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Wednesday, 5 September 2012

South West Coast Path - Roseland Peninsular Circular Walk

Place ferry

A 10 mile circular walk around Cornwall's Roseland Peninsular taking in St Anthony's Head and Porthscatho.

A simple and not too strenuous walk around the tip of the Roseland Peninsular. This encompasses the section of the South West Coast Path between Porthscatho and the ferry point at Place that provides a service across to Falmouth. St Anthony's Head lighthouse with its adjacent Military Battery and the village of Porthscatho are the highlights of this simple circular walk.

Trewince Circular Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
TrewinceView in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
TrewinceView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
10 miles
Walk difficulty
Fairly easy walk, a few climbs but nothing too challenging

Accommodation:

Trewince Farm Touring Site Camp site View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Website
Description
Trewince Farm Touring Site

Walk Data

Date of Walk
2012-06-27
Walk Time
14:30 to 20:30
Walkers
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Dense Fog throughout

Walk Notes

This was the fourth day of a two week walking holiday along South Cornwall section of the South West Coast Path based at the Bay view Campsite near Looe

Base Camp

This was the day we needed to move basecamp from Looe down to Trewince on the Roseland Peninsular for a couple of nights. This was necessary as this section along the peninsular is pretty remote when it comes to public transport to link the start and end of walks. The aim was to cover the distance from Mevagissey to Place in two walks though there was some apprehension on whether we would complete this due to the miserable weather that had set in. So far our expeditions had been ravaged with with days of rain, fog, storms and high winds. A British summer? The worse summer walking weather I had ever endured over such a continuous timescale. In fact the journey from Looe to Trewince was through varying degrees of fog and the weather forecast from BBC Radio Cornwall held little promise for the foreseeable few days with the prospect of fog followed by high winds the next evening. One of the tent poles had already fractured from the storm that had hit us on the first night, so on seeing the campsite empty apart from a solitary tent in the far corner of the field, we requested a change from our allocated pitch on the booking for a pitch close to the fields boundary hedge which would offer a little more protection against the elements.

The Walk

It was early afternoon by the time tent was pitched and boots were laced ready to walk but this was all in the plan. The lane from the campsite led down to the end of Porth Creek where a footpath followed the creek around to the Fal estuary and onto the South West Coast Path at Place. This was easy walking through woodland although there were numerous slippery and muddy sections. The fog varied in its thickness from pea soup to a hazy mist allowing a few brief glimpses across the estuary to St Mawes. As with the previous days walking there was always the concern of safety in such weather conditions. The walk around the creek to Place was all low level and clearly defined so there was little hesitation about setting forth along this. Once the the route joined the South West Coast path it ascended to the cliff-tops and followed the coastline to Porthscatho. The map depicted a few contours but nothing that looked too strenuous. The rolling grassy tops of the cliffs held little in the way of hazards and we were comfortable with there being little danger along this section.

As we headed up to St Anthony's Head the fog really closed in and the only visible thing was the light of the lighthouse which intermittently flashed across the scene accompanied by the low pitched lighthouse fog horn. The last stretch up to the lighthouse was a paved path on which was congregated a host of people gazing out to sea, some with binoculars, some paying a little nonchalant attention to the white lighthouse building, some casually glancing over at a tall sailing ship which sat anchored close to the cliff, sails down and no signs of life. We could hear muttered conversation and wondered why this small section of coast was attracting so much attention. There was nothing to see other than fog. It seemed so strange that so many people would want to come down to view the lighthouse of which they weren't really paying much attention to. Maybe they were a local lighthouse enthusiast group though there appeared to be no connection between the groups of people. A small fishing boat came into view bobbing up and down on the swell. The deckhands pulled up some lobster pots, then off it scuttled into the nothingness of fog and the brief entertainment was over leaving the hoards to return to their fog gazing activities. Strange people.

The path zig zagged up the cliff from the lighthouse to a car park and the St Anthony Tearooms, a pleasant cafe in the former St Anthony Battery cottages, which served teas and snacks in a typical English country garden. Despite the dismal day, the garden held a little bit of summer with plenty of colourful flowers and greenery and even the air had warmth to it despite the fog. The large pot of tea must have given us four cups of tea each which gave us ample time to gaze around the garden.

From the tearooms, the path led around St Anthony's Head, past the old gun battery and onto the rolling hills. More folk passed us, all gazing out into the empty beyond. Maybe they weren't lighthouse enthusiasts after all, maybe they were fog enthusiasts and this was a particularly rare type of fog, and we, being uneducated in the matter of fog distinction, were oblivious to the fact that here, on this very day, we were walking through a very rare strain of fog, the likes of which can only be experienced once in a blue moon if we were lucky. Maybe even rarer than that. And we were oblivious. The uncultured souls that we were. Rare Fog and we knew absolutely nothing about it, it just looked like plain common or garden fog.

As we rounded the corner of Zone Point and started our way to Porthmellin Head we met a middle-aged lady ambling along in the opposite direction. She offered a comment on the weather as a precursor to conversation. 'Never known a summer like it' was the phrase that broke the ice and she asked if we were there to see the racing. Racing? What Racing? Didn't we know this was the much awaited racing of the J-Class Yachts around the coast and up the Falmouth estuary. I glanced around. Fog! 'It was a little better yesterday but I don't think I will see anything today' she related. I looked out into the fog again. Squinted. No sign of yachts, just fog. 'They ARE racing today' she authoritatively spoke. J Class Yachts, these are vintage large sailing vessels designed between 1930 and 1937 and originally sailed by the wealthy elite to compete in the America's Cup. A unique and mighty fine sight to behold when the fog allowed. The realisation dawned. These hoards of people were not fog enthusiasts, not lighthouse enthusiasts but had come to watch the yacht racing. The sailing vessel we had seen by the lighthouse must have been one of those yachts. There was still another two days of racing to go. 'Hopefully', the lady optimistically spoke, 'the weather will lift'. I only hoped the weather would life to be able to see a little more scenery. We left her, still longingly looking out to sea, hoping to catch a glimpse. Somewhere out there was a yacht race in progress.

Despite the fog, the walk through to Porthscatho was a very pleasant and easy stroll along the cliff-tops with some limited views of Towan Beach, where there was even a few people paddling despite the gloom. The route entered Porthscatho through a gate that led from the grassy field onto a paved path. Here a family looked out, dubious as to whether to continue. The man asked us how far we had walked and on relating our days progress, they stepped back with even more apprehension as to whether to continue. We left them debating whether to proceed. I wished we could have encouraged them to step forward to the challenge. IT was a good easy walk despite the gloom.

Porthscatho was quiet. Very quiet. A car drove past as we meandered around the quay. The tide was out. A slippery seaweed covered slipway led to the vacant beach. Too slippy to stand on. And it smelt. IT must have been a right stench for my ineffective nostrils to catch a whiff. An old man walked by as we wandered around to River Street where there was easy access to the beach. The mist lurked. Kat paced across the firm damp rippled sand to dip her feet into the tranquil waters and clean her muddy feet.

Behind the quay, on the road up to Gerrans, was The Plume of Feathers, a pub with a few wooden benches set on the pavement. Inside, it was comfortably busy, surprising with it only being 5.30 on such a deserted and dull Wednesday. There was a single vacant table with two chairs at the far end of the lounge, its presence beckoned us to take the weight from our legs. Adjacent to this table, next to a doorway with steps down into another room, a young couple lounged on the seats against the wall. Talking. Happily exchanging their plans for the evening. Relaxed and no air of formality. The soiled walking boots, the loose trousers and the well used old canvas rucksack gave away the fact that they were most likely walkers of some description. Definitely not fashion walkers who gear up in these modern scientific bright coloured fabrics. These looked like true country ramblers. Their conversation jostled with ours and we were soon mingling our talk between each other. I could not help but notice the distinctiveness of the dude. He was a dude. Tied back hair and what can only be described as a very funky long thin curling moustache on such a young face. A real dude of the first degree. I hate to be stereotypical but any dude with such an exquisite characteristic as a funky thin long curling moustache on a young face had to have a camper van. They had a camper van. It was parked up at St Anthony's Head and they had to get back there along the coast path which they were sure was going to be a pleasant evenings stroll. However, they were holding on for food to be served which did not begin until seven o'clock. That meant idling the time with beer or three. They got more beer in. He was on the ale and she was drinking small glasses of coke. They loved walking. They loved the outdoors and the freedom it provided. They loved Cornwall. A few years ago, during his university years, he had spent a summer walking the entire length of the South West Coast Path in one long arduous hike with just a bivouac for shelter and eating cheaply from cafes and corner shops. The complete 630 miles. All the way from Minehead to Poole. That was a talking point. I had to admire anyone who walks 630 miles in one go. It was a wish of my own, an ambition to fulfill, but time and economics always put a block on such an expedition. Maybe one day.

"I cant remember a single thing about the Roseland Peninsular" he admitted. Even this visit had not jogged memories and it was like a brand new experience for him. The downside of walking the whole length of a National Trail in one go is that it soon becomes a challenge to reach the end and one cove becomes much the same as all the other coves, just another descent and ascent back to the cliff-top. One small fishing village becomes much the same as all the other small fishing villages that is passed through without investigation or exploration. A headland becomes an additional couple of miles to get around before continuing in the ultimate direction of the destination. The walk just becomes a walk, a challenge, a means to get to the end. You don't get to know the places one passes through. I had to agree with such a statement. One can never know a path properly until one explores it. That is why they had returned. To discover this fantastic path a little more. To experience another aspect of it and to discover a little more of its secrets. To know a path properly one has to walk it many times. Forwards, backwards, in spring, in Summer, in autumn and in winter. In rain, in sun, in fog, in snow. And even then, even after you have walked a path so many times, a hundred times, a thousand times even, when you think you know every inch of it intimately, it will surprise you with another hidden gem, another sight that you had not seen before. That is the nature of paths. One can never tire of a good footpath.

The food started being served and our conversation stopped. We all ordered and heartily ate our fill before departing with just a simple goodbye. We continued up to St Gerrans and, after a quick pint at The Royal Standard headed along the lanes back to the campsite. It was a good day despite the fog. One lighthouse. No yachts. Lots of fog.

A medieval coffin, not a very common sight on the South West Coast Path
A medieval coffin, not a very common sight on the South West Coast Path

Directions

Follow the well marked South West Coast Path trail which is marked with the usual National Trail Acorn waymarkers.

Walk around Porth Creek

The lane from Gerrans down to St Anthony leads past the Trewince Touring Site. this descends down to the end of the Porth Creek and a footpath sign on the right leads into the wooded area. Keep to the footpath along the edge of the creek ignoring other paths away from the edge. This eventually joins the South West Coast Path at Place Ferry.

From the Ferry follow the National Trail acorn waymarkers along the coast up to Porthscatho.

Place house
Place house

Pubs

The Plume of Feathers, Porthscatho View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub

A delightful 18th Century pub offering a warm welcome throughout the year. A varied menu using locally sourced produce where possible seven days a week. A St Austells house, there are the usual St Austell ales on offer.

Review

St Austells Tribute and Dartmoor Ale were both on offer and both very nice beer indeed. Tribute appears to be available across the UK so the Dartmoor is a little more special and is a wonderful hoppy session beer. The pub soon filled up after 6pm with people arriving for dining. Luckily we got our orders in early and the food was excellent, a special of locally caught mackerel with boiled potatoes and vegetables, which was well worth the wait.

The Royal Standard, Gerrans View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Address
The Royal Standard, Gerrans
Website

The Royal Standard was built in 1793 by local blacksmith William Pearce on a piece of waste ground owned by the Enys Estate. The large first floor room has been used as a School Room, a Picnic Room and for village meetings. In times gone by beer was brewed on the premises and there was stabling for horses and also a skittle alley. The pub became a freehouse in April 2012 and offers a Sharps ales Cornish Orchard Cider which is a local brew. Occasionally offers locally brewed Wooden Hand ales, Pirates Gold and Cornish Gribben ale.

Review

Despite it being early evening hour the pub was packed with diners. There was a lot of banter going on between a group in one of the alcoved bars and the barstaff giving a very friendly and congenial atmosphere. Even at early evening hours there was no space to sit such is the popularity of the place. The only ale being served on this occasion was Sharps Doom Bar, this fruity little number being very quaffable.

A foggy Porthscatho
A foggy Porthscatho

Features

PlaceView in OS Map | View in Google Map

At the southerly tip of the Roseland Peninsular is the village of Place where the ferry departs for St Mawes and Falmouth. The most prominent part of the village when walking up from the ferry is Place House, a French style Chateau built on the site of the former priory in 1861 by the Sir Thomas Spry. In front of the house is large pond which used to be the millpond to a tide mill that was built in 1540 and was used by the priory to mill grain. It was eventually demolished and the land filled in to provide gardens for the house.

Behind the house is the church of St Anthony, now maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust and dating from the 12th century. In the churchyard are a holy well and a medieval coffin, which was discovered when the chancel was rebuilt.

St Anthony's BatteryView in OS Map | View in Google Map

The battery which is on the northern side of where the lighthouse sits, was first constructed in 1897 and consisted of two sea facing gun emplacements that were in sight of other batteries at Pendennis and St Mawes to allow semaphore communication. A military road was constructed to access the battery. In 1904 the guns were replaced and it served as a Port War Signal Station and served throughout the first world war, eventually being withdrawn in 1924.

In 1939 the battery was rearmed and overhead covers fitted together with a hutted camp built to the north of the battery. The guns remained at the site until 1952. In 1959 the site was acquired by the National Trust and is now accessible to the public. The hutted camp has been demolished and the Officers quarters and armament workshop have been converted into holiday cottages.

St Anthony's LighthouseView in OS Map | View in Google Map

The lighthouse was built in 1835 prior to which the site had some rudimentary navigational aid such as flags. The original light came from eight Argand oil lamps, later being changed to pressure vapour and finally connected to the electricity supply in 1954. Today the light is automated, with a 15 second frequency and a red sector for The Manacles rocks and a range of 22 miles.

The lighthouse originally had a fog bell which hung from the gallery at the front of the tower was dismantled in 1954 and donated to a local church but, after many years of sitting on the church front lawn, was taken away to be melted down. This was replaced with a fog horn in 1954 which still sounds every 30 seconds when conditions are poor.

The lighthouse was featured in the UK version of Fraggle Rock, as "Fraggle Rock Lighthouse". Nearby St. Mawes also featured in some scenes from the programme.

St Anthony's Head LighthouseJ-Class yacht lurking in the fog
On the left St Anthony's Head Lighthouse; On the right J-Class yacht lurking in the fog

Images

Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. Feel free to browse through these or click on any image to view a larger version in the Gallery.

Click on an image below to view the Image Gallery

Maps

Below is the route depicted on the OpenStreetMap, Ordnance Survey Map and Google Map. Links to full page versions are found in the Essential Information

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: ... 2016-01-16

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