St Endellion to Port Isaac

From St Endellion church, the walk follows tracks and lanes through Trelights and across fields to Roscarrock Hill. The route then drops into the valley at Pine Haven and follows the stream down the valley to the coast. It follows the coast path around Lobber Point to Port Isaac, with magnificent views of the harbour. The return route is that taken by generations of Port Isaac villagers, each Sunday, on their way to the parish church.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 106 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 4.2 miles/6.7 km
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Start from: St Endellion church
  • Parking: Church car park or lay-by opposite church. Follow the B3314 to St Endellion. The entrance to the church car park is from the lane beside the churchyard, signposted to Portquin. Satnav: PL293TP
  • Recommended footwear: walking boots

Maps for this walk

(dark blue corner = laminated version)

Highlights

  • Vibrant classical music scene and festivals at St Endellion church
  • Wildflowers along the coast path in spring and summer
  • Spectacular views over Port Isaac harbour from Lobber Point
  • Historic fishing village of Port Isaac
  • Local food in Port Isaac and St Endellion farm shop

Alternative walks in same location

Directions

  1. From the church, turn right on the main road and walk carefully a short distance until you reach a track on the right.

    St Endellion lies on the B3267 just past the turning to Port Isaac. There is a music festival in St Endellion every Easter and summer and the church is a popular venue for classical music concerts.

  2. Turn right down the track and follow it until it ends in a junction onto a lane.

    The church at St Endellion is 15th Century and named after Endelienta - one of the children of the Welsh king Brychan. It is built in the Perpendicular gothic style and contains some fine carvings in both stone and wood.

  3. Turn left at the junction and follow the lane until it ends at a junction.

    Brychan was a legendary Celtic king (originally born in Ireland) who ruled over Breconshire in South Wales. He had a large number of children, and most of these were reported to have evangelised Cornwall and North Devon, with many of the churches dedicated to them. Consequently, many of the place names in North Cornwall (St Teath, St Mabyn, St Endellion, St Minver, St Clether, Egloshale, Egloskerry, Advent, Morwenstow, Lelant etc) are from the names of his children. Brychan is buried on Lundy Island, known in the Celtic language as Ynys Brychan.

  4. At the junction bear right to carry on in the same direction until you reach the parish council notice board next to a junction on the right.
  5. Turn right at the parish council notice board and head up hill, keeping left at the junction to The Barton, until you reach a track on your right with a Public Footpath sign.
  6. Turn right onto the track indicated by the Public Footpath sign. Follow it, through a gate, to a second gate leading into a field.

    The buddleia bushes along the track provide large numbers of nectar-bearing flowers - their common name of "butterfly bush" indicates the outcome.

    The Red Admiral, Peacock, Painted Lady and Tortoiseshell butterflies are all quite closely related and specialised for overwinter hibernation. Their wings, when closed, have a jagged outline and camouflaged colours that allows them to blend in with dead leaves. Their feet contain chemoreceptors (taste buds) which allows them to detect nectar-bearing flowers when they land.

  7. Go through the gate; then follow the left hedge of the field to a stile at the top left corner.
  8. Cross the stile and follow the left hedge to the top left corner to reach another stile onto the road.

    A short diversion to the left along the lane, is Long Cross where there are Victorian gardens and a restaurant (The Long Cross Hotel).

    The Long Cross is an ancient cross shaft from the 6th-8th century, located at a crossroads on the Port Quin road near Trelights. It is inscribed with Broegan hic jacet, which is thought might be a reference to King Brychan.

  9. Cross the road and the stile opposite and head initially towards the buildings in the distance, then bear right slightly to a stile about 50m to the right of the gates in front of the buildings.
  10. Cross over the stile onto the lane and turn left, then immediately right, crossing the patch of grass to a stile next to the gate.
  11. Cross the stile and follow the left hedge to the top left corner of the field where there is a stile.
  12. Cross both stiles and turn left onto the lane. Follow the lane, bending round to the right, until you reach the big white house.
  13. As you reach the white house, turn left down a grassy track signposted To the Coast Path; follow the track over Roscarrock Hill until you reach a gate.

    Roscarrock,on a hill near Port Isaac, is named after a prominent Cornish family who owned the Manor which is mentioned in the Domesday Book. During Tudor times, Nicholas Roscarrock was imprisoned for being a Catholic activist and tortured on the rack, which he miraculously survived, only to be imprisoned again 8 years later. After finally being released, he wrote his only surviving work, "The Lives of the Saints".

  14. Go through the gate and follow the left hedge all the way down the field to a waymark, in the gorse to the right of the gateway.

    The wooden pole in the field is probably a "wreck post".

    Wreck posts, resembling a telegraph pole with wooden steps, were used for Coastguard practice exercises. The post emulated the mast of a sinking ship. A "shore" team would fire a rocket carrying a light line known as a whip to a man on the post. Once he caught this, it was secured to the post and a heavier line known as a hawser was pulled out using the light line and secured to the post. This was then used to haul out the Breeches Buoy (a lifebelt with an attached pair of shorts) that the crew member could be rescued with.

  15. From the waymark, follow the path between the gorse bushes until you reach a stile with a signpost.
  16. Turn right, in the direction signposted to the coast path, and follow the path along the stream until it joins the coast path at a waymark.
  17. Turn right and follow the coast path round the headland towards Port Isaac until you reach a gap in the hedge next to a waymark.

    During the summer, look out for purple betony flowers alongside the coast path.

    Betony is a grassland herb, common on the coast, with pretty purple anthers that stick out from the plant. The name is derived from the ancient Celtic words bew (meaning head) and ton (meaning good) as it was used as a cure for headaches. From Roman times onwards, it was believed to be a cure for a number of things (the Romans listed 47!) including drunkenness; even as late as the 1800s, Richard E. Banks stated that you should "Eat betony or the powder thereof and you cannot be drunken that day" and John Gerard (1597) said that "It maketh a man to pisse well". Betony was also used to ward away evil spirits (hence it is planted in a number of churchyards) and also to make a dark yellow dye for wool.

  18. From the waymark, follow the path down into Port Isaac to where it emerges onto a lane.

    In 1833, Frederick Trevan recorded the foundering vessel - Sloop Theodore of Yaughall - being rescued at Port Isaac in 1821: "Captain Timothy Daisy from Yaughall for Plymouth with potatoes. Vessel seen dismasted. Boarded with difficulty by boat from Port Isaac. Saw no one on deck but heard violin below. The Pats were enjoying themselves it being St. Patrick's Day to whose guidance, of course, they entrusted the vessel. They had entrusted the helm to a boy the day before and he had jibbed her and carried away the mast. The boat people with difficulty got her into Port Isaac after being at it all night. The potatoes were sold at Port Isaac and Padstow and off they went for dear Ireland. Crew exceedingly dirty - great quantity of lice. The Captain would put his hand into his bosom, take one out and address it saying 'Ach, dear honey, I wish you and I were in Dublin' and then replace it."

  19. Bear left onto the lane and follow it downhill (past Doc Martin's house) to a junction at the bottom of the hill.

    Port Isaac is a pretty fishing village with narrow winding alleys running down the steep hillside to the harbour. Particularly noteworthy is the number of 18th and 19th century white-washed cottages and granite, slate-fronted houses, many officially listed as of architectural or historic importance. Port Isaac was a busy coastal port from the Middle Ages to the mid 19th century, where cargoes like slate, coal and timber were shipped in and out. The stone pier was built in Tudor times, and the rest of the harbour in the 19th century. The economy was also heavily based around the pilchard trade.

  20. From here you can investigate the village. Once you have finished, return to this point and facing the Slipway Hotel, bear right up the lane. Follow this until it eventually reaches a junction with a triangular island of grass at a bend.

    Following the construction of the pier, a busy period of development began within Port Isaac which lasted until the beginning of the seventeenth century, though by the end of the Tudor period, most of the present day streets were already laid out.

  21. At the junction, bear left and follow the lane past a track on the left with a public footpath sign, to a second public footpath sign on the left, pointing to a stile.

    Port Isaac was traditionally part of St Endellion parish, so villagers would follow the return route of this walk, each Sunday, on their way to church. When Methodism became popular in Port Isaac, the Anglican church built the chapel of St Peter's in Port Isaac, to compete with the convenience of attending the Methodist chapels, which did not involve climbing this hill!

  22. Cross the stile and head straight ahead into the field. Once you can see the small copse on the far side, head initially towards it and then to a stile, about 50m to the right of the gates.

    Across the valley to your left, was the Wheal Boys antimony mine, near Trewetha, which was worked on and off from the 18th Century until the early 20th Century.

    Endellionite, also known as Bournonite, is a grey or black metallic crystalline mineral (a sulphide of antimony, lead and copper). It was discovered at the Wheal Boys antimony mine near St Endellion and often contains crystal structures that resemble the teeth of a cog wheel. It forms from minerals dissolved in hot water circulating through cracks in the rock which crystallised out as the water cooled; the cogwheel structures are the result of a process called "twinning" where 2 crystals become joined like siamese twins, due to a flaw in the crystal structure.

  23. Cross the stile and turn left onto the road. Follow this road back to the church at St Endellion.

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
  • 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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