Walk - Trethias Farm - Trevose Head
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.
- Coming out of the Trethias Farm campsite, turn towards Treyarnon Bay. Follow the path towards the beach, picking up the South West Coast Path to drop down onto the beach. Cross the beach to the track on the far side and turn left to walk to the Youth Hostel.
- Carry on past the hostel along the Coast Path to Treyarnon Point. Continue ahead along the road to drop down onto the beach at Constantine Bay. Cross the beach to the rocks at the far end and then climb the wooden steps to pick up the path around the coastline again.
St Constantine was one of many Celtic saints working around Cornwall in the sixth century to counteract the tide of paganism. The remains of his hermit cell and the associated well (labelled as St Constantine's Church on the map) have been preserved in the middle of the golf course to the right of the path ahead.
In his younger days Saint Constantine was King of Dumnonia. He was allegedly a far from holy man in his early life, and fellow Celtic saint Gilda called him an 'unclean whelp'. He was accused of murdering his two young nephews in the sanctity of a church, disguising himself as a bishop in order to do so. Although, according to twelfth-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth, they were the traitorous sons of Mordred, who killed King Arthur. Therefore, their killing was justified.
While Constantine was chasing a deer in later years, he followed the animal as it blundered into the cell of Padstow-based St Petroc. The king was so impressed with Petroc's holiness that he had himself and his bodyguard converted on the spot to Christianity. Abdicating his throne in favour of his son, he took up the life of an evangelist, founding churches at Falmouth and Illogan as well as the one here.
Booby's Bay is named after a small white seabird, similar to a gannet, with a yellow head and black wing tips. The name is thought to come from the way the bird dives offshore in stormy weather.
- A path heads inland to the right, with another linking to it a moment later, ignore them both. Continue ahead along the path above the rocks to the Round Hole at Dinas Head.
The cliffs on this part of the Cornish coast have been spectacularly sculpted by the sea's erosion. In places you can hear the hollow boom of the sea washing through caves in the ground below your feet, where the pounding of the waves has exploited a weakness in the rock. The air pressure caused by this action weakens the roof of the cave. Where it is close to the surface, the roof eventually falls in. The one here is particularly impressive, with another sizeable crater just beyond Trevone.
Dinas Head gets its name from the Cornish word 'dinas', meaning 'fort'. It is likely that there was a promontory fort here in the Iron Age, sometime between the eighth century BC and AD 43. The fort used the cliffs to defend the seaward side of the site and one or more earth banks across the neck of the promontory to protect the landward aspect. There is evidence of extensive activity all around the district during prehistoric times. There is also a Bronze Age tumulus, or burial mound, on Dinas Head pre-dating the promontory fort.
- After the headland turn left onto the road to the lighthouse and then turn right onto the path around Trevose Head, passing Cat's Cove and Barras Bay, with Chairs Rock lying between them, and then the remarkable chain of islets at Merope Rocks, to the road running to the Lifeboat Station.
The rocky coastline is hazardous for shipping, and in 1827 a lifeboat was built by the Padstow Harbour Association, stationed at Hawker's Cove on the River Camel. A new boathouse was built there in 1931 for a second boat, but both had closed by 1967. A new boathouse with a 240-foot slipway was built here, to be replaced by the current building in 2006.
- Cross the road and carry on along the Coast Path. Go through the gate by Mother Ivey's Cottage to walk around Cataclews Point and Big Guns Cove. The path continues along a series of small cliffs above tiny sandy coves before dropping onto the beach via steps.
Mother Ivey was a sixteenth-century white witch who laid a curse on the family living in the cottage still bearing her name. According to local legend, at a time when the fishing stocks ran low and the people of Padstow were starving, the Hellyer family's pilchard business was doing so well that one day they had a crate of fish left over after the day's sales. Mother Ivey approached them to ask if they would donate it to feed some hungry families; but rather than do that the family ploughed the fish into the soil as a fertiliser.
Mother Ivey was furious, and swore that every time the field was ploughed, someone would die. Sure enough, when the field was next turned over, the Hellyers' eldest son was thrown from his horse and killed. During the 1970s a man using a metal detector in the field died of a heart attack, reviving the superstition, and shortly afterwards, the foreman of a water company laying pipes there also keeled over. The field has been left fallow ever since.
- Crossing the beach, pick up the path once more by the car park, turning left to carry on around St Cadoc's Point and going on to pass a number of rocky headlands, a small round hole and a sandy cove.
- At the small point beyond this cove, leave the Coast Path to turn onto the footpath on your right and follow it ahead beside two fields, turning left to walk alongside two more, coming out onto Dobbin Road. Turn left here and right on Trevone Road, to walk to the bus stop at the T-junction.
- The Western Greyhound 556 Bus back to Trethias leaves here (The Windmill) to go to Constantine Bay Surf Stores, a journey of 20 minutes. From here walk to the Constatine Bay beach and turning left, follow the South West Coast Path past Treyarnon Beach and Trethias Island back to Trethias.