Mevagissey to Charlestown walk

Mevagissey to Charlestown (via bus)

The coast path is closed between Porthpean and Charlestown due to cliff falls. There is a diversion from Porthpean along the road. Work is now underway to reopen the path. Let us know if you find it open and we'll remove the warning.

A one-way coastal walk, made circular via an initial bus journey, from the fishing port of Mevagissey to Charlestown - one of the best-preserved Georgian ports in the world and an engineering masterpiece which included a seven-mile-long leat.

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After a bus journey from Charlestown to Mevagissey, the walk meanders through the town to the quay and then follows the coast path to the beach at Pentewan. After passing through the village, the route continues along the coast past the rocky cove at Hallane and around Black Head to reach Porthpean beach. The final stretch passes Duporth beach before returning to Charlestown.


  • Route includes paths close to unfenced cliff edges.

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Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 105
  • Distance: 7.6 miles/12.3 km
  • Steepness grade: Moderate-strenuous
  • Bus: 24 from Charlestown Church (up the hill and round the corner to the right, not the chapel) to Mevagissey.
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots 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 fishing port of Mevagissey
  • Sandy beach at Pentewan
  • Panoramic views from Black Head of St Austell and Mevagissey Bays
  • Rocky cove at Hallane with a waterfall and natural arch
  • Sheltered, sandy beaches at Porthpean and Duporth
  • Historic harbour at Charlestown
  • Shipwreck museum at Charlestown

Pubs on or near the route

  • The Fountain Inn
  • The Habourside Inn
  • The Kings Arms
  • The Rashleigh Arms
  • The Sharksfin
  • The Ship Inn
  • The Ship Inn

Adjoining walks


  1. Start by catching the bus from Charlestown church which can be reached by walking about half a mile along the main road away from the harbour until you reach Church Road on the right. Turn right onto this and the bus stop for Mevagissey is on the right in front of the church. Once at the bus stop in Mevagissey, follow the road into Mevagissey past the car park and join the pedestrian lane. Follow this to a junction and continue ahead, signposted for the Parish Church, until you reach a junction by the Ship Inn.

    A fishing village on the northern side of the cove was first recorded in 1313 as Porthhilly from the Cornish words porth and hyly, meaning "salt water harbour", although it is likely a settlement existed here for a long time. Artefacts such as arrows and axe heads found in the village and on display in the museum date back to the Bronze Age. Nearby there was a small religious community of Lamorick, centred around what is now St Peter's Church. In 1259, the church was dedicated to two Irish Saints - St Meva and St Issey (who also crops up in St Issey near Wadebridge). During the 15th Century, the two settlements became known collectively by the saints to whom the church had been dedicated: "Meva-ag-Issey" (where hag is the Cornish word for "and"). During the 17th Century, Porthhilly expanded and merged with the neighbouring hamlet of Lamorick resulting in the single town of Mevagissey.

  2. Once you pass the Ship Inn, turn left to reach the memorial and take the first right, signposted to the harbour. Follow along the left side of the harbour to reach the museum.

    There was a quay at Mevagissey in mediaeval times, situated in the vicinity of the current East Quay and there is a record of its construction in 1470. This provided protection from the prevailing southwesterlies, but when a gale occasionally blew from the East, the harbour was exposed. In 1774, an Act of Parliament was passed for Mevagissey to be developed as a port, and the current East and West Quays of the inner harbour were constructed at this time. The outer harbour was added just over a century later, initially built in 1888 but only 3 years later it was badly damaged in a winter storm. By the end of the 19th Century, the outer walls had been rebuilt and have changed little since then.

  3. At the museum, double-back up the steep path on the left marked with a "Coastal Path" sign and follow this to a junction with a path at the top.

    Following the construction of the outer harbour in 1888, the lifeboat was moved to Mevagissey from Portmellon, and it was moored in the harbour for a few years until the lifeboat house was built in 1896. The station operated until 1930 when Fowey was equipped with a motorised lifeboat which could also cover the coast around Mevagissey. The lifeboat station is now an aquarium containing some fine specimens of local fish.

  4. Turn right onto the upper path and keep right along this up various flights of steps until you eventually emerge into a large grassy area via a gap in the wall below a public footpath sign.

    In mediaeval times, the village at Gorran Haven was the primary fishing village of the area, dwarfing Mevagissey, and the quay has been rebuilt a number of times throughout its history. The first recorded use of seining for pilchards in Cornwall was here, in the 13th Century. Once drift netting became popular in the late 18th century, Mevagissey took over as the primary fishery and the quay fell into ruin but was rebuilt in 1886 and a period of crab and lobster potting continued until the Second World War. After the war, crab and lobster potting resumed from the bigger harbour at Mevagissey.

  5. Walk straight ahead across the grass and, once you cross the brow of the hill, aim for the rightmost house at the far side.
  6. Bear right onto the coast path and follow this a short distance to where a flight of steps descend to the right.

    Polstreath is a shingle beach facing east into Mevagissey Bay. The orientation of the beach means that it gets the morning sun and is sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds by high cliffs. The path to the beach is steep with 187 steps which has the effect of limiting the number of beachgoers.

  7. Keep left along the tarmac path and follow the coast path to a footbridge at the bottom of the valley.

    The names of many coastal features are derived from words in the Cornish language:

    • Pen - Headland (Cornish for "top" or "head")
    • Pol - often used to mean Harbour (literally "Pool")
    • Porth - Port but often used to mean Cove
    • Zawn - sea inlet (from the Cornish "sawan" meaning chasm)

    Note that Haven has Saxon origins (hæfen in Old English) which is why it tends to occur more in North East Cornwall (Millook, Crackington, Bude etc).

  8. Cross the bridge and follow the steps up the other side of the valley to a kissing gate at the top.

    The small blue pom-pom-like flowers have common names which include blue bonnets, blue buttons, blue daisy and Iron Flower but it is best known as sheep's bit. The name is said to originate because sheep enjoy eating it. Confusingly, it is sometimes known as "sheeps bit scabious", yet it is not at all closely related to the group of plants normally known as "scabious".

    Sheep's bit flowers are rich in nectar and are a favourite with bees and butterflies. The flowers are highly reflective to ultraviolet which is thought helps to attract insects. The reason that insects can see UV but we can't is that insects' eyes have colour receptors that are tuned to different wavelengths than ours but also the lens of the human eye blocks UV light.

    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.

    Sardines and pilchards are names for the same fish. Sardine was traditionally the name given to the smaller individuals and pilchards were the ones that managed to avoid being caught for a while longer. Pilchards have been deemed by marketeers as unsexy, possibly because those sold in tins during the late 20th Century tended to be the larger, less-bony specimens and so "pilchard" became associated canned fish. Therefore pilchards are now marketed as "Cornish sardines" when they are sold fresh.

  9. Go through the gate and follow the path parallel to the right hedge to reach a stile.
  10. Cross (or pass) the stile and follow the path to reach another stile.

    The point ahead is called Penare, from the Cornish word penn-ardh (pronounced "penarth") meaning promontory. Many of the headlands in the area such as Black Head and Dodman Point were also formerly known as Penare.

  11. Cross the stile and follow the path down the steps to reach a kissing gate. Go through the gate and follow the path alongside the fence on the right to reach another kissing gate in the far hedge.

    From the headland, there are views over Pentewan Bay to the headlands along the south coast: the large headlands closest are Black Head and Gribbin (with the daymark tower). On a clear day, Rame Head is visible at the far eastern end of Cornwall.

  12. Go through the gate and follow the right hedge of the field to reach a gate.
  13. Go through the gate and down the steps; then follow the right hedge to a gap in the wall.

    Every part of the dandelion plant is edible and is high in Vitamin A and higher still in Vitamin K. The leaves can be eaten in salads, though their bitterness is not to everyone's taste. However, the bitterness can be reduced by blanching: drop the leaves into boiling salted water and remove after a minute and quench in ice-cold water to prevent the leaves from cooking.

    At the bottom of the steep cliffs is a shingle beach (Cockaluney Beach), only accessible by sea.

  14. Go through the gap and follow the right hedge to a kissing gate.

    Seawater is about 2.5% salt which is about one tenth of the strength of fully saturated brine solution. By the 17th Century, it was found that dissolving impure rock salt in seawater to increase the concentration and then recrystallising this in clean salt pans was a cheaper way of producing salt than evaporating ten times the amount of water from normal seawater.

  15. Go through the sequence of gates and cross the walkway to reach another gate.

    The derelict buildings at Portgiskey include cottages and fish cellars. Their exact age is not known, but they appear on a tithe map from 1840 and so were built some time before this. This was in the period when pilchards were plentiful, so the cellars were probably used to process these.

  16. Go through the gate and turn right. Follow the path along the right hedge to reach a kissing gate at the top of the field.

    Over recent decades, the kestrel population has been in decline and is now about half of what it was at the start of the 1970s. The exact reasons are not known but it's strongly suspected it is connected to a decline in vole numbers perhaps due to changing farming methods. Reduced availability of nesting sites (e.g. in old trees) may also be a contributing factor.

  17. Go through the kissing gate and turn right. Follow the path until it emerges on the entrance road to Pentewan Sands Holiday Park.

    Bracken has been used as a fuel for centuries but is of interest as a modern biofuel due to its very high calorific value. Normal firewood produces around 15-19 gigajoules of heat per tonne of material (depending on moisture content - drier is more efficient hence kiln-dried logs). Elephant grass can produce around 18 GJ/t and bracken can deliver 21 GJ/t. At least one company has piloted creating compressed fuel briquettes from bracken in a similar way to elephant grass.

  18. Cross the entrance road to the pavement opposite and follow this along the main road to the junction signposted to Pentewan Village.

    Pentewan dates back to mediaeval times when it was mainly a fishing village with a harbour. The harbour was rebuilt in the 1820s both for the pilchard fishery and to create a china clay port. At its peak, a third of Cornwall's china clay was shipped from Pentewan. However the harbour had continual silting problems which meant that it was eventually overtaken by Charlestown and Par. As well as longshore drift carrying sand east across Mevagissey Bay, there was also silt being washed down the river from china clay works and tin streaming. Consequently, the harbour gradually silted up with the last trading ship leaving in 1940 and World War II literally sealing its fate. By the 1960s, the harbour was only accessible to small boats and today the harbour basin is entirely cut off from the sea.

  19. Turn right at the junction to Pentewan Village and follow the road over the bridge and past the Ship Inn to the village square.
  20. Walk through the square and follow the lane ahead up Pentewan Hill until you reach a track on the right with a "The Terrace" sign.

    Pentewan is famous for its stone which is a type of elvan.

    Elvan is very hard volcanic rock formed where magma intruded into other rocks to form a (vertical) dyke or (horizontal) sill that cooled fairly quickly, resulting in fairly small crystals. Elvan can be seen in many of the churches across Cornwall where it is often used for intricate parts of buildings, such as doorways, so they can be finely carved.

    The term "white elvan" is sometimes used for those which are chemically very similar to granite (but in the case of granite, slower cooling resulted in large crystals) i.e. formed of mildly acidic compounds.

    The term "greenstone" is used by quarrymen to describe igneous rocks that, unlike granite, are rich in (basic) iron and magnesium compounds and these often give it a blue-green colour. When greenstone is formed as a sill or dyke it is sometimes called "blue elvan". This is also fairly common in Cornwall and has been quarried for a long time: in the Neolithic period, stone axes made from blue elvan were exported from Cornwall to various parts of Britain.

  21. Turn right onto the track and follow it past the church to where the gravel ends and tarmac begins. Continue a few paces further to the entrance to no. 11 with a signposted footpath to the left of this.

    All Saints Church was completed in 1821 as part of a plan for a terrace in which it was envisaged as the centrepiece, but only the northern half was ever built. It is built from the famous Pentewan Stone and the terrace incorporates tracery from the Elizabethan Polrudden House which was destroyed by French pirates. The church fell into disuse within a few decades and was used as a carpenters shop until it was restored and reinstated as a church in 1878. There was also a Methodist church in the village but this was destroyed when Pentewan was bombed during the Second World War.

  22. Keep left to join the footpath and walk a few paces to reach a waymarked path departing to the left up a couple of step. Turn left up the steps and follow the coast path until you eventually reach a wooden stile.

    As you climb up the steps towards the stile, the rocky cove on your right is known as Polrudden, which means "Red Cove" in Cornish. There is a sandy beach at low tide where ships used to land to collect stone from the Pentewan quarries.

    The golden yellow elvan known as Pentewan Stone was used in many mediaeval churches as its fine grain allowed stone masons to carve it into intricate shapes without it crumbling. The earliest use found is an inscribed stone at St Cuby, Tregony which dates from the Dark Ages. In mediaeval times, the stone was obtained from where the volcanic dyke met the cliffs of Polrudden Cove. Later, quarries were opened up inland along the course of the dyke and these can be traced for nearly a kilometre to a large overgrown quarry behind the village. In 1985, when the church at St Austell was restored, blocks of Pentewan Stone were recovered from Polrudden beach for the work.

  23. Cross the stile and follow the footpath around the headland, down the valley and up the other side, and around the next headland to reach a footbridge.

    Just before you reach the footbridge, the sand/shingle beach at the bottom of the cliff is known as Polgwyn. This means "White Cove" in Cornish and is probably a reference to the white shingle beach.

  24. Cross the footbridge and follow the path along the coast and eventually down some steps into a wooded valley to reach a footbridge at the bottom.

    Although primroses flower most intensely in March and April, some primroses can begin flowering in late December. The name "primrose" from the Latin for "first" (as in "primary"), alluding to their early flowering.

    Oystercatchers are recognisable by their black-and-white bodies, their long, straight red beaks and loud, piercing call. In flight, the white markings form an image of a white bird towards the back of their otherwise black backs which may have evolved to confuse predators.

    The long beaks are adapted to open shellfish - mainly cockles and mussels - "cocklecatchers" would be a more accurate name. They can also use their bill to probe for worms.

  25. Cross the footbridge and turn right. Follow the path towards the coast until you cross over the driveway to a cottage and reach a waymark at a junction of paths.

    In Elizabethan times, starch made from the bulbs was used to stiffen collars and cuffs in clothing. The ruffs that were highly fashionable at the time would have needed a lots of starch to prevent them flopping. The toxins in bluebell sap might also have had the desirable property of preventing the starch encouraging the formation of mould.

    Hemlock (also known as water dropwort) is a member of the carrot family (related to cow parsley and alexanders) and is common in damp, shady places, particularly near streams. The stems are tubular and quite thick like alexanders and the leaves look quite like coriander (more toothed on the edges than alexanders). New leaves begin to shoot in early winter and by February these are starting to grow into quite noticeable small plants. It flowers in April and May with white flowers similar to cow parsley. It has a deceptively pleasant sweet smell but don't be tempted to try eating it: this is the most poisonous plant in UK. Just a handful of leaves can kill a human and a root contains enough poison to kill a cow.

  26. Bear left at the waymark and follow the path uphill a short distance to reach another waymark with a small path leading uphill to the right.

    At the cottage, the path to the right leads to Hallane Beach.

    Hallane is a south-facing shingle beach with submerged rocks a short way offshore which surface as the tide goes out, and at low tide, a rocky platform is exposed along the shoreline. It is very sheltered which makes it suitable for swimming, and the offshore rocks provide a suitable spot for a rest and warm-up although care must be taken of the sharp barnacles. On the right-hand side of the beach, a waterfall cascades over a natural arch. At low tide, it is possible to walk around the arch to get behind the waterfall; slippery algae grows on the rocks beneath the waterfall so climbing through it is not recommended.

  27. Turn right at the (blue) waymark and follow the path to another (yellow) waymark in the field. Continue ahead along the fence and follow the coast path until you eventually reach a junction of paths beside a huge granite memorial.

    The plants along the coast path with yellow flower spikes are dark mullein.

    Mulleins are biennial plants of the Verbascum family with fuzzy leaves which produce a massive spike of yellow flowers in their second year. Two species are fairly common: common mullein can reach 6-8ft tall and has all-yellow flowers where as dark mullein is a bit smaller and the flowers have purple stamens.

    Common names include "Jacob's staff", "Jupiter's staff" and "Aaron's rod" which all reference tall flower spike. The plant's soft, fuzzy leaves are featured in names such as "bunny's ears", "flannel leaf", and the delightful "cowboy toilet paper" from the USA.

    Other names include "Candlewick plant" which refers to the use the dried down from the leaves to make wicks for lamps. The use of mullein for torches dates back at least to Roman times. The association of torches with witches also gave rise to another name for the plant: "hag taper".

    The granite memorial on Black Head, engraved with "This was the land of my content", was erected in the memory of Arthur Leslie Rowse, a Cornish writer and historian. Rowse was born in 1903, the son of an uneducated china clay worker, and was the first Cornishman to win a university scholarship, reading English at Christchurch College, Oxford.

  28. Turn left at the memorial and follow the path inland to reach a fork in the path with a flight of steps in the right-hand path and a "15/E" green marker on the tree above.

    At the memorial, the path to the left leads out onto the headland.

    The name "Black Head" dates back to at least Tudor times. A map from 1576 records it as The Blak heade poynt. From the North side there are views across St Austell Bay and to the South, across Mevagissey Bay to Chapel Point.

    Black Head was the site of an Iron Age fort which is thought to date from around the 3rd Century BC. Two large banks and ditches are clearly visible across the narrowest part of the headland. There were originally three ramparts but the outermost has almost vanished.

  29. Keep right at the fork and follow the path up the steps and along the coast to the Ropehaven Cliffs Nature Reserve sign and continue along the path to a junction with another path at the top of a flight of steps.

    The lines of buoys out from Ropehaven were England's first offshore mussel farms. A line runs between two weights on the bottom and this is lifted to a couple of metres below the surface by the floats. The mussels are grown on ropes suspended from this which don't touch the seabed, ensuring they don't pick up grit and as many barnacles. They are naturally-occurring blue mussels which at their planktonic stage look for any suitable attachment to grow on, and attach themselves to the ropes. The ropes are initially coiled to suspend them in the top couple of metres of water where the mussel plankton (known as "spat") are most prevalent. Once the mussels begin to grow, the ropes are uncoiled to give them more space and to protect them from seabirds and other surface predation. EU restrictions on importing shellfish have reduced the size of the viable market for mussels so there is a pilot project to try growing seaweed on some of the ropes instead.

  30. At the junction, bear right down the steps and follow the path until you reach a bench with a waymark opposite. Turn left in the direction waymarked and stay on the main path leading gradually uphill until it emerges onto a track.

    A 49 acre area of the cliffs above Ropehaven was purchased by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust in 1986 to create a nature reserve. The reserve consists of mature broadleaf woodland and cliffs below which are formed from some of the oldest sedimentary rocks exposed in the South West of England. The inaccessible cliffs provide nesting sites for seabirds such as fulmars and gulls, and sea caves in the bay provide haul-out sites for grey seals. Near the exposed clifftop, the woodland consists of salt-tolerant blackthorn and hawthorn. On the lower slopes, in the lee of Black Head, it is mostly comprised of Sycamore and Ash with some Ivy and Holly growing beneath the canopy.

  31. Turn right onto the track and follow it to a junction of tracks with a lane. Continue past the car park until you reach a flight of steps on the right with a waymark for the coast path.
  32. Follow the path on the right up the steps to a gate. Go through this and follow the path to reach a footbridge at the bottom of a steep valley.

    Honeysuckle flowers appear from June to August and their fragrance is due to a class of chemical compounds known as jasminoids that occur in, as you might have guessed, jasmine but also Ceylon tea. Honeysuckle is the food plant of the White Admiral caterpillar so keep a look for the butterflies in summer.

    The stinkhorns are a family of phallic-shaped mushrooms, typically found near dead wood. Their form (the Latin name Phallus impudicus means "shamelessly phallic") disturbed the sensibilities some Victorians so greatly that they would rise at dawn to attack them with clubs or burn them to prevent their spread and protect the morals of maids. Unsurprisingly, there are some other colourful folk names including one very similar to Deadman's Cove.

    As "stinkhorn" suggests, the fungus produces a foul odour, which it uses to attract insects. The mushroom initially forms inside an oval capsule on the ground which ruptures and the fruiting body then rises quite quickly (typically overnight). In the case of the common stinkhorn, the cap is covered with a smelly olive-green slime containing the spores. This is fairly quickly eaten by insects who carry away some of the spores on their legs. Once the slime has been consumed, a white raised honeycomb structure remains of the cap. Therefore you're most likely to encounter pristine specimens early in the morning before the insects have reached them.

  33. Cross the footbridge and follow the path up the steps to reach a field (possibly with a temporary metal sheep gate).
  34. Enter the field (via the gate if present) and follow along the right hedge to reach a kissing gate opposite.
  35. Go through the gate and follow the path along the right hedge to reach a bridge at the bottom of the next valley.

    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.

  36. Cross the stile and bridge and follow the path up the steps and down into the next valley to eventually reach a stile.

    Bracken releases toxins into the soil which inhibit the growth of other plants, and the shade created by its large leaves and its thick leaf litter also makes it hard for other plants to compete. This and avoidance by grazing animals makes it quite difficult to control, particularly in steep areas where mechanised cutting or ploughing is difficult. Treading by livestock can reduce bracken's competitive advantage, particularly during winter when frost can attack the roots.

  37. Pass the stile and go down the steps. Then follow the path to emerge outside Porthpean sailing club.

    Documented in 1865, the following was supposedly an old Cornish tradition:

    To Choose a Wife: Ascertain the date of the month of the young woman's birth, and refer to the last chapter of Proverbs in the Bible. Each verse from 1st to the 31st is supposed to indicate, either directly or indirectly, the character, and to guide the searcher - the verse corresponding with her birth date indicating the woman's character.

    However, it's probable the rural traditions involving copious amounts of ale and cider have a much longer heritage and were possibly more conducive to wedlock.

  38. Follow the path to the road and bear right to follow this down to the beach. Walk along the top of the sea wall at the back of the beach to reach a flight of steps on the far side.

    In the years after the Second World War, once the defences had been cleared from the beach and Porthpean was once again used as a pleasure beach, a sea mine washed up one morning. As it was a hot summer's day, the local coastguard carried it into the Watch House as he knew many people would be coming to the beach. He informed the Coastguard service and that evening, the bomb squad arrived from Plymouth and cleared the beach. The mine was carried back to the beach where it was detonated and the resulting explosion went higher than the tall cliffs around the bay.

    Most of the mines used during the Second World War were triggered by sensors which detonated if a metallic object disturbed the electromagnetic field surrounding them. When the coastguard had initially carried the mine off the beach, he had been wearing his coastguard hat which had a large metal badge!

  39. Climb the steps and follow the path from the top. Continue until you climb a short flight of steps and then reach an opening on the right with a lookout tower.

    The observation tower at Carrickowel Point overlooking Porthpean beach was part of the St Austell Bay practice bombing range used by Coastal Command during WW2. The range included two floating wooden targets a couple of miles out to sea. A moving target was also towed across the bay from Fowey.

  40. Turn right and follow the path around the lookout tower. When the path forks, keep right on the outer path to reach a grassy area at the end of the headland with a picnic bench.

    The headland is called Carrickowel Point but in the early 19th Century was known as Carrickowel Rock. Neither the "point" or "rock" are really needed as Carrickowel is from the Cornish for "Weather Rock". Exactly in what way isn't completely obvious - perhaps as a lookout point or as a weather-dependent landmark.

  41. Bear left to pass the picnic bench and join the path leading back inland. Follow this to a crossing of paths at a waymark.

    The word picnic is from the French piquenique which was itself first recorded in the late 17th Century. At the time it was of recent origin and used to mean bringing your own wine to a restaurant (what we call "BYO" today). After the French Revolution in the late 18th Century, royal parks were opened to the public and picnicking (as we know it today) became hugely popular.

  42. Turn right at the waymark and follow the path down the valley until you reach a path on the right just before the path ahead crosses a small bridge.

    Along the path to the left from the waymark, there is a substantial amount of wild garlic in the spring.

    Despite the pungent smell, the leaves of wild garlic are quite delicate in flavour so can be used quite large quantities in cooking or more sparingly within salads. They are at their most fiery early in the season.

    A lestercock was a timber and cork raft with a sail used by shore fishermen in Cornwall to carry a string of hooks out from shore to deeper water using the wind. Once the craft had floated out far enough, it would be pulled back in, hopefully with fish on the hooks. This provided a safer alternative to launching fishing boats when there were strong offshore winds and rough seas and also a way for those too poor to own a boat to fish further from the shore. This is likely to have worked well in mid-water for pelagic fish such as mackerel or along sandy seabeds for flatfish. Rocky ground would present more of a challenge - hooks dragging along the seabed would snag weed or the rocks themselves.

  43. Continue ahead across the bridge and follow the path until you pass through an iron kissing gate and reach a gate on the right into Crinnis Cliff Battery.

    The small path to the right at the bottom of the valley leads to Duporth beach.

    Duporth is a development on the site of an old Butlin's holiday village which itself was built on the old estate owned by Charles Rashleigh, who developed Charlestown. Duporth beach is privately-owned but the public are allowed access subject to a few restrictions (e.g. no fires) indicated on the information board. There is very little beach at high tide, but as the tide recedes, a sandy beach is revealed with areas of rock along the edges containing rockpools.

  44. Continue ahead on the coast path, or walk through the cliff battery, to reach a gap in the battery wall where the coast path descends a flight of steps.

    The gun battery was built a year after Charlestown harbour to defend the port against a possible French invasion during the summer months when the sea was calmer. It's likely that the battery was more of a status symbol and deterrent rather than designed for serious combat. Evidence for this includes the walls not being reinforced with earth ramparts and the castellations are far too high from the ground on the inside to be able to shoot over them with rifles. Each winter, the cannons were taken down to Charlestown to be stored out of the elements. The coast path leading down to Charlestown is the remains of a track used by horses to transport the cannons.

  45. Follow the steps downhill, passing through a kissing gate, to reach Charlestown Harbour.

    The harbour itself was designed by the marine architect John Smeaton whose other achievements included the Eddystone Lighthouse now on Plymouth Hoe and the pier at St Ives. The outer wall is angled to protect the harbour from waves driven into St Austell Bay by southeasterly winds. The remains of capstans can still be seen on the ends of the piers which were used to haul ships into the harbour when there was no favourable wind to sail in. The inner harbour is gated so that ships could remain afloat at all states of the tide and be continuously unloaded and loaded, ready to set sail immediately on the next tide. Charles Rashleigh had plans for an ambitious extension to the harbour which would have added a further set of piers to the outside to create a large outer harbour beyond the tidal beach area but was never able to realise them as he was swindled out of his fortune by two of his employees.

  46. Follow the lane uphill from The Pier House Hotel and Harbourside Inn to the roundabout to complete the circular route.

    Charlestown harbour was used for the filming of Truro and Falmouth harbours in the BBC's Poldark series.

    The protected harbour at Charlestown is now used for sailing ships. The combination of the tall ships and undeveloped location has made it a popular Hollywood filming location which features in Pirates of the Caribbean and many others.

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