Sheviock to Portwrinkle

The route passes through Sheviock via the churchyard to join a footpath which passes a mindleboggling display of primroses during the spring. The path leads through woods along the stream, past the fishing lake and via a corridor of wild garlic to reach Crafthole. After skirting around the Finnygook Inn, the walk crosses the golf course to the Coast Path and follows this past Finnygook Beach to reach the tiny harbour at Portwrinkle. The return route to Sheviock is on small, quiet farm lanes.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 108 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 3.8 miles/6.1 km
  • Grade: Moderate-strenuous
  • Start from: Sheviock church car park
  • Parking: Sheviock church car park. Turn down Georges Lane beside the church. Take the second track on the left (with wooden fences). Car park is on the left behind the gate. Satnav: PL113EN
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots, or trainers in summer

Maps for this walk

(dark blue corner = laminated version)

Highlights

  • Portwrinkle beach and harbour
  • Wildflowers in spring

Adjoining walks

Directions

  1. Follow the track downhill from the church car park and turn right onto the lane. Follow the lane to the gate into the churchyard where the lane ends in a junction.

    The settlement of Sheviock dates from mediaeval times and was first recorded in the Domesday survey of 1086 when it was owned by the church of Tavistock. The place name is thought to be from the Cornish word sevi and the ending -ack, and mean "abounding in strawberries".

  2. Go through the gate into the churchyard and turn right to go through the gate next to the phonebox and reach the road. Turn left onto the road and follow it to Glebe Cottage.

    The first record of Sheviock Church is recorded in 1193, after being rebuilt, but it is likely that there was a church here for at least a century before this in 1086 when the manor of Sheviock was owned by Tavistock Abbey. Nothing survives from these, or any earlier churches, but in 1259 the church was once again rebuilt and also rededicated, and the west tower and font date from this period. The remainder of the church dates from the 14th and 15th Centuries and was restored during Victorian times. The church has an eye-catching large and colourful stained-glass window above the altar and there are three mediaeval tombs in the church of the Norman family that were Lords of the Manor of Sheviock.

  3. Cross the road to the verge opposite and continue following the verge beside the road until you reach a junction with a small lane on the right.
  4. Turn right down the lane and almost immediately right off the lane onto a short piece of track leading to a gate. Go through the kissing gate on the right of the gate and then follow along the fence on the left, then skirt around the top of the bank above the stream, and then continue following the left fence in the field to reach a kissing gate.

    In early spring, the banks surrounding the old quarry on the right are often covered in primroses.

    Although most primroses tend to be pale yellow, in residential areas, extensive hybridisation occurs with pink and purple garden primulas to create all kinds of weird and wonderful mutants, with some even shaped like cowslips. However there is a pale pink variety of primrose (known as rhubarb and custard) that is thought to be a naturally-occurring variant of the pale yellow (rhubarb-free) version as it has been found miles away from any domestic plants.

    During Victorian times, the building of railways allowed primrose flowers picked in the Westcountry to be on sale in London the next day. Picking was done on a large scale but eventually became unfashionable, being seen as environmentally destructive. However all the evidence gathered suggests as long as the flowers were picked and the plants were not dug up, the practice was sustainable.

  5. Go through the gate and follow the left hedge to reach another kissing gate.
  6. Go through the gate and follow the path along the fence and into the woods to cross a footbridge and reach a kissing gate.

    Some of the bluebells in the woodland are Spanish invaders.

    Spanish bluebells have been planted in gardens and these have hybridised with native bluebells producing fertile seeds. This has produced hybrid swarms around sites of introductions and, since the hybrids are able to thrive in a wider range of environmental conditions, the hybrids are frequently out-competing the native English bluebells. Sir Francis Drake would not be impressed! The Spanish form can be fairly easily recognised by the flowers on either side of the stem. In the English form, they are all on one side. In general, the English bluebells also have longer, less-flared flowers and are often a deeper colour. However, the easiest way to tell the difference between native and non-native bluebells is to look at the colour of the pollen: if it is creamy-white then the bluebell is native; if it is any other colour such as pale green or blue then it's not native.

  7. Go through the gate and follow along the right hedge of the field to reach a kissing gate leading into the trees.
  8. Go through the gate and pass the private access gate. Follow the path until it eventually emerges onto a road.

    The path is lined with wild garlic in spring.

    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.

  9. Turn left onto the road and follow it to the roundabout. Turn right at the roundabout and follow the lane past the pub to a crossroads.

    The settlement of Crafthole dates from mediaeval times when it was centred around a triangular grassy plot, forming a village green, which has since been built over. A market and fair were granted in 1314 which presumably took place in this area. The name is a mangling of the English word "croft" and possibly either "hill" or "hollow".

  10. Turn left at the crossroads and follow the lane downhill, passing some residential lanes on the left and between the areas of golf course until you reach a green public footpath sign on the left beside a stony track.

    The small cross in Crafthole was originally in the middle of the road, but was moved in the 1950s after being hit by a bus. Due to it being positioned both beside the market area and on the road, there is difference of opinion as to which of the two the cross marked.

  11. Turn left onto the track and follow it across the golf course to the tee for Hole No 3. Continue to a waymark and then follow the hedge, keeping it on your right until you reach a waymark at the bottom of the golf course.
  12. Turn right at the waymark and follow the path along the bottom of the golf course to another waymark.

    Thrift is a tough plant, able to withstand salt-laden winds and high levels of copper in the soil from mining. The name "thrift" has been suggested to arise from the plant's tufted leaves being economical with water in the windy locations where it is found. It's common all along the Cornish coast and in April-June produces pale pink flowers, hence its other common name: "Sea Pink". The plant grows in dense circular mats which together with its covering of pink flowers gives rise to another less common name: "Ladies' Cushions".

  13. Follow the waymarked path ahead through the coastal scrub to eventually emerge on the lane.
  14. Turn left onto the lane and follow it downhill to reach another coast path sign, just before The Gook café.

    Silas Finn, known locally as Finny, was an 18th Century smuggler who used to land contraband on the beaches of Portwrinkle, which were not well-known to the Revenue men. Various accounts of his story exist, but according to one, he was caught red-handed and was offered the choice of the hangman's noose or to assist in catching fellow smugglers. He reluctantly chose the latter and ended up betraying not only his close friends but also his sister. The local legend is that his restless ghost ("gook") still haunts the cliffs between Crafthole and Portwrinkle.

  15. Continue ahead on the lane to reach "The Rocket House" opposite the ramp leading down to the harbour.

    The life-saving rockets were invented at the beginning of the 19th century, by Cornishman Henry Trengrouse, and were also carried aboard larger vessels. They consisted of a solid fuel rocket on a wooden pole with a line attached, and a grapple on the top of the rocket to snag and hold fast onto the target ship or shore. Despite the rockets occasionally exploding, it is recorded that the apparatus saved thousands of lives in the last 2 decades of the 19th century.

  16. Follow the lane ahead from The Rocket House which climbs uphill and peters out into a track. Continue following the track until it ends on a road.

    The first harbour at Portwrinkle was thought to have been built in 1605, just after the end of the Tudor period, to support a pilchard fishery. A few stones from this original structure remain, and can be seen at low tide. The majority dates from 1822 when the quay was rebuilt after being destroyed by a storm. The storms of 2014 also punched a hole through the harbour wall, which has since been repaired. The walls of the 17th Century pilchard cellars still stand above the harbour, which have been restored and converted into holiday accommodation. During Victorian times, the village was also known as Portwrickle.

  17. Cross the road and turn right to follow the grassy verge. Continue until you reach a lane on the left, signposted Trewrickle Livery. Turn left onto the lane and follow it to where it forks to go into the farm.
  18. Keep right at the fork to stay on the lane and follow the lane until it eventually ends in a crossroads.
  19. Carefully cross the road to the small lane opposite and follow it until it ends in a junction with the road opposite Sheviock church.

    The cross on the corner of Horsepool Lane is known as Stumpy Cross or Stump Cross and is thought to date from either the 14th or 15th Century. It was thought to mark the road to St Germans priory and originally stood closer to the road, but was moved back when the road was widened.

  20. Carefully cross the road and follow the lane opposite back to the church car park to complete the circular route.

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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