Penryn Creeks and Enys

Penryn Creeks and Enys

A circular walk along the creeks of Carrick Roads and through the woodland of the Enys Estate, famous for its bluebells in spring

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The route follows Mylor Creek to Trelew and then a path through the woods to Tregew. After descending to Flushing, the walk follows the edge of the creek to Penryn. On leaving Penryn, the walk follows public footpaths across the Enys estate before returning on a lane to Mylor Bridge.

Considerations

  • The route includes a 400 yard section of lane back to Mylor Bridge where passing vehicles are likely. The lane is relatively wide and there are also narrow verges along most of it.
  • The path across the top of the creek can flood on very high spring tides so check tide times and heights when planning the walk.

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Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 104
  • Distance: 6.7 miles/10.8 km
  • Steepness grade: Easy-moderate
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots in summer. Wellies after prolonged wet weather.

OS maps for this walk

OS Explorer 104 OS Explorer 104 (laminated version)

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

Highlights

  • Views over the creeks
  • Wooded paths along creeks and around Enys
  • Bluebells in Enys Gardens (entrance fee, only open certain days)

Pubs on or near the route

  • The Lemon Arms
  • The Royal Standard
  • The Seven Stars

Directions

  1. Turn right out of the car park and carefully follow the road over the bridge, using pavement where available, to the roundabout.

    Mylor bridge lies on a mediaeval trade route between Truro and Penryn used for livestock and packhorses. In 1597, Mylor bridge was described as "new" and consisting of 2 arches. This has since been widened to carry the road but parts of the Tudor bridge are still visible on the upriver side.

  2. If you don't have a dog, you can bear left into the recreation ground and walk along the creek edge to reach the pavilion then exit through the car park to reach the road and turn left onto the pavement. If you have a dog (which are not allowed on the recreation ground), bear left onto the road signposted for Flushing and Mylor Church to reach the next direction.
  3. Continue on the pavement and follow this (crossing as needed) to reach a multi-way junction.
  4. Take the second road to the left (Church Road - the no through road). Follow the road for roughly half a mile until you reach a track on the right for Trelew Vean with a Public Footpath sign, just as the lane starts to go downhill.

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

    From mid November to January, the plants produce spikes with pale pink scented flowers. The scent resembles marzipan i.e. almond and vanilla.

  5. Turn right onto the track and follow this to where a waymarked path departs from the left just before the track reaches a gate.

    The roots of red campion contain saponins (soapy compounds) which protect the plants against microbes and fungi. These compounds make it easier for large molecules such as proteins to enter cell membranes. This has the potential to increase the effectiveness of immunotherapy against cancer by allowing immunotoxins to enter the cancer cells more easily.

  6. Bear left onto the path and continue following this through the woods to where it emerges into a field.

    Wild garlic is best harvested in early spring before it flowers and the leaves start to die off. Unlike domestic garlic, the leaves are generally used rather than the bulb, which is very small. Note that there are some lilies that look very similar and are poisonous! If it doesn't smell strongly of garlic/onions, then it's not wild garlic and should be avoided. A schoolboy error is to rub the leaves between fingers where the smell lingers so a subsequent poisonous lily leaf could be misidentified.

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

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

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

  7. Follow the path along the right hedge of the field to reach a gate and stile leading onto a lane.

    The early purple orchid has a Latin name meaning "virile" which is in keeping with the word "orchid" coming from the Greek word for testicle (on account of the shape of the tuber).

    This particular species is the con-man of the plant kingdom, with brilliant purple flowers resembling those of other nectar-rich orchids. When the insects arrive and push through the pollen to investigate the promising flowers, they discover that the flowers contain no nectar.

  8. Cross the stile and turn left onto the lane. Walk a few paces to the junction.

    Since its reintroduction, sycamore has spread widely as the seeds are extremely fertile and able to grow just about anywhere where the ground is sufficiently wet. In particular they can grow within the shade of the parent tree, creating dense cover that crowds-out other species. In some areas it is regarded as an invasive weed.

  9. Carefully cross the road to the driveway on the opposite side leading to Trefusis Barton Farmhouse. Follow the tarmac driveway to a gateway on the right immediately after a cattle grid.
  10. Go through the gateway on the right and follow the left hedge to a stone stile.

    Fields here are used for arable crops such as oil seed rape.

    A crop of oil seed rape has been traditionally used in crop rotation schemes as a "break" between cereal crops to suppress weeds and improve soil quality, but the increasing demand for rapeseed oil is making it profitable enough to be grown as a primary crop. Rape seeds are 45% oil and the remaining 55% can be used as a high protein animal feed. Originally rapeseed oil contained bitter-tasting and harmful chemical compounds that meant it was not used for human or even animal consumption and instead used to lubricate steam engines. Varieties have now been bred with very little of these chemicals and rapeseed oil is now one of the highest quality vegetable oils, low in saturated fat and high in omega-3. Consequently cold-pressed rapeseed oil is becoming increasingly popular in gourmet food. The plant requires quite a lot of nitrogen from the soil so is sometimes rotated with a nitrogen-fixing crop such as clover.

  11. Cross the stile and turn right. Follow along the right hedge to reach another stile.

    The idea of eating something that can sting you seems wrong until you realise that nettles lose their sting as soon as you cook them, and they taste like spinach. Nettles are extremely nutritious, containing high levels of vitamin A and C, large amounts of iron and even a significant amount of protein.

  12. Cross the stile and follow the path until it ends in a few steps down to a road.
  13. Go down the steps and turn right onto the road. Follow this until it ends in a T-junction.

    Flushing was originally known as Nankersey, meaning something along the lines of "valley of reeds"; a number of roads still contain the name Kersey. The village is recorded as being founded in 1661. The name Flushing was given to it by the Dutch engineers who built the quays, as they were from Flushing in the Netherlands.

  14. At this point, you can optionally have a quick look around Flushing (left) before continuing on the route (right). To continue the walk, turn right at the junction and follow the road uphill until you reach a junction on the left with a public footpath sign just after the bus stop.

    Flushing lies in the parish of Mylor so in the 17th and 18th Centuries there would have been a trek to Mylor church on Sundays. Flushing church was built in 1840s and renovated/extended in 1871.

    In Flushing Churchyard is the head of a Celtic wayside cross which is decorated with carvings on both sides. It was found in 1891 in a pigsty at Porloe farm (over the top of the hill from Flushing, towards Mylor Harbour) where it had been in use as the socket stone for a threshing machine. The brass socket is still visible in the neck of the cross head.

  15. Turn left onto the road with the Falmouth Boat Co. sign and follow the road downhill to where it splits to go into a private car park. Keep left here and continue to where the next track departs to the right beside some solid metal gates.
  16. Turn right and follow the path uphill to a flight of steps leading to a kissing gate.

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

    All parts of the plant are edible by humans and the flavour of the leaves is relatively mild so they can be used in recipes in place of spring onions or chives. They are at their best for culinary use from November to April. By mid-May, they have flowered and the leaves are starting to die back.

    The long leaves can be mistaken for bluebells or daffodils which are both poisonous but do not smell of onions. However, fingers that have previously picked 3-cornered leeks also smell of onions and so mistakes have been made this way.

    The blackbird is a species of thrush. The name "blackbird" is mediaeval, first recorded in 1486. Since most of the crow family is also black, plus many seabirds, the choice of this particular species for the name is thought to be due to its size. Up to the 18th Century, larger birds such as crows were referred to as "fowl" and the term "bird" was only used for smaller species.

  17. Go through the kissing gate and turn left. Cross the stile next to the gate into the field and follow along the top hedge on your right to reach another gate.

    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.

  18. Go through the gate and follow along the right hedge to the corner then continue downhill along the right hedge until you reach a well-worn path leading to a small wooden gate.

    On the opposite side of the river, Penryn (right) now merges into Falmouth (left).

    In Elizabethan times, the town of Falmouth did not exist, only a few small settlements around Carrick Roads which had been there since mediaeval times. A few castles had been built during the Tudor period to defend the river system and there was a manor house of Arwenack which was owned by Sir John Killigrew. When Sir Walter Raleigh visited Arwenack in 1598, he was so impressed with the natural harbour of Carrick Roads that he recommended that it should be developed as a port. Following this, the town of Falmouth was created in 1613.

  19. Go through the gate and follow the path to reach some stepping stones over a small stream.

    The berries of holly contain a chemical compound very similar to caffeine. Only in very small doses is this a stimulant; in larger doses it is toxic. It is for this reason that you see holly berries on bushes rather than being inside the nearest bird. The birds have learned to wait until after the frosts have reduced the toxicity of the berries before eating them.

  20. Cross the stepping stones and climb the stone stile. Follow the main woodland path alongside the creek until it emerges on a concrete slipway. Cross to the path opposite and continue a few paces to a boat yard.
  21. Cross over the slipway to the path opposite and keep right to stay on the path above the beach. Continue on the path for just under half a mile until it eventually descends 3 stone steps.

    Squirrels are rodents, closely related to chipmunks and slightly more distantly to dormice. The word "squirrel" originates from an ancient Greek word meaning "shadow-tailed", referring to the bushy tail of a squirrel. A family group of squirrels is known as a "drey" (also the word for a squirrel nest). A group of unrelated squirrels is known as a "scurry", though squirrels tend not to hang out in groups.

  22. Descend the steps and bear left at the fork. Cross the bridge and follow the path to a granite post.

    Swans usually mate for life, although "divorce" can sometimes occur if there is a nesting failure. The birds can live for over 20 years but in the 20th Century many swans were found to be suffering from lead poisoning. This was tracked down to the tiny "lead shot" weights used for fishing that swans would hoover up with weed and roots from the bottom of rivers and lakes. Since the introduction of non-toxic metals for making fishing weights, incidents of poisoning have disappeared and the swan population is now even growing very slightly.

  23. Continue a few paces from the post then when a gate with "Private" comes into view on the right, head towards this. Turn left before the gate to join the path and follow this until you eventually cross a stile into a graveyard.

    The little egret - a white member of the heron family - can be seen on many of the creeks in Cornwall and yet is only a very recent settler in Britain. The birds first appeared in Britain in any number in 1989 and the first to breed was in 1996 in Dorset.

  24. Continue ahead on the path to exit the graveyard through a gateway in a wall. Follow the path to reach a waymark pointing to the right.

    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!

  25. The path ahead has eroded so turn right as indicated by the waymark and then immediately turn left onto the sunken path. Follow this to return to the path above the creek via some steps and then continue to reach a junction of paths beside the Harbour Office.
  26. Turn right and follow the path to emerge on a road.

    The wharf at Penryn was already in existence by the 1880s. The older buildings on the wharf are the remains of a tannery.

  27. Carefully cross the road and turn left onto the path on the opposite side. Follow this to some steps on the right with a railing, immediately before a large clump of pampas grass.

    Penryn parish church has been dedicated to St Gluvias since 1318. The current church building dates from the 15th Century and the tower survives from this period. The rest of the church was rebuilt in the 18th Century and again in the 19th Century. It's possible that the churchyard may be on the site of a Celtic monastery and a bank on the east side of the churchyard could be the remnants of an enclosure surrounding this.

  28. Turn right up the steps and follow the path to another flight of steps. Climb these and continue following the path until it ends in a T-junction with another path.

    Penryn was already established as a creek-side settlement in mediaeval times and appears in the Domesday book as Trelivel. It was rebranded as Penryn in 1216 by the Bishop of Exeter and created as a borough in 1236. A religious college (Glasney College) was built in 1265 and lasted until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in Tudor times. A small harbour is shown on Tudor maps and the town had a reputation in this period with at least 3 mayors being convicted of piracy. The town was a thriving port by the mid-17th Century but lost its market and customs house to Falmouth for backing the Parliamentarians in the Civil War and then went into steady decline.

  29. Turn right and follow the path uphill to a short flight of steps. Continue up these and a few paces further to reach an area with garages with a "No Ball Games" sign.

    Periwinkle, also known as myrtle, is a native plant in Europe and both the greater (Vinca major) and lesser (Vinca minor) forms are common, both with blue-purple 5-petal flowers that resemble turbine blades.

    The "greater" form has wider teardrop-shaped leaves whereas the leaves of the "lesser" form are thinner and lance-shaped. The flowers on the lesser form are also smaller.

    The name may be from the Russian name for the flower - pervinka - which is based on the word pervi, meaning "first", as it is one of the earliest spring flowers. Some flowers start appearing in November.

  30. Continue ahead towards the corner with a flight of steps, next to the garage with a number 36. Climb the steps then continue straight ahead on the tarmac path to emerge on a lane.

    The original tarmac was made from coal tar and ironworks slag. In the 1920s, coal tar was replaced by the tar from petroleum oil - bitumen. This oil-based tarmac is known as asphalt in the UK. However in the USA, "asphalt" means bitumen (i.e. just the tar with no "mac"). If that wasn't confusing enough, tarmac is known as "bitumen" in Australia!

  31. Continue uphill a few paces to a junction and turn right. After passing the junction opposite, cross to the pavement opposite (so you are on the left side of the road ready for the next direction). Continue following the road a short distance further to where it ends in a junction with a main road.
  32. Turn left onto the track with 3 black bollards and follow this uphill then around a bend to the left as it widens into a residential road. Continue until you reach a lane on the right just before the road ends in a T-junction.

    Both navelwort's Latin name and common name are based on its resemblance to a belly button. Other common names include wall pennywort and penny pies due to the shape and size resembling an (old) penny.

  33. Turn right onto the lane and follow it as it gradually becomes a track to reach a crossing at a farmyard.

    Primrose flowers provide an important nectar source for pollinators that hibernate over winter and emerge quite early like brimstone and small tortoiseshell butterflies - these are some of the first butterflies to be seen in spring. Primrose is also the food plant for the caterpillars of the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly.

    Even up to the 16th Century, magpies were simply known as "pies" from the Old French word pie (related to the Latin word for magpie - pica). The term "pied" meaning "black-and-white" (as in pied wagtail) is from the magpie's colouration. It's also possible that the pastry thing we now know as a pie (which can be traced back to Mediaeval Latin) was named after the magpie. It has been speculated that the assortment of ingredients in the pastry crust was likened to objects collected in a magpie nest. The "mag" in the modern name is a (somewhat sexist) mediaeval slang word for someone who chatters, based on the name Margaret.

  34. Continue ahead at the crossing to where the track bends sharply to the right with double metal gates ahead.

    Pencoose is thought to date from the mediaeval period although no records have been found. The name is Cornish for "woods' end".

  35. Bear right to continue on the track and follow it until it ends in a gate into a field with a kissing gate alongside.
  36. Go through the kissing gate on the left of the field gate and follow along the right hedge of the field to the far side to reach a gap in the wall between posts to the left of the gate.

    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.

  37. Squeeze through the (not very generous!) gap between the posts and follow the path until it emerges on a track.

    The settlement of Gwarder first was recorded as Gwerthour in 1312 which is thought to be from the Cornish gwer-dhowr (meaning "green water"). There is an old well fed by a spring in woods near the settlement so this could possibly be the origin of the name.

  38. Bear left onto the track and walk a few paces to a junction. Turn left at the junction and follow the concrete track to a T-junction with another track.

    The earliest recorded use of concrete was around 6500 BC in Syria and Jordan which was put to a number of uses including creating level floors. The Romans made concrete blocks from volcanic ash, lime and seawater.

    In 1793, John Smeaton discovered a way of producing hydraulic lime for cement by firing limestone that contained clay. He used his cement for constructing the Eddystone lighthouse.

    In 1824, Portland cement was invented by burning powdered chalk and clay together which were both readily available. During the 19th Century, this began to be used in industrial buildings.

  39. Cross the track to the waymarked gate opposite and go through the gap beside it by lifting the horizontal iron bar. Continue ahead to cross over the concrete track to the two gateways opposite to a waymarked stile on the left of the right-hand gate.

    The first record of the settlement of Enys is from 1301. The name taken literally is the Cornish word for "island" but is thought to have been used figuratively for "remote spot" or possibly for "land beside a river".

    A house with an E-shaped floor plan was built in Elizabethan times but this burned down in the 1820s and only some foundations remain. The current house is thought to have been completed in 1830. During the Second World War, the house was commandeered for use as a naval college. It was later used as a boys' school for a few years and has remained uninhabited since then. It is sometimes opened to the public during garden events (see the Enys website for upcoming events).

    The gardens at Enys are thought to be some of the oldest in Cornwall and date from before the 18th Century. A mediaeval stone cross originally from Sancreed near Penzance was moved into Enys gardens in 1848. In recent years, the display of bluebells has become famous and attracts many visitors in the spring. The gardens are open to the public on certain days between April and the end of September (see the Enys website for exact days and times).

  40. Cross the stile and follow along the left hedge of the field to reach a waymarked gap in the corner.

    Wheat was formed by hybridisations between wild grasses which was then spread through domestication. The cultivation of wheat is thought to have begun nearly 12,000 years ago in southeast Turkey.

    Remains of wheat from 8000 years ago have been found in Britain which indicate trade with Europe. Until around 6500 BC, it was possible to walk between Britain and the rest of Europe via an area of low lying land known as Doggerland. As sea levels rose after the last Ice Age, the North Sea flooded this, making Britain an island.

    Because each of the hybridisations that formed wheat were rare events, and because there were multiple stages of hybridisation involved, domesticated bread wheat is all from a common ancestry and therefore there is very little genetic variety. This narrow gene pool makes the risk of a catastrophic disease quite high. Since the 20th Century, work has been underway to broaden the wheat gene pool to produce disease-resistant strains through a number of techniques including crossing wheat varieties from different parts of the world, hybridising with wild grasses, and more recently through direct genetic manipulation.

  41. Go through the waymarked gap and walk a couple of paces on the narrow path to the left of the waymarked tree to a junction. Cross over the track to the waymarked path opposite and follow this through the woods to a junction with another path.

    Some plant nutrients such as phosphorus tend to be more abundant near the surface of the soil were decaying organic matter collects. Bluebell seedlings start life at the surface so these are OK but as bluebell plants mature and send their roots deeper into the soil to avoid winter frosts, they have a phosphorus problem. They have solved this by partnering with a fungus that extends from their root cells, drawing in minerals from the soil in return for some carbohydrates from the plant.

    Autumn colours are the result of two processes. The first is that a normal healthy leaf contains chemicals which are both green (chlorophyll) and yellow (carotene). If chlorophyll stops being produced, leaves turn yellow. This happens when sunlight is reduced either temporarily (e.g. accidentally leaving something on the lawn) or in autumn when there is less sunlight overall and when cold temperatures also speed up the breakdown of chlorophyll. When a tree prepares to shed a leaf, it creates a barrier of cells to close the leaf off. Sugars produced from photosynthesis which normally flow back into the plant instead build up in the leaf and react with proteins in sap to form red anthrocyanin compounds. Sunny autumn days produce more sugars and result in more red leaves. Frost causes the leaves to drop off quickly so mild, sunny autumns produce the best colours.

  42. Bear right to reach a fork and then left at the fork to follow the waymarked path downhill. Continue to reach some steps leading to a kissing gate.

    The small streams are the beginnings of the Mylor River which is still fairly small at Mylor Bridge. The river valley below Mylor Bridge has been flooded by rising sea levels to form Mylor Creek.

  43. Go through the kissing gate into the field and follow the right hedge to reach another kissing gate.

    Dandelions are dispersed very effectively by the wind. The tiny parachute-like seeds can travel around five miles. Each plant can live for about 10 years and produces several thousand seeds each year.

    Holly is able to adapt to a range of conditions but prefers moist ground. It is very tolerant of shade and can grow as a thicket of bushes underneath larger trees. However, given the right conditions, holly trees can grow up to 80ft tall!

  44. Go through the kissing gate and follow the path to a junction of paths with some waymarks.

    Mosses' lack of deep roots mean they need to store their own supply of water during dry periods which is why they are found in shady places that are not dried-out by the sun. This also applies to moss on trees - it rarely grows on the south-facing part of the trunk which can be used as a crude form of compass when navigating.

  45. Keep left at the fork and then immediately right in the direction waymarked. Follow the path to a waymarked stone stile.

    Coppicing is a traditional form of wood production that became redundant when industrial sawmills could easily cut full-grown trees into a range of timber sizes.

    The approach with coppicing is, rather than simply planting trees and letting them grow to full size, that the trees are grown only until the trunks are suitable for use as poles and then they are cut to the ground and allowed to regrow.

    The cycle produces varied habitats of clearings, bushes and small trees which each support different types of wildlife. Coppicing has therefore been reintroduced in many places as part of a conservation woodland management scheme to promote biodiversity.

  46. Cross the stile and turn right onto the track. Follow this to a junction with a private track to the right, a track ahead and a public footpath to the left.

    Robins are also able to see magnetic fields. Receptors in their eyes make magnetic fields appear as patterns of light or colour which allows them to use the Earth's magnetic field for navigation. They only seem to use their right eye for this as the left half of their brain (linked to the right eye) does the processing.

  47. Follow the track leading ahead until it eventually ends via a gateway with granite posts in a lane.

    During the 19th Century, a horse mill was situated in the woods. The wheel driven by the horses was manufactured in 1821.

  48. Go through the gateway with the granite posts and turn right onto the lane. Follow this until it ends in a T-junction.

    Since the multi-lobed leaves are found in shade, whist the teardrop leaves are found in sun, this allows the leaves of ivy plants growing up trees to be used as a compass. Unless something is in the way then the sunniest side of a tree is to the south and the shadiest is to the north.

  49. Turn right and follow the lane to Mylor Bridge. As you enter Mylor Bridge, join the pavement and follow this until the road ends in a T-junction.

    Mylor is the name of the parish but there is not as such a village of Mylor. The closest thing to this are the separate villages of Mylor Bridge, which is the largest in the parish, and Mylor Churchtown which includes the harbour as well as the church.

  50. Turn right and follow the road back to the car park, past the village pump and Lemon Arms.

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