Lantivet Bay and Lansallos

A circular walk above the white sand crescent of Lantic Bay and the small coves of Lantivet Bay where a battle was once fought between smugglers and Customs men, and following an ancient cart track along the stream through the woods to the mediaeval church of Lansallos.

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The walk follows the ridge of Pencarrow Head with spectacular views over Lantic Bay. The route then follows the coast around Lantivet Bay, past the old coastguard lookout to West Coombe, with paths leading down to some small coves along the way. From there, the walk turns inland and follows a wooded valley to Lansallos to reach the church. The return route crosses fields and woods to Trevarder and follows small lanes, tracks and footpaths across the fields to complete the circle.

Reviews

I love this walk. I walked it last January and painted one of the headlands. I'm going back again I think.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 107
  • Distance: 5 miles/8 km
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Start from: Lantic Bay Car Park
  • Parking: Lantic Bay Car Park near Triggabrowne PL231NP. Follow signs to Polruan and ignore the Lantivet Bay car park (a short distance after a turning to Boddinnick). Continue until you see a sign "P 20 yds", and turn here for the Lantic Bay car park.
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots, or trainers in summer

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Highlights

  • Panoramic views over Lantic and Lantivet Bays
  • Sandy beaches at Lantic Bay and Lansallos Cove
  • Pretty wooded path to Lansallos

Directions

  1. Turn left out of the car park, follow the lane to a junction and cross to the gate. Go through the pedestrian gate and follow the footpath to a gate into a field.
  2. Go through the gate and turn left. Follow the left hedge to a gate at the bottom of the field.

    The crescent shape of Lantic Bay shelters it from the wind and its white, sandy beaches face south towards the sun. Within the bay, the main beach - Great Lantic Beach - is accessible via a flight of steps. At low tide, this joins to the other beaches in the bay - Little Lantic Beach on one side and some small coves on the other. As the tide comes in, these are cut off and there is no path up from them, so care should be taken in exploring them.

  3. Go through the gate and take the path ahead to a gate. Go through this and follow the path past a rock outcrop and over the ridge to reach a waymark.

    The path leading downhill after the first gate leads to the beach.

    There are panoramic views both over Lantic Bay and Lantivet Bay from the top of the rock outcrop. On a calm day, it comes highly recommended as a picnic spot.

  4. Turn left at the waymark and follow the path to reach a crossing of paths.
  5. Follow the steep downhill path ahead and keep right along this path when you reach the wooden fence. Continue descending the steep slope then follow the path at the bottom to reach a gate.

    In the 18th and 19th centuries, Cornish fishermen used sailing boats to fish and one of the most popular of the largers boats was known as a lugger.

    The design of the Cornish Lugger was honed into a high-speed vessel for use in smuggling. The largest were up to 75 feet long with three masts of stepped height, allowing a large area of sail to be set. The fastest could average twelve knots between Cornwall and Roscoff, which is fast sailing even by modern standards. The decks were often lined with a dozen or more cannons and another dozen anti-personnel swivel guns loaded with shrapnel-like grapeshot.

  6. Go through the gate and follow the path to reach another gate.

    Hawthorn berries have been used to make jellies as they contain pectin. However the seeds in hawthorn berries should be avoided as they contain a compound called amygdalin, which is cyanide bonded with sugar. In the gut this is converted to hydrogen cyanide.

  7. Go through the gate and follow the path to another gate.
  8. Go through the gate and follow the path ahead to one final gate.

    The path to the right leads to the old Coastguard Watch House.

    In October 1835, smugglers landed 107 kegs of spirits at Lantic Bay and were in the process of carrying these up Pencarrow Head when they were discovered by a coastguard patrol. There was a fierce fight, sometimes known as "The Battle of Lantic Bay". Several of the smugglers were arrested but, to the dismay of the coastguards, they were acquitted by a jury in Bodmin. As a result of this incident, the watch house at Lantivet Bay was built and manned by coastguards to prevent any more smuggling in the area.

  9. Go through the gate and keep left along the path to reach a waymark as the path enters a field.

    The rocky coast provides a good habitat for limpets.

    Limpets wander around grazing on algae when the tide is in, but always return to the same parking spot as the tide recedes, gradually creating a depression in the rock at this point. In coastal communities it was traditional to gather limpets, mussels and winkles before Lent. The practice was known as "goin' a triggin'" and the gathered shellfish was known as "Trigg meat". The shells of limpets were known as "Croggans".

  10. Bear right from the waymark to the fence near the bench. Follow the path along the coast from here to reach a stile.

    Limpets are a favourite food of wrasse.

    One of the most common fish on inshore reefs is the wrasse. The name for the fish is from the Cornish word “wragh” meaning “old hag”. This is probably based on its lack of popularity for culinary consumption and is the reason why it is still quite common whereas most other species have been depleted by several centuries of fishing. Recently, wrasse has been “rediscovered” as a good eating fish if not overcooked. However, wrasse are very slow growing so are not an ideal culinary fish for conservation reasons: they cannot reproduce until they are 6-10 years old and large individuals may be over 30 years old.

  11. Cross the stile and follow the path along the coast to a gateway.

    Another species of fish found on rocky shores is the pollack.

    Pollack spend much of their time around weed-covered rocks, ambushing small fish as sandeels. On offshore reefs and wrecks, pollack can grow up to a metre in length but close to the shore you’re most likely to see young fish of a few cm in length, which there was a word in Cornish specifically for: dojel.

    Pollack is a member of the cod family but until recently was an unpopular culinary fish. There are two reasons for this: as well as having a name that sounds like an insult, when the fish is dead, its flavour deteriorates faster than many other members of the cod family, so fish which is not very fresh smells “fishy”. However pollack is excellent to eat when very fresh, and since it is pretty much the only member of the code family that hasn’t yet been overfished, has made more of an appearance in supermarkets in recent years, often marketed as “coley” which was a fishmongers’ collective term for either pollack or its close cousin, the coalfish.

  12. Go through the gateway and follow the lower of the paths across the field towards the headland to reach a stile.

    As you cross the field, there is a small path leading from the bottom of the field that descends to Palace Cove.

    Palace Cove may sound grand but it is from a local dialect word for pilchard cellars (which were known as Pilchard Palaces). The term is thought to have its origins in the Cornish word for "place". Little remains of the old cellar at Palace Cove; it is now just a flat grassy area with some remnants of walls. The cove is rocky at high tide and has a good selection of rockpools, but care must be taken not to get cut off by the tide. As the tide falls, a sandy beach is revealed.

  13. Cross the stile and follow the path across the field to a gate.

    In 1930, the "Islander" yacht foundered on the rocks of Palace Cove in rough seas. The boat was in trouble for some time and attempted to anchor to stay off the rocks but the anchor would not hold fast under the force of the wind and was slowly dragged along the seabed. Flares were spotted by campers on cliffs, but the time taken to get 1930's cars stuck in muddy fields and then drive to Polperro to make a telephone call meant that the boat had hit the rocks by the time the lifeboat reached it. Despite the efforts of the lifeboat and local people climbing down onto Palace Cove in an attempt to rescue the crew from the shore, none of the 6 aboard survived. In part because one of the crew was an ex member of Parliament, the incident was reported all over the world. An investigation came to the conclusion that the crew may have been rescued in time by the lifeboat if the Coastguard lookout in Lantivet Bay had been manned.

  14. Go through the gate and follow the path down into the valley to a stile onto a footbridge.

    The disaster at Lantivet Bay ultimately resulted in 1931 in the establishment of the Coastal Life-saving Corps, later renamed the Coastguard Auxiliary Service in which volunteer rescue personnel were trained and co-ordinated by the Coastguard. The Children's Newspaper of August 1931 commented:


    A CHANCE FOR YOUTH TO DO SOMETHING
    LEND A HAND ON THE COAST
    A Good Idea Comes Out of a Sad Disaster
    ARMY OF OCEAN WATCHERS

    Something good has come from a sea disaster of a year ago, when the yacht Islander foundered and Commodore King and his five companions were drowned in Lantivet Bay. The Board of Trade is planning a new civilian, Life-Saving Corps, nearly 6000 strong, to supplement the present coastguard service. Here is a wonderful new chance for Scouts and Guides if the scheme comes into being, for they are to be specially welcomed as helpers. Women would also be enrolled in the corps. ... The idea of performing some national service is bound to appeal to a vast number of people. If the Government approves the scheme we can prophesy that all round the coasts of our little island there will be a great army of volunteers for serving the ships that pass in the night.

  15. Cross the stile and footbridge and follow the fence on the right to a gate. Go through this to a junction of paths and turn left onto the path heading away from the beach. Follow this to a gate marked Lansallos, just past the point where the coast path continues up the headland.

    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 fertilizer 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.

  16. Go through the gate and the one ahead of it and follow the path to a waymark. Continue ahead at the waymark and follow the path alongside the stream until it ends on a track in front of the churchyard.

    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.

    Celandine flowers close each night and open each morning. This is controlled by a circadian rhythm, so they really are 'going to sleep' at night and 'waking up in the morning'. It is likely that this has arisen to protect the internals of the flowers from any frost during the night as they begin flowering in March when frosts are still common.

  17. Turn right onto the track and follow it to a junction, then bear left along the churchyard wall to a stile beside the entrance to the churchyard.

    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.

  18. Cross the stile and follow the path alongside the churchyard wall to a stile at the far end.

    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.
  19. Cross the stile and follow the left hedge to a waymark, then bear right slightly and cross the field towards the buildings to reach a stone stile enclosed in wooden railings.
  20. Cross the stile, footbridge and stile into a field. Follow the left hedge of the field to a pair of gates in the bottom corner.
  21. Go through the gate in the fence ahead and walk downhill to the pedestrian gate in the fence below. Then follow the path down the valley to a waymark. Turn right at the waymark and follow the stone steps between the wooden railings to a footbridge. Follow the path from the bridge to reach a gate.

    A copper mine known as Wheal Howell operated in the valley for around 20 years at the start of the 19th Century. The three mineshafts that are known about have been filled in but the National Trust recommend that you stick to the paths through the valley, in case you discover a fourth.

  22. Go through the gate and cross the field towards the clump of trees ahead, keeping the buildings and fenced-in stone structures to your right. Pass a standing granite post to reach a set of steps over the hedge.

    The local name for the steps, possibly coined by the bawdy miners of Wheal Howell, is the charming "Kiss Me Arse Steps"; two people climbing the steps in close succession will likely arrive at one possible explanation.

  23. Cross the hedge and turn left onto the lane and follow it until it ends at a junction.

    The Royal Cornwall Gazette reported in April 1825:

    During the last week the coast between Polperro and Fowey has been kept in a state of disorder as a consequence of a quantity of smuggled liquor found on the shore. It has been particularly annoying to the agents of Wheal Howell Mine, the miners having been in a continual state of drunkenness. On Wednesday last the whole of the men had assembled, and by stratagem succeeded in getting underground where they concealed part of a keg of brandy, and drank to usual intoxication - so much so that it was with extreme difficulty that several of them were brought to the grass.
  24. Go through the small pedestrian gate on the right (opposite the larger gate on the left for Lantivet Bay) and follow the path to emerge on the lane opposite the car park. Turn right and carefully follow the lane to a junction.

    Geese migrate to warmer climates for the winter and fly in a V-shaped formation known as a skein or wedge (on the ground, a collection of geese is known as a gaggle). The V-formation allows birds behind the leader to fly more efficiently as the rising air from flapping wings of the bird ahead helps to support the weight of the one behind. This can increase the range that the bird can fly by over 70%. The birds each take it in turns to do the harder job of flying at the front.

  25. Keep right at the junction (signposted to Pelynt) and follow the lane past Tredudwell Manor to reach a track and gateway on the left opposite a wooden gate on the right.
  26. Turn left and pass the gate to reach a wooded path. Follow this until it ends on a lane.

    The ferns with solid leaves are appropriately called hart's tongue as the leaf resembles the tongue of a deer. The Latin name for the species means "centipede" as underside of the leaves have rows of brown spore cases that form a pattern resembling centipede legs. The plants thrive in shady places are are tolerant of the lime used in mortar so are sometimes found growing in old walls.

  27. Turn right onto the lane and follow it a short distance to a track on the left marked with a public footpath sign. Turn left up the driveway and follow the path alongside the cottages to an unsurfaced path beneath the trees. Follow this path, keeping right at the steps to stay on the path. Continue along the path until it ends at a gate into a field.
  28. Go through the gate and follow the left hedge of the field to a gate in the corner.

    The hedges along the fields and tracks contain many nectar-bearing flowers which attract butterflies.

    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.

  29. Go through the gate and follow the track a short distance to a waymark at a junction.
  30. At the waymark, bear left onto the track and follow this until it ends on a lane.
  31. Turn left onto the lane and follow this back to the car park.

    Lanteglos church is a short diversion to the right.

    The church is dedicated to St Wyllow who according to legend was born in Ireland in the 6th Century, lived as a hermit in Cornwall and was beheaded by the locals. The current church was built in the 14th Century and altered in the 15th. The brass of Thomas de Mohun within the church dates from this period and the brasses depicting John Mohun and his wife date from the start of the 16th Century. The bench ends were also carved in the 16th Century and carefully preserved during an 18th Century restoration. Daphne Du Maurier featured the church as 'Lanoc Church' in her first novel, "The Loving Spirit" and she was married here herself in 1932.

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

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