Walk - Trevelgue Head from Newquay Station
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2018. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- From the front of Newquay Station car park turn right on Cliff Road and carry on along Narrowcliff. Coming to the seating area above Tolcarne Beach, carry on along the path to the left, picking up the South West Coast Path as it rounds Barrowfields and joins Lusty Glaze Road beyond.
The name Lusty Glaze comes from the Cornish 'lostyn glas', meaning 'little green tail of land'. Tolcarne is 'hole in the rock'.
- Stay on Lusty Glaze Road past Lusty Glaze Beach, turning left onto the Coast Path again as it drops to Porth Beach. Continue around the beach to the path on the left beyond which heads out to Trevelgue Head and Porth Island.
Trevelgue Head and Porth Island have been inhabited for many thousands of years, and it was one of the south west's chief settlements in prehistoric times, when trade routes crossed Cornwall overland from north to south to avoid the dangerous waters around Land's End.
Flint tools have been found here from as far back as Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) times, more than 6000 years ago. Later settlers in Bronze Age days buried their dead in barrows here, and archaeologists have found traces of their hut circles, and a bronze foundry. Later there were iron workings, using ore from Black Humphrey's Rock. In the Iron Age, too, earthworks were constructed for a promontory fort to defend Porth beach, with seven or eight ramparts enclosing a space as large as 700mx200m containing a settlement and a field system. This is thought to have been in use from the 3rd century BC right through Roman times to the fifth or sixth century AD.
Much later there was a huer's hut here, where a lookout was posted to let fishermen know when pilchard shoals arrived in the bay. When he spotted a shoal he would shout 'hevva hevva' and direct the boats to it by means of hand signals. (This is the origin of the phrase 'raising a hue and cry').
- Detour at the footbridge to visit the headland and the island, returning to the footbridge to carry on along the Coast Path, rejoining Alexandra Road towards Watergate.
The island near the steps on Whipsiderry Beach is Black Humphrey's Rock, which is riddled with old iron mine workings. A couple of adits emerge near the steps, and some of the boulders on the beach contain iron ore.
There are some impressive caves this side of Trevelgue Head. White marble was once quarried in the pillared Cathedral Cavern, which has a number of tunnels leading away from it, and it is still possible to see a shaft in the roof and drill holes in the walls. Another large cave is Banqueting Hall, also known as Concert Cavern, where candlelight concerts have sometimes been held.
There is also a spectacular blowhole, just opposite the island. Around the time of half-tide the air in one of the caves is so violently compressed that it forces a jet of water through a blowhole in the cave with a thunderous roar that sounds like an old steam train suddenly emerging from a tunnel. All along this part of the Cornish coast there are caves that have been dramatically sculpted by the sea's erosion, and you can hear the hollow boom of the sea washing through the 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 the inrush of water weakens the roof of the cave, and where it is close to the surface part of the roof eventually falls in, producing a blowhole.
- Turn right on Trevelgue Road, just before the new apartment block, and walk about half a mile, to the footpath on your right.
- Take this footpath through the field. When you reach the track turn right and then left again to follow the footpath alongside the left-hand hedges of four fields, pulling steeply uphill at first. Bear slightly right in the fifth field to come out on a lane.
- Turn right on the lane and follow it steeply downhill to a stream and then back up the other side to St Columb Minor.
St Columb Minor Church is thought to be built on the site of an ancient barrow where pagan rites were possibly held.
There was an early Christian church here which was replaced several times over the centuries before a Norman church was built in 1100. This was itself replaced twice, once in the same century and again in 1417. The porch, with its stone benches, dates from the fifteenth century, but further restorations were carried out in 1795 and 1884 and the only other part of the current church remaining from the fifteenth century is the tower. Built of Cornish granite, this is the second highest church tower in Cornwall and holds eight bells.
According to Arthurian legend, St Columba the Virgin was visited in a dream by a white dove representing the Holy Spirit and as a result she refused to accompany her parents to the pagan temple. They had her whipped and imprisoned, but she escaped, only to be captured by a local king who tried to marry her to his son. Rejecting the plan, she escaped to the coast and fled on a ship, which brought her to Trevelgue Head. The vengeful king caught up with her here and had her beheaded. She was buried in St Columb Major.
- Turn right on the road, walking past the church to pick up the footpath ahead. Follow the path through the playing fields and carry straight on ahead in the field beyond, dropping downhill to Century Court.
- Turn right on Lewarne Road and then left on Greenbank Crescent, taking the footpath on the right a short way down. Cross Porth Bean Road to carry on along the footpath opposite. Cross Well Way to take the footpath ahead.
'Lewarne' comes from the Cornish 'nant wern', meaning 'valley of alders'. Porth Bean is 'little cove'.
- Cross the main road and carry on along Porth Way, turning left on the path at the bend to Praze Road. Continue along Manewas Way, turning left at the mini roundabout onto Arundel Way. At the next roundabout turn right, down Bonython Road.
- Turn left on Narrowcliff to return to the station.
There are a wide variety of cafes and restaurants in Newquay.