Hallwell Woods to Lesnewth Church

A short circular walk in the tributary valleys of the River Valency through bluebell woodland beside a stream, and across meadows rich in wildflowers to the ancient Celtic churchyard of Lesnewth.

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The route follows a stream along a wooded valley before climbing up onto a hill overlooking the Valency valley, then descending through fields to Lesnewth church. From Lesnewth, there is an easy walk back along country lanes to the start of the walk.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 111 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 2.2 miles/3.5 km
  • Grade: Easy-moderate
  • Start from: the driveway at Tregrylls
  • Parking: On the corner of the driveway at Tregrylls opposite the public footpath sign, taking care not to block access PL350HR. From Lesnewth church follow the lane past the houses (not down the hill) to reach a junction with a "Ford" sign and turn down this. Follow it over the ford and into the next valley where the driveway is on the right with a white gate across it (often open).
  • Recommended footwear: walking shoes or trainers in summer


  • Pretty woodland walk with bluebells in spring
  • Panoramic views across the Valency Valley and surrounding coastline
  • Ancient churchyard at Lesnewth dating back to Celtic times
  • Winding country lanes with pretty flowers in spring and summer


  1. Walk down the driveway through the gate marked Tregrylls to a waymark on the right, just before a bridge.

    In much of Cornwall, many of the place names are based on words from the Celtic language. The following prefixes are common:

    • Tre - settlement or homestead
    • Lan - originally monastery but later used for an enclosure or church (this has been replaced with "St" in a number of cases)
    • Nans - valley (occasionally corrupted to "Lan" e.g. Lanteglos)
    • Pen - hill or headland
    • Pol - pond, lake or well, also cove or creek
    • Fenter - spring
  2. Turn right at the waymark and follow the path to another waymark on the left of a gate. Then follow the waymarked path through the woods. Keep left on the path as it descends into the woods and follow it until you reach a footbridge.

    There are lots of bluebells here in the spring.

    According to folklore, it's unlucky to bring bluebells into a house and also unlucky to walk through bluebells as it was thought that the little bells would ring and summon fairies and goblins.

  3. Cross the two footbridges over the stream, then turn right where the path joins a track and follow it to a stone cross.

    Christianity in Roman Britain began in the 4th or 5th century AD. However there were no known cities west of Exeter, so the spread into Cornwall is likely to have been very limited. The majority of Cornwall is likely to have remained Pagan until "The Age of Saints" - the late 5th or early 6th century - when the Irish missionaries including St Piran and St Petroc settled in Cornwall.

  4. At the stone cross, turn right back over the stream, then follow the path to the left of a gate until you reach another gate across the path.

    The stream is a tributary of the River Valency.

    Streams from the marshes of the Otterham Downs give rise to the River Valency which is then fed by five more rivers on its way to Boscastle. The name "Valency" has been explained as a corruption of the Cornish Melinjy (i.e. Melin-Chy = Mill-house) from the mill which existed in Boscastle in mediaeval times.

  5. Go through the gate and continue on the path until you reach a wooden stile.

    There are nice views along the Trebiffin valley from the steps leading into the fields on the left.

    The steep Valency Valley acted as a funnel for the dramatic flash flood in 2004 that put Boscastle on (and nearly wiped it off) the map. Over 1.4 billion litres of rain fell in the course of 2 hours which is thought to have been caused by the Brown Willy effect, where the high tors on Bodmin Moor cause the repeated formation of rainclouds which blow along the prevailing wind and then dump their rain. Around 50 cars were swept into the harbour, the bridge was washed away and roads were submerged under 9ft of water. A total of 91 people were rescued in the largest peacetime rescue operation ever carried out in the UK.

  6. Cross the two wooden stiles either side of a track and follow the path to a stone stile.

    There are often pheasants along these paths or in the hedges, which will become obvious from the sudden cacophony if one decides to panic and fly off. Be careful not to drop your pasty!

    The pheasant is named after the Ancient town of Phasis (now in West Georgia) and the birds were naturalised in the UK by the 10th Century with introductions both from the Romano-British and the Normans. However, by the 17th Century they had become extinct in most of the British Isles.

    In the 1830s, the pheasant was rediscovered as a gamebird and since then it has been reared extensively for shooting. The pheasant has a life expectancy of less than a year in the wild and it is only common because around 30 million pheasants are released each year on shooting estates.

  7. Cross the stile and head straight across the field towards the church, to a stone stile in the hedge.
  8. Cross the stile and the next field towards the bottom-left corner, still heading for the church, to another stone stile.
  9. Cross the stile carefully (the far side of which is much lower and steeper) then bear right across the field, heading towards the church, to a gate into the churchyard.

    Orchids grow amongst the grass in the field and can be seen flowering in early summer.

    The orchids are one of the largest families of plants with over 28,000 recorded species, many of which live in the tropics. It is thought that the first orchids evolved somewhere between 80 and 100 million years ago. The word "orchid" comes from the Greek word for testicle on account of the shape of the plant's tuber. Consequently, in medieaval times, the plant was known as bollockwort.

  10. Go through the gate into the churchyard and across the bridge to the church door.

    St Michael & All Angels Church in Lesnewth is in a lovely location, just next to a deep-sided stream, marked by an ancient Celtic wayside cross. The original Saxon church was said to be built here in the dip to hide it from marauding Vikings at sea, but they found and pillaged it nonetheless. Sadly, little remains of the Norman church that followed; the present church is mostly Victorian, dominated by an impressively tall 15th century tower. On one of the walls inside is a nicely inscribed slate memorial with a carved coat of arms.

  11. Follow the path to the left of the church, which heads uphill to a gate onto a lane.

    Lesnewth is a small hamlet and civil parish situated two miles east of Boscastle. The name for Lesnewth in Cornish was Lysnowydh which means 'New Court', which is a chieftan's estate. The farmhouse of Penpol dates back over 400 years, although there is believed to have been a settlement in this area for over 1000 years.

  12. Turn right on the lane, passing a couple of houses on your left, to a junction where another lane departs to the right (signposted to a ford).

    On the opposite side of the Valency valley to your left, is St Juliot church.

    The writer Thomas Hardy met his first wife, Emma Gifford, while he was working as an architect on St. Juliot's church, and they were married in 1874. Hardy wrote several poems about their first meeting and their marriage, most of which were written in the years immediately after her death in 1912. In the poems, he disguises some of the more well-known place names, for example Castle Boterel refers to Boscastle, while Lyonesse is the name of the mythical land of ancient Cornwall.

  13. Turn right at the junctiona and follow the lane to reach a ford.
  14. Cross the ford (usually barely a trickle) and head up the hill, then follow the lane down the other side to reach the start of the walk.

    At the top of the hill, there are nice views to the right, over the Trebiffin Valley.

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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