Mount Edgcumbe to Kingsand

A circular walk though the Mount Edgcumbe Country Park to Kingsand with views over Plymouth Sound including Drake's Island where Drake set sail to circumnavigate the globe, and the breakwater which Napoleon described as an engineering masterpiece as he left England on his prison ship.

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The walk passes through the formal gardens of the Mount Edgcumbe Country Park then follows the coast past the blockhouse and Ionian temple to reach the ruin overlooking Plymouth Sound. The route then follows woodland paths and joins the Warn Sandway to Kingsand with views over Cawsand Bay. The walk then climbs up to the Maker Heights to reach Maker Church and then descends through the deer park to complete the circular route.

Reviews

That's a cracker of a walk
It's a beautiful walk, the dogs love it
Did Mount Edgcumbe to Kingsand today... absolutely brilliant walk.. spot on directions! Will definitely repeat this walk... views on a clear day will be even more stunning.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 108
  • Distance: 5.7 miles/9.1 km
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Start from: Cremyll car park
  • Parking: Cremyll PL101HU. From Trerulefoot Roundabout on the A38, take the A374 through Polbathic and turn right down the B3237 though Crafthole. Follow this through Millbrook and keep left at the bend when you reach the junction for Kingsand. Keep following the road until you reach Cremyll and the car park is on your left.
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots

OS maps for this walk

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Highlights

  • Spectacular gardens of Mount Edgcumbe
  • National Camelia Collection
  • Deer Park and wooded paths of the Mount Edgcumbe estate
  • Views over Plymouth Sound and Cawsand Bay

Pubs on or near the route

  • The Devonport Inn
  • The Edcumbe Arms
  • The Halfway House Inn

Adjoining walks

Directions

  1. From the car park, cross the road and turn left onto the pavement signposted to Mount Egcumbe Country Park. Follow the road to reach a fountain where a path departs to the right.

    There has been a ferry service at Cremyll between Devon and Cornwall since mediaeval times, and is thought to have been established around 1204. A foot passenger service still operates. The journey takes around 8 minutes and lands at Admiral's Hard in the Stonehouse area of Plymouth.

  2. Turn right after the fountain and follow the path to the gate into the Country Park.

    The Mount Edgcumbe estate was the principal seat of the Edgcumbe family. The house was built between 1547 and 1553 but was badly damaged by German bombs during World War II. In 1958 a restoration process began to return the interiors to an 18th Century style. In 1971 the estate was sold jointly to Plymouth City Council and Cornwall County Council and the grounds were opened to the public as a Country Park in 1988.

  3. Go through the gate and turn left to follow the path to the castellated gatehouse to the Historic Gardens.

    The Formal Gardens at Mount Edgcumbe were planted between 1750 and 1920 in English, French and Italian styles. The Orangery in the Italian Garden is thought to date from near the beginning of this period, possibly around 1760. More recently, an American plantation and a New Zealand garden were added, reflecting the family's Commonwealth connections, and a Jubilee commemorative garden was added in 2002.

  4. Follow the path through the gatehouse and continue ahead towards the fountain. Keep left to pass along the front of the building and follow the path between the hedges ahead to a junction.

    The name Tamar is documented in the second century and likely to be substantially older. It is thought it might share a common origin with the River Thames and both might stem from an ancient Celtic word meaning "dark". The source of the river is within 4 miles of the North Cornish Coast and the river flows 61 miles south across the peninsula forming the majority of the historic border with Devon. Work is being done by the Environment Agency to improve the water quality of the Tamar and its tributaries by reducing the amount of run-off of phosphate fertilisers into the rivers.

  5. Keep left at the junction to follow the path along the coast to the blockhouse, with a battery of cannons on the seaward side.

    The stretch of the estuary from the confluence of the Lynher and Tamar is known as the Hamoaze. This was recorded in 1558 as ryver of Hamose and is thought originally just referred to a creek that led to the manor of Ham which was located north of where Devonport Dockyard is today. The "ose" part of the name may derive from the Old English word wāse (meaning "mud") which is the origin of the English word "ooze".

  6. Continue along the coast from the blockhouse until the path pass through a gate and then meets another path at a junction with a signpost.
    The blockhouse was built around 1545 during the reign of Henry VIII to defend the mouth of the Tamar.
    The gun battery was originally built in the 18th Century purely for show to greet guests with a 21 gun salute. In the 19th century, it was rebuilt with seven 68-pounder cannons to offer the French navy an entirely different kind of greeting.
  7. Continue ahead at the junction of paths in the direction indicated for the South West Coast Path until you reach the end of the surfaced path by a stony beach and lake.
    The Deep Water Anchorage at Barn Pool was used by the Vikings in the 10th Century. Charles Darwin also set off from here aboard the HMS Beagle in 1831.

    The island in the middle of Plymouth Sound was known during the middle ages as St Michael's after the chapel that stood on it, recorded in 1135. After Sir Frances Drake sailed from here in 1577 and circumnavigated the world, it was occasionally referred to as Drake's Island but became principally known as St Nicolas' Island until well into the 19th Century. It is only in comparitively recent times that it has become widely known as Drake's Island. From Elizabethan times, the island was fortified as a defence against the French and Spanish and it still contains derelict military buildings from the Napoleonic era. In 1995 the island was sold by the Crown Estate to a former chairman of Plymouth Argyle with a view to developing it as a tourism destination.

  8. Continue ahead across the grass to reach a waymark beside the building with pillars. Join the path and follow it to a gate.

    The circular Ionian temple near the lake in the Edgcumbe estate was built around 1755 and is dedicated to the poet John Milton. It contains a plaque inscribed with lines from his poem Paradise Lost.

  9. Go through the gate and follow the path ahead to meet a track.

    The ruin on the hill in Mount Edgcumbe County Park is an artificial ruin built as a folly some time around 1747. Formerly there was an obelisk there which acted as a navigation beacon. The folly still sufficed for this practical purpose but was deemed more aesthetic. It is built from mediaeval stones salvaged from the ruined churches of St George and St Lawrence at Stonehouse.

  10. Bear left onto the track and follow to a cottage then follow the path leading from it to a fence where the path doubles back on itself.

    The fruit of the beech tree is known as "mast" or, less crypically, "beechnuts". The small triangular nuts are encased in spiky husks which split and drop from the trees from late August to early October. The kernels of these are edible and are similar to hazelnuts. They were once used as a source of flour, which was ground after the tannins had been leached out by soaking them in water. If you find them too bitter, you might want to try this trick, although toasting them in a hot pan is also a good option.

  11. Follow the path up the bank and some steps to emerge onto another path and continue up the steps opposite to reach a gate.
  12. Go through the gate and follow the path past the ruin and down the steps. Continue to reach a fork in the path.

    Constructed in 1812, the stone breakwater stretches for very close to a mile across the centre of Plymouth Sound and was described by Napoleon as "a grand thing" as he passed it on his way to exile on St Helena in 1815. The sea wall is constructed from granite quarried from the Luxulyan Valley near St Austell and is infilled with limestone from the Plymouth area. In total, nearly four million tonnes of rock were used in its construction. The lighthouse was added in 1844, and the fort during the 1860s when France was expanding its navy and the resulting nervousness lead to intensification of defences around major British sea ports.

  13. At the fork, take right-hand path (less steep route) to a waymark and then follow the zig-zagging path to emerge onto a track beside a fence with a waymark.
  14. Bear right and follow the path to reach a path to a fork.

    The structure on the corner, known as the Picklecombe Seat is thought to have been built in the 18th Century using materials from the churches of St. George and St. Lawrence at Stonehouse. It is recorded in 1788 as "a gothic alcove built from the materials of an old chapel the inside of which gives a picturesque view of nothing but the sea..."

  15. Keep left at the fork and follow the waymarked path through an iron gate to a wooden gate.

    Bluebells grow on the slope here, indicating the area has been under tree cover for a long time.

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

  16. Go through the gate and follow the path to a fork with a gate on the left.

    Gorse is a member of the pea family with seeds in pods. The seeds are ejected with a popping sound when pods split open in hot weather. This can catapult the seeds up to five metres. The plants are able to live 30 years and survive sub-zero temperatures, the seeds can withstand fire and remain viable in the soil for 30 years.

  17. Continue ahead on the path to follow along the fence on your left and reach a kissing gate onto a lane.

    Two species of seahorse live in Plymouth Sound (spiny seahorse and long-snouted seahorse). They hide in the sea grass which they grasp with their tails and live on a diet of shrimps and small crabs (of which they can eat around 30 a day!). Seahorses are famous for the males being the gender to brood the eggs within their bodies until they hatch as baby seahorses. They do this within a pouch, a little bit like that in female marsupials.

  18. Go through the gate and bear right onto the lane to reach a wooden coast path sign to Kingsand.

    Rame gig racing club is based at Cawsand so you may see pilot gigs being rowed in the bay.

    The six-oared elm boats known as Pilot Gigs were general-purpose work boats, but one of their uses was to transport the pilot to and from a ship, which resulted in the name. The first boat to meet a ship gained the business of transporting the captain (and thus being paid) and thus a "race" came into being, with different boats competing for business. Today, Gig Racing is of a recreational nature, but the boats are still built to the exact well-documented specification of the originals. Elm wood is highly resistant to water, so much so, that town water mains were made of elm before the widespread availability of iron.

  19. Bear left onto the path for Kingsand and follow this to where a narrow path departs downhill to the left.

    The exposed area of red rock beside Kingsand is the result of a volcanic lava flow around 290 million years ago which formed rocks known as rhyolites. When sea levels were higher, a wave-cut platform was created which was exposed when sea levels fell. This is the largest continuous piece of exposed rhyolite in the UK. The red rock has been used to construct a number of the buildings in Kingsand.

  20. Bear left at the fork onto the small path and follow this until you reach the end of the meadow then join the path above and follow this to emerge onto a lane.

    Rabbits were originally from the Iberian peninsula and were brought to Britain by the Normans and kept in captivity as a source of meat and fur. Rabbits are able to survive on virtually any vegetable matter and with relatively few predators, those that escaped multiplied into a sizeable wild population. Rabbits provide food for foxes, stoats and birds of prey.

  21. The walk continues uphill to the right but before continuing you may want to explore Kingsand to the left. Continue to the top of the hill to reach a pair of Public Footpath signs where the tarmac peters out.

    The name Kingsand was first used in the mid-16th Century when it was part of Devon and this is reflected in the English rather than Cornish name. The name denotes that the shoreline belonged to the King of England. Also dating from the 16th Century are the remains of the pilchard cellars on the shoreline just beyond Kingsand.

  22. At the signpost, follow the right-hand path, leading from the end of the tarmac to reach a crossing of paths.

    Until 1844, the border between Celtic Cornwall and Saxon Devon lay between Cawsand and Kingsand, defined by a small stream. On Garrett Street, just before you reach the Halfway House Inn, there is a house with a marker indicating where the border used to be.

  23. At the crossing, turn right and follow the path to reach a junction of paths at a waymark.

    Based on recommendations made in 1887, Maker and Grenville batteries were constructed to defend the western approaches to Plymouth Sound. The original 12.5 inch muzzle-loading guns were upgraded in the early 1900s to 6 inch breach-loading guns so the remains today are a mixture from the two periods. The emplacements of the older guns can be identified by their toothed tracks.

  24. Continue ahead from the waymark in the direction indicated for Maker Heights to emerge onto a small lane.

    The walk route is in a small Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty known as the "Rame Head Heritage Coast" that includes Mount Edgcumbe Country Park and Cawsand Bay.

    There are 33 regions in England designated Areas Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which were created in 1949 at the same time as the National Parks. In fact the AONB status is very similar to that of National Parks. There is a single Cornwall AONB which is itself subdivided into 12 sections. 11 of these are stretches of the coastline and the 12th is Bodmin Moor.

  25. Turn right onto the lane and follow it to a bend in front of some buildings where a track departs from the right.
  26. Keep left to stay on the lane and follow it along the wall to a junction.
  27. Turn right at the junction (signposted Fort Picklecombe) and follow the lane a short distance to a kissing gate on the left next to a telegraph pole.

    Picklecombe Fort was one of the forts commissioned in the mid-19th century by Lord Palmerston sometimes known as the Palmerston Follies. The site chosen was near an earlier battery which had been constructed at the start of the 19th century, consisting of an earth embankment. This is where Plymouth Sound is split by the breakwater, forcing approaching ships to pass closer to the coast.

    Picklecombe Fort was built between 1864 and 1871 and armed with over forty guns to defend Plymouth Sound from the French Navy. However the fort was never used in military action and eventually fell into disrepair. In the early 1970s it was renovated for residential use.

  28. Go through the kissing gate and follow the path across the field to reach another kissing gate.
  29. Go through the gate and continue ahead to a stile in the hedge opposite.

    The red soil results from the weathering of sandstones which contain rust-coloured iron compounds formed from chemical reactions with water and air. Similar iron compounds are responsible for the Red Rivers in Cornwall where dissolved iron from the mines enters the river water.

  30. Cross the stile and track to the path opposite. Follow the path to reach a gateway into a field.

    In autumn, sloes are often plentiful and can be used to flavour gin, sherry and cider. The berries can be harvested from September until nearly Christmas. Traditionalists say that you should wait until the first frosts in late November when the sloes are less bitter. The sloe gin produced from sloes in September and October seems just as good but possibly requires a little more sugar to compensate for the sourness.

  31. Go through the gateway and turn right. Follow along the right-hand hedge to reach another stile.

    Due to the steep slopes in the Rame area, the land was ploughed with horse-drawn ploughs with just a single furrow that could be reversed. The models of plough used were presumably named from a slightly bawdy folk interpretation of the word "ploughing" as they included "Cock Up" and "Climax".

  32. Cross the stile and turn right at the waymark. Follow along the right hedge to reach the church car park.
  33. At the church car park, turn left and walk a short distance to reach the track passing the church. Turn right onto this and follow it into the Deer Park car park to reach a gate leading ahead into the park.

    In 705 AD the parish of Maker was given in an act of diplomacy by the King of Cornwall to Sherborne Abbey to give the Saxons control of the Tamar mouth, and it remained part of Devon until 1844. The parish church was was first mentioned in 1121 and there were a number of churches on the site dating back to mediaeval times. The current building mostly dates from the 15th Century, built of local red sandstone in a Perpendicular style. It was extensively restored in the 1870s. The Norman font was brought from St Merryn near Padstow. Due to its prominent position, the church has been used as a landmark by nautical navigators and the tower was used as an Admiralty signal station in the 18th Century.

  34. Go through the gate and follow the track across the grass to a waymark where a path forks to the left. Bear left onto this path and follow it to a gate.

    In 1515, King Henry VIII granted Sir Piers Edgcumbe permission to keep a herd of deer in the park on the Edgcumbe estate. The deer roaming the park today are direct descendants of those Tudor deer.

  35. Go through the gate and follow the path to a driveway.
  36. Turn right onto the driveway and follow it past the car park to a fork.

    Plymouth grew from the mediaeval waterside village of Sutton to a port town by Tudor times and continued to grow throughout the Industrial Revolution. The three neighbouring towns of Stonehouse, Devonport and Plymouth were formally combined as the city of Plymouth in 1914. The city expanded further in the 1960s after post-war rebuilding of the bombed-out centre and incorporated Plympton and Plymstock. It is now the 30th largest urban area in the UK.

  37. Keep left at the fork, marked "All Vehicles", and follow the drive to a junction of driveways and paths.

    The story that Sir Francis Drake insisted in finishing his game of bowls before defeating the Spanish Armada is now thought to be an Elizabethan urban myth. The true delay in the launch of the English fleet is thought to be due to adverse weather conditions and currents. The story is recorded in print only 37 years after the event.

  38. Turn left (signposted for Orangery) and follow the drive to another junction, with a signpost.

    In 1919, Oscar Hartzell, son of a farmer in Iowa, contacted many American in the mid-west who had the surname Drake. He claimed that he was a distant relative of Sir Francis Drake and had discovered that the estate had never been paid to his heirs, that it had gathered interest for the last 300 years, included the whole city of Plymouth, and that it was now worth $100 billion. Hartzell invited investment in his campaign to sue the British government and assured everyone a return of $500 for every dollar they invested. Approximately 70,000–100,000 Americans sponsored him— some with all the money they had. Meanwhile Hartzell had moved to London and was living an opulent lifestyle whilst claiming he was negotiating with the authorities. This continued until authorities seized assets of some of Herzel's agents' and they revealed the scam. Hartzel was not convicted until a copy of Drake's will was brought to his fraud trial in 1933, and he died in prison hospital ten years later. Many of his victims believed in him to the end of their own lives.

  39. Continue ahead at the junction onto the track leading downhill in the direction signposted for "Orangery and Formal Gardens". Continue to reach another junction.

    The bridge to the right with the pineapple carvings leads to the house and surrounding formal gardens.

  40. Keep left at the junction again signposted for "Orangery and Formal Gardens". Follow the track to the gate through which you entered the Country Park. Continue through this and take the left path before the fountain to cut the corner onto the pavement to the car park.

    The Edgcumbe Arms dates from the 18th Century but the original building was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1995.

    The obelisk on the hill behind the pub was the one originally situated in the location of the ruin in Mount Edgcumbe Park.

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  • 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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