Walk - Kenneggy & Greenberry Downs
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2018. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- From the entrance to Praa Sands Car Park, turn right and take the lane to Castle Drive. Turn right again and follow it round as it becomes Pengersick Lane, passing Praa Sands Holiday Park on the left and carrying on to the A394, about half a mile beyond.
- On the main road turn right and walk past the houses, crossing the road to pick up the footpath on the opposite side of the road after the last house.
- Follow this path along the field boundaries to the road beyond, where you turn right.
- Fork left a moment later, to walk to St Germoe's church.
The original church, dedicated to St Germoe, was begun in the twelfth century. Take time to check out St Germoe's Chair, in the churchyard behind (see the Pengersick Walk).
From the front gate of the churchyard, carry on along the road in the same direction, forking left a moment later as you pass the well and continuing until you come to the track beyond it, on your left.
- Turn left onto the track and left again over the stile in the wall a little later, onto the footpath, to follow the waymarkers through the fields to the road beside the houses.
- Turn left on the road and follow it down to the A394. Turning right on the main road, pick up the lane on your right a moment later, and follow it along behind the houses, ignoring the footpaths to your right and the lane past the houses on your left. A short while after these houses, you come to Greenberry Downs.
The mineral wealth of the whole district made it a highly profitable place for mining, and in the 1850s and 60s there were numerous mines around Kenneggy.
At the height of production in the 1850s, Cornwall produced something like eighty percent of Britain's copper and was said to be the world's most important copper-mining region. However, new mines being constructed in North and South America were able to produce the metal at a much lower cost, since they didn't need the extensive pumping required by the wet Cornish mines, and when the value of ore slumped dramatically as a result, many of the local mines slowed production or even stopped operating altogether. A further slump in the value of lead, zinc and tin in the 1860s compounded the situation.
Wheal Grylls, here on Greenberry Downs, however, was working on a rich vein of tin which provided some protection against this downturn in fortune. The Great Western Mine sett, of which it was a part, actually reached its peak in 1871, when it was producing something like £10,000 of tin a year.
Following further extensive prospecting in the early part of the twentieth century, a plant and mill were built and an underground venture set up at Wheal Boxer, but hopes proved to be unfounded and before long this mine closed too.
Now the downs are registered as common land and are rich in wildlife. Rare butterflies thrive here, as well as ferns, orchids and other flowers; while birds to be seen here include yellow wagtails, barn owls and skylarks, with the occasional buzzard or peregrine hunting overhead. If you venture in to explore, take care, as there are still many open mine shafts dotted around.
- Carry on along the lane, until you run out of lane and come to a footpath. Follow this, in the same direction of travel, along the edge of the downs, to the road at the end.
- Turn left here and return to the main road. Cross the road and carry on down the road opposite, heading southwards towards the coast.
- Approaching Higher Kenneggy, keep track past Kenneggy Cove Holiday Park and continuing past the campsite to the end of the track. Take the footpath straight ahead, carrying on in the same direction, and follow it down to Kenneggy Cliff, forking left towards the bottom to meet up with the South West Coast Path.
- Turn left onto the Coast Path above Kenneggy Sands.
For those intrepid souls who might make the difficult descent to Kenneggy Sands (but be aware that the path is hazardous and there is a danger of being cut off by the tide), there is plenty of evidence of the richness of the mineral deposits. The copper lode which made Wheal Grylls's fortune is exposed here, and the green staining on the beach is due to copper.
Just around the headland to the west is Prussia Cove, originally named Porthleah but renamed after its most famous smuggler, John Carter, who called himself the King of Prussia (see the Prussia Cove Walk).
John Carter and his two brothers, Harry and Charles, ran a very lucrative contraband business, using the inlets at Piskies Cove and Bessy's Cove as well as Porthleah for their exploits. The natural seclusion of the cove, as well as the shape of the cliffs above, made this the perfect landing place for an illegitimate cargo, and the many caves in the rock were ideal for its storage. Secret passages were said to lead from these to the house above.
- Carry on along the Coast Path, around Hoe Point and past Sydney Cove, to the steps by the café at Praa Sands. Go through the car park to the beginning of the walk.
In Praa Sands and in various places throughout the surrounding area