Poundstock to Penfound

The walk starts next to the church in Poundstock and passes the Gildhouse where there is an array of mediaeval outfits that can be tried on when it's open to the public. The route follows lanes through the small hamlet of Treskinnick Cross and drops into the valley at Newmill where it follows the stream to Penfound Manor. The return route to Poundstock is via country lanes.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 111 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 3.2 miles/5.1 km
  • Grade: Easy
  • Start from: Poundstock church
  • Parking: Poundstock church car park. From the A39, turn down Vicarage Lane and the car park is on your left after the houses. Satnav: EX230AU
  • Recommended footwear: waterproof boots, ideally wellies (crosses through a stream)

Maps for this walk

(dark blue corner = laminated version)

Highlights

  • Wooded track from Newmill to Penfound
  • Historic Penfound Manor - the oldest inhabited house in England
  • Panoramic views of countryside and coast to the north between Penfound and Bangors
  • Poundstock Church and Gildhouse - a Mediaeval Church Alehouse

Adjoining walks

Directions

  1. From the car park, turn left on the lane and follow it past the (new) cemetery until you reach a metal kissing gate on the left into the (old) churchyard.

    Poundstock is a small village just off the A39, near the rocky cove of Millook Haven. Poundstock was a centre for smuggling and piracy from 1300 until the Black Death wiped the village out in 1348. However, smuggling and wrecking continued after the village was refounded.

  2. Go through the kissing gate on the left and follow the path to the church.

    You'll notice that there is lichen growing on many of the headstones in the churchyard. Of the 2,000 British species, over a third have been found in churchyards and more than 600 have been found growing on churchyard stone in lowland England. Almost half the species are rare and some seldom, if ever, occur in other habitats. Many churchyards are found to have well over 100 species.

  3. Turn left at the church and follow the path downhill past the gildhouse to exit onto a lane.

    Poundstock Gildhouse, located next to the church, is a well-preserved late mediaeval church house, the only surviving one of its kind in Cornwall. It has been used continuously since it was built, and is a Grade I listed building. Church houses were built with the aim of using them as extensions of the church, and the one in Poundstock is contemporary with the later phases of the mediaeval church building.

    The unique structure was built between the 15th and 16th centuries by skilled craftsmen using traditional techniques and materials such as cob, local stone and slate. In the beginning, the ground floor probably comprised a kitchen, bakehouse and brewhouse, a meeting place and a store room. The first floor was an open feasting hall where the Church Ales would have been held.

    Church Ales were celebrations held within the church calendar, particularly at Whitsuntide and May Day, when ales were brewed and sold in order to raise funds for the Church or for good causes in the parish. With the growth of Puritanism in the late 17th century, drinking was seen as sinful. Church Ales were considered to be nothing but drunken disorders and were suppressed. Church houses were gradually abandoned, demolished or put to other uses.

  4. Turn left onto the lane and follow it to a crossroads with the A39.
  5. Carefully cross the A39 and follow the lane a short distance to a junction left with a signpost indicating a cinema.
  6. Turn left at the junction just after the bus stop and follow the lane past the cinema to a dead end with a wooden stile on the right signposted as a public footpath.

    The Rebel Cinema at Treskinnick Cross was designed and built by a film producer and opened in 1988. It closed in 2007 but was reopened in 2011 and its one screen has 2 showings on weekday evenings and three at weekends. If it seems in the middle of nowhere, bear in mind the alternative for the residents of Bude is a 30 mile drive to Wadebridge!

  7. Turn right over the stile and follow the right-hand hedge to a gateway.

    Electric fences are powered with a car battery which charges a capacitor to release a periodic pulse of electricity; this is often audible as a quiet "crack" which is a good indicator that a fence is powered. The power is not high enough to cause serious injury but touching an electric fence is nevertheless unpleasant in a similar way to stinging nettles. If you are answering the call of nature in the vicinity of an electric fence, be mindful of the conductivity of electrolyte solutions!

  8. Go through the gateway and follow the right-hand hedge to a pair of gates at the far end.
  9. Go through the right of the two gates and follow the left-hand hedge to a stile.

    The idea of eating something that can sting you seems wrong until you realise that nettles lose their sting as soon as you cook them, and they taste like spinach. Wearing gloves, strip off the young tender leaves, discarding any large coarse leaves and stems. Use lightly boiled, steamed or wilted as if it were spinach (though not raw unless you want to live dangerously!). All the usual spinach flavour combinations apply (e.g. with ricotta). Nettles are extremely nutritious, containing high levels of vitamin A and C, large amounts of iron and a significant amount of protein.

  10. Cross the stile and head to the waymark in a gap between the trees 10 metres from the bottom left 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.

  11. Turn left at the waymark and follow the path through a gate. Continue on the track between the hedge and fence to a gate in front of a building.

    The settlement of New Mill was first recorded in 1713. Based on the map evidence, the grade-II-listed millhouse beside the farmhouse, although fairly old, is thought not to be in the location of the original mill building.

  12. Bear left (ignore the footpath to the right) to pass between the barn and the outbuilding and reach a metal gate. Go through this to reach a stile with a yellow spot.

    Watermills were first documented in the first century BC and the technology spread quickly across the Roman Empire with commercial mills being used in Roman Britain. By the time of the Domesday survey in the 11th Century, there were more than 6,000 watermills in England. During Norman times, the feudal system lead to a greater proliferation of mills with each manor being self-sufficient with its own mill.

  13. Cross the stile and follow the track uphill to a junction where another track joins from the right.

    Bluebells make a pretty display along the track in early spring.

    During periods of cold weather, spring flowers, such as bluebells, have already started the process of growth by preparing leaves and flowers in underground bulbs during summer and autumn. They are then able to grow in the cold of winter, or early spring, by using these resources stored in their bulb. Once they have flowered, the leaves die off and the cycle begins again.

    Other species (such as cow parsley or dandelions) require warm weather before they are able to germinate and grow. With the warmer springs induced by climate change, bluebells lose their 'early start' advantage, and can be out-competed.

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  14. At the junction, keep left and follow the track, through Tuckingmill wood and alongside a meadow, until it bends uphill and ends in a gate.

    Wild garlic grows in the shady areas alongside the track.

    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.

  15. Cross the stile next to the gate and climb the field to the waymark. Bear right to follow the path along the top hedge and continue to reach a gate.
  16. Go through the gate and continue following along the left hedge to reach a stile.

    Field Mushrooms are very closely related to the familiar supermarket button mushrooms and are the most commonly-eaten wild mushroom in Britain. They usually appear in grazed fields between July and November. As there are a few species of white mushroom that all look quite similar, care needs to be taken to avoid eating poisonous species. In particular, the poisonous "yellow stainer" looks very similar to a field mushroom, but smells of chemicals rather than of mushrooms and if the flesh is cut, a yellow liquid seeps out.

  17. Cross the stile and follow the path through the bushes until the path enters the stream.
  18. Turn right and head a few steps downstream until you can see a path departing to the left. Follow the path along the line of the fence to a stile.

    This is another good spot for bluebells in the spring.

    In Old Cornish, both bluebells and marigolds where known as lesengoc which translates to "flower of the cuckoo". In Modern Cornish, the marigold has remained more-or-less the same but the bluebell has been changed to bleujenn an gog ("plant of the cuckoo"). The association between bluebells and cuckoos exists in Welsh ("bells of the cuckoo") and Gaelic ("cuckoo's shoe"), and in some English folk names such as Cuckoo's Boots and Cuckoo Stockings. It is thought that the association is due to the time that bluebells flower coinciding with the time that the call of the cuckoo is first heard.

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  19. Cross the stile onto a track, and turn left. Follow the track to a gate.

    The older an oak tree becomes, the more acorns it produces. A 70-80 year old tree can produce thousands. As well as for squirrels, acorns are a really important food for deer and make up a quarter of their diet in the autumn. Acorns are high in carbohydrates and were also eaten by people in times of famine. Acorns were soaked in water to leech out the bitter tannins and could then be made into flour.

  20. Go through the gate and continue straight ahead towards the stone walls. Join the track and follow it past Penfound Manor and Penfound Farm until you reach a lane.

    Penfound Manor near Poundstock is thought to be the oldest continually-inhabited ancestral home in England, dating to the Saxon period. It is also thought to be the first house in Britain with a purpose-built bedroom. The current house dates from late mediaeval times, based around a mediaeval hall which was then added to in Tudor times. William Penfound was murdered in the church at Poundstock and is said to now haunt his old house.

  21. Turn left onto the lane and follow it to Bangors, where it ends at a crossroads with the A39.

    The first record of the settlement of Bangors is from 1748 when it was named "Bangors Whissle".

  22. Carefully cross the A39 onto Vicarage Lane, on the other side, and follow this into Poundstock.

    The Saxons had a stronghold in northeastern Cornwall, which is reflected in many of the place names (-stow, -bury, -ton, -worthy, -cott, -ham, -ford etc). As you move further west, the Celtic place names (Tre-, Pen-, Lan-) become more common.

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

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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