Walk - The Cove - Boskenna & St Loy

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.

Route Description

The Cove Cornwall

The Cove at Lamorna provides walkers with afternoon teas, lunches, dinners and free car parking. The House itself is of historical interest as it was built in 1854 for John Freeman, who owned the quarry in the cove. In the late 1800s it  became a temperance hotel and in the early 1900's was home to Alfred Munnings. The book “Summer in February” by Jonathan Smith details the story of Munnings and other famous Newlyn artists when they used Lamorna as base for painting and partying. The book has been made into a film with Dan Stevens.

  1. From The Cove Cornwall take the path through the grounds towards Lamorna Cove, turning right on the road to walk to the quay.

Lamorna Cove was popular with artists of the Newlyn School, being particularly associated with S. J. "Lamorna" Birch who lived here, as well as Alfred Munnings, and Laura and Harold Knight. There is still an active association of artists and craftspeople living and working in Lamorna today, and an Arts Festival is held here every Autumn.
All around the district you will see the remains of extensive granite quarries. Lamorna has long been a source of granite for construction work, and buildings using the stone include the docks at Dover and Devonport, lighthouses at Bishop Rock and Wolf Rock, and breakwaters at Alderney and Portland. In London, Lloyds Bank, the New Zealand Bank, New Scotland Yard, the steps to the National Gallery, the Embankment and the obelisk for the Great Exhibition were all built using local granite. The quarries to the west of the cove were owned by Col Thomas Paynter, of Boskenna, who was responsible for the construction of the quay in the nineteenth century. Flat-bottomed boats would dock here to take the stone out to ships with a larger draught, anchored in the bay, to be transported to London and elsewhere.

  1. Carry on through the car park above the quay to pick up the South West Coast Path at the end. The path carries on around the bottom of Tregurnow Cliff before climbing Rosemodress Cliff above Carn Barges and continuing high as it passes the lighthouse on Tater Du.

The small cross overlooking the cove is a memorial to a student who fell to his death here in 1873.
The Tater Du Lighthouse was the last lighthouse to be built in Cornwall, in 1965,and it was never manned. It was constructed to warn sailors of the Runnelstone Reef, just offshore, after the Spanish coaster, the Juan Ferrer, went down with all hands at Boscawen Point two years before. 'Tater Du' comes from the Cornish 'torthel du', meaning 'black loaf'. 'Boscawen' means 'house by the elder trees'.

  1. As you head towards Boscawen Point, you pass above Zawn Gamper and Chough Zawn. Bear right to stay high as the path starts to round Boscawen Point and then drops into the stunted oak and sycamore trees on Boskenna Cliff above Paynter's Cove and St Loy's Cove.

Paynter's Cove is named after the Paynter family, who owned Boskenna for many generations before it was sold in 1957. Author Mary Wesley lived in Boskenna for a number of years, setting several of her novels here, including 'The Camomile Lawn', which was televised in 1992. 

St Loy's Beach is part of the Boscawen Site of Special Scientific Interest, and is a nationally important geological site. It is what is known as a 'boulder storm beach', with rounded boulders on a raised platform, overlain by angular rocks that have fallen from the cliffs above. The rounded boulders were worn smooth by the action of the sea after they had fallen into it from the cliff face, some time before the last Ice Age. When sea levels dropped during the Ice Age, water was formed into ice sheets, and the rocks on the beach were left high and dry on a raised beach. Debris from the surrounding hills was packed in around them as a result of freezing and thawing processes. Angular rocks continued to fall on them from the cliffs above. When the ice sheets melted at the end of the Ice Age, the sea level rose once more and waves cut back into the cliffs, releasing the boulders.

  1. At St Loys Cove the path heads inland towards St Loy. Cross the small bridge to carry on uphill, crossing a track, to the stile at the top.
  2. Turn immediately right after the stile to take another one, then cross the stream on stepping stones, turning left on the far bank. Turn right on the lane as the path opens out through the trees.
  3. Carry on along the lane beside Boskenna, taking the footpath to the right on the left-hand bend, crossing the field diagonally to come out onto a layby on the B3315 at the far right-hand corner.

Beside you is the Boskenna Cross, one of many ancient stone crosses in West Penwith. The base is modern, but the head mounted on it was found buried in the hedge during roadworks in 1869 and is very old. There is a figure with outstretched arms and feet on the front, and a four-armed wheel cross on the rear. In its original position the monument marked the churchway between St Buryan and Boscawen-Rose. In a field a short way to the east is the Tregurnow Cross, a stone slab with a cross in relief on front and back, although little remains of the latter. It also dates from sometime in the medieval period. There are many ancient monuments around the area from prehistoric times, some of them as old as the Neolithic (Late Stone Age) period (see the Merry Maidens Walk).

  1. Cross the stile in a corner of the Boskenna Cross layby and take the footpath along the right-hand hedge, carrying on ahead to the stile when the hedge turns to the right.

In the middle of the next field is one of the Boscawen-Ros menhirs, one of a pair of standing stones thought to date from the Bronze Age, around 3000-4000 years ago. Its seven-foot partner is in the hedge to the west, but is thought to have been moved from its original position sometime in the past when the field was ploughed. Many of West Penwith's ancient monuments were moved in this way, sometimes even being reused in the construction of a barn or a stone wall. In 1861 a local farmer decided to convert the famous Zennor Quoit into a cattle-shed. He had already removed one of its pillars and drilled holes into the capstone by the time a shocked archaeologist offered him five shillings to build his shed elsewhere.
The footpath crosses the north-eastern corner of the standing-stone field to a stile. Follow it alongside the hedge of the next field and into the long field beyond. Cross to the far left-hand corner and cross the stile beside the gate. Turn left and cross the next stile by a gate, onto the road. Turn right past the farm buildings and take the stile into the field on the left at the end of the track. Cross the field to come out onto the road beyond.

  1. On the road turn right and walk past Tregiffian Farm, carrying on along the track by the barns. Pick up the footpath into the field just past the farm and follow it along the left-hand hedge, carrying on along the track ahead.
  2. Reaching Rosemodress Farm turn left in front of the farm and then turn right beyond the buildings, passing behind the farm and coming out into the field to the north east of it. Carry on along the left-hand hedge to Tregurnow. Going through to Tregurnow Farm, ignore the farm drive on your left and the lane on your right to take the lane ahead, running roughly north east to Lamorna. Turn left on Well Lane to return to The Cove Cornwall.

Nearby refreshments

At The Cove Cornwall and in Lamorna.

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