Two Coombes of Lansallos

A circular walk from Lansallos to the coves of Lantivet Bay where farmers collected seaweed and sand to improve the soil and smugglers landed French brandy.

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The walk starts at Lansallos NT car park and passes the church before following the woodland path along Reed Water through the wooded valley of West Coombe to meet the coast path above Lansallos Cove. The route follows the coast path past Parson's Cove to just before the Udder Rock Obelisk, then turns up East Coombe. From the top of the valley, the lane into Lansallos completes the circular route.

Considerations

  • Note that most coastal walks in Cornwall have paths close to unfenced cliffs.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 107
  • Distance: 2.8 miles/4.5 km
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots, or trainers in summer

OS maps for this walk

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

Highlights

  • Pretty wooded path through West Coombe from Lansallos to the coast
  • Panoramic views over Lantivet Bay
  • Sandy beach at Lansallos Cove

Adjoining walks

Directions

  1. Turn left out of the car park and follow the lane to a track beside the church with a no-through road sign.

    The church is on the site of an earlier Norman church and before that, Celtic missionary monks had an establishment here that the "Lan" in the name refers to. The present church building was dedicated to St Ildierna on 16th October 1321, was rebuilt in the 15th century, and contains a number of important architectural and historical features.

    In 2005, the church and many of its ancient artefacts were badly damaged in a fire which is thought was an act of arson. The now partly incinerated mediaeval chest gives an idea of the intensity of the blaze which also damaged both the roof and organ. Fortunately, the magnificent carved oak benches, made between 1490 and 1520, survived the fire.

  2. Turn right onto the track beside the church and follow it to a waymark just before the gate of the Old Rectory. Bear left down the path waymarked with pink arrows and follow this to reach a gate where it emerges from the trees at the bottom of the valley.

    The name celandine is thought to be derived from the Greek word for swallow, based on the arrival of swallows being a sign of spring. Lesser celandines are one of the first flowers to appear in springtime, and start flowering in March before the bluebells come out in April. They continue flowering through the bluebell period into May so they are often seen together.

    The footpath along the stream, known as Reed Water, is an ancient route from the village to the cove. It was cut out to form a cart track to serve both the cove and the mill, and ruts from the cartwheels are still visible. In March and April, celandines flower along the wooded path.

  3. Go through the gate and continue ahead at the junction of paths to the gate ahead. Go through this to reach a fork in the path. At the fork, the walk continues to the left but Lansallos Cove is to the right if you want to explore that first. Follow the Coast Path, ignoring paths to the left and right to reach a gate across the path.

    Lansallos Cove is also known as West Coombe, after the valley. The sheltered beach is composed of sand and shingle and was used to launch small fishing boats. The same characteristics that made it a good launching spot also make it good for swimming, particularly at mid-high tide when the bottom is sandy (at low tide, rocks are exposed). The bowl shape of the cove also traps warm water as the tide rises over the rocks and sand exposed to the sun. Sand from the cove was used by local farmers to improve soil drainage and as a source of lime. Seaweed was sometimes also used as a fertiliser as it is rich in potassium and contains a number of trace elements needed by plants. The small waterfall on the side of the beach was once used to power a mill.

  4. Go through the gate and follow the path to a fork. Keep left at the fork in the path (the right-hand path leads to Parson's Cove). Continue on the coast path until, just before a footbridge, a path departs to the left and is signposted on a piece of stone to Lansallos.

    At Parson's Cove there is little or no beach at high tide but as the tide goes out, a beach of sand and shingle is revealed with some patches of rock. The cove faces southwest and therefore gets the afternoon sun, and is quite sheltered, making it a good spot to access the water for snorkelling.

  5. Bear left on the path to Lansallos, through the gate. Follow the path parallel along the fence on the right to reach another gate in a hedge across the meadow.

    The dandelion-like flowers along the coast are most likely to be catsear, also known as false dandelion. Catsear is very salt tolerant, not only growing along the coast but actually in sand dunes. The easiest way to recognise it is by the hairy leaves, hence the name. If you can cope with the texture, the leaves are edible and are much less bitter than dandelion leaves.

    Another way to tell them apart is when they are flowering. Although dandelion flowers over quite a long period, the most profuse flowering is in April and May whereas catsear's intense flowering period is in late June and through July. Catsear has neater flowers than dandelion with squarer edges to the petals (but still toothed). The stems supporting the flowers are also solid, in contrast with the hollow stem of the dandelion.

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    The white obelisk on the coast path near Lansallos is a daymark indicating the position of Udder Rock, which is also marked by a large buoy with a bell which can be heard ringing when there is a swell. Udder Rock is a pinnacle reef which breaks the surface at low tide but is fully submerged at high tide, making it particularly hazardous to shipping. The reef consists of a number of ledges and these support an array of marine life, making it a fairly popular dive site.

  6. Go through the gate and follow the path parallel to the stream to reach a gateway in the hedge at the top of the meadow.

    Clover is a native plant and a member of the legume (pea and bean) family. It is also sown as a fodder crop and as "green manure" as it improves soil fertility. The two most common species are known simply as white clover and red clover, based on the colour of their flowers, with the latter generally being a slightly larger plant. Red clover leaves also have a white V shape.

  7. Go through the gateway and follow the path alongside the stream and along the fence to reach a gate at the top of a short flight of steps.

    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 bleating, 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 a miscarriage. 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.

  8. Go through the gate and follow the path to a gate onto a lane.

    East Coombe is an example of a hanging valley, with the stream falling down a cliff to meet the sea.

    Hanging valleys are common on the North Cornish coast and are created due to erosion of the relatively hard cliffs by the Atlantic waves being faster than erosion of the valley by a small river. In many cases, this results in a waterfall where the small river meets the sea cliff, though many of these are little more than a trickle in dry weather. When there is a strong onshore gale, the waterfalls sometimes run backwards!

  9. Go through the gate and turn left onto the lane. Follow the lane back to the church.

    The vetches are a family of wildflowers that is a sub-group within the pea and bean family. Their pretty purple flowers are quite like mini sweetpea flowers. The leaves are also very distinctive, organised in a neat row either side of the stem. Common vetch is a wildflower but is also sown by farmers in some grazing fields to improve the nutrition for ruminants and to introduce more nitrogen into the soil.

    In the 1780s, Britain was in financial crisis after losing the American War of Independence. High levels of duty were imposed on luxury goods in order to recoup the national debt and this included the curing salt vital to the pilchard industry which was taxed at around 4000%! Consequently many Cornish fishermen that were previously legally employed by the trade were driven into illegal smuggling. Towards the end of the 18th Century, nearly half a million gallons of brandy and more than a quarter of a million pounds of tea were being smuggled into Cornwall each year. This continued until the 1840s, when Britain adopted a free-trade policy that slashed import duties. Within ten years, large-scale smuggling was just a memory.

  10. Continue on the lane from the church to return to the car park.

    The inscription on a gravestone in Lansallos churchyard records the untimely death of John Perry at the age of 24 in 1779 "unfortunately killed by a cannon ball by a person unknown," probably as a result of an encounter with a Revenue vessel at sea.

    In Prime of Life most suddenly.
    Sad tidings to relate.
    Here view my utter destiny
    and pity my sad fate.
    I by a Shot which rapid flew.
    Was Instantly Struck dead.
    Lord pardon the offender who.
    My precious blood did shed.
    Grant Him to rest and forgive me.
    For all I've done amiss.
    And that I may rewarded be.
    With everlasting bliss.

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
  • Please let us know if there are nice autumn colours on this walk

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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