Walk - Trelawne - Talland Bay & Hendersick
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.
From Trelawne Manor, drive up the road turning left onto the B3359. Take the next right. At the junction with the A387, cross carefully over and head straight on, ignoring turnings on either side until you reach Talland Bay.
- From Talland car park, facing the sea, turn left and go through the kissing gate onto the South West Coast Path, climbing the steps above Aesop's Bed to follow the Coast Path acorns to the National Trust path at Hendersick.
Aesop's Bed is the flat-topped rock on the beach below. It has been suggested that it is not named after the Greek fabler, but that the name is a corruption of the Hebrew 'Yesu', or Jesus. There is a legend that the teenage Jesus came to Britain with his uncle, Phoenician tin trader Joseph of Arimathea, and that they landed at Looe. It is known that there were trade links between Cornwall and the Middle East around these times, and an amphora of the right age and of Mediterranean origin has been found on St George's Island at Looe (see the West Looe & Hendersick Walk).
- Reaching Hendersick Point, take the path to your left to Hendersick, following the hedge. Turn right at the top of the field to carry on along the path by the hedge as it curves to the left and comes out by the barn. Take the track to the left here and walk to the road.
- Alternatively, carry on along the Coast Path past the footpath to Hendersick, instead taking the next path inland, about a quarter of a mile beyond. This will bring you to the barn, where you turn left onto the track as above.
To your right is Hendersick, a traditional Cornish stone farmhouse. In the original Cornish, Hendersick was 'Hendresygh', which means 'waterless home farm'. The settlement was first recorded in 1306, and archaeologists have found traces of fields and an orchard from medieval times, although the farmhouse is much more recent.
The combination of farmland and woodland provides a haven for wildlife, and woodpeckers can be heard drilling in the trees, while buzzards circle overhead, mewing. There are occasional glimpses of deer in the woods, and at dusk badgers and bats come out and owls can be heard calling across the fields.
- On the road turn left, and walk back down to Talland, detouring through the field by the low cliff on your left to avoid a small section of road-walking.
The pair of towers to right and left of you as you walk down towards Talland, are marked on the map as landmarks. They are matched by a further pair on the hillside at Hannafore, just down the coast, and together they constitute a measured nautical mile.
Although advances in technology mean that ships can measure their speed accurately, these pairs of towers are still sometimes used for this purpose by ships coming out of Plymouth Sound. The run is timed from when the first pair of markers line up when viewed from the ship, and the clock is stopped when the second pair line up. The run has to be repeated as many as five or six times in each direction to allow for winds and tides.
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 and once marked the route to the parish church, although sometimes it was to a pilgrimage, a monastic site, an ancient chapel, or maybe a holy well. Sometimes these crosses marked a burial ground which existed before the church, and the cross was used to mark the site.
The secluded beach at Talland Bay has been a popular place for landing contraband over the centuries, and there are a number of smugglers' tales associated with the cove, including that of 'Battling Billy', who 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; and 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.
The Smugglers Rest and the beach café at Talland.