Trelissick circular walk


A figure-of-8 walk along the creeks of the River Fal through the 300 acre estate surrounding Trelissick House.

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The walk crosses the park to the beach on Channals creek then follows the woodland trail alongside the River Fal to the King Harry Ferry. The route passes around both sides of Lamouth Creek to reach Roundwood Fort and Quay. After following a track to Tregew, the return route is through Trelissick's woodland plantations and finally through the parkland.

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Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 105
  • Distance: 4.7 miles/7.6 km
  • Steepness grade: Easy-moderate
  • Recommended footwear: Walking shoes; trainers in summer

OS maps for this walk

OS Explorer 105 OS Explorer 105 (laminated version)

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


  • Trelissick Gardens
  • Trelissick House
  • Views over the creeks of the River Fal
  • Woodland wildife


  1. From the car park, follow the tarmacked track signposted "Woodland walks" departing from beside the information hut. Continue through the gate beside the cattle grid and onwards until you reach a junction of surfaced paths.

    Trelissick was first recorded in 1275 and the name means Leidic's Farm. A villa was first built in the 1750s and both the house and gardens were extended during the 19th Century first by Thomas Daniell - from a hugely wealthy mining family, but subsequently bankrupt through gambling - and then by Carew Davies-Gilbert - a wealthy Victorian plant-hunter who added the second floor and greatly developed the garden. During the 20th Century the estate was bought by the director of Harrods and inherited by Florence Nightingale's second cousin before being donated to the National Trust in 1955.

  2. At the crossing of paths, turn left and follow the path until you reach another surfaced path departing to the right, just before the path ends in a gate.

    The River Fal begins in the marshes of Goss Moor at Pentevale and runs for 11 miles to its mouth between St Anthony Head and Pendennis Point. It is little more than a stream passing through the china clay areas near St Stephen and a fairly small river at Grampound and Tregony. At Ruan Lanihorne, the river enters the huge flooded river valley forming the creek system known as Carrick Roads. Within this, it is the former river valley of the Fal which separates the Roseland peninsula from the neighbouring land.

  3. Bear right and follow the path downhill to reach a gate across the path just before the beach.

    The name "Carrick Roads" is thought to be a mangling of the Cornish Karrek Reun meaning "seal rock". It is now known as "Black Rock" and located in the centre of the harbour entrance, between Pendennis Point and Carricknath Point, and marked with a large conical beacon. It is still used at low tide as a haul-out spot by seals.

  4. Go through the gate and follow the path to reach a gate marked "Woodland Walk".

    During the last Ice Age, up to about 12,000 years ago, ice sheets up to 2 miles thick lay over the northern half of Britain. The weight of this ice was immense and it pressed down onto the Earth's mantle which is a treacle-like liquid rock. The mantle was slowly squished away from beneath the Earth's crust beneath heavy ice. When the ice melted, the pressure was released and the mantle began to flow back creating a super-slow motion rebound effect which will take thousands of years to level out. The result is that the north-western edge of Britain is rising and the south-eastern part is sinking. As South Cornwall has been slowly sinking into the sea over the past few thousand years, this has compounded the rise in sea levels, creating creeks from flooded river valleys.

  5. Go through the gate and follow the path for just under half a mile until you reach a sign for the ferry just before a junction of paths.

    The King Harry Ferry was established in 1888 to connect the Roseland Peninsula with the Truro area and is one of only five chain ferries in England. The alternative route is a 27 mile road journey through Truro and Tresillian. The ferry carries more than 300,000 cars a year and it has been calculated that each year this saves three quarters of a million litres of fuel, and 1700 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.

  6. After the ferry sign, keep left on the path marked "Woodland walk" and follow the path down the steps to the road.

    There is an entrance into the gardens through the lodge ahead so you can break off from the walk for some garden-visiting at this point as well as at the end.

  7. Cross the road to the Trelissick sign opposite and follow the path marked "Woodland Walk" for just over half a mile until you reach a fork in the path with Roundwood Fort and Quay to the right and Trelissick to the left.

    Holly bushes grow in the lighter areas of woodland along the paths.

    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.

    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!

  8. Keep right at the fork, signposted to Roundwood Fort, then after crossing the stream bear right onto the path over the bridge. Follow the path to a junction of paths at a granite post with a pink waymark, and an information board in the field to the left.

    The upper part of the Carrick Roads estuary provides an important habitat for oysters.

    Native oysters rarely produce pearls (Pearl Oysters live in warmer seas) although all molluscs theoretically can and most would be tiny. The commercial value from native oysters comes from eating them and it takes around 4-5 years for an oyster to reach full size.

  9. Follow the path ahead through the gap in the wall into the woods. Where the path forks, stay on the main path and keep following it through the ramparts to the centre of the fort to reach a junction of paths beside a large tree with a holly bush at the bottom and various carvings in the trunk to the left of the holly bush.

    Roundwood fort consists of twin ramparts and ditches, located on the promontory between Cowlands Creek and Roundwood Creek. It is thought to date from the late Iron Age from around 350 BC.

  10. At the junction by the tree, take the path to the right. Follow this path, keeping straight ahead down the hill, to the bottom of a flight of steps at the quay.

    Roundwood Quay, located at the junction of Lamouth Creek and Cowlands Creek, was built in the 18th Century and was in active use until some time in the 19th century. It was used to export locally-mined tin, and copper to the smelters in South Wales. Tin was smelted nearby and lime kilns were built later. Ships of up to 300 tons could berth alongside the quay at the lowest tides.

  11. Turn left and walk through the car park towards the house to a gate onto a track passing the house. Follow the track to reach an opening on the left with an upright granite post in the centre, just after a gate on the left.

    The track is a byway.

    Public byways are rights of way down which motor vehicles may be driven depending on how brave you are and how expensive your car is to fix. You are also permitted to use a horse-drawn carriage, should you own one. Byways tend to be surfaced in an ad-hoc manner either with gravel or occasionally with a smattering of tarmac, but still leaving plenty of room for a good crop of grass to grow down the centre. They are conventionally marked using red waymarks or a "Public Byway" sign. There are 130 miles of byways in Cornwall.

  12. Go through the gap with the granite post and then between the wooden posts. Turn right and follow along the edge of the field to reach a post with a pink waymark, just before a gate.
  13. Go through the pedestrian gate beside the gate and then through the one on the opposite side of the track. Once in the field, bear left to the gateway and go through this, then follow along the left hedge, parallel to the track, to reach an information board and gate.
  14. Go through the gate and turn right onto the track. Follow this until it ends on a lane.
  15. Turn left onto the lane and follow it a short distance until you reach a track on the left marked as National Cycle Route 3.

    National Cycle Route 3 runs 338 miles from Bristol to Land's End. The route is a mixture of lanes, byways and some tracks not open to road traffic including the upper section of the Camel Trail from Wenfordbridge to Dunmere.

  16. Turn left onto the track and follow this over a stream to reach a gate on the left.

    Navelwort grows along the track, particularly in the shady spots on the right.

    Navelwort produces flower spikes with small green bells from June to September. When the flower spike is first forming it is a rather beautiful structure and is a perfect subject for macro photography.

  17. Go through the gate on the left and follow the path alongside the stream to the crossing that you encountered earlier on the walk.

    Ivy is rarely a threat to healthy trees. Ivy is not a parasite. Since it has its own root system, it absorbs its own nutrients. It simply uses a tree for support. The main risk to trees is during strong winds when the surface of the ivy can act as a sail which, together with the extra weight from the ivy, can cause a tree to fall.

  18. Cross the stream and then turn right when you reach the junction, signposted to Trelissick. Follow the zig-zag path to emerge via a gate onto a road.

    Young beech leaves can be used as a salad vegetable, which are described as being similar to a mild cabbage, though much softer in texture. Older leaves are a bit chewy, as you'd expect.

  19. Carefully cross the road to the gate opposite and go through this. Continue ahead to pass the track on the right and reach the front of the Old Lodge. Of the remaining 2 paths ahead, follow the surfaced one leading straight ahead until it ends on a tarmacked drive.

    Trelissick Garden evolved during Victorian times and it still looks broadly today as it did in the 1870s. Trelissick is the home of the National Plant Collections of photinias and azaras and much of the plant collection was established in the 1930s. The Orchard was replanted relatively recently, in the 1990s, to recreate the original Trelissick orchard and has over 70 old varieties of Cornish apple with names such as Pig's Snout.

  20. Turn left onto the drive and follow it until you reach the junction of paths that you encountered at the start of the walk.
  21. Turn left at the junction to return to the car park, house and gardens.

    The Water Tower at Trelissick was built in 1865 in Victorian over-engineering style as a water reservoir for the house. Its height was designed to provide high enough water pressure to fight fires effectively, which were clearly of concern. It has since been converted to a holiday cottage with one circular room on each of four floors connected by a narrow spiral staircase.

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