Walk - Lelant Station - Clodgy point
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2022. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- Buy a return ticket to St Ives form Lelant Station. Take the First Great Western Train to St Ives, a journey of about 12 minutes. From St Ives Station car park carry on along The Warren towards the town. Carry on ahead as the Warren rounds Pedn-Olva and turns into first Pendola Walk and then Market Strand. From the lifeboat station continue around the harbour, along Wharf Road.
The original lifeboat station on Market Strand was built in 1867 and rebuilt in 1911. The first motor lifeboat was introduced in 1938, but tragically 2 lifeboats and 12 men were lost in separate rescues in heavy seas within a year of its first launch. In 1994 a new boathouse and slipway were built and the old lifeboat house was converted to the Alba restaurant. Before the construction of this slipway the lifeboat was towed along The Wharf by carriage. It was launched on the old slipway by the Sloop Inn.
The Sloop Inn is said to date from 1312 and became known as 'the artists' pub', because some of its patrons paid in kind and their paintings were hung on the walls.
- Towards the end of Wharf Road, turn left into the alleyway just beyond the chapel, crossing Fore Street and carrying on ahead along the cobbles of Bailey's Lane to where Rose Lane leads off to the left, a short distance beyond. Turn left here and then right a moment later, onto The Digey.
- At the end of The Digey bear left past Digey Flats to come out on the road alongside the golden sands of Porthmeor Beach, a popular place for surfing.
While the whole of St Ives is famous for its art and artists, Porthmeor is particularly rich in art history. As well as the Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Gallery, there are the Porthmeor Studios. Originally fishermen's net lofts, fish cellars and salt houses for curing the pilchards. For many centuries these provided the town's main livelihood. Four of the cellars in the Porthmeor Studios are still used by fishermen. The others are occupied by artists, a tradition which began at the end of the nineteenth century when the new London-Penzance railway brought a number of artists, drawn by the famous quality of light around Penwith.
Another feature for which the area is famous is its wealth of ancient monuments. West Penwith has one of the highest concentrations of holy wells in the whole of Britain. At the foot of Barnoon Cemetery is St Ia's Well, dating from medieval times, when St Ives was known as 'Porthia' - Ia's Cove. This was after the fifth or sixth century Celtic Saint Ia (or Eia). , who was said to have been washed up here on a leaf (thought to be a coracle).
- When Porthmeor Hill turns left after (5)Barnoon Cemetery carry on ahead along Beach Road. Pick up the South West Coast Path along the waymarked footpath to your right, by the bowling green. The path passes behind the small headland at Carrick Du and heads out to Clodgy Point.
'Clodgy' comes from the Cornish 'klav' and 'ji', meaning 'sick house', and the remoteness of the point would have been considered ideal for the leper colony that was established here.
This whole area is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its wide range of unusual animals, birds and plants, some of which are nationally rare species. Look out for colonies of seabirds nesting on the exposed granite cliffs, including fulmar, shag and kittiwakes. Hardy wildflowers such as thrift and sea aster flourish in the crevices in the rock despite the salt air. Wild carrot, sea campion and ox-eye daisy thrive on the grassy slopes and wild thyme and bird's-foot trefoil in the heathland above. Rare beetles and snails scuttle through the undergrowth, and nationally scarce butterflies such as silver-studded blue and pearl-bordered fritillary are sometimes seen.
These are good nesting grounds for birds such as stonechat, whitethroat and sedge warbler, while peregrines and ravens wheel overhead. The disused mines are the perfect habitat for bats and owls. Choughs, Cornwall's national bird, have even been spotted here. They are now making a comeback since a nesting pair appeared on The Lizard in 2001- more than half a century after the last pair had successfully bred in Cornwall.
- On the far side of Clodgy Point the Coast Path carries on around the inlet, while a footpath to your left heads inland. Fork left, inland, and follow the path through fields to Higher Burthallan.
West Penwith has been designated an Environmentally Sensitive Area for its ancient landscape. The patchwork system of tiny fields bordered by granite walls goes back to prehistoric times, considered to be among the world's oldest man-made structures still in continuous use, and a network of miners' paths runs through the area, crossing these boundaries by means of granite stiles. Local farmers receive grants to help them maintain and enhance the landscape, with its heritage and wildlife, by rebuilding Cornish hedges, restoring traditional buildings, protecting the many archaeological sites and preserving its rare habitats of coastal heathland and maritime grassland.
- Picking up Burthallan Lane beyond the farm buildings, carry on along it to where a road leads to the right.
- Ignore the right-hand fork, carrying on ahead to come out on Alexandra Road.
- Turn left here to walk through the Ayr district of the town, following the road around to the right at the entrance to Ayr Holiday Park.
- Turn right on Bullan's Lane, or take a shortcut through the recreation ground to come out onto it, and carry on along it to the roundabout on The Stennack. Turn left here and follow the main B3306 road along Chapel Street and then Gabriel Street, to where it is joined by the road up from the town centre.
- Here either carry on ahead along Street-an-Pol, turning right at the seafront to return to the station via The Warren, or else turn right on Tregenna Hill and return to the station via the road.
If you return via the road, you pass the Catholic Church of The Sacred Heart and St Ia. On its wall is a plaque to the memory of John Payne, the St Ives portreeve (the Port Warden- a medieval custom’s officer). He was a leader of the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549. Invited to dine with England's Provost Marshall, who visited the town after the rebellion, Payne was ordered to have a gallows built while they were eating. When they had finished, the Provost Marshall asked Payne whether he thought the gallows would be sufficiently stout to take the weight of a man. On being assured that it would, the Provost Marshall informed Payne that it was for him, and hanged him there and then.
Inside the church is a statue of St Ia, crafted by German woodcarver, Faust Lang, who moved to St Ives in 1949. Lang, whose father was a key player in the renowned Passion Play in their home town of Oberammergau, sculpted the statue from a timber of Austrian oak washed ashore in St Ives Bay.
Take the First Great Western Train back to Lelant Station.
Text by Ruth Luckhurst and the SWCP team