Mount Edgcumbe to Kingsand

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.

Get the app to guide you around the walk

Phone showing walk for purchase
Download the (free) app then use it to purchase this walk.
Phone showing Google navigation to start of walk
The app will direct you to the start of the walk via satnav.
Hand holding a phone showing the iWalk Cornwall app
The app guides you around the walk using GPS, removing any worries about getting lost.
Phone showing walk directions page in the iWalk Cornwall app
The walk route is described with detailed, regularly-updated, hand-written directions.
Person looking a directions on phone
Each time there is a new direction to follow, the app will beep to remind you, and will warn you if you go off-route.
Phone showing walk map page in the iWalk Cornwall app
A map shows the route, where you are at all times and even which way you are facing.
Phone showing facts section in iWalk Cornwall app
Each walk is packed with information about the history and nature along the route, from over a decade of research than spans more than 3,000 topics.
Person looking at phone with cliff scenery in background
Once a walk is downloaded, the app doesn't need wifi or a phone signal during the walk.
Phone showing walk stats in the iWalk Cornwall app
The app counts down distance to the next direction and estimates time remaining based on your personal walking speed.
Person repairing footpath sign
We keep the directions continually updated for changes to the paths/landmarks - the price for a walk includes ongoing free updates.
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.


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

Buy walk

Sign in to buy this walk.

This walk is in your basket. Proceed to your basket to complete your purchase.

My Basket Remove from basket

You own this walk.

An error occurred while checking the availability of this walk:

Please retry reloading the page. If this problem persists, please contact us for assistance.

Reload page

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 108
  • Distance: 5.7 miles/9.1 km
  • Steepness grade: Moderate
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots

OS maps for this walk

OS Explorer 108 OS Explorer 108 (laminated version)

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


  • 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 Edgcumbe Arms
  • The Halfway House Inn


  1. From the car park, cross the road and turn left onto the pavement signposted to Mount Edgcumbe 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 to reach the garden with a fountain. Keep left to pass along the front of the building and then follow the path between the hedges 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 passes through a gate and then meets another path at a junction with a signpost.

    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.

    The blockhouse was built around 1545 during the reign of Henry VIII to defend the mouth of the Tamar.

  7. Continue ahead at the junction of paths in the direction indicated for the Amphitheatre 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 comparatively 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 a waymark post. Continue a few paces further to where the path meets 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. When you reach the track, bear left to follow it to a cottage then bear left onto the small path leading from the track. Follow the path to a wire fence where the path doubles back on itself in a hairpin bend.

    The fruit of the beech tree is known as "mast" or, less cryptically, "beechnuts" and these are not produced until the tree is 40-60 years old. 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.

    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.

  11. Follow the path around the sharp bend and continue to climb some steps and emerge onto another path beside a gate with a sign about a cliff fall. Cross to the steps opposite and follow these uphill to reach a pedestrian gate at the top.

    Honey made with rhododendron pollen can be poisonous to humans, causing severe low blood pressure and low heart rate if enough is eaten. Rhododendron honey is used in Nepal as a hallucinogenic drug.

  12. Go through the gate and follow the path past a stone arched structure with wooden decking above and then continue down the steps. Follow the path to where it forks.

    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.

    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) many of which were created 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 was established in 1959 and is itself subdivided into 12 sections. 11 of these are stretches of the coastline and the 12th is Bodmin Moor.

  14. Bear right and follow the path past an ornate stone seat. Continue to a fork in the path with a waymark post with yellow and blue arrows.

    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 (yellow arrow) 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.

    The spore from a fern doesn't grow into a fern. Instead it grows into an organism resembling a liverwort (i.e. a small green blob). Instead of producing spores, these produce eggs and also sperm which they interchange with neighbouring blobs to get a new mix of genes. The fertilised egg grows into a new fern and so this alternating process of ferns and blobs repeats.

  16. Go through the gate and follow the path downhill to reach a fence then continue on the path past a gate on the left until the path ends in a kissing gate onto a lane.

    Between the two species, some gorse is almost always in flower, hence the old country phrases: "when gorse is out of blossom, kissing's out of fashion" (which is recorded from the mid-19th century) and "when the furze is in bloom, my love's in tune" (which dates from the mid-18th century). Common gorse flowers are bright yellow. Western gorse flowers are very slightly more orange - more like the colour of the "yolk" in a Cadbury's creme egg. Also like creme eggs, gorse flowers are edible but are significantly better for use in salads and to make a tea, beer or wine.

    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.

  17. Go through the gate and bear right onto the lane to reach a gate beside a wooden coast path signpost for 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.

  18. Go through the pedestrian gap next to the gate and follow the coastal path 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.

  19. Take either path and follow until they rejoin at the end of the meadow then continue a short distance further to where the path ends in a gate.

    The meadow seems to be a popular grazing spot for rabbits.

    Rabbit teeth continue to grow throughout their lives as an evolutionary adaptation to eating grass which contains abrasive silica. Consequently pet rabbits fed a diet with insufficient hay often get problems with overgrown teeth. However, cut grass from a mower should not be fed to rabbits as it ferments more quickly then fresh grass (impact and heat from the blades causes bruising and wilting which releases the carbohydrates) which results in bloated bunnies.

  20. Go through the gate and bear right to reach a lane leading up the hill. 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.

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

    During the 18th Century, there was concern that the docks at Plymouth was very vulnerable to attack by a foreign military power landing on Rame peninsula and then firing shells from the high ground at Maker Heights down onto Plymouth. Therefore a number of defensive positions (known in military jargon as redoubts) were built in the area around Maker Church. Five of these were built on the high ground facing the sea as earthworks in the 1780s. A sixth was built on the lower ground facing the Tamar the 1800s to defend the creeks.

  22. At the crossing, turn right and follow the path gradually uphill until it eventually emerges onto a small lane.

    Grenville battery and the adjacent Maker battery were constructed in the late 1880s to defend the western approaches to Plymouth Sound from a potential French invasion. Redoubt 4 was used as a starting point for the Grenville battery which had already been rebuilt in stone in 1790. The original 12.5 inch muzzle-loading guns from the 1880s 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.

  23. Turn right onto the lane and follow it to a bend in front of some buildings where a track departs from the right.

    In the 18th Century, a track for a horse and carriage was constructed from Mount Edgcumbe House around the coast to Maker Church. This was completed by 1788 and known originally as "The Terrace". In the 19th Century it was extended to Kingsand and Cawsand and by 1823 it reached to Penlee Point. It became known as the Earl's Drive.

  24. Keep left to stay on the lane and follow it along the wall to a junction.

    The area behind the walls to the right was the Hawkins battery. On the coastal slope beyond this was the Raleigh Battery. Both were constructed in the 1890s. The Rayleigh battery was used until 1910 and is now derelict and overgrown. Some time between 1910 and 1915, the Hawkins Battery was upgraded with new guns and was used for defence throughout the First World War and during the Second World War by barrage balloon personnel. Both are now on private land.

  25. 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.

  26. Go through the kissing gate and follow the path across the field towards a pair of telegraph poles to a gap in the wall just behind these containing the remains of a kissing gate.

    Until 2005 it was thought that grasses evolved around 10 million years after the dinosaurs became extinct, based on the earliest fossil of a grass-like plant. Consequently the BBC went to great effort to find filming locations with no grass for its ground-breaking computer animation series "Walking with Dinosaurs". Since then, fragments of a grass plant related to rice and bamboo have been found in fossilised dinosaur dung. Also the fossil remains of a rodent-like creature which appears to have grass-eating adaptations suggests that grasses could have been around as far back as 120 million years ago.

  27. Go through the gap and continue ahead to a stile in the hedge opposite.

    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".

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

    The stones of sloes (and plums, cherries and peaches) contain the compound amygdalin which is metabolised into hydrogen cyanide. Therefore breaking the stones is best avoided when using them in cooking, gin etc.

    Blackthorn is a spiny type of plum which is more broadly a member of the rose family. It is native to the UK and common on old farmland where blackthorn trees were planted as hedges to keep out cattle. It is still common in Cornish hedgerows today and also common on the coast as it's tolerant to salt.

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

    The red soil results from the weathering of sandstones which contain rust-coloured iron compounds formed from chemical reactions of the iron with water and air. Similar orange-red iron compounds are responsible for the Red Rivers in Cornwall where dissolved iron from the mines enters the river water. Iron is the 4th most common element in Earth's crust after oxygen, silicon, and aluminium. The reason that there wasn't an Aluminium Age rather than the Iron Age is that aluminium is really difficult to separate from the oxygen that also makes up the aluminium compounds in rocks. Iron is still pretty challenging to reduce to its metallic form from its ore which is why copper and tin were used before this in the Bronze Age.

  30. Cross the stile and turn right at the waymark. Follow along the right hedge to reach the church car park.
  31. 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 AD 705 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.

  32. 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.

  33. Go through the gate and follow the path to a driveway.

    Some estimates suggest the UK has up to half of the world's total bluebell population; nowhere else in the world do they grow in such abundance. However, the poor bluebell faces a number of threats including climate change and hybridisation from garden plants. In the past, there has also been large-scale unsustainable removal of bulbs for sale although it is now a criminal offence to remove the bulbs of wild bluebells with a fine up to £5,000 per bulb!

    Fungus is the Latin word for mushroom but is derived from the ancient Greek word for sponge since this is what they were thought to resemble. Biologically, this isn't so far off either as fungi are more closely-related to animals than plants.

    To support their massive weight, trees produce a biochemical compound called lignin which has a cross-linked polymer structure that makes it very rigid. Because it's so tough, most fungi and bacteria are unable to break it down. The main fungus that has worked out a way to do it is known as white rot.

  34. 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. In the 2011 census, it was the 30th largest urban area in the UK.

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

    On returning with huge amounts of treasure from his circumnavigation voyage, Drake was paid £20,000 plus personal gifts and also received a 4700% return on the money he had invested in the voyage. Overnight be became one of the wealthiest men in England and invested some of this in property in Plymouth (and possibly also Saltash).

  36. 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 Hartzell's agents' and they revealed the scam. Hartzell 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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 obelisk on the hill behind Cremyll is made of Portland stone. It was originally situated in the location of the "ruin" (folly) in Mount Edgcumbe Park. The obelisk in its original position had collapsed by the time the folly was erected in 1747. Some sources say the obelisk was re-erected in 1770 but shipping maps from 1768 show the obelisk in its new position. There is a story that the obelisk was reconstructed in memory of Countess Edgcumbe's pet pig named Cupid which is recorded as dying in 1768.

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

either as a GPS-guided walk with our app (£2.99) or a PDF (£1.99)

Please recycle your ink cartridges to help prevent plastic fragments being ingested by seabirds. Google "stinkyink" and click on "free recycling" for a freepost label.