Maenporth to Budock Water circular walk

Maenporth to Budock Water

A circular walk between the beaches in Falmouth Bay and where one of the most dangerous marine rescues of modern times took place, requiring the rescue helicopter to fly backwards.

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The route ascends the valley from Maenporth to Penwarne then follows footpaths across the fields to Budock Water. After passing through the woods and beside the church the walk enters Falmouth passing the Boslowick Inn on the way to the Swanpool Nature reserve. After reaching the beach at Swanpool, the final stretch is along the Coast Path to Maenporth.


  • The path to Nangitha Farm is susceptible to summer vegetation growth. If you have secateurs, take them along to snip any brambles.
  • Note that most coastal walks in Cornwall have paths close to unfenced cliffs.

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Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 103
  • Distance: 7.2 miles/11.5 km
  • Steepness grade: Moderate
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots in winter. Walking shoes or trainers in summer

OS maps for this walk

OS Explorer 103 OS Explorer 103 (laminated version)

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


  • Mature woodland with chestnuts, hazelnuts and beechnuts in Autumn
  • Swanpool nature reserve
  • Views along the Falmouth coastline towards the Lizard
  • Sandy beaches at Swanpool and Maenporth


  1. Make your way to the central exit from the car park just before the brown sign for The Cove. Cross the road to the red postbox and turn left to cross the Maenporth Estate road and reach a public footpath sign at a gravel track leading to the right beside the Old Boatyard. Turn right and follow the gravel track. Continue until you reach a turning area beside a house.

    Maenporth, pronounced "main-porth" is an east-facing, crescent-shaped beach, sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds. Due to its proximity to Falmouth and easy parking, the beach gets fairly busy in the summer but out-of-season, or even early on summer mornings, you can have the beach to yourself.

  2. Follow the small path ahead from the turning area and continue until you reach a fork in the path, just before the left-hand path reaches a stile.

    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. Another common names for celandine is spring messenger, based on the early flowering. This was presumably also the basis of the Victorian use as a symbol of "joys to come".

    Trees need a lot of water. A large oak tree can absorb around 450 litres of water per day, most of which is released into the atmosphere as water vapour through transpiration. Trees therefore help to reduce flooding from heavy rain in low-lying river floodplains and also reduce erosion from runoff.

  3. Keep left at the fork and cross the stile. Follow the path until it eventually emerges onto a lane.

    During late winter or early spring, if you encounter a patch of plants with white bell-shaped flowers, smelling strongly of onions, and with long, narrow leaves then they are likely to be three-cornered leeks. Once you're familiar with their narrow, ridged leaves, you'll be able to spot these emerging from late October onwards.

    Three-cornered leeks are native to the Mediterranean and are first recorded as being introduced to the UK in 1759. By Victorian times, they had become well-established in the wild. They thrive in the moist, mild climate in Cornwall and are salt-tolerant so will grow almost anywhere, even on the coast.

    Handling primroses is best avoided as the hairs on the leaves and stems can cause contact dermatitis which is quite severe in some people. It is thought that some people may develop a tolerance with repeated exposure but nevertheless a study in a medical journal found that over a quarter of Primula growers experienced skin reactions.

    Blackbirds are one of the most common birds in the UK with a population of somewhere between 10 and 15 million. However, blackbirds were in steady decline from the 1970s through to the mid-1990s. The population has only relatively recently recovered.

  4. Turn right onto the lane and follow it past the houses and a public footpath sign on the right, and through the 40mph signs to reach a Public Footpath sign on the left, just before a sharp bend.

    Woodpeckers can sometimes be heard hammering on the tall trees in the valley.

    Green woodpeckers are the largest and most colourful of the woodpeckers native to Britain and have a distinctive laughing "yaffle" call. The two species of spotted woodpecker are smaller and usually noticed from the drumming sound they make on trees although they can sometimes be heard making a short "cheep" sound.

    All of the woodpeckers bore holes in trees in which they nest, but only the spotted woodpeckers drill into trees in search of food, spending most of their time perched on a tree.

    Conversely, green woodpeckers spend most of their time on the ground, hunting for ants. The ants nests are excavated using their strong beak, and then ants are caught on the barbed end of their long tongue. In fact, their tongue is so long that it needs to be curled around their skull to fit inside their head.

  5. Go through the gate on the left indicated by the footpath sign and follow the track to a gateway in the hedge opposite.

    Although it's obvious that you should ensure any gates that you open, you also close, what about gates you find that are already open?

    If the gate is fully open then leave it alone as it may well be providing livestock access to a water supply, and by closing it you could end up killing them.

    If the gate is ajar or swinging loose and not wedged or tied open then it's likely that the gate was left open by accident (possibly by another group of walkers). Properly closing the offending gate behind you will not only bring joy to the landowner but you can feel good about saving lives in a car swerving to avoid a cow in the road.

    If you encounter a gate doubly-secured with twine that can be untied or a chain that can be unfastened, it's normally there because naughty animals have managed to undo the gate themselves at some point (e.g. by rubbing against the bolt), so retie/fasten it afterwards.

  6. Go through the gate and follow the track parallel to the right hedge to the gateway opposite.

    The Ramblers Association and National Farmers Union suggest some "dos and don'ts" for walkers which we've collated with some info from the local Countryside Access Team.


    • Stop, look and listen on entering a field. Look out for any animals and watch how they are behaving, particularly bulls or cows with calves
    • Be prepared for farm animals to react to your presence, especially if you have a dog with you.
    • Try to avoid getting between cows and their calves.
    • Move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd.
    • Keep your dog close and under effective control on a lead around cows and sheep.
    • Remember to close gates behind you when walking through fields containing livestock.
    • If you and your dog feel threatened, work your way to the field boundary and quietly make your way to safety.
    • Report any dangerous incidents to the Cornwall Council Countryside Access Team - phone 0300 1234 202 for emergencies or for non-emergencies use the iWalk Cornwall app to report a footpath issue (via the menu next to the direction on the directions screen).


    • If you are threatened by cattle, don't hang onto your dog: let it go to allow the dog to run to safety.
    • Don't put yourself at risk. Find another way around the cattle and rejoin the footpath as soon as possible.
    • Don't panic or run. Most cattle will stop before they reach you. If they follow, just walk on quietly.
  7. Go through the gateway and follow along the right hedge to a waymarked gateway in the hedge opposite.

    According to folklore, you should not pick blackberries after Michaelmas Day (11th October) as this is when the devil claims them. The basis for this is thought to be the potentially toxic moulds which can develop on the blackberries in the cooler, wetter weather.

    The word "bramble" comes from bræmaz - a word of Germanic origin meaning "prickly". The study of brambles is involved enough to be considered a discipline of its own and is known as batology (from baton - the Ancient Greek word for blackberry).

  8. Go through the gate and follow along the right hedge for roughly three quarters of the length of the field until you reach a recess in the hedge with a gate on your right. Head to the gate.

    Holly has separate male and female plants, so not all holly bushes produce berries - only female plants. In less biologically-enlightened Pagan times, holly was though to be a male plant (the spikes symbolising aggression) whereas ivy was regarded as a female plant (symbolising attachment). The Christmas Carol "The Holly and the Ivy" is thought originally to derive from Pagan fertility myths onto which Christian symbolism has subsequently been added.

  9. Cross the stile to the left of the gate and follow the path to emerge on a track. Continue on the track until it meets a road at the entrance to a farm café.

    The first record of settlement of Penwarne is from 1327. Fragments of a mediaeval building have been found in the garden and incorporated into one of the current buildings. It is thought that these came from either a mediaeval chapel or manor. The name is from the Cornish words pen (meaning top) and guern (meaning alder) - perhaps depicting a location above a grove of the trees - and is also name of a manor near Mevagissey.

  10. Continue ahead on the driveway marked "No Entry" (which is intended for cars) until you reach a gate on the right, just past a building and opposite a sign on a tree on the left marked "No public rights beyond this point".

    Camellias are native to eastern and southern Asia. The first camellia grown in England was in 1739. Many varieties now popular in Britain as ornamental garden plants are from species collected during plant hunting expeditions in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They were regarded as the ultimate luxury flower in Victorian times.

    Camellias are bushes with thick, glossy leaves (but usually a little shorter than rhododendron leaves). As their similar appearance suggests, they are fairly close cousins of rhododendrons but not as closely related to rhododendrons as heathers are (which appearance doesn't suggest!). They flower in the winter, typically between December and the end of March.

  11. At the sign, go through (or around) the gate on the right on the far side of the building and follow roughly half-way along the right hedge of the field to reach a stile made of rusty iron.

    Crows can sometimes be seen in the field or flying to the tall trees.

    Crows are omnivores and their ability to eat anything from animal feed to potato chips has allowed them to capitalise on food sources created by humans. Their problem-solving skills also allow them to access food that less savvy animals cannot, for example tugging on bin liners and tucking each fold under their feet to raise the contents of waste bins in motorway service stations.

  12. Cross the iron stile on your right and turn left when you reach the drive. Follow the drive until it ends on a lane.

    Daffodils were originally called asphodels (lumped together with the other plants that are now called asphodels). A pronunciation variation was "affodell". No-one is quite sure how the initial "d" was added - perhaps "the asphodel" by someone with a cold ("d affodel").

    Gardeners have known for a long time that acidic soils lead to blue hydrangea flowers whereas alkaline soils lead to pink flowers. Biochemists have found that aluminium is the thing that actually turns the pigment in hydrangeas blue. Acidic soils free-up aluminium already in the soil to be absorbed by the plant. Within the plant, aluminium combines with a normally-red pigment to turn it blue. Varieties of hydrangeas have been bred with a higher concentration of the pigment and these have more vivid colours (i.e. red rather than pink). Similarly varieties with lower concentrations of the pigment have been cultivated to create pastel colours.

    Since Victorian times, it's been common practice for gardeners to use aluminium sulphate to turn their hydrangeas blue (without necessarily knowing why) but this has become less popular in recent years as aluminium sulphate is extremely harmful to aquatic life. Twenty tonnes was accidentally deposited into Camelford's drinking water supply in 1988 which was hastily flushed into the Camel river system, killing many fish.

    Compared to many native trees, the beech colonised Great Britain relatively recently, after the last Ice Age around 10,000 years ago. Beech trees have a shallow root system and are therefore often found in areas where water is plentiful such as near rivers. In the 17th and 18th Centuries, tall, stately beech trees were very fashionable in the estates of wealthy landowners and many mature beech woodlands today are the result of 18th Century parkland landscaping projects.

  13. Cross the lane to the stile and gateway opposite. Cross the stile (or go through the gateway if open) and follow the path to cross the field just to the left of the buildings to reach a gate.

    In the distance you can see the lighthouse on St Anthony's Head.

    St Anthony's Lighthouse was built out of granite in 1835 on the eastern entrance to Falmouth Harbour to guide vessels clear of the Manacles rocks. In most directions, the light is white but a sector close to The Manacles rocks is coloured red, warning vessels to steer offshore. The lighthouse was featured in the UK version of the TV series "Fraggle Rock" as "Fraggle Rock Lighthouse". Until 1954, the lighthouse possessed a huge bell which hung outside the tower and was used as a fog signal. This was later replaced with a foghorn.

  14. Go through the gate and turn right onto the driveway. Follow this past Higher Crill Farm to a bend with a stepped stone stile in the wall on the left. Pass this and continue a little further along the wall to reach a small stone stile in a gap in the wall just before the large tree.

    The settlement of Crill was first recorded in 1321. The name is thought to be based on the Cornish words ker and kel with meanings of "fort" and "concealed", respectively.

  15. Cross the stile on your left and follow the right hedge of the field to reach a stile in the hedge opposite, roughly 10 metres from the right-hand corner.

    Burdock flowers in July and August with pink flowers which look a little like thistle flowers. However burdock's soft, broad, foxglove-like leaves make it easy to distinguish.

    The "bur" in name of the plant (and also the word for the rough edges on metal) comes from the Viking word for "bristle". The "dock" is a reference to the large leaves. It was known as butterdock in East Cornwall dialect, perhaps because the leaves were used to wrap butter as with butterbur leaves.

    Burdock seeds contain small hooks which attach to passing animals or clothing. After a walk in the woods in 1941 that was followed by the lengthy process of removing these from clothing and dogs, a Swiss engineer realised that there was scope to apply this to something useful. The product inspired by nature (aka "biomimicry") was described as "the zipperless zipper". Today is it better known by the name of company he founded based on the French words for velvet (velour) and hook (crochet): Velcro.

    Rabbits used to be a common sight in fields but have become less common.

    In 2010, rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus type 2 (RHDV2) has crossed to the UK from continental Europe and is now spreading through the wild population. By 2018, nearly half the UK rabbit population had disappeared. In their native region on the Iberian peninsula, rabbits are now an endangered species and there is concern that the UK population decline will continue. Whilst a high density of rabbits can be a pest to farmers, in many areas the rabbit population has already fallen well below where this is significant.

  16. Cross the stile and bear left slightly across the field to the side of the embankment ahead. Then continue ahead to keep the embankment and farmyard on your right and reach a small stone stile ahead.

    Dandelion and burdock was originally an alcoholic drink made from the roots of dandelion and burdock plants. In the Middle Ages the roots were fermented to create a light mead. During Victorian times, the non-alcoholic soft drink version was made as a result of the Methodist Temperance movement.

    Cows are thought to have been domesticated in the Middle East around 8,500 BC. By about 6,400 BC they were being traded into Neolithic Europe. This is just about the point where the land bridge between Britain and Continental Europe (known as Doggerland) flooded with rising sea levels, so the first few cattle may have just managed to walk across.

  17. Cross the stile and follow alongside the barn to reach a gate and stile in the corner of the field.

    The settlement of Trewen was first recorded in 1321. The name is from the Cornish for "white farm".

  18. Cross the stile and turn left onto the track and follow this. Where the track forks to go into a field, keep right to follow the track between the hedges. Continue to reach a junction of tracks with some waymarks.
  19. At the junction, bear left to cross the stone stile to the left of the gate ahead. Walk parallel to the left hedge of the field to reach an opening in the hedge between a pair of concrete slabs, roughly 15 metres to the right of the bottom-left corner of the field.

    Both the flowers and leaves of the common daisy are edible and are high in Vitamin C but the flavour is bitter and medicinal so they are unlikely to appear on the menu of many restaurants.

    Moles are solitary except when breeding so a network of tunnels is occupied by a single mole. Moles typically live for around 3 years and when a mole dies, its tunnel network is often inherited by one of its offspring. Thus the expanding estate can be passed down through several generations. In wetland areas where there is no gradient available to retreat uphill from rising water, moles construct a large mound protruding around half a metre above the ground to act as an emergency flood shelter.

  20. Go down the flight of steps and follow the path. Where the path forks, keep left to descend the tree covered bank and continue downhill to an areas with boulders near the stream.

    Bluebells are also known by folk names based on their shape including Lady’s Nightcap and Witches’ Thimbles.

    Other common names for the bluebell include "wild hyacinth" and "wood hyacinth" as they are related to the hyacinth family. Their Genus name Hyacinthoides also means "hyacinth-like".

    The rate at which a tree grows varies through the year depending on the amount of light and moisture available. This is visible in a sawn tree trunk as a ring where the wider lighter area wood is laid down more quickly in spring-early summer and then the narrow darker area more slowly in late summer-autumn. Each ring corresponds to a year and so the age of the tree can be worked out by counting the rings.

  21. At the boulders by the stream, bear right over the wall to a stone and concrete river crossing just downstream of the ford. Cross the bridge and bear right to follow the path on the other side of the river. Continue to reach a crossing over a wall.

    The stream is the major tributary of the river at Maenporth beach. This feeds the pools just inland of the beach. To prevent water backing-up in the lagoons during heavy rain and causing flooding, a drainage tunnel was dug under the headland which emerges through opening in the rocks. Exploring the tunnel is not recommended due to the large number and size of crabs which inhabit it. These have a tendency to drop on passers-by which included down the neck of the boiler suit of one local caver. Another caver described a section of the tunnel as having a "moving floor" (several crabs deep).

  22. Cross the wall and bear left onto the driveway. Follow this uphill past the buildings on the right to where the black tarmac forks to lead into the last property on the right.

    The settlement is known as Sparnon and was first recorded in 1327. The name contains the Cornish word spern, meaning "thorns", perhaps describing an area of hawthorn or blackthorn trees.

  23. Turn right and walk towards the wooden gate into the property until you reach some steps leading up to a pedestrian gate on the left. Climb these and go through the gate into the field. Follow the path around the edge of the field to reach a stile.

    A typical large onshore wind turbine can produce enough power for about 1,500 houses. The wind turbines being built offshore are a little larger and benefit from it being windier much more often, so one of these is able to power double the number of houses.

  24. Cross the stile and turn right onto the footpath. Follow this to a waymark at a junction of paths.
  25. Keep right at the waymark and follow the path beneath the trees. Continue ahead as the path merges onto a surfaced drive, keeping left past the buildings to reach a stone stile with a waymark, beside a gate across the track.

    The footpath is the remains of a mediaeval cart road, beside which there was once a cross. At one time Nangitha Lane, as it was known, was described as "a good road with pavement along one side".

  26. At the waymark, bear right over the stone stile and down the small footpath. Follow this over one stile to reach a second stile, leading onto a road.

    As the name suggests, Wood Sorrel grows in shady places and as it spreads slowly it is used as an indicator of ancient woodland. It is recognisable by a carpet of bright green leaves that look a bit like clover. It is said that St Patrick used the three-lobed leaves to illustrate the Holy Trinity and therefore it's one of the plants dedicated to him and collectively known as "shamrock". Around Easter, wood sorrel produces delicate white flowers which gives rise to its European common name of Alleluia.

    The leaves and flowers fold up at night and reopen each morning, and they do the same during rain. This is a protection mechanism to avoid damage to the leaves when there is no solar power available, or pollen being knocked out of the flowers by the rain.

    Plants contain chlorophyll (the green stuff) which is able to use energy from sunlight to break down a water molecule. The breakdown of water is why plants release oxygen. Some photosynthetic bacteria break down hydrogen sulphide instead of water.

    The electrons and protons remaining from the water after oxygen has been formed are funnelled away by bio-molecules in the plant. These are used to drive another chemical reaction to convert a bunch of carbon dioxide and water molecules into a simple sugar molecule such as glucose.

    Sugar is effectively a store of energy, and the reaction can be run in reverse to generate energy when needed. At night, when there is no sunlight, plants run off their sugar reserves, consume oxygen and emit carbon dioxide - just like we do.

    There quite a few different simple sugars - fructose, maltose etc - but they all have the same chemical formula as glucose (they just have their bits arranged in different orders). Simple sugars are polymerised (chained together) into sucrose (glucose attached to fructose) for medium-term storage and also starches (mega-long sugar chains) for longer-term storage in a root or seed. Sugars are also used to create cellulose - the building material used by plants.

  27. Cross the stile onto the road and carefully cross this to the steps opposite. Climb these, go through the pedestrian gate and cross the field towards the church to reach a footpath sign.

    Hazelnuts can be found beneath the trees in September and October and are a favourite with squirrels so you'll need to forage those that haven't already been nibbled. Once harvested, the nuts need to dried before shelling and eating. Wash and dry the nuts first to reduce the chance of them going mouldy. Then lay them out on something where the air can circulate and dry them for 2-4 weeks. An airing cupboard is a good place. You can tell that they are ready when the nuts rattle in their shells. Once shelled, the nuts can be stored in a fridge or even frozen for a couple of years.

    The rods cut from coppiced hazel shoots were woven into fences, used as thatching poles and as the foundation for wattle-and-daub walls. Baskets and traditional lobster pots were made from the thinner shoots. Hazel rods were also used to make clothes pegs and witches wands.

  28. Turn right on the drive as indicated by the footpath sign then keep left to cross a low stone stile with a small waymark and follow a path along the wall of the churchyard. Follow this to another stile and waymark at a junction of paths.

    The church in Budock Water dates from the 13th Century with a rebuild during the 15th Century. The churchyard itself is thought to date back to the times of the Celtic saint Budock in AD 470, also associated with St Budeaux in Plymouth.

  29. Cross the stile and turn right. Follow the path to reach another waymark and stile.

    Earliest records of the parish of Budock are from 1207. The "water" was appended to indicate the village was near a stream (as with Chacewater and Canworthy Water).

  30. Cross the stile and follow the lane ahead until it ends. Then follow the path leading from it alongside a garden to emerge into a yard.

    Wild Garlic can be seen flowering along the path in late spring.

    Wild garlic has been found in settlements dating as far back as the neolithic period which given its springtime abundance and aroma is not that surprising. Its culinary use was eventually overtaken by domesticated garlic which first arrived with Mediterranean traders and had the advantage that the bulbs could be stored for relatively long periods.

    Generations of plants and algae alternate between two different kinds of life form. One generation produces spores and these grow through cell division into a new organism. This then produces eggs and sperm which combine to grow into the first kind of organism again.

    In the case of flowering plants, the organism that produces the eggs and sperm is only a tiny beast consisting of a few cells that is contained entirely within its parent. In mosses, it's the other way round: the organism that produces the eggs and sperm is the main one and the spore-producer is a smaller plant, reliant on its parent. In the case of algae, both are independent organisms in their own right.

    The evolutionary advantage is that the overhead of sexual reproduction can be deferred for a generation, so the spore-bearing generation can be optimised to produce loads of clones cheaply with the safety net that next time around the genes will get a mix-up. That gene mix up from the sexual reproduction phase provides insurance in case something in the environment changes or there is some dodgy genetic copying that would scupper ongoing generations of clones.

  31. Cross the yard to the lane ahead. Follow the lane until you reach a stone stile on the left opposite a gateway.

    Chestnut trees overhang the lane.

    The size of the nuts from wild British chestnut trees is quite variable but the largest rival the nuts sold in supermarkets. Nuts that are very flat or less than the girth of your little finger are not worth harvesting; anything bigger is viable. A painless way to extract the nuts is to grip the husk between your feet and rub it between your boots or against the ground. This saves having to handle the spiky husks as the spikes are very sharp and tend to break off under the skin to leave behind splinters. Often the husks contain one (fairly round) large nut surrounded by several small, flat nuts, so it's worth squeezing out quite a few husks to get the larger nuts. Discard any nuts with holes in (as they will contain maggots) or that are very dark in colour - the fresher ones will be "chestnut" brown rather than dark brown.

    In England, the chestnut was originally known as the chesten nut. Both this and the modern French word châtaigne descend from the Old French word chastain.

  32. Cross the stile and bear right across the field to a stile in a gap in the middle of the hedge opposite.

    On the skyline you can see Pendennis Castle, on the top of the headland ahead.

    Pendennis Castle was built by Henry VIII to defend the coast against a possible French attack and was reinforced during the reign of Elizabeth I. During the English Civil War, more reinforcement took place and the castle withstood five months of siege from Parliamentary forces before it was captured. The castle was adapted for the World Wars of the 20th Century and the guardhouse has been restored to how it might have looked in the First World War. During the Second World War, underground tunnels and magazines were added which can now be visited.

  33. Cross the stile and carefully cross the road to Prislow Lane opposite. Follow the lane until it ends in a T-junction.

    The Boslowick Inn was formerly a house, and was originally thatched. During WW2, the building was hit by a shower of incendiary bombs. Fortunately, due to the steeply-sloping roof, these rolled off the roof without doing any serious harm. In the more distant past, the building is reputed to have been the haunt of smugglers. A number of rare coins were found in a vegetable garden during the 20th Century and sent to the British Museum.

  34. Turn right at the junction and follow the road uphill until you reach a junction for Carrick Road on the left.

    The large trees on the right are sycamore.

    Sycamore timber was traditionally used for milk pails as it does not impart any flavour or colour. It is still used today for kitchenware and is recognisable by the light colour and fine grain.

  35. Turn left onto Carrick Road and follow this until it ends in a turning area.

    The name "Carrick Roads" is thought to be a mangling of the Cornish Karrek Reun meaning "seal rock". It is now known as "Black Rock" and located in the centre of the harbour entrance, between Pendennis Point and Carricknath Point, and marked with a large conical beacon. It is still used at low tide as a haul-out spot by seals.

  36. Keep right along the pavement at the turning area to pass through a gap then turn left and follow the path downhill along the front of the houses and through some railings to emerge onto a residential road.

    Alexanders grow alongside the path.

    All parts of the alexanders plant can be eaten and it is a good source of iron and vitamins A and C. The flavour has been described as somewhere between parsley and angelica. However, foraging alexanders is not recommended unless you are experienced at identifying it because novices can confuse it with hemlock (the most poisonous plant in the UK - just a few leaves from this can kill you).

    Tarmac was discovered by accident in 1901 when a barrel of tar fell and burst open on a road and then waste slag from a nearby furnace was used to cover up the mess. The resulting smooth surface was noticed by a surveyor for Nottingham County who patented the idea, formed the Tar Macadam Syndicate and registered Tarmac as a trademark.

    This has been adopted into the English language initially as tarmacadam and increasingly now as just tarmac. When used as an adjective it gains an extra "k" (i.e. tarmacked).

  37. Cross the road to the footpath opposite and follow this downhill to a residential road. Cross over this and continue downhill on the path until it eventually ends at a junction with a surfaced track.

    During the Second World War, a large fuel depot for use in the D-Day landings was located on the hillside behind Swanpool. During the final air raid on Falmouth, the depot was hit by a bomb and a flood of burning fuel swept down the valley towards the houses below. An American navy officer managed to use a bulldozer to divert the flow away from the houses and was awarded the British Empire Medal for his bravery.

  38. When you reach the track, pass the opening on the right and then turn right onto a small path with three bollards marked with a "Public Footpath Swanpool Beach" sign. Follow the path until it emerges, via two more bollards, onto a drive.

    The brackish lagoon forms an unusual habitat that supports some rare wildlife. This includes the Trebling Sea Mat which is found nowhere else in the UK. The wooded wetland behind the lake is criss-crossed by six small streams and it provides a valuable habitat for birds and small mammals. The whole area is now a designated nature reserve.

  39. Continue ahead on the driveway until it ends in a T-junction and then turn left onto the lane. Follow this until it ends in a junction.

    The lake at Swanpool was once part of the sea but after the last Ice Age, a shingle bar formed (similar to the Loe Bar near Helston) which cut off the lake from the sea and it became a freshwater lake, roughly three times the size of the current lake. In the mid 1820s, a culvert was dug to drain much of the lake into the sea, creating the lake you see today. On high Spring tides, the seawater flows back through the culvert into the lake so the water is brackish (slightly salty).

  40. Turn right onto the path and follow this around the lake. Continue all the way along the length of the lake to the crazy golf and continue on the pavement past this and the car park to reach a junction with public toilets opposite.

    Coots a black with a white beak and head shield. This white patch is the origin of the phrase "bald as a coot". Moorhens look similar but have a red beak.

    Coots are extremely aggressive, especially in breeding season. If their chicks annoy them, the parents will bite them. Consequently quite a few coot chicks starve to death due to mean parents.

  41. Cross over the junction and follow the pavement until you reach a coast path sign, just past a driveway with a pair of gates.

    The car park in Swanpool is constructed from the remnants of Swanpool Mine - a lead mine worked in the 18th and 19th Centuries. During the 18th Century, the mine was worked on a fairly small scale and then expanded in the 1790s which included working beneath the lake. The lead ore was found to contain a good amount of silver which helped to make mining more profitable. In the 1850s, mining above the beach was carried out on a more industrial scale and a tunnel was cut to Pennance Point to release the sulphurous fumes from roasting the ore through a chimney stack. During World War 2, American soldiers stationed in Falmouth levelled the spoil heaps, resulting in the slightly raised car park.

  42. Turn left onto the coast path signposted to Maenporth and follow it to a waymark.

    Eight German U-boats surrendered at the end of the war were moored in Falmouth Bay, anchored at Gyllyngvase. Two were intentionally sunk during Navy exercises, and the remaining six broke free from their moorings in a fierce winter gale and were swept onto the rocks along Castle Drive. The remains of one can be seen at low tide at Castle Beach. The others have broken up but fragments of hull can seen amongst the rocks on low spring tides or by snorkelling.

  43. Continue ahead at the waymark, passing the gate on the right. Follow the path to the point, where a small path leads to the left alongside the fence and the main path bends to the right past a bench and memorial.

    In October 1940, the coaster Jersey Queen suffered an aerial attack with machine gun and cannon fire, and incendiary bombs on its way though the Irish Sea. Two of the crew were injured but the incendiary bombs slipped off the hull into the sea preventing any major damage. Two days later, she struck an acoustic mine in Cornish waters and sank in Falmouth Bay with the loss of two crew. When the mine detonated, the captain was knocked unconscious but was pulled from the water by one of the crew. Despite suffering attacks on two subsequent ships he captained, he survived the war and was awarded an MBE for his service.

  44. Keep right and stay on the main path and follow it to reach a waymark.

    In December 1978 the Scottish trawler Ben Asdale was in Falmouth Bay unloading its catch of mackerel into a Russian Factory ship. As the trawler cast off from the factory ship, the stern rope jammed in the rudder and the trawler was unable to steer. The captain attempted to anchor the vessel but in the force 8 gale, the anchor dragged and the ship was driven ashore on Newporth Head. Three of the crew who attempted to swim ashore drowned but eight were rescued by helicopter which had to fly backwards to avoid the headland in one of the most dangerous rescues of modern times. The remains of the vessel can still be seen at low water.

  45. Keep left at the waymark and go through the metal kissing gate. Follow the path until it emerges at the entrance to Maenporth car park, or alternatively cut down the steps beside the café.

    Razor clams are molluscs that get their name from the shape of their shell which resembles a cut-throat razor. They live in burrows in the sand using a powerful foot to dig to a safe depth. Their presence in the inter-tidal zone is indicated by keyhole-shaped holes made by their siphons as they filter-feed for plankton. They are very sensitive to changes of temperature and salinity and this has been exploited to catch them (pouring salt or brine down their holes) as well as simply digging them out. They have been quite overfished on many beaches and are in decline in many areas. In deeper water, they face a different problem: suction dredging hoovers them up with the sand. Although they usually survive the actual dredging process, they are deposited on the seabed and often get eaten by fish before they can dig to safety.

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