Sheviock to Portwrinkle

A circular walk to the beach and tiny harbour of Portwrinkle from the small village of Sheviock, thought to be Cornish for "abounding in strawberries", with a church abounding in mediaeval tombs.

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The route passes through Sheviock via the churchyard to join a footpath which passes a mindleboggling display of primroses during the spring. The path leads through woods along the stream, past the fishing lake and via a corridor of wild garlic to reach Crafthole. After skirting around the Finnygook Inn, the walk crosses the golf course to the Coast Path and follows this past Finnygook Beach to reach the tiny harbour at Portwrinkle. The return route to Sheviock is on small, quiet farm lanes.

Sheviock church car park is closed for 16 weeks so best option in the meantime is to either park on the lane to the car park leaving room for access or park at Portwrinkle and start the walk from there, then turn right when you reach Sheviock to pass the churchyard and restart the route from direction 2.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 108 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 3.8 miles/6.1 km
  • Grade: Moderate-strenuous
  • Start from: Sheviock church car park
  • Parking: Sheviock church car park PL113EN. Turn down Georges Lane beside the church. Take the second track on the left (with wooden fences). Car park is on the left behind the gate.
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots, or trainers in summer

OS maps for this walk

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Highlights

Adjoining walks

Directions

  1. Follow the track downhill from the church car park and turn right onto the lane. Follow the lane to the gate into the churchyard where the lane ends in a junction.

    The settlement of Sheviock dates from mediaeval times and was first recorded in the Domesday survey of 1086 when it was owned by the church of Tavistock. The place name is thought to be from the Cornish word sevi and the ending -ack, and mean "abounding in strawberries".

  2. Go through the gate into the churchyard and turn right to go through the gate next to the phonebox and reach the road. Turn left onto the road and follow it past all the houses to the national speed limit signs.

    The first record of Sheviock Church is recorded in 1193, after being rebuilt, but it is likely that there was a church here for at least a century before this in 1086 when the manor of Sheviock was owned by Tavistock Abbey. Nothing survives from these, or any earlier churches, but in 1259 the church was once again rebuilt and also rededicated, and the west tower and font date from this period. The remainder of the church dates from the 14th and 15th Centuries and was restored during Victorian times. The church has an eye-catching large and colourful stained-glass window above the altar and there are three mediaeval tombs in the church of the Norman family that were Lords of the Manor of Sheviock.

  3. Cross the road to the verge opposite and continue following the verge beside the road until you reach a junction with a small lane on the right.
  4. Turn right down the lane and almost immediately right off the lane onto a short piece of track leading to a gate. Go through the kissing gate on the right of the gate and then follow along the fence on the left, then skirt around the top of the bank above the stream, and then continue following the left fence in the field to reach a kissing gate.

    In early spring, the banks surrounding the old quarry on the right are often covered in primroses.

    During Victorian times, the building of railways allowed primrose flowers picked in the Westcountry to be on sale in London the next day. Picking was done on a large scale but eventually became unfashionable, being seen as environmentally destructive. However all the evidence gathered suggests as long as the flowers were picked and the plants were not dug up, the practice was sustainable.

  5. Go through the gate and follow the path along the fence to reach another kissing gate.

    The stream is a tributary of the St Germans River and the lower part of its river valley (just after the stream crosses under the main road) has been flooded by rising sea levels, creating a tidal creek known as Wacker Lake.

  6. Go through the gate and follow the path along the fence and into the woods to cross a footbridge and reach a kissing gate.

    Some of the bluebells in the woodland are Spanish invaders.

    Spanish bluebells have been planted in gardens and these have hybridised with native bluebells producing fertile seeds. This has produced hybrid swarms around sites of introductions and, since the hybrids are able to thrive in a wider range of environmental conditions, the hybrids are frequently out-competing the native English bluebells. Sir Francis Drake would not be impressed! The Spanish form can be fairly easily recognised by the flowers on either side of the stem. In the English form, they are all on one side. In general, the English bluebells also have longer, less-flared flowers and are often a deeper colour. However, the easiest way to tell the difference between native and non-native bluebells is to look at the colour of the pollen: if it is creamy-white then the bluebell is native; if it is any other colour such as pale green or blue then it's not native.

  7. Go through the gate and follow along the right hedge of the field to reach a kissing gate leading into the trees.

    The lake is Crafthole Reservoir which was dammed in 1900 to provide a water supply to Torpoint (not Crafthole which is uphill of it). It was managed by South West Water and formed part of the public water supply until just after the Second World War. It is now stocked with carp and managed by the South West Lakes Trust for coarse fishing. A number of springs feed both the lake and into the stream that the walk has been following.

  8. Go through the gate and pass the private access gate. Follow the path until it eventually emerges onto a road.

    The path is lined with wild garlic in spring.

    Like its domesticated relatives, wild garlic grows from a bulb. To distinguish it from other wild plants from the onion/garlic family (such as the three-cornered leek), the species sometimes just called "wild garlic" (Allium ursinum) is often known by the name ramsons or broad-leaf garlic. The scientific name (meaning bear leek) is because the bulbs are thought to be a favourite food of brown bears on the European mainland.

  9. Turn left onto the road and follow it to the roundabout. Turn right at the roundabout and follow the lane past the pub to a crossroads.

    The settlement of Crafthole dates from mediaeval times when it was centred around a triangular grassy plot, forming a village green, which has since been built over. A market and fair were granted in 1314 which presumably took place in this area. The name is a mangling of the English word "croft" and possibly either "hill" or "hollow".

  10. Turn left at the crossroads and follow the lane downhill, passing some residential lanes on the left and between the areas of golf course until you reach a green public footpath sign on the left beside a stony track.

    The small cross in Crafthole was originally in the middle of the road, but was moved in the 1950s after being hit by a bus. Due to it being positioned both beside the market area and on the road, there is difference of opinion as to which of the two the cross marked.

  11. Turn left onto the golf course and follow the path between the banks ahead. When you re-emerge on the golf course, continue towards the sea to pass a waymark and then follow the hedge, keeping it on your right until you reach another waymark at the bottom of the golf course.

    Golf developed in The Netherlands during the Middle Ages and was introduced into Scotland towards the end of this period where it evolved to its present form. The word golf is thought to be a Scots alteration of Dutch colf meaning "club". Golf is first documented in Scotland in a 1457 Act of the Scottish Parliament, prohibiting the playing of the games of gowf and futball as these were a distraction from archery practice.

  12. Turn right at the waymark and follow the path along the bottom of the golf course to another waymark.

    Thrift is a tough plant, able to withstand salt-laden winds and high levels of copper in the soil from mining. The name "thrift" has been suggested to arise from the plant's tufted leaves being economical with water in the windy locations where it is found. It's common all along the Cornish coast and in April-June produces pale pink flowers, hence its other common name: "Sea Pink". The plant grows in dense circular mats which together with its covering of pink flowers gives rise to another less common name: "Ladies' Cushions".

  13. Follow the waymarked path ahead through the coastal scrub to eventually emerge on the lane.
  14. Turn left onto the lane and follow it downhill to reach another coast path sign, just before The Gook café.

    Silas Finn, known locally as Finny, was an 18th Century smuggler who used to land contraband on the beaches of Portwrinkle, which were not well-known to the Revenue men. Various accounts of his story exist, but according to one, he was caught red-handed and was offered the choice of the hangman's noose or to assist in catching fellow smugglers. He reluctantly chose the latter and ended up betraying not only his close friends but also his sister. The local legend is that his restless ghost ("gook") still haunts the cliffs between Crafthole and Portwrinkle.

  15. Continue on the lane past the car parks and "No Vehicular Access to the Beach" sign to reach a junction beside a "No access for motor vehicles" sign.

    The first harbour at Portwrinkle was thought to have been built in 1605, just after the end of the Tudor period, to support a pilchard fishery. A few stones from this original structure remain, and can be seen at low tide. The majority dates from 1822 when the quay was rebuilt after being destroyed by a storm. The storms of 2014 also punched a hole through the harbour wall, which has since been repaired. During Victorian times, the village was also known as Portwrickle.

  16. Keep left to follow the lane ahead and reach "The Rocket House" opposite the ramp leading down to the harbour.

    The walls of the 17th Century pilchard cellars still stand above Portwrinkle harbour. Part of the building has been restored and converted into holiday accommodation.

  17. Follow the lane uphill from The Rocket House. Continue following the tarmac lane until it ends in a T-junction with a road.

    The life-saving rockets were invented at the beginning of the 19th century, by Cornishman Henry Trengrouse, and were also carried aboard larger vessels. They consisted of a solid fuel rocket on a wooden pole with a line attached, and a grapple on the top of the rocket to snag and hold fast onto the target ship or shore. Despite the rockets occasionally exploding, it is recorded that the apparatus saved thousands of lives in the last 2 decades of the 19th century.

  18. Cross the road and turn right to follow the grassy verge. Continue until you reach a lane on the left, signposted Trewrickle Livery. Turn left onto the lane and follow it to where it forks to go into the farm.
  19. Keep right at the fork to stay on the lane and follow the lane until it eventually ends in a crossroads.

    The ferns with solid leaves are appropriately called hart's tongue as the leaf resembles the tongue of a deer. The Latin name for the species means "centipede" as underside of the leaves have rows of brown spore cases that form a pattern resembling centipede legs. The plants thrive in shady places are are tolerant of the lime used in mortar so are sometimes found growing in old walls.

  20. Carefully cross the road to the small lane opposite and follow it until it ends in a junction with the road opposite Sheviock church.

    The cross on the corner of Horsepool Lane is known as Stumpy Cross or Stump Cross and is thought to date from either the 14th or 15th Century. It was thought to mark the road to St Germans priory and originally stood closer to the road, but was moved back when the road was widened.

  21. Carefully cross the road and follow the lane opposite back to the church car park to complete the circular route.

    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 is Greek for "sun direction" because the flowers turn to follow the winter sun.

    Winter heliotrope produces spikes with pale pink scented flowers in December and January. The scent resembles marzipan i.e. almond and vanilla.

    The leaf shape is similar to its close relative butterbur, but the leaf edges are more rounded than butterbur and the leaves are evergreen whereas butterbur puts up flowers before it has any leaves. Both plants spread via rhizomes (underground stems) and their broad leaves can crowd out other plants making them potentially invasive.

Help us with this walk

You can help us to keep this walk as accurate as it possibly can be for others by spotting and feeding back any changes affecting the directions. We'd be very grateful if could you look out for the following:

  • Any stiles, gates or waymark posts referenced in the directions which are no longer there
  • Any stiles referenced in the directions that have been replaced with gates, or vice-versa

Take a photo and email contact@iwalkcornwall.co.uk, or message either IWalkCornwall on facebook or @iwalkc on twitter. If you have any tips for other walkers please let us know, or if you want to tell us that you enjoyed the walk, we'd love to hear that too.

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