meanwhile Hartzell had moved to London and was living an opulent lifestyle whilst claiming he was negotiating with the authorities. This continued until authorities seized assets of some of Herzel's agents' and they revealed the scam. Hartzel was not convicted until a copy of Drake's will was brought to his fraud trial in 1933, and he died in prison hospital ten years later. Many of his victims believed in him to the end of their own lives.

  39. Keep left at the junction again signposted for "Orangery and Formal Gardens". Follow the track to the gate through which you entered the Country Park. Continue through this and take the left path before the fountain to cut the corner onto the pavement to the car park.

    The Edgcumbe Arms dates from the 18th Century but the original building was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1995.

    The obelisk on the hill behind the pub was the one originally situated in the location of the ruin in Mount Edgcumbe Park.

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
  • Please let us know if there are nice autumn colours in the woods
  • 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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