Walk - Pentirely Superb
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2020. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
The estuary of the River Camel forms a superbly picturesque feature on the north coast of Cornwall. At its outermost extremity on the eastern side is a large scenic sandy bay, Hayle Bay, and at the head of this bay is the surfing and beach centre of Polzeath. This circular walk starts and finishes here, outside the bus stops and toilets at the entrance to the beach car park.
- From the toilets and bus stops at Polzeath walk along the road into the centre of the village. Turn left opposite the Spar shop into the car park and bear right to leave the car park along a track. Keep going ahead on the tarmac path into the holiday park and continue into the park.
- After a couple of hundred metres look out for the park’s fire point on the left; bear left here, just after the fire point, onto a public footpath and follow this as it leaves the holiday park and climbs up the side of the valley.
- The path continues along the edge of fields above the holiday park. At the end of the fields follow the path which descends to the right to arrive at a lane. Turn left here and continue to a crossroads. At the crossroads go ahead onto the lane opposite.
- Keep ahead past the barns and then, reaching the handsome farm buildings at the top of the hill at Pentireglaze, turn right. When this lane swings to the right at the prominent house, follow the path which continues straight ahead. At the end of the first field turn left, keeping the hedge on your right. Go through the gate at the bottom to meet the Coast Path. Turn left along the Coast Path.
The walk meets the Coast Path at Downhedge Cove, an impressive cleft in the cliffs. As the path gains height it soon gives an impressive coastal vista. In the distance to the right is the square-topped shape of Tintagel Island, while closer the prominent headland is Kellan Head. To the left the coast sweeps round to the headland of the Rumps, with the island of the Moules offshore.
- Keep ahead on the clear Coast Path.
A little way along there is evidence of old quarrying activity by the path. Stone was quarried here for local buildings and for roadstone.
- Continue on the Coast Path, crossing a stone stile.
Immediately after crossing the stile a gate on the left leads to a hummocky area. The hummocks mark the remains of an old silver and lead mine here. The mine was in use from the 16th until the 19th century.
- Follow the Coast Path as it continues, climbing behind the gorse-covered slopes of Com Head. It then approaches what is now seen to be the double headland of the Rumps.
The Rumps is a prehistoric site of considerable interest. It was an important Iron Age site, defended from attack by a series of ramparts across the neck of the headland. The ramparts are still clearly visible as a series of long low banks, probably best seen when approaching from this direction.
- When the path forks above the Rumps bear right, away from the wall and heading towards the ramparts. Walk to the entrance through the ramparts.
There would have originally been a complex defensive entrance here. Although it is probable that the earth walls would have originally been faced with stone, the stone walling now seen on the inside of the outer rampart is a relatively recent addition. Archaeologists have found evidence of wooden circular huts inside the defences as well as pottery from the period between the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD, which seems to be when the site was at its most important. There is some evidence of trade with the Mediterranean.
The Coast Path does not go onto the Rumps, but many will wish to go through the ramparts for a look around. As well as walking over the site itself, keep an eye on the offshore island, known as the Moules, and the sea around, as the island has been known to be the breeding site of puffins.
- At the entrance to the Rumps turn left (or, if coming off the headland, turn right) along a path that rises through a little rocky gorge before coming to the cliff top and then continuing on to Pentire Point.
This is one of a number of headlands in Cornwall with the name Pentire, perhaps not surprisingly since it is the Cornish word for headland.
- Continue past the first part of the headland and then, at the rocky promontory marking the main headland, the Coast Path turns sharp left.
This is a superb spot, and it is alarming to realise that in the 1930s a speculator obtained Pentire Point and divided it into building plots which were offered for sale. However, money was collected for the National Trust to purchase the whole headland.
From here a completely new and superb coastal vista opens up, from the whale-backed shape of Trevose Head with its lighthouse on the right, past Stepper Point with its daymark, the mouth of the Camel Estuary and on to Polzeath at the head of Hayle Bay.
- The Coast Path now begins to descend towards Polzeath.
As the path continues, the prominence of the daymark on Stepper Point on the far side of the Camel Estuary is appreciated. The column was erected in 1832 to help guide mariners into the Camel Estuary and the port of Padstow a little upriver.
- After crossing a side valley the Coast Path returns to the cliffs and then almost immediately drops into the charming little cove of Pentireglaze Haven. On the far side of the cove cross the track and climb the path opposite to arrive at a road.
Diverting a little way up the road straight ahead will bring you to toilets and a car park.
- To continue to return to Polzeath, turn right along the road. After a few metres bear right onto the grassy area overlooking the bay. If the tide is out it is possible to descend to the beach and cross the sand to Polzeath. Otherwise, after a short way climb the steps to the left back to the road then follow the tarmac path along the top of the bay. Descend to a track and turn right past some chalets to a car park. Bear left to the centre of Polzeath, turning right to return to the start point at the bus stop and toilets.
There are a number of seasonal cafes in Polzeath. The village also has year-round shops to purchase supplies.