Walk - The Cove - Gwennap Head - St Levan
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.
An easy walk eastwards through the heathland to St Levan, where the medieval church perches high above the fifth-century saint's original chapel and the bracken-clad hillside plunges to the tiny beach with its white sand and turquoise water. Bring a picnic and make a day of it!
The granite steps between the chapel and the well are very old and were restored in 2003, more than 60 years after they were rediscovered. The St Levan Stone in the medieval churchyard was considered to be a sacred monument by the pagans worshiping here before the saint arrived, and the tall cross beside it was erected to sanctify it. According to legend, the stone was split in two by a blow from St Levan's staff, and he prophesied that no-one would ever ride a loaded pack horse through the two halves of the rock unless the world was about to end. There are five ancient Celtic crosses in the churchyard, each pointing the way from a local settlement, and there are others in the fields to mark the routes.
- From the car park turn left, bearing left at the gift shop, and turn right on the road beyond to pick up the South West Coast Path on the right through an archway formed of the feathery fronds of the Mediterranean salt- and sand-loving tamarisk bushes. Carry on through the heathland, forking left to stay high when the path splits.
- When it forks again, bear left to visit St Levan's Church and then return to this spot to take the path downhill towards Porth Chapel.
- Reaching the South West Coast Path, turn right to follow it back to Porthgwarra and the car park; but before you do, take time to visit the tiny hermit's cell a few steps down towards the beach, carrying on down this path if you want to visit the beach itself before returning to Porthgwarra.