Walk - Looe Bay Holiday Park - Millendreath
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.
NOTE: A landslip in the woods below the Monkey Sanctuary, has resulted in the Coast Path being diverted onto the lane past the Monkey Sanctuary and section between points 3 and 4 is currently closed.
The Monkey Sanctuary is open during the season from Sunday to Thursday, 11 am - 4.30 pm (closed Fridays and Saturdays). Tel 0844 272 1271
If you do not wish to visit the Monkey Sanctuary, or it is closed, an optional diversion along the South West Coast Path towards Seaton instead will take you to an unusual Celtic Labyrinth, passing a wealth of wildlife along the way.
- From the entrance to Looe Bay Holiday Park turn left and walk down the road to the junction. Turning left onto the Millendreath road. Follow it downhill through the woodland to the beach at Millendreath.
- Turn left at the end of the road, following Bodigga Lane as it climbs steeply uphill. After the houses, carry on ahead along the South West Coast Path, pulling uphill to the campsite at Bay View Farm. Keep going ahead, along Looe Hill towards Seaton.
In medieval times Bodigga Lane was part of the main east west route through Cornwall.
- When the Coast Path turns right along a narrow path towards the coast, just after Bay View Farm, keep going ahead along Looe Hill, past three more private drives on the left.
The original medieval settlement of Bodigga, first recorded in 1076 and listed in the Domesday Book as 'Bodcodigu', is now Summercourt, on your left.
To visit the Celtic Labyrinth instead of the Monkey Sanctuary, turn right here to follow the South West Coast Path above the sea. The Labyrinth field is about ¾ mile along the path, and entry is free.
The terrain here is rugged, and the path is fairly rough in places. The Coast Path was diverted up Bodigga Lane to bypass the cliffs between here and Millendreath, because Bodigga Cliff is unstable and prone to landslips. This makes it a good habitat for a wide range of species, and if you walk along here in summer it is a riot of colour, with stands of foxgloves and brilliant blue viper's bugloss surrounded by the delicate pinks and yellows of red campion and rough hawkbit and the starry white stitchwort.
The profusion of wildflowers attracts butterflies. Colourful Peacocks, Red Admirals and Painted Ladies twirl flamboyantly among the muted shades of the Small Heaths and the pearl-bordered Fritillaries.
The Celtic Labyrinth is on your left on the hillside shortly before the path ahead plunges into the trees. There are a number of information panels mounted on the fence.
The Labyrinth is an ancient symbol, and the earliest examples, found in cave paintings in southern France and Spain, date back some 10,000 years ago to Palaeolithic times. Since then it has been created throughout the world in various forms carved into rock, cut out of turf, even woven into baskets. The most noted example is in a five-thousand-year-old passage grave, believed to be an ancient temple, at Newgrange near Dublin.
The seven trails are carved into the grass as walks which spiral in towards a seven-foot menhir, made of slate and quartz from the Carnglaze Caverns near Liskeard. (The Carnglaze Caverns, themselves, are well worth a visit with underground caverns and a subterranean lake deep beneath ancient woodland).
Traditionally, the walk into the centre of the Labyrinth is designed to gather information about a problem that is troubling you. There are a series of questions to ask yourself on the way in. Reaching the centre, you pause and relax, concentrating on the here and now. After a time you return through the loops to the world outside the Labyrinth. As you walk you make decisions, based on the answers to the questions you asked yourself on the way in.
Return to Bodigga Lane the same way, because there is no path into the Monkey Sanctuary from the Coast Path.
- To visit the Monkey Sanctuary without detouring to the Labyrinth, carry on past the path and walk to the top of the hill, where the venue is signposted on your right.
The Monkey Sanctuary is an active rescue centre and is home to over 25 monkeys. Some are capuchin monkeys, named after an Order of Franciscan monks who wear brown robes with large hoods; some are woolly monkeys from the South American rainforests; and others are tail-less barbary macaques from the Atlas mountains.
As most of these animals have had an unhappy start to life, some areas of the sanctuary are not accessible to the public, in order to allow them space for recovery and progress.
There are also wildlife gardens, surrounded by beech and sycamore trees facing south over the bay. They are mown at particular times of the year to encourage a wide variety of plants and animals.
In the pond an important feeding and breeding station for many species there are frogs, toads and newts. Great water diving beetles hunt newtlets in the water, and no fewer than 10 different kinds of dragonfly have been spotted hovering above it.
The edge of the woodland area is alive with birds and insects, attracted by the shelter afforded by the densely packed shrubs, small trees and native weeds. Inside the grounds, the formal Victorian Garden harks back to the days of the Empire when the Murray family introduced exotic plants like rhododendrons and azaleas to their country estate.
In the cellar beneath the house there is a bat roost, where rare lesser horseshoe bats are able to breed in the warmth provided by the oil boiler. An infra-red camera, funded by the Mammals Trust UK, enables visitors to watch the bats without disturbing them.
After your visit, retrace your steps down the hill towards Bay View Farm. Coming to Summercourt, opposite the path to the Labyrinth, turn right onto the bridleway between the buildings, bypassing Millendreath. Follow the bridleway steeply downhill to join May Lane again on its way up to St Martin-by-Looe.
- Turn right on the road and retrace your steps to Looe Bay Holiday Park.
There is a vegetarian café in the Monkey Sanctuary.