Walk - Looe Bay Holiday Park- Talland Bay & Tencreek
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 Western Greyhound bus number 572 stops at the bus stop outside Looe Bay Holiday Park and travels to West Looe stopping at the Fire Station. For timetable details visit www.travelinesw.com or phone 0871 200 22 33
- From the Fire Station in West Looe, walk up West Looe Hill (away from the river). When Downs Lane joins from the right, continue straight ahead, keeping an ear open for traffic. Ignore both turnings into Portlooe, and carry on towards the main Polperro Road.
- As you approach the main road, turn left just before you reach it and walk to the sharp right-hand bend at Tencreek.
Tencreek was first recorded as a settlement in 1327. The name comes from the Cornish 'Keyncrug', meaning 'ridge barrow'. There are traces of a barrow here which dates from some 3000-5000 years ago in the Bronze Age.
- Take the footpath through the caravan park, to your left on the bend. Follow the waymarkers through the fields to the road at the bottom, keeping the hedge on your right throughout.
The tower ahead of you as you drop through the fields is one of a pair, marked on the map as landmarks, together with another pair on the hillside above Hannafore. They represent a measured nautical mile, used by ships to time their speed. Although advances in technology since they were built have meant that ships can measure their speed electronically, vessels often still use the measured mile as they come out of Plymouth Sound.
Timing starts when the first pair of towers passed lines up, and it stops when the second pair does the same. The distance between is a nautical mile (about 1.15 land miles), enabling the ship's crew to calculate their speed in knots (nautical miles per hour). In order to be allow for wind and tide, the process needs to be done between four and six times in both directions.
- Reaching the road, turn right to drop downhill to Talland Bay.
Talland Church was built in the thirteenth century, supposedly on the site of a Celtic altar set up by St Tallanus in the fifth century. The medieval building was enlarged and reconstructed in the fifteenth century, and the bench-ends from that time survive to this day, although the sixteenth century wall paintings were destroyed in the restoration carried out in 1848. As well as the carvings on the bench-ends, the church is known for its unusual bell-tower, which was detached until it was joined to the church by the construction of a coach-house roof between church and tower.
Records from 1400 suggest that there was a cross on the hillside above the church, known as 'Tallan Crosse', which may have been a wayside cross marking the path to the original Celtic church. 'Tallan' in Cornish means 'holy place on the brow of a hill'.
There are more than 400 ancient crosses throughout Cornwall. The most common ones are the wayside crosses, which stand at the side of roads, trackways and paths. They once marked the route to the parish church, although sometimes it was to a pilgrimage or monastic site or an ancient chapel, or a holy well. Sometimes these crosses marked the site of a burial ground which existed before the church.
The secluded beach at Talland Bay has been a popular place for landing contraband over the centuries. There are a number of smugglers' tales associated with the cove, including that of 'Battling Billy'
He used a hearse to convey his kegs of brandy inland, knowing that the Customs men were unlikely to search a coffin for smuggled goods. He swore that, if they ever killed him, his body would still drive the hearse to Polperro. Legend has it that when the Revenue men did shoot him, his corpse went on to drive the hearse over the cliffs despite the gunshot wounds to his neck. Locals say that his spirit still haunts the bay on a windy night.
- In the car park above the bay turn left and go through the kissing gate onto the South West Coast Path, climbing the steps above Aesop's Bed and following the official Coast Path acorn signs around the coast to Looe, ignoring the paths inland.
As you approach the first houses at Looe, the remains of the Lammana Chapel are on the hillside to your left, opposite St George's Island. This was a medieval chapel, built on the site of a sixth century Celtic chapel, with a monk's cell attached. The chapel was Benedictine and belonged to Glastonbury Abbey until sometime before the fourteenth century. By this time it was a private chantry chapel belonging to the local Dawnay family. In 1549 it fell foul of Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Before Lammana was built, there was a medieval chapel on the island It was a popular place for pilgrimages; but so many people drowned trying to reach it that Lammana was built instead.
There is a local legend that Phoenician tin trader Joseph of Arimathea landed here with his teenage great-nephew, Jesus Christ, before they travelled up the coast to Glastonbury to found Christianity in Britain. A fragment of an amphora (an earthenware storage vessel) from the Eastern Mediterranean, found here and dating from around that time, shows that there were trading links between Looe and the Middle East. There is no evidence that Christ was left to amuse himself on the island while his uncle went into Looe on business, as the legend claims.
From the early 1960s, sisters Babs and Evelyn Atkins owned St George's island (also known as Looe Island). Evelyn wrote two bestselling books about it: "We Bought an Island" and "Tales from our Cornish Island". When Babs died in 2004, she left the island to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. It is a natural sanctuary for sea and woodland birds, and because of its unusually mild climate daffodils bloom here at Christmas.
- Going through the gate at Hannafore, stay with the Coast Path along Hannafore Road as it curves around the rocks and along the harbour to return to the bus stop at the Fire Station. From there catch the Western Greyhound 572 bus back to Looe Bay Holiday Park.
There are numerous restaurants, pubs and tea shops in Looe. There is the Smugglers Rest and the beach café at Talland.