Walk - Mount Edgcumbe

Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2019. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.

Route Description

  1. From the car park by Maker Church walk back up the drive a short distance to pick up the path on the right. Crossing the B3247 to go into the woods, carry on along the footpath ahead down to Lower Anderton, continuing straight ahead when another path crosses yours on the way down.

The name 'Maker' is derived from the Cornish 'magor', meaning 'ruin'. It is thought that the church was built using stone from the ruins of West Stonehouse, at Cremyll, which was burnt down by French invaders in 1350.

Maker Church was built around the start of the sixteenth century, possibly incorporating the nave and chancel of an earlier church (see the Hooe Lake Point Walk). It houses the family vault of the Edgcumbes, who have owned Mount Edgcumbe estate since 1493, when Sir Piers Edgcumbe of Cotehele acquired it through marriage. His descendant, Richard, was created Baron of Edgcumbe in 1742, and the third Baron was made the first Earl of Edgcumbe in 1789.

In the trees to the northeast of the church, just off the road, St Julian's well-chapel pre-dates the church, and is thought to date from the fourteenth century. It was restored in 1882 by the fourth Earl, William Henry, who restored St Michael's chapel the same year (see the Rame Head Chapel Walk).

  1. Turn left onto the track at the bottom of the field, crossing the Lower Anderton Road to carry straight on ahead along the waterside footpath around Palmer Point.

The settlement of Anderton was first documented in 1314, named from the Old English meaning 'under the down'. Until the middle of the nineteenth century there was a ropewalk alongside the river in Anderton, where strands of hemp would have been laid to twist them into rope.

  1. Stay by the water as you come to the quay at Empacombe, following the footpath signs around the buildings to continue above the shoreline to Cremyll.

In common with all tidal waterside areas, there were many thriving industries here from medieval times onwards. The remnants of these can be seen here and there as you walk along the path: a windmill built of granite in 1769; a limekiln where limestone was burnt to make lime for fertiliser and mortar, and a quarry thought to be source of the limestone; and from the Second World War, oil storage tanks and associated buildings.

Empacombe House, built in 1684 and extended in 1986, is the Cornish residence of the eighth Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, Robert Charles Edgcumbe, who succeeded to the title in 1982. Before that he was an estate manager in New Zealand.

  1. Coming out on the road by the Cremyll ferry landing, turn briefly right to take the path on the left to go through the gates to Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park. Joining the South West Coast Path, stay with it as it makes its way around the eastern shoreline of Mount Edgcumbe. Carry on through the park to climb steeply through the trees, following the acorn waymarkers and ignoring all paths and tracks heading inland to the right.

There was a ferry between Cremyll and Plymouth as early as the eleventh century (see the Plymouth Sound Walk).

Set in Grade I Cornish Gardens within 865 acres of country parkland, including a deer park enclosed by Sir Piers in 1515, Mount Edgcumbe House was built between 1547 and 1550. It was altered in the nineteenth century, but it was completely gutted by incendiary bombs in 1941, during the Second World War. It was rebuilt for the sixth Earl, and it was the Edgcumbe family seat until 1987, when the eighth Earl moved to Empacombe.

The Formal Gardens in this part of the park were laid out in the eighteenth century in the previous century's 'wilderness garden'. The English Garden is based around the 1729 English Garden House, and its magnificent trees include magnolias, cork oak and a ginkgo. The orange trees in the Orangery were taken out into the Italian Garden every year, to be with the mermaids and fountains, while the formal flower beds in the French Garden are tidily enclosed within box hedges. There are modern American and New Zealand Gardens, reflecting family connections, and a Jubilee Garden created to celebrate Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee in 2002.

Below the French and Italian Gardens are the 1758 private-saluting Earl's Battery, and the 1863 Garden Battery, built to cover the channel to Plymouth Dockyard between West Hoe and Drake's Island (see the Cawsand & Polhawn Forts Walk). The Blockhouse was one of Henry VIII's coastal fortifications, built in the sixteenth century amid fears of a combined French and Spanish invasion.

Other features in this part of the park once included a fortified bowling green, dated to 1690, and a classical-style Harbour View Seat, with spectacular views of the Tamar from its high vantage point. Another viewpoint over the Cremyll was provided by the 1760 Neo-classical temple-fronted pavilion known as Thomson's Seat, with verses from James Thomson's 'The Seasons' inscribed on the wall.

Milton's Temple was built in 1755 and is inscribed with a verse from Milton's 1667 'Paradise Lost'. Beyond it, at Ravenness Point, the eighteenth-century Folly was also built from stone salvaged from the old church at West Stonehouse. Lady Emma's Cottage, built in the nineteenth century in the Arts and Crafts style, was named after Emma, wife of the first Earl, George Edgcumbe, who married her in 1761.

  1. After Lady Emma's cottage the path ascends steeply by means of the ZigZags. Climb these to continue around Redding Point, ignoring the paths inland to stay on the Coast Path.

There was another coast battery at Redding Point Battery, constructed in 1760 to cover the bridge channel and the west of Plymouth Sound.

  1. As it approaches Picklecombe Point, the path turns to the right to head inland around the back of Fort Picklecombe. Carry on past the Picklecombe Seat as the path turns back towards the coast and starts descending.

The 1788 Picklecombe Seat, unlike the park's other viewpoint shelters, was not built in the Neo-Classical style of the time, but was assembled from medieval fragments and designed to celebrate antiquity. Below it, Fort Picklecombe was built in 1851, on the site of Sir Richard Grenville's 1545 'Picklecombe New Bulwark'. The eighteenth-century fort was one of the ring of fortifications around Plymouth Sound known as 'Palmerston Follies' (see the Cawsand & Polhawn Forts Walk).

  1. After Picklecombe you come to a junction of paths. Leave the Coast Path as it starts to head downhill, taking the path to the right and ignoring the track joining from the right, to bear right uphill around the head of the Hooe Lake Valley. Carry on along this path as it continues to head uphill through the deer park, continuing ahead at the top to return to the car park.

Nearby refreshments

Orangery Restaurant and Stables Café in Mt Edgcumbe, Kingsand and Cawsand.

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