Port Quin to Lundy Bay

Starting from Port Quin, the route follows the edge of the natural harbour to the folly at Doyden Point. From there the path passes the mineshafts that were once used to extract antimony, on its way to Trevan Point which is now grazed by Dartmoor Ponies. The path then descends to the beaches of Epphaven Cove and Lundy Bay. The return to Port Quin begins beside the collapsed cave and crosses fields via Porteath Bee Centre to join a small lane to Port Quin.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 106 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 2.9 miles/4.7 km
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Start from: Port Quin National Trust car park
  • Parking: National trust car park (limited space). From Delabole turn right off the B3314 at St Endellion then bear left, then right at Long Cross following the road to the bottom of the coast; the car park is on your left. From Polzeath, head towards Delabole and turn left after the Porteath Bee Centre; the car park is on your right after the fish cellars at the bottom of the hill. Satnav: PL293SU
  • Recommended footwear: walking shoes or trainers in the summer

Maps for this walk

(dark blue corner = laminated version)

Highlights

  • Pretty fishing village of Port Quin
  • Spectacular coastline around Port Quin and Doyden Point
  • Quiet sandy beaches at Epphaven Cove and Lundy Bay
  • Tea rooms and Cornish honey at Porteath Bee Centre

Alternative walks in same location

Adjoining walks

Directions

  1. From the corner of the car park nearest the buildings, follow the path alongside the stream towards the sea and onto the lane. Then turn left and follow the lane uphill until, just past Trevose House, you reach some steps leading to a slate stile on your right.

    Port Quin is a tiny cluster of fisherman's cottages around a sheltered inlet in Port Isaac Bay. In the early 19th century, the settlement of Port Quin had upwards of 20 houses but was then suddenly deserted. There is a local legend that one night, a violent gale sank the entire fishing fleet, leaving 32 women widowed. The name is a corruption of the Cornish "Porth Gwynn" which means "white cove". Portwenn - the Anglicised version of this - is used as the name of the fictional village in the ITV Comedy Drama series "Doc Martin". The harbour itself was used for filming the 1970s Poldark series.

    There is a cave under the ruined building beside Quay cottage with a shaft leading up from the cave that is thought to have been used by smugglers.

  2. Cross the stile and keep right to follow the path downhill. Follow the path past a waymark on the edge of the inlet until you reach a waymark signposted to Epphaven.

    The tiny castellated building on Doyden Point is fittingly known as Doyden Castle. When you reach the Epphaven waymark, you can follow the track to the right to have a closer look and return to the waymark to continue on the route.

    On the end of Doyden Point at Port Quin, is a small castellated building known appropriately as Doyden Castle. Doyden Castle is a cliff-edge folly built in 1830 which was allegedly used for decadent gambling parties. The sheer cliff edges and (at the time) unfenced mineshafts would presumably have been more than a little hazardous for drunken revellers. It's now owned by the National Trust and let as holiday accommodation. The wine bins still remain on the lower ground floor.

  3. At the waymark, follow the path ahead waymarked to Epphaven to reach a track by a pillar. Follow the path opposite to the mineshaft, fenced with a ring of upright slates.

    The Cow and Calf are two rocks directly out from Port Quin; one rock is larger than the other - hence the name. They are the topmost part of a reef rising approximately 10 metres from the sea bed which is entirely submerged at high tide, but breaks the surface at low tide.

  4. From the mineshaft, continue along the coast path, through a pair of gates, until you reach a stile at Trevan Point.

    There were two mines at Port Quin. Near Doyden Point, there are mineshafts of Gilson's Cove Mine either side of the coast path. This was a mixed lead/silver and antimony mine from which a little copper ore was also extracted. One shaft goes down to sea level, the other deeper. Between the two shafts where the coast path runs is the remains of the platform for a horse-powered winding device, known as a whim, which was used to haul ore up from the mine. Further inland is Port Quin mine which was solely an antimony mine.

    Antimony is in the same chemical group as tin, lead and mercury and was used in alloys, particularly with these metals, including solder and printing lead. Like lead and mercury, it is toxic if ingested (which wasn't known at the time), so mining it was probably not a recipe for a long life.

  5. Cross the stile and follow either of the paths ahead, which join after a short distance. Follow the path down the valley until you reach a waymark to Epphaven.

    Dartmoor ponies, bred for hauling goods, have been recorded living on the wild and unhospitable moors since the Middle Ages. They are unsurprisingly a very hardy breed and have a lifespan of around 25 years. Over the 20th Century, their numbers declined from just over 25,000 in the 1930s to about 5,000 by the start of the 21st century when only around 800 ponies were known to be grazing the moor. Dartmoor ponies have recently found a new niche as conservation grazers. As well as on moorland, they are used by the Wildlife Trusts to graze the coast to prevent bracken and gorse taking hold.

  6. At the waymark, keep right along the coast path and descend into the valley beside the beach (Epphaven Cove), to reach another waymark.

    Epphaven Cove is submerged at high tide, and is rocky until the lowest part of the tide when a sandy beach is revealed. At low tide, the beach merges with the adjacent beaches to form a continuous strip of sand around Lundy Bay.

  7. Continue ahead on the coast path, through the gate, in the direction waymarked to The Rumps. Follow the waymarked path until you reach a waymark signposted to Pentire Point and Porteath at the next beach (Lundy Bay).

    On 15 December 1979, the wind had been blowing westerly force 11 since the previous day and that morning had reached force 14 on the anemometer at RAF St Mawgan. Padstow lifeboat station was informed that the Greek vessel Skopelos Sky, three miles north west of Trevose Head, had transmitted a mayday distress signal and needed immediate help. The cargo had shifted in the huge sea and consequently the ship had a dangerous list. Due to the massive waves, which the lifeboat's coxwain described as "like being an insect in a ploughed field", rescue with the lifeboat was impossible as one moment it was alongside the ship's deck and the next beside the propellers. Consequently, the ship's crew had to be rescued by helicopter. The last man remaining aboard - the captain - was winched clear of the deck, seconds before the ship was hit by a huge breaker and rolled onto the rocks at Doyden Head. The ship has now been totally smashed to pieces by the sea with some wreckage buried in the sand and some amongst the cliffs.

  8. Turn left onto the path waymarked to Porteath and follow it until it eventually ends at a stile.

    Lundy Bayis situated on the east side of The Rumps headland and consists of 3 small beaches. The leftmost two are sometimes known as Lundy Beach and between them there is a collapsed cave, forming an arch opening onto the beach. At high tide, the beaches are rocky, but at low tide, beautiful golden sand is revealed.

    Due to the north-facing bay and steep cliffs, it's quite sheltered from a southwesterly wind. The result is that when there is a good size swell, there can be some quite clean surf here near low tide when the westerly-facing beaches are blown out. The beach slopes more steeply than many of the west-facing surf beaches, so rides tend to be short.

  9. Cross the stile and bear left slightly to the highest point of the field to reach a waymarked gate in the middle of the far hedge.

    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.

  10. Go through the gate and follow the left hedge of the field to a waymarked gate just before the buildings.

    Clover is a native plant but is also sown as a fodder crop or as "green manure" as it is a "nitrogen-fixing" plant which converts atmospheric nitrogen into ammonium salts, improving soil fertility. The two most common species are known simply as White Clover and Red Clover, based on the colour of their flowers, with the latter generally being a slightly larger plant.

    The flowers and leaves of red clover can be dried to make a sweet tasting herbal tea. In order to get a good flavour, this needs to be infused for quite a long time (around half an hour) until a deep amber colour develops. Fresh clover doesn’t work so well as the drying process breaks down the cell walls of the plant.

  11. Go through the gate and bear right onto a track. Follow the track until you reach the Bee Centre car park.
  12. Exit the car park, past the Bee Centre and over the cattle grid, to reach a gap in the hedge on your left marked with a public footpath sign, just before the main road.

    Porteath Bee Centre, on the road to Polzeath, has been open since 1970 and has grown from a hobby into a business. The Centre offers a shop to buy honey, a tea room for Cornish cream teas, candle making and bee supplies to start your own.

    The name is likely to be from the Cornish Porth Treth, meaning "sandy cove" and presumably referring to nearby Lundy Bay. The name of the settlement of Portreath (with an "r") near Redruth has similar origins.

  13. Go through gap in the hedge and the gate behind it. Bear slightly left to reach the left hedge, then follow along this to a gateway.

    Lichens are a partnership of two different organisms: a fungus providing the "accommodation" and an alga or cyanobacterium providing the "food" through photosynthesis. The fungal partner provides a cosy, sheltered environment for the alga and tends it with mineral nutrients. However, the alga partner is more than simply an imprisoned food-slave: it is such a closely-evolved alliance that the fungus is dependant on the alga for its shape and structure. If the fungal partner is isolated and grown on an agar plate, it forms a shapeless, infertile blob.

  14. Go through the gate and follow the left hedge to a stile.
  15. Cross the stile and turn left onto the lane. Follow it back to Port Quin.

    The land around Port Quin was bought by National Trust in 1956. The land between Doyden Point and Trevan Point was bought in 1984 with funds from the National Trust's Project Neptune and the Cornwall Fund, completing the acquisition of a 6 mile stretch of coastline from Port Quin to Pentireglaze Haven.

    Project Neptune was started by the National Trust in 1965 to purchase and protect large portions of the British coastline. By 1973 it had achieved its target of raising £2 million and 338 miles of coastline were looked-after. The project was so successful that it is still running although mainly focused on maintenance. There is still an occasional opportunity when privately-owned coastal land is sold. A particularly notable one was in 2016 when the land at Trevose Head was put up for sale and successfully purchased by the National Trust.

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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