Grampound to Trenowth circular walk

Grampound to Trenowth

A circular walk in the Fal valley from Grampound which began as river port in Roman times which evolved into the gateway into West Cornwall in mediaeval times and went on to become the centre of Cornwall's tanning industry.

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Starting at Grampound, the walk circles the Fal Valley on small lanes and footpaths. The route passes the historic settlements of Trevillick, Garlenick, Trenowth and Benallack and the Fal Valley viaduct.

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Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 105
  • Distance: 4.8 miles/7.7 km
  • Steepness grade: Moderate
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots in winter. Walking shoes, or trainers in summer

OS maps for this walk

OS Explorer 105 OS Explorer 105 (laminated version)

Click or tap on map for more info (blue=laminated)


  • Historic market town of Grampound and Heritage Centre
  • Bluebell woodland at Garlenick

Pubs on or near the route

  • The Dolphin Inn


  1. Make your way out of the car park to the road and cross to the other side. Turn right to follow the road uphill, past the Dolphin Inn, to a footpath sign just before the Creed sign.

    Just behind the market cross, next to the Heritage Centre, is St Nun's chapel.

    There is evidence of a Chapel of Ease (to save the walk to and from Creed parish church) in Grampound during mediaeval times, thought to originally have been dedicated to St Naunter although it was rededicated to a different saint on more than one occasion. Despite being in good repair in 1745, by Victorian times the chapel was in ruins and was in use as an animal pen for the market. In 1868 it was rebuilt, re-using a few older architectural elements that are thought may have been salvaged from the ruin of the previous building.

  2. Turn left through the alleyway marked with the Public Footpath sign and follow the path to a track. Keep right on the track to reach a lane. Turn left onto the lane and follow it for about half a mile until you reach a junction beside a sign for Grampound and St Stephen.

    The ferns with solid leaves are appropriately called hart's tongue as the leaf resembles the tongue of a deer. It's an evergreen so leaves can be seen all year round but there's usually a flurry of new growth in mid March when new leaves can be seen gradually unfurling over a number of days. The Latin name for the species means "centipede" as the underside of the leaves have rows of brown spore cases that form a pattern resembling centipede legs. The plants thrive in shady places and are tolerant of the lime used in mortar so are sometimes found growing in old walls.

  3. Turn right at the junction and follow the lane to the bridge at bottom of the valley and then continue on the lane uphill until you reach a Public Footpath sign on the left pointing to the driveway of Garlenick.

    The settlement at the junction is Trevillick.

    The settlement of Trevillick was first recorded in 1216 as Trevillioch. There was once a holy well here, dedicated to St Naunter, but now all that remains is a carved stone which has been re-purposed as part of one of the barns on the farm.

  4. Turn left to follow the Public Footpath along the driveway to Garlenick. Continue until the track forks to go through a gateway with a Please Drive Slowly sign.

    Bluebells can be seen flowering along the track in the spring.

    In Old Cornish, both bluebells and marigolds were 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.

    The formation of most of the world's coal deposits from wood occurred during a single geological period suitably-named the Carboniferous. It was postulated that this might be because white rot hadn't evolved by then so dead wood just accumulated. However, it's now thought more likely to be due to the formation of particularly deep swamps from the crust-buckling collisions of tectonic plates in this period which allowed wood both to accumulate in a low-oxygen environment and then be compressed into coal.

  5. Keep left to enter the yard and then follow along the wall on the right until you are in front of the stables. Turn right at the end of the wall and follow the concrete track in front of the house to reach a gravel track leading downhill beside a cottage.

    After you pass the stables and join the concrete track, the building on your right is Garlenick House.

    The settlement of Garlenick was first recorded in 1334 as Corlenneck. It is thought that the name is based on the Cornish word cor, meaning "family". The house is thought to date from the 17th Century but was rebuilt in 1812.

  6. Turn left down the gravel track and follow it until it ends on a lane.

    The large pond at the bottom of the field and surrounding wetland is an ideal habitat for newts.

    Newts walk with a side-to-side gait by moving their front-left and back-right legs forward at the same time, followed by the other diagonal pair. This waddling form of motion is the origin of the phrase "pissed as a newt".

    However, unlike drunk people, when injured, they have the remarkable ability to regrow limbs, eyes and even their heart! They are consequently of major interest to medical science.

  7. Turn left onto the lane. Follow it through Treway, past junctions to Coombe and Grampound and over a bridge to reach a sign for Grampound Road.

    The River Fal begins in the marshes of Goss Moor at Pentevale and runs for 11 miles to its mouth between St Anthony Head and Pendennis Point. It is little more than a stream passing through the china clay areas near St Stephen and a fairly small river at Grampound and Tregony. At Ruan Lanihorne, the river enters the huge flooded river valley forming the creek system known as Carrick Roads. Within this, it is the former river valley of the Fal which separates the Roseland peninsula from the neighbouring land.

  8. Keep left in the direction of Grampound Road and follow the lane uphill for about half a mile, passing under a railway bridge, until you reach a sign for Trenowth.

    The viaduct on your right is part of the railway main line to Penzance.

    The viaduct was built in the late 1850s as part of the construction of the railway from Plymouth to Truro. The line crosses a number of deep river valleys so in order to lower the initial building costs, the viaducts were constructed mostly of wood with fans of timber, resting on stone piers, that supported a wooden deck. In 1884, this was replaced by an all-stone structure which was cheaper to maintain once built.

    Trenowth Mill was built in the early-mid 19th Century to grind china stone. The mill had two water wheels to drive the grinding machinery. The powdered stone was recovered with water as a slurry, concentrated in settling tanks and then dried by two pan kilns (underfloor heating systems). Above the door at the front, the location of a higher door can be seen in the brickwork where the central window is now located.

  9. Turn left at the sign for Trenowth and follow the Private Road until you reach a bend with a waymarked grassy path leading to a bridge.

    Trenowth was first recorded in the year 969 as Trefneweth, meaning "new farm". The manor house at Trenowth was rebuilt in the 19th Century and reused elements of a former house which dated from the 14th Century. The remains of a mediaeval chapel were found in the woodland nearby.

  10. Bear left to follow the waymarked path over the bridge and continue between the hedges to reach a gateway into a field.

    China clay in Cornwall and Devon resulted from a sequence of events that began over 300 million years ago; molten rock cooled into granite: a mixture of quartz, feldspar and mica. As it cooled, the feldspar reacted with other minerals to form china clay.

    The clay from Cornwall was found to be a much finer quality than elsewhere in Europe and also turned out to be the largest deposit in the world. By the mid-19th Century, 7,000 workers were employed in the St Austell area alone and by 1910, Cornwall was producing 50% of the world's China Clay.

    At the time of writing, the UK is still the third largest producer of China Clay in the world: Cornwall produces approximately 1 million tonnes of kaolin each year. Due to increasing mechanisation and large amounts of production being moved to Brazil, the industry now only employs around 1000 people.

    The word kaolin is thought to be a corruption of the Chinese for "high ridge" where it was presumably found.

  11. Go through the gateway and turn right. Follow the right hedge to a waymark just before an opening in the corner of the hedge. Turn left at the waymark to stay in the field and follow the right hedge to an opening into the field ahead.

    China Stone is a term used to describe granite which has partially decomposed, but not all the way to china clay. Porcelain can made by mixing china clay (kaolin) with ground china stone and then melting these together in a kiln to form the ceramic. The china stone lowers the melting point and forms a less crumbly and more glass-like structure. In fact, pure kaolin alone is pretty much useless for making ceramics.

    After much trial and error in finding suitable sources of china stone in Cornwall, a patent was filed in 1768 for the manufacture of porcelain using entirely Cornish materials; previously this was only available from China. China stone is consequently also known in some parts of the world as "Cornish Stone".

  12. Go through the opening into the field ahead and bear left very slightly up the field to a gate in the hedge at the top.

    The fields here are used for a range of arable crops including cereals and brassicas.

    The stink from decaying cabbages is due to sulphur compounds which it stores in its leaves, ready for the production of seeds later on. The compounds are also more concentrated in the plant if it has been deprived of water. These compounds are also released from the plant when leaves are boiled - the longer it's cooked, the more cabbage smell. The silver lining is that it's thought that the smelly compounds may possibly have anti-cancer properties. Whilst that's being researched a bit more, blanching or braising cabbage is a less smelly way to cook it.

  13. Go through the gate and follow the path ahead to join a track. Follow the track ahead towards the cottage to reach a tarmacked lane.

    The settlement of Benallack was first recorded in 1244 and was the seat of an ancient family with the same name, also recorded as Benethlake. It is thought that the name is from the Cornish word banadhel for the plant broom. Although now a farmhouse, the old hall at Benallack still contains remnants of its former station as a mansion including painted glass in the windows.

  14. Follow the lane ahead, passing the cottage on your right. Continue until it ends in a junction with another lane.

    Snowdrops are a member of the onion family. Although it is often thought of as a native British wild flower, the snowdrop was probably introduced in Tudor times, around the early sixteenth century.

    In English we often add a -y ending to a noun to turn it into an adjective; for example "rock" becomes "rocky". For many of the nouns imported from French, we add "-ic" (acidic, magnetic, artistic...). The equivalent in Cornish is to add -ack or -ek to the end of the word. Thus meynek is "stony" (men is stone), stennack means "tinny" (sten is tin).

  15. Turn left at the junction and follow the lane until it ends in Grampound.

    Grampound is at a crossing of the River Fal and is thought to have been a river port from Roman times up until the 17th Century. River-smoothed pebbles found when improving the village football pitch indicate that the river was originally very much wider. The town takes its name from the "Great Bridge" built in around 1250 by the Earl of Cornwall and was recorded with a Cornish name of Ponsmur (from pons, meaning bridge and meor, meaning large). During Norman times, it became a hub for traders crossing into West Cornwall and the name was translated into Norman French: Grand Pont. In 1332 it was given a charter which included a weekly market and this continued until Victorian times from which the market hall (now Heritage Centre) dates. The seven-sided cross shaft beside it is from the 15th Century and indicates the location of the market. The linear layout of the settlement dates from Norman times, when there would have been long, thin plots of land on either side of the road. It remained an important settlement throughout the mediaeval period but declined in Tudor times so that by 1584, the inhabitants were described as "few and poore".

  16. Turn left and follow the pavement across the bridge then cross at the pedestrian crossing to return to the village hall car park.

    It is thought that the tanning of hides to produce leather was carried out in Grampound since Roman times and the town became the centre of Cornish leather trade. During Victorian times there were 5 tanneries in Grampound with an area of the town known as "Bermonsay" after London's leather quarter. The demand outstripped the supply of local hides so extras were imported from Holland and Argentina. The finished goods were exported from Charlestown.

    The most well-known tannery was Croggon's which was established in 1712 and by the 1950s was the last tannery in Cornwall. Throughout the 20th Century it still produced top-quality leather using traditional oak bark. By 1994 it was struggling after the recession severely affected the leather market but managed to win a £30,000 award from The Independent newspaper. Sadly markets didn't recover quickly enough and it finally closed in 2002.

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