Mullion to Predannack circular walk

Mullion to Predannack

A circular walk passing the sandy beach at Polurrian Cove, the storm-beaten Victorian harbour at Mullion Cove, and along the cliffs of the National Nature Reserve overlooking Mullion Island, with vibrant wildflowers in spring and summer.

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The walk follows the valley from Mullion to Polurrian Cove then follows the coast path to Mullion Cove. From here the path enters the National Nature Reserve and follows Mullion Cliff past Mullion Island to Predannack Head. The route departs from the Coast Path at Ogo-dour Cove and follows an ancient route from Predannack Woolas to Trenance marked by a mediaeval cross. The final stretch is along back lanes through Mullion to end beside the Old Inn and church.


  • Route includes paths close to unfenced cliff edges.

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Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 103
  • Distance: 6.2 miles/10 km
  • Steepness grade: Moderate
  • Recommended footwear: Walking shoes, or boots in winter

OS maps for this walk

OS Explorer 103 OS Explorer 103 (laminated version)

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


  • Sandy beach at Polurrian Cove
  • Views across Mount's Bay to Penzance and St Michael's Mount
  • Pretty harbour at Mullion Cove
  • Rugged coastline and islands along Mullion Cliff

Pubs on or near the route

  • The Old Inn


  1. Turn right out of the car park and follow the road past Laflouder Fields on the left, and Woodlands on the right, to Laflouder Lane on the left.

    The name Mullion is likely to be from the Cornish Porth Melyn, meaning "mill cove". The name may also be connected with St Mellanus, to whom the church was dedicated, born in South Wales some time in the early sixth century. Like many Celtic saints, he later migrated to Brittany and the cathedral in the capital, Rennes, is dedicated to him. The names may be a coincidence or St Mellanus may have been retrospectively adopted, based on the similar-sounding name.

  2. Turn left down Laflouder Lane and keep left when you reach the junction with Meres Valley. Follow Laflouder Lane, which fades out into a track, until you reach a junction of tracks and paths at a Motorcycles/Cars prohibited sign.

    There are records of smuggling in Mullion up to 1840. Some of the old cottages still have cupboards with false backs or bottoms and spaces beneath the floor where contraband was stored.

  3. Follow the small path ahead between the tracks to reach a coast path signpost at the bottom of the valley.

    The beach at Polurrian Cove is mostly composed of fine golden sand. In winter, patches of fine shingle sometimes appear but these give way to golden sand as the tide goes out. The cove faces southwest which can result in some good winter surf and is sheltered from the wind by the headlands either side which also helps to keep the surf clean.

  4. Turn left and cross the footbridge. Then either climb the steps or follow the longer but less steep path to the left to a waymark and turn right at this to ascend to the top of the cliff. Follow whichever path to a junction of the two paths at a waymark at the top of the hill

    Polurrian is on the geological boundary between the Cornish slates of Mount's Bay and the volcanic rocks of the Lizard which were pushed out from the Earth's mantle during the collision of two ancient continents.

  5. Continue ahead from the waymark and follow the path until it ends at a junction of lanes and tracks.

    Part of the Earth's mantle, normally tens of miles below your feet, was once bulldozed onto the Cornish mainland in front of the advancing continent. The mantle contains elements such as iron, magnesium and calcium which are less common in the Earth's crust as they are comparatively heavy and normally get chance to sink back into the mantle. The rocks rich in these minerals, such as Greenstone, are referred to as "mafic" whereas those containing relatively little (e.g. granite which is formed from magma which slowly works its way up through the Earth's crust) are referred to as "felsic".

  6. Turn right and follow the track until you reach a small path ahead waymarked for Mullion Cove.

    Just before the Polurrian National Trust sign is a bench on the right with a sign for Carrag Luz. The name is Cornish but "Love Rock" is a romantic mistranslation. Carrack does mean "rock" but luz (sometimes written loodge) simply means "grey". There is another rock between Downas and Lankidden coves near Coverack with a very similar name (Carrick Luz). You already know what colour it is.

  7. Follow the path for Mullion Cove to reach a fork as you approach a building. Keep right at the fork and follow the path past the bench to reach a roundabout at the end of a lane.

    Mullion Island is roughly half a mile offshore but was still part of the estate of Lower Predannack. It is an important nesting site for seabirds, particularly kittiwakes, and is now owned by the National Trust.

  8. Turn right onto the lane and follow it alongside a parking area opposite the hotel to reach a waymark near the cannon.

    The cannon was found in Mullion Harbour in the 1880s when the harbour walls were being built. The ship that it originally came from is unknown.

  9. Follow the path between the waymark and the cannon to descend to Mullion Cove. Stay on the main path to reach a flight of steps beside the buildings and descend these to the harbour.

    The equipment for catching pilchards included multiple boats and large nets which were beyond the means of the majority of poor fishermen. Therefore many pilchard fisheries provided the equipment but paid the workers a relatively small wage. Mullion was an example of this, where the operation was run by seining companies based around Penzance and Newlyn. 75% of the catch went to the owners and the remaining 25% was allocated in shares to the crew, on top of a weekly wage. The clifftop lookouts were the most highly paid, followed by net shooters, the bowman and finally the rest of the crew. The payment system also included a cash bonus for the more senior members of the boat crew for each hogshead barrel of fish in the owner's share to prevent the crew from cheating the system.

  10. After having a look at the harbour, the walk continues to the left, past the Porthmellin Café. Continue a few paces up the lane until you reach a wooden Coast Path signpost.

    Mullion Cove is naturally sheltered to some degree by Mullion Island and this was further improved by the construction of Mullion Harbour in 1895. The construction was financed by the Robartes family of Lanhydrock who also owned Predannick Woolas, after the local fishermen had endured several disastrous years of pilchard fishing in the early 1890s. The estate which included the harbour and island was given to the National Trust in 1945 who then had the unenviable task of maintaining the harbour walls which are of the problematic Victorian block design and to make matters worse are partially built from notoriously soft serpentine rocks. The breakwaters have been damaged by storms a number of times since the 1990s and repairs have already cost the National Trust well over £1 million. The Trust aim to patch up the breakwaters for as long as they can but concede that at some point over the next couple of decades, they are likely to be damaged beyond repair.

  11. Turn right at the signpost to reach a waymark then bear right around the house to reach a path which forks. The lower path leads onto the harbour wall, should you wish to have a look at this first. To continue the walk, follow the upper path (with the Coast Path sign) to reach another fork in the path.

    Harbour walls created from mortared square blocks of granite during the Victorian period very quickly become unstable when the mortar between them is eroded by the sea. The large square blocks are particularly susceptible to the hydraulic lifting effect of the sea and the receding waves can suck loose blocks out of the harbour wall.

    The previous old-fashioned way of building drystone harbour walls from unshaped boulders stacked on their edges did not suffer this problem, as the hydraulic pressure would be released through the gaps between the stones and the narrow, rounded bottom of each one did not present the sea much surface area to lift against.

  12. Keep right at the fork, then go left at the next fork, up the cliff. Follow the Coast Path indicators and continue on the main path up the cliff to reach a Lizard National Nature Reserve sign at the top of the hill.

    The unusual geology of The Lizard peninsula combined with its mild maritime climate has resulted in a landscape of great conservation interest, supporting over 250 species of national and international importance, many of which are found nowhere else in Britain. Consequently, over 1,600 hectares of The Lizard are designated a National Nature Reserve and managed by Natural England and others are managed by the National Trust and Cornwall Wildlife.

  13. From the sign, follow the main path along the coast, which forks and rejoins a number of times. When a house comes into view, bear right towards the gap in the wall.

    The trench on the Mullion Cliff is thought to be the remains of a WW2 rifle range where the bank in front of the trench was used as the butt for the targets.

    Various copper mines were worked on Predannack Head, Mullion cliff and the Predannack Downs during the 18th Century. Many of these were amalgamated into Wheal Unity in the early 19th Century, which was later re-opened as Wheal Trenance. Although the usual copper ores were also extracted, the remarkable feature of this mine were the large pieces of very pure copper metal that were found. One weighed 30 tonnes and had to be cut up to get it out of the mine. The largest chunk of this, weighing 3 tonnes, was displayed in the 1851 Great Exhibition in London and is on display in London's Natural History Museum.

  14. Go through the gap in the wall and follow the path to the bottom of the valley. Follow the path up the other side, passing along some stepping stones, and continue on the path to reach a stone stile beside a Lizard Nature Reserve sign.

    In spring, as you cross the stream, one side of the valley is covered in blue flowers and the other in yellow. The reason is that bluebells are shade-loving plants whereas the plants with yellow flowers do well in bright sunshine. Given that Cornwall is north of the equator and the sun will always be from the south, the cliff-top bluebells act as a floral compass showing which way north is.

    Both herring gulls and the larger black-backed gulls nest on Mullion Island. Wildlife Rangers were shocked to find the island covered in large numbers of elastic bands. The gulls mistake these for worms and eat them, are unable to digest them and ultimately vomit them onto the island. Small pieces of fishing net also seem to feature in the regurgitated plastic from the gulls stomachs.

  15. Cross the stile and follow the path past the rock to a fork. Keep right at the fork, towards the coast, then join the path running parallel to the fence. Keep following the path to reach a gate beside a wall.

    Thrift is known as a "hyperaccumulator" of copper: it can concentrate copper by over 1000 times more than other neighbouring plants. This makes it potentially useful to clean up contaminated land but this be done over many years. In principle it's even possible to mine for minerals by concentrating them in plants and then extracting them (known as "phytomining"). It's currently far from economical to do so for copper but for rarer high-value metals it may become economical, possibly in conjunction with chemical soil additives to increase bio-availability.

    The coastline here is sometimes grazed with cattle.

    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.
  16. Go through the gate and follow the path over an area of rocks to reach a Coast Path sign then follow the path downhill from this to reach a crossing over the stream.

    The Lizard peninsula is famous for its serpentine, which forms the rock outcrop here and the majority of the coastline.

    Serpentine is not a single mineral but a broad group of minerals formed when minerals rich in iron and magnesium react with water in a series of chemical reactions known as serpentinization. Rocks containing these minerals are known as Serpentinite. The name is due to the resemblance of the patterning in the rocks to the skin of reptiles.

  17. Cross the stream and follow the path until you reach a junction of paths on the other side of the valley.

    In June 1979, a coaster known as the Shoreham, carrying a cargo of limestone, went off course in thick fog and ran aground on the Mullion Cove side of Predannack Head. Fortunately, the weather was calm so the crew were all rescued by the Lizard lifeboat and after dumping some of the cargo to lighten the ship, it was eventually refloated and repaired in Falmouth.

  18. Keep right along the coast and follow the path until you reach a National Trust sign for Predannack with a path to the left for Predannack Wollas.

    Cuckoos are migratory birds that overwinter in Africa and are first seen, or more often heard, in Cornwall during the spring. The cuckoo is well-known for laying its eggs in the nests of other bird species. The adult cuckoo is a mimic of a sparrowhawk - a predator; this causes other birds to abandon their nests, allowing the female lay her eggs. Although cuckoo eggs are larger than those already in the nest, cuckoos produce eggs in several different colour schemes to match those of several species of bird. Since the cuckoo chick is a much larger than even the full-grown foster parents (which they seem not to notice, assuming their offspring is just a bit portly), it needs to monopolise the food supply. It therefore methodically evicts all other eggs and chicks from the nest.

    Closer to the horizon, the sky fades to a lighter blue. The scattered blue reaching you from the horizon has to pass through even more air than the blue reaching you from directly overhead. The molecules of gas have more chance to intercept and re-scatter the blue light in different directions so that less blue light reaches you.

  19. Turn left onto the path to Predannack Wollas and follow this to a gate.

    The settlement of Predannack was first recorded in 1196, as Bridanoc and was already subdivided into two manors of Higher and Lower Predannack (Wollas is from the Cornish word goles meaning "Lower" - the "g" changes to a "w" when it appears after certain letters). During mediaeval times, Higher Predannack was the seat of the Le Petit family, who had a chapel and mansion here. The manor at Lower Predannack (Predannack Wollas) was owned by the Robartes family of Lanhydrock from at least 1696.

  20. Cross the stile on the right of the gate and follow the path until it ends on a track.

    Be careful crossing the stiles in wet weather.

    Serpentine rocks are well-known for being slippery. Part of the reason is that the serpentinization process produces soft minerals such as talc. These minerals have a plate-like structure that have strong chemical bonds within a layer, but the bonds between layers are weak so that the layers glide over each other. Rocks composed almost entirely of talc are known as "soapstone" as they are so slippery. Also, because the minerals are quite soft, foot traffic causes the surface of the rocks to become polished.

  21. Turn left onto the track and follow this, crossing the footbridge over the stream, to reach a gate beside the barn.

    The name "buttercup" is thought to have come from a mediaeval belief that cows eating the flowers gave butter its yellow colour. In fact this couldn't be further from the truth as the plant contains toxins which make it taste acrid and is therefore avoided by grazing animals.

    In nuclear reactors, high energy neutrons are produced. If these escape from the reactor, they are biologically harmful. Materials containing hydrogen atoms are the most effective at slowing the excited neutrons down so that they can be re-absorbed within the reactor. Because of its high level of bound water, serpentine makes a very good neutron-shield and Serpentinite gravel is therefore added to make the special concrete used in reactor shielding.

  22. Go through the pedestrian gate on the left of the gate and follow the track into a car park. Turn right out of the car park and follow the lane until you reach a public footpath sign on the left, just before the left hedge ends.

    The striking magenta flowers seen in Cornish hedgerows and gardens in May and June are known as Whistling Jacks, Mad Jacks, Cornish Jacks or Corn Flag. The "whistling" is thought to be from children using the leaves as a reed between their fingers and blowing. The plant is a species of Gladioli originally from the Mediterranean but has been naturalised in Cornwall for some time. Opinions differ on exactly when it first arrived but numerous opportunities have existed during the trade that has taken with Cornwall over the centuries, and the great gardens and cut flower industries in more recent times.

    The National Trust is the largest owner of farms in the UK. It has around 2,000 tenants and over 600,000 acres of land. It has been calculated that 43% of all the rainwater in England and Wales drains through National Trust land.

  23. Turn left at the footpath sign and cross the stile. Follow the right hedge of the field to a stone stile in the far hedge.

    During the warmer months, swallows can often be seen skimming over the fields.

    Swallows migrate to India, Arabia and Africa for the winter. Swallows cover about 200 miles in a day when they are migrating. Journeys of over 7000 miles have been recorded.

    Birds of the crow family are considered to be among the world's most intelligent animals, displaying a high learning ability and are able to use logic for solving problems. Researchers have found some crow species capable of not only tool use but also tool construction. Crows have also demonstrated the ability to distinguish individual humans apart by recognising facial features. If a crow encounters a cruel human, it can also teach other crows how to identify that individual.

  24. Cross the stile and bear left slightly to a stone stile in the hedge opposite.

    Where an electric fence crosses a footpath, it should either be covered by an insulating sheath (e.g. on stiles) or there should be a section that unclips with insulating plastic handles to allow access through. Ensure you re-clip this on passing through so animals cannot escape. The connecting cord/spring between the handles is often conducting so avoid touching this and be aware of any dangling rucksack straps.

  25. Cross the stile and follow the path between the hedges to reach a track leading into a farmyard.

    The path is hedged with a mixture of blackthorn and hawthorn.

    Blackthorn and hawthorn trees both grow in similar places but in each season there are different ways to tell them apart.

    In spring, blackthorn is one of the first trees to flower. The white blossom appears before the leaves in April. In warm weather, the leaves may quickly catch up and this is when it can get mistaken for hawthorn, which produces leaves before flowers. However, there are a few other ways to distinguish the flowers: blackthorn pollen is orange whereas hawthorn is pink, fading to black. Hawthorn petals overlap each other whereas blackthorn is more "gappy".

    In summer, the leaf shape can be used to tell them apart. Blackthorn leaves are a classic leaf shape with slightly serrated edges. Hawthorn leaves have deep notches dividing the leaf into several lobes a bit like oak.

    In autumn, pretty much all hawthorn trees have small red berries, even the windswept specimens on the coast. Blackthorn trees may have purple sloes, but not all the trees fruit each year. Some years seem to result in a lot more sloes than others.

    Hawthorn trees are often a little bigger than blackthorn, especially in harsh environments such as on the coast. Blackthorn tends to form thickets whereas hawthorn are typically distinct trees. Hawthorn bark is usually shiny whereas blackthorn is dull. The thorns on hawthorn tend to be shorter (less then 2cm) and point slightly forwards on the stem. Blackthorn has longer spikes that stick out at right angles.

  26. Turn right onto the track and follow it away from the farmyard to reach a pair of gates leading onto a lane.

    There are 2 sparrow species in the UK but only the house sparrow is common in Cornwall. Since the 1970s the UK house sparrow population has declined to less than half with an even greater loss in urban areas. Consequently the house sparrow is now red-listed as a species of high conservation concern. The exact causes for the decline are not known although a number of likely factors have been identified. In the countryside a reduction in aphid populations due to changes in farming practices is thought to be significant whereas in urban areas a loss of suitable nesting sites and a more intense level of predation by cats may be significant. Since 2008 the population seems to have stabilised but no-one is quite sure why.

  27. Cross the stile on the left or go through the gates if open. Turn right onto the lane and follow it to a bend at Caunce Head with a public footpath sign on the left of the house.

    Nettle fibres have been used to make clothing since at least the Bronze Age (textiles made from nettle fibre were found at a Bronze Age site in Denmark). During the First World War, almost all German army uniforms were made from nettles to avoid a shortage of cotton. In more recent years, some European countries have started modern commercial production of nettle-based textiles. A textiles student who produced "nettle knickers" for her university project commented that the fibres are coarser than cotton so it is probably more suited to workwear than underwear.

  28. Follow the grassy path ahead along the left side of the house to reach a stone stile into a field. Cross the stile and follow the right hedge to a stone stile in the far hedge.

    The wildflowers along the hedge on the right attract butterflies and dragonflies.

    Their two sets of wings beat out of phase, and the frequency, amplitude and the angles of each set of wings can be controlled. This allows dragonflies to hover in a completely stationary position for over a minute, perform extravagant aerobatic manoeuvres and even fly backwards.

    There are over 30,000 miles (more than the distance around the earth) of hedges in Cornwall, many of which are based on distinctive local styles of stone walling. Consequently, often what a Cornish person calls a "hedge", most people from outside the county do not recognise as a hedge, resulting in some foreign translation needed for walk directions.

    Around 50% of the hedgerows in the UK have been lost since the Second World War. Although intentional removal has dramatically reduced, lack of maintenance and damage from mechanical cutting techniques such as flailing are still causing deterioration of the remaining hedgerows.

    Some Cornish hedges are thought to be more than 4,000 years old, making them some of the oldest human-built structures in the world that have been in continuous use for their original purpose. They act as vital miniature nature reserves and wildlife corridors that link together other green spaces. This supports hundreds of species of plants and tens of thousands of insect species, many of which are vital pollinators for arable crops.

  29. Cross the stile and bear left slightly to keep the protruding hedge on your right. Follow along the right hedge to reach a stone stile in the corner of the far hedge.

    There are over four hundred complete stone crosses in Cornwall and at least another two hundred fragments.

    In the mediaeval period, stone crosses were sometimes placed by the road or path to mark the route to the parish church. Farms and hamlets were usually linked to the church by the most direct and level route. Crosses were also placed along routes of pilgrimage. Both of these have evolved to become some of today's Public Rights of Way.

  30. Cross the stile and follow the right hedge of the field to a low stone stile.

    Lackey Moths are so named due to the brightly coloured caterpillars resembling a footman's livery. They are part of a family of "tent caterpillars" who spin their own silk greenhouse to keep them warm during the early spring. These have several compartments separated by insulating air gaps so the caterpillars can move between compartments to reach a comfortable temperature depending on the outside temperature and amount of sunshine. On sunny days in May, keep a look out for the caterpillars emerging from their tents.

    The UK is one of the windiest places in Europe and considered as one of the best places in the world for wind power. Over 10% of the UK's energy already comes from wind power (which rises to around 40% during windy months) and it is now one of the cheapest sources of electricity. Wind turbines last for about 20-25 years until the moving parts wear out and they need to be replaced.

  31. Cross the stile and follow the path. Pass a pedestrian gate on the left and over a low stone stile. Continue to reach a second stone stile, beside a stream.

    The tall heather alongside the path after the first stile is Cornish heath.

    The county flower of Cornwall is the Cornish Heath - a plant that most people (Cornish included) have never heard of let alone seen. The only place in England that the shrub grows is on the Lizard Peninsula and it looks fairly unremarkable until late summer when it produces the most beautiful tiny lilac-coloured flowers. It is easy to distinguish from other heather flowers by the dark ring around the ends of the pale flowers.

    Many of the taller trees are covered in lichen.

    One in five of all known fungi form lichens. Studies suggest that many species of fungi that form lichens started out from ancestors that lived on organic waste. Fossils have also revealed that the symbiosis between algae and fungi dates back more than 400 million years roughly to the time when plants first evolved from green algae.

  32. Cross the stile and follow the path to reach a stone stile resembling a cattle grid leading into the next field.

    The stiles in Cornwall that consist of rectangular bars of granite resembling a cattle grid are known as "coffen" (coffin) stiles. These often occur on footpaths leading to churches such as the Zennor Churchway. The mini cattle grids are fairly effective at containing livestock and were significantly easier for coffin-bearers to navigate than stiles crossing walls. They are more frequently found in West Cornwall but there are a few in East Cornwall such as those on either side of Advent Church.

  33. Cross the stile and follow the right hedge of the field to reach a gateway on the far side of the field.

    Electric fences are typically powered from a low voltage source such as a car battery which charges a capacitor to release a periodic pulse of high voltage electricity. This is often audible as a quiet "crack" which is a good indicator that a fence is powered. As with the high-voltage shock caused by static electricity, the current is not high enough to cause serious injury but touching an electric fence is nevertheless unpleasant. If you are answering the call of nature in the vicinity of an electric fence, be mindful of the conductivity of electrolyte solutions!

  34. Cross the stile and cross over the track to the small path opposite. Follow the path over another cattle-grid-like stile into a field. Follow the right hedge of the field to reach a stone stile.

    The large cylindrical structure on the hill on the left is a water tower which supplies Mullion Cove Hotel.

  35. Cross the stile and follow the right hedge to another stone stile.

    Blackberries are high in vitamin C, K and antioxidants. The seeds, despite being a bit crunchy, contain omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and further enhance blackberries' "superfood" status.

    A well-known country remedy for the stings of nettles is to rub the sore area with the leaf of a dock plant. A common misconception is that dock leaves are alkaline and neutralise the acids in the nettle sting but, in reality, docks contain a mild (oxalic) acid and nettle stings aren't caused by the acid content anyway. Although dock is claimed by some to contain a natural antihistamine, no scientific evidence has been found for this. It is thought that it is simply the rubbing and moisture in the leaf which provides a short-term relief/distraction whilst the sting itself is diminishing over time. It's possible it may also dislodge any stinging spikes left in the surface of the skin. Therefore almost any moist leaf should provide a little relief, with the exception of another nettle leaf!

  36. Cross the stile and follow the right hedge to reach a stile onto a lane.

    The serpentine stile has become polished by many decades of foot traffic to reveal its colours.

    The serpentinization process results in rocks that are quite soft. The rock is often also very colourful and may contain veins of green, yellow and red, due to iron compounds within the rocks. Its softness and attractive colours were first noticed on stiles and cattle rubbing posts which had highly polished areas where walkers or cattle had rubbed against them. An industry grew up in the 19th Century making ornamental stone, initially for quite large architectural pieces but it was popularised by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who ordered serpentine tables for their home. Over time, serpentine proved less suitable than marble for architectural purposes due to its tendency to crumble in heat and to absorb water and crack. Interior ornaments are still produced although the quarrying of serpentine is now very strictly regulated.

  37. Cross the stile and turn left onto the lane. Follow the lane a short distance past a gate to a public footpath sign on the right.

    The lane towards Predannack Wollas is known as Ghost Hill and the copper mine on the cliffs was also known as Ghost Mine.

    The name "Ghost Mine" is thought to originate from a well-documented phenomenon of glowing lights appearing in marshy areas known as "will 'o the wisp" or "jack 'o lantern". Travellers, mistaking these for lights of cottages, could be drawn into the marshes, which in Cornwall was known as being "pisky-led".

    A number of possible explanations for these lights have been put forward. The most well-known is that decomposing vegetation in the marshy ground releases flammable gasses such as methane, and this could be ignited by a small amount of phosphene, produced by microbes from dead animals. Other possibilities include bio-luminescence or chemical luminescence.

    So far, nobody has been able to reproduce the phenomenon under laboratory conditions and reports of sightings are now quite rare, thought to be due to the draining of marshland for agriculture and development, and light pollution.

  38. Bear right down the path and follow it over a bridge and stone stile into a field. Head straight up the field, just to the right of the house directly ahead, to reach a stile.

    During winter, from November to March, winter heliotrope is visible along the edges of roads and paths as carpets of rounded heart-shaped leaves.

    The name of the plant is Greek for "sun direction" because the flowers turn to follow the winter sun.

  39. Cross the stile and follow the path to reach a road. Turn right onto the road and follow it a short distance to a junction. Cross to the pavement opposite and continue following the road, past the cricket club, to reach a narrow road on the left with no entry signs.

    Cricket's origins are uncertain and the earliest definite reference is in south-east England in the middle of the 16th century. It is thought that cricket originated as a child's game in southeast England during mediaeval times. In its earliest form, the cricket bat resembled a hockey stick.

    After the restoration in 1660s, cricket's popularity exploded due to gambling on sport. This became such a problem that a law was passed, limiting the maximum amount gambled to £100 but this was still more than the annual income of 99% of the population.

  40. Turn left up the lane marked with no entry signs and follow it until it ends in a junction.

    Crocosmia (also known as Montbretia) is a garden plant in the iris family with bright orange flowers in summer. It has South African origins and was bred in France as a garden plant, then introduced into the UK in the 1880s.

    It has spread into the wild, particularly along the west coast of Britain and is extremely invasive. It is now a criminal offence to cause it to grow in the wild.

    Crocosmia means "saffron scent" and alludes to the smell of the dried leaves (the crocuses which produce saffron are also members of the iris family).

  41. Turn right into Laflouder Fields. Continue until you reach a junction with a small circular area of grass, signposted for "41-89, 94-102".

    Red valerian is also known as kiss-me-quick, fox's brush and Devil's or Jupiter's beard and can be seen flowering in early summer in hedgerows near the coast. The plant is originally from the Mediterranean and is thought to have been introduced as a garden plant roughly around the Tudor period. It has since become naturalised and the brightly-coloured flowers provide nectar for bees, butterflies and moths. Over time the base of the stems can get as thick as a small tree trunk which can lever apart the walls in which it can often be seen growing.

    Red valerian occurs with three main flower colours: about 50% of plants are deep pink, 40% are red and around 10% have white flowers. Very pale pink also occurs to but is much rarer. These distinct forms are an example of flower colour polymorphism. The red pigment within the flowers is an anthrocyanin compound and the different colours are due to different amounts of the pigment.

    The natural diet of tits includes seeds and nuts so garden feeders and bird tables are often frequented by members of the tit family. During warmer months they also eat insects, particularly caterpillars. Each blue tit chick is fed around 100 caterpillars per day, much to the delight of gardeners.

  42. Turn right at the junction signposted for "41-89, 94-102" and follow the road to a junction at a bend, just beside number 77 on the right.

    The Cornish palm is neither originally from Cornwall nor a palm! It is from New Zealand where it is known as the cabbage tree, being neither related to or tasting anything like cabbage. The top of the stem from which the leaves shoot was harvested by the Maori, resulting in something resembling an artichoke. It is bitter so it was traditionally eaten with fatty meats such as eel to make it palatable. The largest specimen of the plant is thought to be around 500 years old and has a circumference of nine metres at the base! It was introduced to Britain after being collected on Captain Cook's first voyage to the Pacific on the Endeavour.

  43. Keep left at the junction to stay on the road and follow it to a public footpath sign at the corner.

    Common honeysuckle is a native plant also known as woodbine because it wraps itself around other plants and can cause distortions in their growth also called woodbines. Honeysuckle might be regarded as having plant OCD in that it only ever entwines in a clockwise direction.

    It is estimated that approximately half of UK households feed birds in their gardens and this vast amount of supplementary food is thought to support nearly 200 million garden birds which is getting on for half of the number of birds in the UK countryside. Studies haven't found any harmful effect on birds' abilities to forage for natural foods and the evidence seems to be that, in general, birds will make use of it when they want to and complement it with natural foods.

    The exception to this is in spring and summer when birds need a particularly protein and mineral-rich diet for breeding. The recommendation is to not feed birds peanuts and fat balls at this time of the year, partly because it fills them up with high energy but low protein/mineral food and partly because large chunks of peanut can choke the chicks. Mealworms are a really good alternative during the warmer months as birds naturally feed on insects to get the nutrients needed to raise healthy chicks.

  44. Turn right onto the path marked with the footpath sign. At the end of the wooden fence on the right, you can either take the most direct route back to the village car park by turning left into the park and following the path across the park. Alternatively you can stay on the path by the fence to emerge opposite the church then turn left to follow the lane past the pub to the car park.

    The church in Mullion dates from the 13th century but most of the stonework that can be seen today dates from the 15th Century with some restoration in the 20th Century. The main south door dates from the 13th century and has a dog flap to allow restless sheepdogs to be released during a long service. The wooden-studded north door is thought to have been brought from another church and to be around 1,000 years old. The north door was known as The Devil's Door as it was opened during baptisms to allow evil spirits to escape. The carved bench ends are thought to date from Tudor times and the wood is reputed to be from an ancient oak forest that once covered part of the Goonhilly Downs.

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