Truro to Roseworthy

A circular walk in the Kenwyn valley following the Kenwyn upriver from Truro's Victoria Gardens where the elaborate Victorian system of weir gates, a hydraulic ram and leats both maintained the fish pond in the gardens and provided drinking water for horses in the city centre.

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The walk begins beside the Court House and follows the leats to their source on the River Kenwyn. The walk then follows the Kenwyn Valley through New Mill to the woods at Treworder and crosses into the tributary valley at Roseworthy. The route returns along the tributary valley via Penrose Water Gardens to Ninnis at the confluence of the streams. The return to Truro is via Victoria Gardens.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 105 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 6.4 miles/10.2 km
  • Grade: Easy-moderate
  • Start from: End of Union Street
  • Parking: Union Street car park TR13AJ. From Trefalgar Roundabout, follow the B3264 signposted to Perranporth. Keep following the road until you reach a mini roundabout. Turn left at the roundabout and the car park is on your right.
  • Recommended footwear: walking shoes

OS maps for this walk

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


  • Quiet country walk in the Kenwyn Valley
  • Victorian architecture in Truro


  1. Make your way to the Court entrance and walk down the hill opposite until you reach a staggered pedestrian crossing with a black metal bollard.

    A Norman castle was built near the confluence of the Rivers Allen and Kenwyn and the small town of Truro grew beside this. By the beginning of the 14th Century, Truro was an important river port until trade collapsed due to a recession brought about by the Black Death and this resulted in the town being largely abandoned. During the Tudor and Elizabethan periods, trade returned and the town grew. During the mining boom of the 18th and 19th centuries the town prospered and was known as the "London of Cornwall" in Victorian times. Following the building of the cathedral, it was granted city status in 1877 by Queen Victoria and is the only city in Cornwall.

  2. Turn right to follow the path along The Leats. Continue ahead over a bridge with iron railings and between the walls to emerge onto a road.

    The open leat system running through the streets of Truro was created by the Victorians to supply drinking water for horses and for washing down the streets. Along many sections of the leat are steel eyes set into the granite using lead, which are thought to be where horses were tied up when people visited the shops. The leats were originally fed by the weir gate system below Victoria gardens. Water is now extracted without a gate to minimise the risk of flooding.

  3. Cross over Hendra Road and turn right to follow St George's Road beneath the viaduct. Keep following the road to reach a bend with a sign for Bosvigo.

    The main line railway through Cornwall was originally conceived as a means to link the port of Falmouth to London. However, whilst funds were being raised for the railway, much of Falmouth's Packet trade was transferred to Southampton. The line was built to Truro instead but initially failed to make money and was bought up by Great Western. Once established, the new railway allowed rapid exports of perishables to London including fresh flowers and fish. It also made large-scale tourism possible and the term "Cornish Riviera" was coined.

  4. Keep left to follow the road around the bend a short distance to where a footpath departs from the right through a metal kissing gate immediately after the 20 zone sign.

    Although it has become a perjorative nickname for tourists, the term "emmet" (from a Cornish dialect word for ant) was originally used quite generally to refer to a crowd of people seen from a distance. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the quarrymen scaling the cliffs on ropes were referred to as emmets. In Victorian times when tourism to Cornwall became popular, the term was also applied to the tourists on the beaches, seen from the cliffs. As quarrying either became uneconomical or mechanised, the large numbers of workers on the rock faces vanished and now use of the term for tourists is the only one surviving.

    Prior to Victorian times, visitors had been coming to Cornwall in small numbers for hundreds of years and consequently the Cornish language also contained a perjorative word for the less gracious of these: tervyajor, which transliterates to "tumultous voyager" i.e. "disruptive visitor".

  5. Go through the gate on the right and follow the path into the woods to reach a fork near the stream.
  6. Keep left at the fork and continue on the path to reach a gate ahead.
  7. Go through the gate and cross over the bridge and follow the path to a stile.
  8. Cross the stile onto a track and turn left to reach a road. Turn right onto the road and follow this until you reach a stile on the right.

    The settlement of Coosebean is Cornish for "small wood" and was first recorded around 1400. There was a mill here which was originally a "blowing house" used for smelting ore. During the 19th Century it was converted into woollen mills and paper mills. By 1827 it was one of the largest paper mills in Western England and employed 40 people but was destroyed by a fire in 1848. After this it was rebuilt as a corn mill.

  9. Cross the stile and follow the left hedge of the field to reach a stile leading to a wooded path.

    Blowing houses were mills used for smelting tin and are documented in Cornwall as early as 1402. A pair of bellows was powered by a water wheel, and was used to drive air into a furnace. An account from the late 18th century describes the operation:

    The fire-place, or castle, is about six feet perpendicular, two feet wide in the top part each way, and about fourteen inches in the bottom, all made of moorstone and clay, well cemented and clamped together. The pipe or nose of each bellows is fixed ten inches high from the bottom of the castle, in a large piece of wrought iron, called the Hearth-eye. The tin and charcoal are laid in the castle, stratum super stratum, in such quantities as are thought proper; so that from eight to twelve hundred weight of Tin, by the consumption of eighteen to twenty-four sixty gallon packs of charcoal, may be smelted in a tide or twelve hours time.

    The molten metal drained from the bottom of the furnace into a granite trough from which it was ladled into stone moulds. A stick was inserted into each, which burned away to leave a hole which could be used to lever the ingot from the mould.

  10. Cross the stile and follow the path to reach another stone stile, leading onto a lane.
  11. Cross the stile and turn right onto the lane. Follow the lane downhill to reach a junction on the left just before a ford sign.

    The settlement New Mill(s) was originally known by the Cornish name Melynnewyth which is how it was recorded in 1366. By 1748 it had been translated into English as Newmill. Locally it is still referred to in the singular but it appears pluralised on the OS map. The footbridge beside the ford is thought to date from the 18th Century with the iron railings added in Victorian times. The bridge consists of two clapper sections and a causeway linking them as it crosses both the River Kenwyn and the mill leat.

  12. Turn left and follow the lane uphill past Mill Cottage. Continue for three quarters of a mile to pass Little Canaan Farm and reach a junction with a triangular grassy island.

    The River Kenwyn passes along a culvert beneath the centre of Truro. If this becomes blocked or overwhelmed, the streets in the centre of the town flood and this has happened a number of times over the years. In 1988, Truro was unlucky enough to be flooded twice, seriously damaging the city centre with a cost estimated at £2 million. Following this, flood defences have been constructed around the city, including the emergency dam at New Mill and a tidal barrier on the Truro River. There is also regular cleaning and a debris screen for the culvert to ensure its capacity is not diminished through silting.

  13. Continue ahead at the junction and then keep right to follow the lane around the bend. Continue for a quarter of a mile to reach a track on the right marked with a Public Bridleway sign.

    Particularly if you're doing the walk in summer or early autumn, it's likely that there might be some nettles along sections of the paths for the next two directions. Therefore whilst you're walking along the road, look out for a stick for clearing any in the path later on.

  14. Turn right onto the track and walk a short distance to a waymark on the bridge. Turn right at this to follow the small path along the stream to reach a wooden footbridge just after the shed.

    The footpath for this and the next direction is "silver" status which means it is only cut if reported as needing it. If you spot that the footpath is becoming overgrown, please take a photo and email it to together with path number (309/6/1) and location (between Little Treworder and Treworder Farm). They will then get the Parish Council on the case. Thank you.

  15. Cross the bridge and after the wooden walkway, keep right to follow along the top of the bank, passing between the tree-trunks. At the end of the bank, keep right beneath the overhanging tree to join a path between two walls leading uphill. Continue following the path uphill until you eventually emerge on a track beside a farmyard.

    Nettles grow along the area of path below the overhanging tree and on the last section of path before the farm so carrying a stick for this section is advisable. Ensure your fellow walkers are stood well back if you a swinging a stick to avoid raining nettle leaves as well as the stick itself.

    The idea of eating something that can sting you seems wrong until you realise that nettles lose their sting as soon as you cook them, and they taste like spinach. Wearing gloves, strip off the young tender leaves, discarding any large coarse leaves and stems. Use lightly boiled, steamed or wilted as if it were spinach (though not raw unless you want to live dangerously!). All the usual spinach flavour combinations apply (e.g. with ricotta). Nettles are extremely nutritious, containing high levels of vitamin A and C, large amounts of iron and a significant amount of protein.

  16. Turn left to go through the gate into the farmyard and exit via the gate opposite. Continue a few paces to a junction of tracks and turn left through the wooden gate to the cottages. Keep right to pass the garages and follow the track uphill to reach a gateway into a field.

    The settlement of Treworder dates from the Dark Ages and was first recorded in 1327. Other than Tre- (Cornish for farmstead), the rest of the meaning is not known.

  17. Go through the gate and follow the right hedge of the field until you reach a farm gate on the right just past the pair of telegraph poles.
  18. Go through the gate and turn left onto the lane. Walk a short distance to reach a track leading through a gate on the right. Follow this into the field and follow the left hedge of the field to reach a gate in the bottom hedge.
  19. Go through the gate and the one opposite and follow the path to emerge onto an area of tarmac.
  20. Continue ahead to follow the tarmacked track. Follow this until it eventually ends in a T-junction with a lane.
  21. Turn right onto the lane and follow this to a junction. Keep right at the junction and follow the lane to a junction beside Penrose Kitchen.
  22. When you reach the junction at Penrose Kitchen, pass the entrance then bear right at the junction. Follow the lane over a ford until it ends in a junction.
  23. Keep right at the junction and follow the lane to reach a junction on the right.
  24. Keep left at the junction and follow the lane until you eventually reach a sign for a ford at the bottom of a hill beside a junction on the left.

    Ninnis Farm dates from mediaeval times and is from the Cornish an enys meaning "the island" because the farm is situated on a spur of land with rivers either side that meet in a confluence. In 1327 it was recorded in Latin as "De Insula".

  25. Turn left and follow the lane past Little Coombe to a narrow path on the right just after the houses.
  26. Follow the path on the right through the gate to reach a kissing gate into a field.
  27. Go through the gate into the field and cross it to a stile at the bottom of the far hedge where it meets the fence.

    If you are crossing a field in which there are horses:

    • Do not approach horses if they have foals, make loud noises nor walk between a foal and its mother as you may provoke the mother to defend her young. Generally the best plan is to walk along the hedges.
    • Horses will often approach you as they are used to human contact. If horses approach you, do not run away as this will encourage them to chase you. If you are uncomforable with their proximity, calmly walk away.
    • Do not feed the horses with sweets or otherwise. Some food which is harmless to humans can be deadly to horses.
    • If you have a dog, keep it under close control in a visible but safe place, and as still and quiet as possible.
  28. Cross the stile and follow the path ahead through the gap in the bushes to reach a gate and stile into the next field.

    Tall, yellow-flowering ragwort plants can be seen in the field here.

    Ragwort is fairly easy to recognise as a relatively tall plants with yellow flowers standing above surrounding grass.

    Ragwort has gained a bad reputation as when consumed in large quantities over a period of time by grazing animals such as horses, compounds in ragwort can cause irreversible liver damage. However, the plant is very bitter and therefore grazing animals generally avoid it unless there is absolutely nothing else to eat. It poses much more danger in hay because it loses its bitter taste when dried. Making it into a herbal tea is definitely not recommended!

    The leaves of ragwort have an unpleasant smell and so common names include stinking willy, stinking nanny and mare's fart.

    Ragwort was rated in the top 10 nectar-producing plants in a survey for pollinating insects on UK agricultural land. The plant has also become known as "Benyon's Delight" following Facebook comments describing it as a "vile poisonous weed" by Richard Benyon, the then government minister responsible for biodiversity.

  29. Cross the stile (or go through the gate if open) and take either of the two paths which rejoin later. Follow the path across the field to reach a stile.

    Dragonflies are named after the way they hunt, as both the larvae and adults are carnivorous predators. Their two sets of wings beat out of phase, and the frequency, amplitude and the angles of each set of wings can be controlled. This allows dragonflies to hover in a completely stationary position for over a minute, perform extravagant aerobatic manoeuvres and even fly backwards.

    Damselflies are predators similar to dragonflies but are easily distinguishable by the way their wings fold back parallel to the body when at rest whereas the dragonflies' wings are fixed at a right angle to the body. The Damselfly has a much smaller body than a dragonfly which means it has less stamina for flight. Nevertheless, it can hover, in a stationary position, long enough to pluck spiders from their webs.

  30. Cross the stile and follow the path into a field. Continue through the field to reach a fork in the path.
  31. Keep left at the fork to reach a waymark. Keep left at the waymark and follow the path through the fields to reach a stile beside the house in the far left corner at the final field.
  32. Cross the stile and follow the track to the road. Turn left and walk a few paces up the hill to a path on the right beneath the bushes beside a Single File Traffic sign.
  33. Follow the path from beside the Single File sign. When the path bends to the right and a small path leads ahead, keep right along the hedge and follow the path along a fence to emerge onto a tarmacked road.
  34. Turn left to climb the hill and then right at the junction to follow the road until it ends in a crossroads.

    Truro is where Cornish Fairings originated.

    Cornish Fairings are a thin, crisp biscuit flavoured with ginger. Given Cornwall's long trading history, you may be lulled into thinking this was another ancient link with spice merchants but in this case it isn't. The name "fairing" was a word in use throughout England meaning "edible goods bought at a fair" and these included gingerbread as far back as mediaeval times. During Victorian times, biscuits became a popular gift that working class men would buy for their sweethearts, and a number of manufacturers produced ginger biscuits known as "fairings". The Truro baker John Furniss began baking and selling ginger biscuits in his tea room in the late 1800s and these were so popular that they were soon sold by mail order all over the country, establishing the "traditional" Cornish Fairing that we know today. John Furniss' recipe originates from a country fair, possibly from the Launceston New Year "maid hiring" fair.

  35. Cross onto Tremayne Road ahead and follow this until ends in a T-junction.

    Our recipe for Cornish Fairings is as follows: Whizz 250g SR flour + 6g bicarb + 8g mixed spice + 7-9g ginger (depending how much ginger heat you like) + 3g cinnamon + 125g golden caster sugar (or similar) with 125g salted butter (or unsalted butter + 3g salt). Tip into a bowl and mix in 150g golden syrup to form a sticky dough. Form into balls about size of chestnuts. Place at least 5cm apart on well-greased baking tray and press lightly to form a fat disc (don't squash too much otherwise they won't develop a craggy surface). Bake for 15-17 mins at 150C (140C in a fan oven) until light brown (darker than golden or they won't be crunchy but be careful not to burn them as they will be darker underneath). Allow to cool for about 2 mins then gently free from trays with a plastic spatula when still warm and soft before they stick, then leave them there a bit longer to harden. Transfer a wire rack to cool fully. Makes 25-30. They freeze very well.

  36. Turn right at the junction and follow the road downhill to reach a track on the left at the end of the railings, just before the park.
  37. Turn left down the track and follow it beneath the viaduct to reach a number of paths radiating into Victoria Gardens.

    The viaduct through Truro carries the main railway line from Paddington to Penzance. The original viaduct was built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1859, but was replaced with the larger granite structure you see today in the early 1900s. Five piers from the Brunel's original viaduct still stand beneath it.

  38. Take the middle path and keep right on it to reach the fountain. Go up the steps on the left of the fountain to the bandstand and up the steps from this to reach an archway in the building.

    Victoria Gardens were created to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1898. The fountain was originally in Boscawen Street and was moved to the gardens shortly after they opened. A Victorian hydraulic ram raises water from the leats to the top of Victoria gardens which is used to supply the fish pond and cascades though the gardens back into the leat.

  39. Go through the arch and follow the path to return to the car park.

    Since at least 1259, and probably before this, there has been a Parish Church of St Mary located on the site of the cathedral. The cathedral architect, John Loughborough Pearson, cleverly incorporated the South Aisle of the 16th-century church into his design. Construction began in 1880 and the cathedral was consecrated and in use by 1887. John died in 1897 and the cathedral was finally completed in 1910 under the supervision of his son Frank who also went on to create a smaller version of the cathedral in Auckland, New Zealand.

Help us with this walk

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

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

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

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