Walk - Stay Cafe - Swanpool Nature Reserve Walk
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.
- Leave Maenporth Beach Car Park. Walk past the beach and the café. Pick up the South West Coast Path behind the cafe and follow it around past Newporth Head, Sunny Cove and Pennance Point, turning right on the road at the end towards Swanpool Beach.
- Before reaching the car park at Swanpool Beach take the turning on the left. Follow the road around the edge of the car park, and stay with it as it travels along through the woodland bordering Swanpool, until you come to the footpath on your left. Turn onto the footpath and carry on through the trees in Swanpool Nature Reserve.
A culvert built at Swanpool in 1825 to allow water from the freshwater lake to flow into the sea led to a unique mix of seawater and freshwater, creating one of Britain's most important brackish lagoons.
The reduced water level in the lake left an area of marshland to the north west of it, fed by the six streams winding through on their way to the sea.
This in turn produced a small, densely wooded wetland of mostly willow carr behind the lake: a rare and valuable environment where the willow acts as a filter, removing pollutants before they flow into the lake and providing food and shelter for many birds and small mammals.
Willow trees will support as many as 450 different species of invertebrates, which in turn attracts a huge variety of birds, and the wet floor and humid atmosphere of this habitat also encourages the growth of rushes, mosses, ferns and lichens.
There is a wealth of bird food on offer in the lake itself: larvae in the mud at the bottom, insects in the reed beds along its shores, and fish and eels which swim through the culvert from the sea.
In all, over 100 different species of birds have been spotted at Swanpool, including mallard, moorhen, coot, little grebe and tufted duck, as well as siskin and kingfisher.
Although the name is probably derived from 'swamp-pool' there are also swans nesting on the lake. However, the black swan which tried to join the lake's community in Spring 2011 caused such uproar among the more peace-loving mute swans already here that the RSPCA was prevailed upon to remove it to live among its own kind elsewhere!
The species for which Swanpool is famous is sadly invisible underwater, but it is the only one of its kind in Britain: the trembling sea mat.
This exotic-sounding creature consists of billions of primitive microscopic animals called bryozoa, which live in colonies attached to stones or the stems of plants.
Each bryozoan is no more than two millimetres in size and is crowned by a ring of tentacles which it uses for filter feeding by catching particles in the water in the hairs on the tentacles.
- Turn left onto the lane leading uphill shortly afterwards, and follow it up through Boslowick, bearing right at the top and then carrying straight on ahead between the houses to come out on the main road.
The houses at Boslowick are built on the site of a medieval settlement. The first record of a hamlet here was in 1301, when it was referred to as 'Bodelewyth', or 'Leuit's abode'.
The name Boslowick did not appear until 1538, and it is thought to come from Cornish words meaning 'thicket' and 'pool'.
- Cross the road and pick up the footpath opposite, which will lead you to another road. Cross this one too, and once again pick up the footpath opposite and follow it downhill between two fields to come out on Roscarrock Road.
- Continue past the main entrance of Pendra Loweth along Roscarrock Road. Walk a little way uphill to pick up the public bridleway along the lane on your left. Fork right a short distance further on, continuing along the footpath at the end of the bridleway to walk around the edges of the fields to Tregedna Farm. This is a working farm, and it is important to stick to the path.
- Reaching the farm, pass on the far side of the buildings to pick up the bridleway along the drive. Follow the notices to turn right onto the lane marked to the beach and follow it to Rosemerryn Farm.
- The bridleway turns left here and travels past the Maenporth Estate. At the road turn left to reach the Maenporth Beach Car Park.