Circular walk from Trewarmett to Trebarwith Strand

Trewarmett to Trebarwith Strand

The edge of the footpath from the stream to Trebarwith nature reserve is eroded in places so tread carefully on this section.

A circular walk down Trebarwith Valley to Trebarwith Strand then along the cliffs above the beach, with magnificent views of the bay between Dennis Point and Penhallic Point and the pinnacles of the coastal slate quarries now colonised by birds and wildflowers.

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The walk descends from Jeffrey's Pit and crosses the Trebarwith Nature Reserve to Treknow followed by a footpath that leads to Trebarwith Strand. From Trebarwith Strand there is one fairly steep (but reasonably short) ascent on the Coast Path to the cliffs where there are spectacular views over the bay. The return route is fairly flat all the way through some fields and along lanes.


  • Route includes paths close to unfenced cliff edges.

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Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 111
  • Distance: 4.1 miles/6.5km
  • Steepness grade: Moderate
  • Recommended footwear: walking boots/shoes or trainers in dry weather

OS maps for this walk

OS Explorer 111 OS Explorer 111 (laminated version)

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


  • Cascading stream and broadleaf woodland along the floor of Trebarwith Valley including Trebarwith Nature Reserve
  • Panoramic cliff views over Trebarwith Strand
  • Old coastal slate quarries colonised by wildflowers in spring and summer
  • Golden sand, surf and rock pools on Trebarwith Strand
  • A plethora of wildlife in Trebarwith Valley

Pubs on or near the route

  • The Port William Inn


  1. Head out of Jeffrey's Pit onto the road to Trebarwith Strand; turn left and follow the road downhill until you reach the drive to Fentafriddle Farm.

    The acidic soil in the Tintagel area was fertilised with lime-rich beach sand from nearby Trebarwith Strand, where the golden sand is largely composed of sea shells which are mostly calcium carbonate (chemically identical to chalk and limestone).

    The sand at Trebarwith Strand was also put to another use: to avoid several tonnes of slate in a wagon going down the steep road through Trebarwith Valley resulting in horse paté, the slate wagons would be loaded with sand from Trebarwith Strand and this would be scattered on the road on the way back up, to act as a braking system.

    The trade in sand and slate quarrying led to road improvements in the early 19th century and for one reason, or the other, or possibly both, the Trebarwith Strand to Condolden road is known as "Sanding Road".

  2. Opposite the driveway to Fentafriddle, go through the gate to reach to a waymark at the bottom of the steps.

    Trebarwith stream rises on Condolden moor and runs alongside the road (in underground culverts and roadside channels for much of the way) until its confluence with the stream from Jeffrey's Pit somewhere beneath the road to the beach. This percolates though the slate tips on the opposite side of the road and then runs as an open stream to Trebarwith Strand.

  3. Turn left at the waymark to cross the stile over the fence on the left and cross the stone bridge. Then follow the waymarked path up the steps past a derelict chalet. Continue along the path through the vegetation to reach a stone stile in the top of the far hedge.

    Trout are members of the Salmon family who all have an extra tiny (adipose) fin on their back towards their tail, that most other fish don't have. No-one is quite sure what the purpose is of this fin but a neural network in the fin indicates that it has some kind of sensory function.

    The trout that supermarkets and trout farms stock is the Rainbow Trout (which has a red flush along its side) and is native to North America not to the UK. Our native trout is the Brown Trout which has well-defined dark red spots along its sides. You can often make out the spots when you see them lying in pools. Rainbow Trout are often stocked in fishing lakes so do sometimes escape into the wild.

    Small trout typically feed on invertebrates whereas larger trout generally feed on other fish but have been known to eat anything of a suitable size unlucky enough to fall into a river. In fact in New Zealand, mouse-shaped lures are sold for trout fishing!

  4. Climb the stone stile and follow the path through the Trebarwith Nature Reserve to a stile into a field.

    The Trebarwith Nature Reserve has a rich diversity of wildflowers and a thriving stream community in its unimproved meadow land. The area of Trebarwith Valley which is now the Nature Reserve was first used as agricultural land in the post-mediaeval period. It is likely that the path that runs through the reserve dates from this time, perhaps linking farmsteads to the parish church.

  5. Cross the stile into the field and walk parallel to the right hedge, until you see see a wooden fenced area. Then make for the stile in the right hand corner of the enclosure.

    Gull Rock lies approximately 500 metres offshore from Trebarwith Strand and has given its name to RR Gordon's crime thriller set in the area. It is made of a very hard volcanic material that has withstood the sea whilst the slate around it has been worn away. On the seaward side, where a chunk of the rock has cracked off, the tightly folded volcanic rocks within can be seen.

    Recently the rock has turned green during the spring and summer due to rock samphire colonising the side facing the beach which is sheltered from the westerly winds, helped by fertiliser provided by the seabirds also colonising the sheltered side of the rock.

    In the 1800s, the rock at Trebarwith (or "Trebarrow" as it was known then), was known as Otterham Rock, or Rocks, acknowledging the rocks to the side of the main rock which protrude a small amount from the water. Below the surface of the water, these are part of an extensive reef.

  6. Turn left on the lane and follow it down to Treknow where it ends in a T-junction.

    The plant with sticky green seeds is known as cleavers due to the ability to attach to clothing or animals. The use of "to cleave" meaning "to adhere" has Saxon origins but has become less common in recent years perhaps due to the confusion of having a more well-known meaning which is virtually the opposite. A Cornish dialect name, recorded as cliders in Victorian times, is likely to be a corruption of this. Other common names include sticky willy.

    Goosegrass is another common name of the plant due to its attractiveness to poultry as a nutritious food. It contains tannins which make it too bitter for humans. The plant is in the same family as coffee and the seeds have been dried and roasted to make a (lower caffeine) coffee substitute.

    The vetches are a family of wildflowers that is a sub-group within the pea and bean family. Their pretty purple flowers are quite like mini sweetpea flowers. The leaves are also very distinctive, organised in a neat row either side of the stem. Common vetch is a wildflower but is also sown by farmers in some grazing fields to improve the nutrition for ruminants and to introduce more nitrogen into the soil.

    It has been suggested that a law must have been passed in Cornwall whereby all offshore rocks must be renamed "Gull Rock"! There are examples at:

    • Trebarwith Strand
    • Morwenstow
    • Buckator near Boscastle
    • Portreath
    • Nare Head on The Roseland
    • One of the islands at Kynance Cove
    • Holywell Bay (in the plural)

    It seems to be a relatively recent phenomenon as many reports from the 1800s use different names for the rocks now named Gull Rock.

    In the local dialect, the word "orestone" was used to describe such offshore rocks. An object was described as "orey" if covered in seaweed (oarweed being another name for the commonest kelp found around the Cornish coast).

  7. At the bottom of the road, in Treknow, turn left (almost doubling back) and walk along the lane a little way until you reach Rose Cottage where a public footpath to Trebarwith Strand departs from the right.

    Treknow (which in Cornish means "the valley place") is perhaps one of the oldest "industrial" settlements in the area dating back to Mediaeval times, based mainly on slate quarrying with some early metal mining. The physical structure of Treknow - its bowl-like formation, in parts literally carved out of the rock - could be the result of early slate excavations. It was in direct response to the needs of industrial workers, in the expanding quarrying industry of the early 19th century, that the rows of cottages were constructed. The use of slate for roofs, chimneys, walls and paving, which contributes so greatly to their character, is further testimony to the dominant role of the local industry.

  8. Go through the gate to Rose Cottage and bear right in front of the house to another gate. Go through the gate and follow the right hedge past one gap in the hedge to another gap in the hedge with a path leading through the bushes.

    The woods in Trebarwith Valley provide an ideal habitat for buzzards.

    In a natural habitat, buzzards perch at the top of trees to survey the surrounding fields. Their brown-and-white pattern camouflages them quite well so it's quite common for walkers to inadvertently disturb what turns out to be a huge flapping monster just feet away. Telegraph poles provide a perfect alternative to trees without any cluttering branches so buzzards can often be seen perched on the top, unfazed by cars passing beneath.

  9. Go through the gap and keep right to follow the path under the bush to where a path joins from the right, down some steps. Bear left to follow the path downhill, passing over a stile and through a gate to reach a stone stile into the meadow at the bottom of the valley.

    The deeply-cut holloway from Treknow to Trebarwith Strand provided access to the harbour and a route for the pack animals to bring lime-rich sand from the beach to neutralise the acidic soil.

  10. Cross the stile and the meadow and follow the ramp up into the car park.

    Bracken is both poisonous and carcinogenic to many grazing animals which will avoid it if at all possible. Eating bracken is not recommended as it is thought that the carcinogenic properties may also apply to humans based on the circumstantial evidence that Japan, where young bracken fronds are a delicacy, has the highest levels of stomach cancer in the world.

  11. Bear right to walk to the bottom of the tarmacked part of the car park then exit onto the road. Follow the road down towards the beach to reach a footpath on the right immediately before Trebarwith Surf Shop.

    The beach at Trebarwith was recorded as "Trebarrow" on maps in the 1600s and even during the 20th Century, it was called this by some locals. By Victorian times it was recorded on OS maps as Trebarwith Strand. Several small beaches span the bay and at low tide these all join to form a mile long ribbon of golden sand.

    Trebarwith Strand is in the centre and is the lifeguard-patrolled area. It's sandy on the left and, to the right side, there are more rocks including some good rock pools. The large pool beside the rocks on the right side of the beach is known as "Horse Pool" from when horses were used to transport slate and sand, and this provided somewhere for them to cool off from their heavy work.

  12. Take the public footpath on the right of Trebarwith Surf Shop. Follow the path up to the cliff top to reach a waymark at a junction of paths.

    If the tide is out, there are some rockpools on the right-hand side of Trebarwith Strand towards Lill Cove.

    Rockpool fishing is quite a popular childhood pass-time as a number of species can be lured out from hiding places by a limpet tied on a piece of cotton (leave a trailing end as if anything swallows the limpet, very gently pulling both ends of the cotton will cause it to release the cotton-tied limpet from its gullet). If you are intending to put the creatures into a bucket: ensure it is large, filled with fresh seawater and kept in the shade; ideally place in a couple of rocks for the creatures to hide under; do not leave them in there more than a couple of hours or they will exhaust their oxygen supply; ensure you release them into one of the rockpools from which you caught them, preferably a large one (carefully removing any rocks from your bucket first to avoid squashing them). Species you're likely to encounter are:

    • Blennies which are fish about 5-10cm long, often found hiding under rock ledges. They can change their colour from sandy to black within a couple of minutes in order to match their surroundings. They have strong, sharp teeth for crunching barnacles and will bite if provoked.
    • Shore crabs and sometimes edible crabs which can also sometimes be found hiding under rocks (carefully replace any rocks you lift up). Shore crabs have a fairly narrow shell which is almost as deep as it is wide. They vary in colour from green through brown to red (the redder individuals are apparently stronger and more aggressive). Edible crabs have a much wider shell which resembles a Cornish Pasty and are always a red-brown colour. Both have powerful claws so fingers should be kept well clear.
    • Shrimps and prawns - do you know the difference? Prawns are semi-transparent whereas shrimps are sandy coloured and generally bury themselves in sand.
  13. When you reach the waymark, follow the middle path (indicated by the yellow arrow and acorn) up the steps. Continue to where the paths rejoin and a few paces further to reach another waymark.

    In 1886, an iron-hulled sailing ship, named the "Sarah Anderson", got into difficulties off Tintagel Head in a violent gale then blew up and sank off Trebarwith Strand. According to one source, the ship was carrying a cargo of 966 tons of manganese ore and 15 tons of dye. According to another source, it was hinted that she might also be carrying copper, silver and gold. Due to the huge waves, the Port Isaac lifeboat was unable to launch and the ship was out of range of the marine rescue rockets brought to the shore at Trebarwith Strand. All the 14 crew and 4 passengers (2 women, including the captain's wife, and 2 children) perished. Divers report that the hull is now almost entirely gone. One section (presumably the stern) stands about 3m high and is separated from the main wreckage; the remainder consists of the ore cargo with the odd piece of steel protruding.

  14. At the waymark, follow the path left, up the steps, until you reach another waymark at a junction of paths.

    The beach at the bottom of the cliff to your left is Lill Cove.

    A small water-powered copper mine existed on the cliff slopes above Lill Cove and was worked until the early-mid 19th Century. A hollow in the cliff was dammed to form a reservoir which was fed by a leat; the reservoir in turn was used to drive a waterwheel to pump out the groundwater draining into the mineshaft. Little remains now as some massive landslips on this part of the cliff have obliterated the majority of the mine workings.

  15. At the waymark, bear left in the direction indicated to Tintagel and follow the coast path up to the rock outcrop. From the top continue along the cliff until you reach another waymark (to Treknow) at the start of the coastal quarries.

    Coastal slate quarries are confined to a small area of about five miles either side of Tintagel and relatively little is known about their history. In order to work the vertical cliff face, strong points were built from stone above the working areas. From these, ropes were dropped down the quarry face. Men were lowered down the faces on these ropes to split blocks of slate from the face. The slate was hauled up the cliff face on these cables which were wound using "horse whims" - capstans powered by horses or donkeys walking around a circular platform. The stone was split and shaped on "dressing floors" on the cliff top, originally covered with sheds. The remains can be seen as level terraces and are marked by screes of waste rock on the cliff below. Splitting was (and still is) done with a bettle (hammer) and chisel, hence the name of the pub in Delabole.

  16. At the waymark, continue straight ahead on the coast path passing the rock pillars at West quarry and follow along the wall behind Lanterdan quarry until you reach a waymark for Tintagel, just before a track departing to the right.

    There are 9 slate quarries along the coast path between Tintagel Church and Trebarwith Strand. Slate quarrying began here in the early 14th Century and ended just before The Second World War. The slate was exported from Tintagel Haven and later from boats moored along Penhallic Point.

    Cutting the stone and loading it onto boats was harsh work and could be lethal. A local man - Alan Menhenick - recalled in the 1920s: "we worked with the tides, around the clock. I've been at the quarry at four in the morning. When the tide was in, we blasted; when the tide was out, we went down and collected the slate". In 1889, three men vanished into the sea when the face that they were boring sheared off the cliff.

  17. Continue straight ahead at the waymark, past more of Lanterdan quarry and along the edge of a wall to a stile.

    The Lanterdan and West quarries above Vean Hole and Hole Beach at Trebarwith Strand were once some of the biggest in North Cornwall. In Lanterdan quarry there is a tall, distinctive, pinnacle of rock. This was left behind as the slate in the pinnacle was not of a sufficiently good quality; shorter pinnacles were left in West Quarry for the same reason. These chunks of inferior-quality slate were known locally as "scullocks".

    The quarry workings never reached the shoreline as there is a fault along the base of the quarry, known as the Trambley Cove Formation. This is made of volcanic lava which was no good to the quarrymen. Lanterdan Quarry is now owned by the National Trust and is a site of geological interest for two reasons. The first is that it contains brachiopod (shellfish) fossils. Second, a rare mineral called monazite is present which contains rare-earth (lanthanide) metals.

  18. Cross the stile and follow the path to a waymark.

    The headland ahead is Penhallic Point.

    Penhallic Point is the long headland along the northern edge of the bay at Trebarwith Strand. In the late 1800s, a wharf (which has now been taken by the sea) was constructed at Penhallic Point where the cliff edge was trimmed to form a 100ft vertical face. Ships could lie against this face as there is a natural deep-water berth alongside the point. The slate was lowered by crane down into their holds.

    A path from the top of the point zig-zags down to a grassy platform where there is a lifebuoy. It's possible to get down onto the rocks from here, but only in the summer when the rocks are dry.

  19. Turn right at the waymark to Tregatta and cross the stile into the field. Cross the field to the stile in the middle of the wall at the far side.

    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.

  20. Cross the stile and go through the gate. Cross the field to a stile next to the gate opposite.

    The footpath comes out on the lane between Treknow and Tregatta which was part of the mediaeval route which led to the castle at Tintagel.

  21. Cross the stile and carefully cross the road to the pavement. Turn right and walk a short distance along the lane to reach a Y-shaped junction with a bench on a grassy island.

    Where tracks met in a T-junction, this presented a challenge for horses and carts as these didn't have a tight turning circle. The triangular islands often visible on junctions of tracks and small lanes today were formed by the cartwheels cutting the corners of the junction. Eventually these cut corners were formalised as surfaced tracks with a grassy triangular island in the centre.

  22. Continue on the main road until you reach a public footpath sign on the left opposite Atlantic Close on the right.

    The area of the Atlantic between North Cornwall and Ireland is also known as the Celtic Sea - a name first suggested in the 1920s. The newfangled name has caught on more in academic and surveying circles. The public generally use "Atlantic" where "the bit of it near here" is automatically implied.

  23. At the public footpath sign, turn left over the stile, crossing another stile into the field. Follow the left hedge to a stile in the fence along the middle of the field.

    Celandines grow either side of the path.

    Another name for celandine is pilewort as the tubers of the plant are said to resemble piles. Based on the "doctrine of signatures" (i.e. a plant that looks a bit like something must be a cure for it), the resemblance suggested to mediaeval herbalists that celandines could be used to cure haemorrhoids. This was done by applying an ointment containing crushed celandine leaves to the relevant area. Since celandine contains a poisonous compound, some attempts to ingest celandine in an effort to cure piles have not gone too well.

    Most waymarks you'll encounter are yellow, which is the convention for marking public footpaths, of which there are over 2000 miles in Cornwall. Permissive paths often use other colours such as black, white or green. Red and blue are reserved for byways and bridleways, respectively.

  24. At the end of the hedge, cross the stile over the fence (or go through the gate if open) and continue following the fence on the left until you reach a stile in the corner.

    As well as being environmentally-friendly, wool fibre has a number of technical properties that synthetic fibres lack including fire-resistance and the ability to absorb and release moisture. Some novel high-tech uses are now being found for it including biodegradable ground cover matting to control soil erosion. As concerns grow over the effects of plastics in the environment and micro plastics turning up in all kinds of unwanted places (such as 80% of the human blood samples tested in a study), this may also lead to a renaissance in natural fibres including wool. It may therefore not be too long before demand increases and fields are once again full of neatly-shorn sheep.

  25. Cross the stile and another and bear right to pass the barn and reach a pair of gates.

    The word "crow" is sometimes used to refer to the whole crow family (including jackdaws, rooks and ravens) and sometimes specifically to the common (carrion) crow. Carrion crows can be distinguished from their cousins by being totally black (jackdaws have grey heads, rooks have pale beaks) and having a slender and fairly straight beak (i.e. not the broad beak with a hooked top that a raven has). Biologists use the word "corvids" for "crow family" to avoid ambiguity, or to show off.

  26. Go through the right-hand of the two gates (with "please shut gate" painted on a piece of metal) and follow about half-way along the left hedge to an improvised wooden gate.

    Jackdaws are very adept vocal mimics and have been known to sing virtually anything including opera and Madonna! They can be trained to copy the human voice but only for single words or short phrases.

  27. Go through the gate and over the stile and bear right to head between the 2 rightmost of the telegraph poles on the far side to a small section of wooden fence in front of a stile in the opposite hedge.

    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.
  28. Cross the stile and carefully descend onto the road and take the footpath on the other side. Cross the stile and bear left slightly in the direction of the barn to a stile in the hedge opposite.

    As well as grazing in some years, the fields here are sometimes used for arable crops such as barley.

    Unlike wheat, where the grains pop out fairly easily from their husks and simple threshing will release them, the husks of barley are firmly stuck to the grain. A mechanical dehulling process is used to free the grain which is then known as pot barley. This is often then steam-processed to remove the bran to create a polished form of barley grains known as pearl barley which contain less of the fibre. Despite being more expensive to produce, pearl barley seems to be sold at cheaper prices for human consumption than pot barley presumably due to higher levels of demand.

  29. Cross the stile and head straight across the field to another stile, which comes out onto a small lane.

    When a cereal grain germinates, enzymes are released which break down the starch into sugars to feed the new plant. By allowing grains to germinate and then quickly stopping this by heating and drying them before sugars in the grains are consumed by the plant, the sugars can then be extracted. This process is known as malting and the sugary syrup (malt extract) that is produced is used for brewing beer and to sweeten the honeycomb in Maltesers. The sticky syrup also gives malt loaf its squishy quality.

  30. Cross the stile and turn right onto the lane. Follow the lane uphill to a T-junction.

    The first record of the settlement of Tregeath is from the mediaeval period - it was documented in 1298 as Tregeth. The "tre" suggests a farmstead dating from the Early Mediaeval period (the "Dark Ages" before the Norman Conquest) when Cornish was still spoken widely by landowners. Other than this, nothing is known about the origin of the name.

  31. Turn right at the T-junction and follow the lane down to another T-junction in Trewarmett.

    Some locals call this lane Menadue (since it goes to Menadue Mill and Farm) although on maps it's Trenale Lane.

    Menadue is the name of a farm and mill on the downs above Trewarmett. The place name Menadue is possibly from the Cornish word meneth which means hill, and due is the word for black, i.e. "Black Hill". The hill in this case is the one that overlooks Tintagel with Condolden Barrow at the summit.

  32. Cross the road and turn left, following it downhill to a junction on the right just after Park Farm.

    Park Farm was derelict in the 1970s; when it was converted into holiday accommodation, the fields still contained many farming implements of the 19th century including horse-drawn ploughs and carts. Exactly how far the farm here dates back is unknown, though an axe-head from the Bronze Age was found amongst a pile of stones in the garden. The name is from the Cornish word Park which means "field".

  33. Just past Park Farm (with the yellow shutters), bear right down the small lane and follow this until it rejoins the main road at the top of Trewarmett Hill.
  34. At the junction, turn right and walk down the right-hand side of Trewarmett Hill, on the pavement where available, to reach the junction to Trebarwith Strand.

    The engine house on the top of the hill on your left was part of the Prince of Wales Quarry.

    The engine house in Trewarmett is the only one preserved in North Cornwall. It was built in 1870 and the beam engine, installed in 1871, was used to drive a wire ropeway to haul slate, as well as pumping water out of the quarry pit (which is now a lake). You can safely wander around inside (there are grilles covering the pit which once contained the beam engine).

  35. At the bottom of the hill, bear right to stay on the path and follow it alongside the road towards Trebarwith Strand. After about 100 metres, cross the road into the parking area at Jeffrey's Pit.

    Cornwall's iconic engine houses were built to house huge beam engines - a type of steam engine with a pivoting beam. This configuration was particularly suited to powering pumps to stop the quarry pits and mines from flooding as water trickled into them from above. Inside the engine house, steam from a boiler would push up a piston, causing the beam to tilt downwards, pushing the pump down into the shaft. The steam would then be shut off and cold water would be used to condense the steam within the piston back into water, creating a partial vacuum. Atmospheric pressure then pushed the piston back down into the vacuum, raising the beam and lifting water out of the shaft. The valves to apply the steam and cold water were mechanically automated, maintaining a steady rocking motion of the giant beam.

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