Circular walk to Tregardock Beach and Backways Cove

Trewarmett to Tregardock

A circular walk to the remote sandy beach at Tregardock, returning along the coast path with panoramic views of Port Isaac Bay, through the wildflowers of Treligga Downs and via Backways Cove.

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The walk climbs the side of Trebarwith valley (with excellent views). From here, there is a long gentle descent through fields and farms to reach the Coast Path where a path leads down to Tregardock Beach. The route then follows the coast across the Treligga Downs to Backways Cove where there are spectacular views on the descent. From Backways Cove, the route follows the valley and then crosses into Trebarwith Valley to return to Jeffrey's Pit.

Considerations

  • Three stiles are slate footholds over walls - the highest is over 5ft. There are also 2 ladder stiles but one can often be bypassed through an adjacent gateway and the other is not particularly steep or high.
  • The track between the fields near Trebarwith Farm can be slippery as a spring runs along part of it.
  • Route includes paths close to unfenced cliff edges.

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Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 111
  • Distance: 5.9 miles/9.5 km
  • Steepness grade: Moderate
  • Recommended footwear: walking boots

OS maps for this walk

OS Explorer 111 OS Explorer 111 (laminated version)

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

Highlights

  • Panoramic views across Trebarwith Valley from Fentafriddle
  • Caves, rockpools and waterfalls and a huge expanse of golden sand at Tregardock Beach at low tide
  • Pretty flowers along the cliff tops in spring and summer
  • Spectacular views over Port Isaac Bay from the coast path
  • Wildflowers and wildlife at Backways Cove
  • Forage for blackberries and parasol mushrooms in late summer and early autumn, and sloes in autumn and early winter
  • Bizarre sea foam tornadoes during winter storms at Backways Cove

Directions

  1. Head out of Jeffrey's Pit onto the road to Trebarwith Strand; turn left and follow the road downhill until you reach a public footpath sign on your left.

    Jeffrey's Pit, located at the top of the road to Trebarwith Strand, is an old slate quarry and was still working in the early 20th century, closing in 1928. Alf Burrell, who lived in Trewarmett and died in the 1970s, started work there as a boy, making tea using the water from the stream. The cutting sheds were on the opposite side of the road (now a house), and as you walk down the road to the beach, the slate tips are walled up on your right. The slate tips cover the stream, which re-emerges below them to continue its path down the valley.

  2. Take the public footpath to the left, up the steps and over a stile, until you reach another stile into a field.

    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.

    A number of roe deer live in the valley and once when we did this walk, one was sat down on this footpath.

    The Roe Deer is unusual among hoofed animals as the egg is fertilised at the time of mating but then goes into suspended animation for several months - a process known as delayed implantation. This mechanism means that instead of being born in late winter, the young are born in early summer when food is more plentiful.

    In most species with delayed implantation, the mother sends out a hormonal signal to tell the embryo to wake up. However in the case of the Roe Deer, the embryo has a built-in egg timer which sends a chemical message back to the mother that it's time to resume the pregnancy.

  3. Cross the stile and walk along the right hedge, passing the gate and track, to a stile in the top-right corner next to Fentafriddle.

    The number of cows in Cornwall has been estimated at around 75,000 (a lot of moo is needed for the cheese and clotted cream produced in Cornwall) so there's a good chance of encountering some in grassy fields, but also on open moorland and sometimes for conservation grazing on the coast path too.

    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.

    Do

    • 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).

    Don't

    • 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.
  4. Cross the stile onto the track and turn left. Follow the track uphill along the left hedge until you reach the second gate on your left.

    Fentafriddle is a group of farm buildings half-way up southern side of Trebarwith Valley. Fentafriddle was once a mill, fed by the spring and, later, powered by a donkey. In Cornish, Fenter means "spring" and friddle is thought to be a corruption of frosyel meaning "gushing". The settlement dates back to mediaeval times, mentioned in records of 1437. Until the early 20th Century, it was part of the estate of the Earl of Wharncliffe. Many of the farm buildings have been converted into luxury holiday accommodation, though the land around them is still farmed.

  5. Cross the stile next to the gate on the left and walk diagonally across the field to a gate in the opposite corner.

    On a clear day, there are good views over Trebarwith Valley, from the Prince of Wales quarry at the top, via Trewarmett and Treknow, to the cliffs surrounding Trebarwith Strand.

  6. Cross the stile next to the gate and walk along the left hedge until you reach a gate.
  7. Go through the gate and cross the final field to a gate opposite.
  8. Go through the gate and turn right. Walk a few paces to reach a gateway into the field on the left, marked with a Public Footpath sign. Enter the field and cross this to a ladder stile.
  9. Cross the stile and follow the right hedge to another stile in the bottom right corner, next to a gateway.

    The island off the end of the headland is Newland. The larger one which appears against the end of the headland from this angle is The Mouls.

    The island off The Rumps headland on the Western side of Port Isaac Bay is called The Mouls. It is the protruding part of a large surrounding reef which rises from the sea bed some 30 metres below the surface. At mid-tide, strong currents rush through this shallow channel between The Rumps and The Mouls which are often visible on the surface. The Mouls is also referred to as Puffin Island as it is one of the last remaining breeding places for Atlantic puffins on the coast. Other seabirds including gannets also breed here.

  10. Cross the stile or go through the gateway and follow the right hedge a short distance to another stile next to the gateway.

    The word crow is from the Old English crawe. Since this sounds a lot like the noise the bird makes, there is a misconception that the Old English is directly derived from this. In fact the word is far older. It's related the the Old Saxon kraia and can be traced back further to a Proto-Indo-European word from the late Neolithic period which is thought to mean "to call hoarsely".

  11. Go through the gateway and walk all the way along the right hedge, past a gateway and the buildings, to the corner where a path leads to a pedestrian gate.

    As you descend the field, you can see the remains of the Upton slate quarry.

    Even in Victorian times, slate was blasted with black powder (aka gunpowder), rather than high explosives such as dynamite. This is because high explosives combust with a supersonic shock wave known as a detonation wave, travelling at a speed of more than a mile per second. This causes very high pressure and resulting high temperature in the explosive, setting off neighbouring parts. This would shatter the brittle slate into tiny pieces, rather than breaking off large chunks.

    As fuse technology improved, holes were drilled at regular intervals along a quarry face, filled with black powder. These pockets were all blasted simultaneously using a linked fuse (electrically triggered in the latter years of quarrying), to break off a very large chunk of slate. You can sometimes see the blasting holes in waste pieces of slate on the slate tips.

  12. Go through the gate and turn right onto the lane. Follow the lane for about a quarter of a mile to a public footpath sign by a gateway on the left, just past a house on the left.

    Garlic mustard is a member of the cabbage family. It is edible and the leaves tastes mildly of garlic but become more bitter as they mature.

    It is also known as hedge garlic or Jack-by-the-hedge as it likes shady places. The "Jack" is a reference to the devil (probably by someone not a fan of garlic).

    The young leaves look a bit like stinging nettles but are brighter green. As the leaves get larger, they get less toothed and are more heart-shaped. It has white flowers in April and early May with 4 small petals forming a cross.

  13. At the public footpath sign, go through the gate and follow the left hedge to a gateway with a slate gatepost.

    Although it's obvious that you should ensure any gates that you open, you also close, what about gates you find that are already open?

    If the gate is fully open then leave it alone as it may well be providing livestock access to a water supply, and by closing it you could end up killing them.

    If the gate is ajar or swinging loose and not wedged or tied open then it's likely that the gate was left open by accident (possibly by another group of walkers). Properly closing the offending gate behind you will not only bring joy to the landowner but you can feel good about saving lives in a car swerving to avoid a cow in the road.

    If you encounter a gate doubly-secured with twine that can be untied or a chain that can be unfastened, it's normally there because naughty animals have managed to undo the gate themselves a some point (e.g. by rubbing against the bolt), so retie/fasten it afterwards.

  14. Go through the gateway into the field on the left and head for the footbridge at the bottom of the field.

    Dandelion is a corruption of the French dent de lion (lion's tooth), which is thought to refer to the shape of the leaves. The plant is a member of the sunflower family.

    Rooks nest in colonies and are one of the most social members of the crow family. Scientists have found that rooks are happy to work cooperatively to solve problems (e.g. each pulling on a separate string to release food).

  15. Cross the footbridge and head straight up the field to a waymark; then bear right slightly to reach a kissing gate.

    The stream is the one that meets the sea at Backways Cove. Its source is a pair of springs in the fields near Delabole. There are slate quarries either side of the springs so presumably the contours in slate bedrock channel the water permeating through the soil in the fields on the higher ground at Delabole to these points.

  16. Go through the kissing gate and bear right slightly across the field to another kissing gate.

    Trecarne Farm was first recorded in 1309 but was spelt Talcarn. The name is thought to originate from the Cornish word carn meaning "rock-pile" and from tal meaning "front" or "end" rather than tre.

  17. Go through the gate and bear left across the field to a kissing gate in far left corner near the barn.

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

  18. Go through the gate and head to the gateway in the left corner of the far hedge.
  19. Go through the gateway and follow the left hedge to a gate in the far corner.
  20. Go through the gate and walk straight ahead to the gate in the corner of the field.

    Rabbits were originally from the Iberian peninsula and were brought to Britain by the Normans and kept in captivity as a source of meat and fur. Rabbits are able to survive on virtually any vegetable matter and with relatively few predators, those that escaped multiplied into a sizeable wild population. Rabbits provide food for foxes, stoats and birds of prey.

  21. Go through the kissing gate on the right of the gate and follow the right hedge to a stile in the right corner of the field.

    Swallows are often found near herds of livestock where the flies that swallows catch are more numerous. It is thought that swallows were much rarer before humans started keeping animals. Consequently, the rise of veganism is not good news for swallows - a decline in dairy farming and increase in arable will inevitably result in their decline.

    The reason moles create tunnels is that these act as worm traps. When a worm drops in, the mole dashes to it and gives it a nip. Mole saliva contains a toxin that paralyses earthworms and the immobilised live worms are stored in an underground larder for later consumption. Researchers have discovered some very well-stocked larders with over a thousand earthworms in them! To prepare their meal, moles pull the worms between their paws to force the earth out of the worm's gut.

  22. Cross the stile and continue along the right hedge to a gate.

    The waterwheel on the barn ahead is thought to date from the 18th Century and to have powered farm machinery. The stream that now goes across the top of the field used to feed the waterwheel from above via a wooden launder. The water then ran downhill alongside the buildings and then along the bottom of the field (where a ditch can still be seen before) continuing on the watercourse in the previous field.

    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.

  23. Go through the gate on the right of the buildings and turn left. Follow the track past the buildings to a gate across the track.

    In farms around Cornwall, harvest was celebrated with traditions such as "crying the neck".

    Neck - a miniature sheaf of wheat with four plaited arms, intertwined with everlastings and the more durable of flowers. The stalks of wheat brought down by the last sweep of the scythe are brought home in thankful triumph, and woven as described. In the evening, the sheaf or zang is taken into the mowhay, where are assembled all the harvest party.

    A stout-lunged reaper proclaims: "I hav'en! I hav'en! I hav'en!"
    Another loud voice questions: "What hav'ee? What hav'ee? What hav'ee?"
    "A neck! A neck! A neck!" is the reply;
    and the crowd take up, in their lustiest tones, a chorus of "Wurrah".

    General merriment follows and the draughts of ale and cider are often deep. The neck may be seen hanging to the beam of many of our farm-houses between harvest and Christmas eve, on which night it is given to the master bullock in the chall. "Hollaing the neck" is still heard in East Cornwall, and is one of the cheerfullest of rural sounds.

    Since the 20th century, the Federation of Old Cornwall Societies has been reviving this tradition; the ale part sounds good.

  24. Go through the gate and continue following the track (which becomes a tarmacked lane) until it ends in a junction opposite Treligga Farm Cottages.

    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. Flowers appear from June to August and their fragrance is due to a class of chemical compounds known as jasminoids that occur in, as you might have guessed, jasmine but also Ceylon tea. Honeysuckle is the food plant of the White Admiral caterpillar so keep a look for the butterflies in summer.

    Tarmac's name has Scottish origins. In around 1820, engineer John McAdam pioneered a road building technique using stone chippings. Roads made from such chippings were then known as "macadam" surfaces (rather than McAdam) which is the origin of the "mac".

  25. At the junction, bear right and follow the road to a fork.

    Treligga was recorded as the manor of Treluga in the Domesday survey of 1086 when it had "land for 2 ploughs" and "Pasture, 6 acres". Other than the obvious "tre-" part, the origin of the name is unknown.

  26. Stay right at the fork, passing the old chapel and follow the bend to the left, to a junction.

    The Wesley brothers arrived in Cornwall in 1743 and began preaching, bringing with them charismatic lay preachers who spoke in the dialect of the locals. During the 18th Century in Cornwall, a rift had developed between the the elite Anglican clergy and the majority of the population who were predominantly miners, farmers and fishermen. The "down to earth" nature of the Methodists appealed greatly and is one of the reasons it was enthusiastically adopted.

  27. Turn right at the junction and follow the track indicated with "to the Coastpath" to the end of the tarmac. Continue onto the grassy path ahead to reach a waymarked gate.

    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.

  28. Go through the kissing gate on the right of the gate and follow the left hedge to a pedestrian gate in the hedge opposite.
  29. Go through the gate and follow the left hedge to a slate stile in the hedge opposite.

    A typical pattern of sea temperatures in Cornwall is shown below, although it can vary by a degree or two between years

    JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
    10109101214161716141211
    Jan10
    Feb10
    Mar9
    Apr10
    May12
    Jun14
    Jul16
    Aug17
    Sep16
    Oct14
    Nov12
    Dec11
  30. Cross the stile and follow the path between the wall and the fence until you reach a gate with a pedestrian gate alongside in a fence ahead.

    The cluster of houses ahead is Port Isaac.

    Port Isaac is a pretty fishing village with narrow winding alleys running down the steep hillside to the harbour. Particularly noteworthy is the number of 18th and 19th century white-washed cottages and granite, slate-fronted houses, many officially listed as of architectural or historic importance. Port Isaac was a busy coastal port from the Middle Ages to the mid 19th century, where cargoes like slate, coal and timber were shipped in and out. The stone pier was built in Tudor times, and the rest of the harbour in the 19th century. The economy was also heavily based around the pilchard trade.

  31. Go through the pedestrian gate (or the main gate if open) and follow the left hedge until you reach a slate waymark in the far corner of the field where you meet the path to the beach.

    The manor of Tregardock was recorded in the Domesday survey of 1086 with "land for 3 ploughs. Pasture, 10 acres". The place name is thought to be based on a personal name from the early mediaeval period.

  32. Turn right and follow the path down the valley towards the sea, passing through a kissing gate until you reach a waymark.

    Tregardock beach is about a mile along the coast from Trebarwith Strand, in the direction of Port Isaac and is reached via a public footpath that crosses the coast path to reach the farm at Tregardock. There is no beach at high tide at Tregardock. As the tide goes out, several small beaches merge into a long stretch of sand. A waterfall plummets from the cliffs at the back of the beach and there are some caves within the cliffs. The largest part of the beach is on the left and this gets cut off as the tide rises, so check the tide times carefully and don't get stranded when the tide comes in!

  33. At the waymark, the walk continues to the right on the coast path. Beforehand, you may walk down to the beach, explore, and then return to the waymark to continue on the walk. Follow the coast path over a slate footbridge and up the side of the valley to a gate.

    Common gorse flowers have a coconut-like scent but rather than fresh coconut, it is reminiscent of desiccated coconut or the popular brand of surf wax, Mr Zoggs. However, not everyone experiences the smell in the same way: for some people it's very strong and for others it quite weak. One complicating factor is that Western Gorse flowers don't have any scent, so you need to be sniffing a tall gorse plant to test yourself.

    Flower scents are volatile organic compounds which drift though the air and has evolved as an advertisement to pollinating insects that nectar is available. Squeezing the flowers releases these compounds onto the surface where they can evaporate and therefore intensifies the smell. Similarly the warming effect of sunlight helps the compounds to evaporate faster and so the smell is more intense on sunny days.

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    Bluebells are also known by folk names based on their shape including Lady’s Nightcap and Witches’ Thimbles.

    Other common names for the bluebell include "wild hyacinth" and "wood hyacinth" as they are related to the hyacinth family. Their Genus name Hyacinthoides also means "hyacinth-like".

    Skylarks are the most common member of the lark family in Britain and are often known simply as "larks".

    Skylarks are one of the most widely distributed of all British birds, found from coastal dunes to mountain tops. In Cornwall, they can be seen both in coastal fields and on Bodmin Moor. The coastal heath is a particularly good habitat for them, being mild but with fairly short vegetation in which they can hunt for insects.

  34. Go through the gate and follow the coast path across Treligga Common to reach a wooden gate with a kissing gate alongside.

    Between Tregardock and Backways Cove lie the remains of Treligga Aerodrome (HMS Vulture II). Both the observation/control tower and the reinforced hut near the sea (towards Backways Cove) are still standing, as are the accommodation and service huts near Treligga village. The control tower has quite recently been repaired and converted into accommodation.

    Before the Second World War, HMS Vulture II was used as a glider site. However the Admiralty requisitioned 260 acres of land in late 1939 for the purposes of constructing an aerial bombing and gunnery range. Unusually, the entire operation at HMS Vulture II was staffed by the Women's Royal Naval Service.

    On 16 September 1943, an American B-17 Flying Fortress was forced to make an emergency landing at HMS Vulture II. The pilot, Capt Jack Omohundro, had ignored a red flare warning him to keep clear. The plane was chronically short of fuel and running on three engines after a raid on U-boat pens at Nantes in France. The bomber had left its formation to try and preserve what little fuel it had left. Spotting the tiny Treligga airstrip, he skilfully landed "wheels-down" just 50 yards short of the Wrens quarters.

  35. Go through the kissing gate and continue on the coast path until you reach a slate bridge at the bottom of the deep valley at Backways Cove.

    The carpets of tiny blue flowers on the coast during April and May are the appropriately-named spring squill, which up close is a star-shaped pale blue flower with a dark blue stamen. They achieve their early flowering by storing energy over the winter in a bulb so they can be the first flowers out on the cliffs before they become overshadowed by larger plants. They thrive in locations which are beaten with wind and salt-laden spray which they are able to tolerate but other plants, which might otherwise out-compete them, cannot.

    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.

  36. Cross the bridge and bear left to cross a wooden footbridge over a stream.

    From here you can follow the paths to the left to explore the rocky beach of Backways Cove. The path to the left, before you cross the slate bridge, leads down to the cove but is slippery in wet weather. On the other side of the footbridge, paths lead to the remains of the quarry workings.

    Backways Cove is a small rocky inlet and beach at the bottom the the valley below Trebarwith Village, just south of Trebarwith Strand. The location features in "The International Directory of Haunted Places":

    "Backways Cove, a North Cornwall inlet just up the coast from Trebarwith Strand, is still haunted by many unidentified presences who are thought to be the spirits of shipwrecked sailors whose bodies washed up there after they drowned. Numerous ships were torn apart on the jagged rocks offshore, and the shadowy spirits of their crew are still trying to make it to shore."
  37. After exploring Backways Cove, walk up the valley keeping the stream on your right until you reach a gate into a field.

    Hemlock grows along the banks of the stream.

    Hemlock is a member of the carrot family (related to cow parsley and alexanders) and is common in damp, shady places, particularly near streams. The stems are tubular and quite thick like alexanders and the leaves look quite like flat-leaf parsley (more toothed on the edges than alexanders) and a bright green colour similar to coriander leaves. New leaves begin to shoot in early winter and by February these are starting to grow into quite noticeable small plants. It flowers in April and May with white flowers similar to cow parsley. It has a deceptively pleasant sweet smell but don't be tempted to try eating it: this is the most poisonous plant in UK. Just a handful of leaves can kill a human and a root contains enough poison to kill a cow.

  38. Go through the kissing gate and follow the path to a waymarked opening in the middle of the far hedge.

    The bottom field is hedged with blackthorn.

    To make sloe gin, wash your sloes and prick each one with a fork. Put your pricked sloes into a container with a lid and a suitably large neck so you can pour them out later - 4 litre milk containers, washed out very thoroughly, are ideal. Fill about 80% of the way to the top with the cheapest gin you can find (don't waste your money on expensive gin as you are about to transform it into something altogether different). Fill the remaining 20% with white sugar (it looks a lot but sloes are incredibly bitter and this offsets it) and leave to infuse for a few months; agitate gently occasionally to help the sugar dissolve without mashing the sloes which would make your drink cloudy. Drain the beautiful red liquid into a decanter to admire before consumption.

    Blackthorn wood is very tough and hard-wearing. In order to form its thorns, the tree allows the tips of the tiny stems that make up the thorns to die. The dead wood in the thorn tip is harder and therefore sharper than the living wood.

  39. Go through the opening and head to a waymarked gateway in the top of the far hedge.
  40. Go through the gate and follow the fence on the right to a gap in the far hedge.
  41. Go through the gap and turn right onto the track. Follow the track, passing through any gates across the track, to reach a waymark at a junction of tracks just after the track enters a field.

    The flowers of the hawthorn are known as "May Blossom" and were traditionally used as decorations in May Day celebrations. Now, however, the hawthorn generally doesn't flower until the middle of May. The reason for this is that May has moved! Until 1752, Britain used the Julian Calendar which had leap years every 4 years but no other corrections. This results in a length of day that is fractionally too long, so the first of May gradually slipped forwards over the centuries. By the 1700s, the first of May was 11 days ahead of where it is today.

    In sheltered places, hawthorn trees can reach 20-40ft in height and live up to 400 years. In harsher environments such as the coast and moors they can be as little as 5-6ft tall.

  42. Bear right to continue following the track uphill to reach a gate. Go through this to reach a lane opposite Trebarwith Farm.

    A watermill powering a large threshing machine was once located near the start of the track from Trebarwith Village to Backways Cove. The 20ft diameter water wheel, which can still be seen in the undergrowth, was connected to a drive shaft which ran (and still remains) under the road, and powered a threshing machine in a stone barn at Trebarwith Farm, which prior to this, had been powered by horses. The threshing machine allowed the previously time-consuming manual task of separating wheat and barley grains from the stalks and husks to be automated, saving large amounts in labour costs.

  43. Turn right onto the lane and follow it a short distance to a junction.

    The settlement of Trebarwith was recorded in the Domesday survey of 1086 as Treberbet. The name is from the Cornish word perveth and means "middle farm". The name of the nearby beach - Trebarwith Strand - was taken from this small farmstead, but the large, sandy beach has become far more well-known than the place from which its name originates. In fact just about everyone uses "Trebarwith" to refer to the beach and distinguishes the settlement as "Trebarwith Village".

  44. Turn left at the junction and follow the lane for a few paces to a path on the left marked with a public footpath sign.
  45. Take the footpath on the left, between the trees. Follow the path through the wooden gate ahead then pass a farmyard gate on your left to reach a sequence of metal gates ahead alongside the stone wall of the building.

    Hedgerows with plenty of bushes provide an ideal habitat for blackbirds.

    Blackbirds in the UK are resident all year round but the blackbirds that live further north (e.g. in Norway) migrate south for the winter. To help with migration and also to avoid being eaten by predators, blackbirds can sleep half their brain at a time. This allows them to get some rest whilst still maintaining enough alertness to fly or spot predators.

  46. Go through the sequence of metal gates ahead alongside the stone wall. Once in the field, turn right and follow the right hedge toward a pair of gateways.

    The cattle breeds known as Devon were also the traditional breeds used in Cornwall until recent years. The South Devon breed, affectionately known as "Orange Elephant" or "Gentle Giant", is the largest of the British native breeds: the largest recorded bull weighed 2 tonnes. They are thought to have descended from the large red cattle of Normandy, which were imported during the Norman invasion of England. The other breed, known as "Devon Ruby" or "Red Ruby" (due to their less orange colouration), is one of the oldest breeds in existence, with origins thought to be from pre-Roman Celtic Britain.

  47. Go through the gateway on the left and walk along the right hedge to another gateway.

    The settlement on the opposite side of the valley is Treknow.

    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.

  48. Go through the gateway into the next field and bear left slightly across the field to a stile mid-way down the far hedge.
  49. Cross the stile and bear left across the field to a stile in the bottom corner of the far hedge.
  50. Cross the stile and follow the path to the driveway to Fentafriddle Farm. Turn left onto this to follow the track down to the Trebarwith Strand road.

    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".

  51. Turn right onto the road and follow it up the hill until you reach the car park at Jeffrey's Pit to complete the walk.

    If you've not quite had enough walking, a footpath leads into the woods at the top of the grassy area.

    Upstream of Jeffrey's Pit, at the top of Trebarwith Valley, the public footpath runs for a 15-20 minute walk alongside the stream through ancient woodland. Few people go up here, so it's a peaceful spot and a good place to see wildlife. In early spring, you're likely to see frogs breeding in the stream. In April and May, the woodland floor is carpeted in bluebells contrasted by brilliant celandine, primroses and delicate wood sorrel flowers - an indicator that this has been under woodland for a long time.

either as a GPS-guided walk with our app or a PDF

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