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.


  • 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.


Lovely walk.

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Vital statistics

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

OS maps for this walk

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


  • 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


  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.

    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.

    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.

  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.
  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 pass Downhouse cottage and reach a gateway into the field on the left. Enter the field and bear right off the track before it goes through the gap into the next field, then follow the left hedge of the field 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.
  10. Cross the stile or go through the gateway and follow the right hedge a short distance to another stile next to the gateway.

    Evidence of windmills in England dates from around the 12th century and in Cornwall there are records of windmills as far back as 1296. Wind turbines may be viewed as the modern successor but actually themselves date back to Victorian times: the first large windmill to generate electricity was built in 1888 in the USA, and in Cornwall, a private house was lit using electricity generated by a wind turbine in 1890.

  11. Go through the gateway and walk all the way along the right hedge, passing the buildings, to the corner where there is a waymark leading to a 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 past Upton Farm to a public footpath sign by a gateway on the left, just past the next house on the left.
  13. At the public footpath sign, go through the gate and follow the left hedge to a gateway.
  14. Go through the gateway into the field on the left and head for the footbridge at the bottom of the field.
  15. Cross the footbridge and head straight up the field to a waymark; then bear right slightly to reach a kissing gate.
  16. Go through the kissing gate and bear right slightly across the field to another kissing gate.
  17. Go through the gate and bear left across the field to a kissing gate in far left corner near the barn.

    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.

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

    You may encounter foxes in the fields here.

    The Red Fox has been present in Britain since the last Ice Age and is our most widespread and numerous predator. Foxes are omnivores: as well as hunting small mammals and birds, they will eat fruit and anything else they can scavenge, in fact a major component of their diet is earthworms. This flexibility has allowed them to adapt to farmed and urban environments but also varied natural environments including the coast. In the wild, a lucky fox can live an age of about 8 but the lifespan of most foxes is typically only 1.5 - 2 years. One reason for this is that around 100,000 foxes are killed on roads every year.

  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, turn 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 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 path ahead to reach a 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 next to 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.
  30. Cross the stile and follow the left hedge until you reach a gate in a fence.

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

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

    From the waymark you can walk down to the beach, explore, and then return to the waymark to continue on the walk.

    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, take the coast path towards Trebarwith Strand. Follow the path over a slate footbridge and up the side of the valley to a gate.
  34. Go through the gate and follow the coast path across Treligga Common, passing over the headlands of Tregonnick Tail and Start Point, until you reach a slate bridge at the bottom of the deep valley at Backways Cove.

    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. 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."
  36. After exploring Backways Cove, walk up the valley keeping the stream on your right until you reach a gate into a field.

    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.

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

    Once you've made your sloe gin, don't throw away your gin-soaked sloes! Instead buy some cheap sweet "cooking" cider (the kind that comes in 2 litre plastic bottles preferably with words like "value", "basic" or "economy"; do not commit heresy and waste good quality drinking cider) and replace the gin with this. Ensure your lid is on tight so your cider doesn't lose its fizz. Leave to infuse for a few more months for your cider to become osmotically fortified. The resulting delightful drink is known as "slider" (after several glasses anyway). Based on "experience", small-sized glasses are recommended.

    The name "Kissing Gate" is based on the way that the gate touches either side of the enclosure. Romantics may however wish to interpret the name as part of the walk instructions.

  38. Go through the opening and head to a waymarked gateway in the top of the far hedge.
  39. Go through the gate and follow the right hedge to a waymarked gap in the far hedge.
  40. Go through the gap and turn right onto the track. Follow the track, passing through any gates across the track, to a waymark at the bottom of a field
  41. At the waymark, bear right along and follow the path to a gate. Go through this to reach a lane opposite Trebarwith Farm.
  42. 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".

  43. 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.
  44. Take the footpath on the left, between the trees. Follow the path through the wooden gate ahead then pass a farmyard on your left to reach a series of metal gates alongside 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.

  45. Go through the sequence of gates. Once in the field, turn right and follow the right hedge toward a pair of gateways.
  46. Go through the gateway on the left and walk along the right hedge to another gateway.

    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.

    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.
  47. Go through the gateway into the next field and bear left slightly across the field to a stile mid-way down the far hedge.
  48. Cross the stile and bear left across the field to a stile in the bottom corner of the far hedge.
  49. 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".

  50. Turn right onto the road and follow it up the hill until you reach Jeffrey's Pit.

    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.

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