Walk - Millendreath & the Monkey Sanctuary
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 Millendreath car park at the bottom of the hill drop down the road towards the beach.
Turn left at the end of the road, following Bodigga Lane as it climbs steeply uphill. After the houses, carry on ahead along the South West Coast Path, pulling uphill to the campsite at Bay View Farm. Keep going ahead, along Looe Hill towards Seaton.
In medieval times Bodigga Lane was part of the main east west route through Cornwall. The original medieval settlement of Bodigga was first recorded in 1076 and listed in the Domesday Book as 'Bodcodigu'.
- Turn right on the South West Coast Path when it turns seaward along a narrow path, just after Bay View Farm, and follow it high above the sea.
About three quarters of a mile along the path, on your left, you will come to the Labyrinth field. Entry is free.
The terrain here is rugged, and the path is fairly rough in places. The Coast Path was diverted up Bodigga Lane to bypass the cliffs between here and Millendreath, because Bodigga Cliff is unstable and prone to landslips. This makes it a good habitat for a wide range of species, and if you walk along here in summer it is a riot of colour, with stands of foxgloves and brilliant blue viper's bugloss surrounded by the delicate pinks and yellows of red campion and rough hawkbit and the starry white stitchwort.
The profusion of wildflowers attracts butterflies. Colourful Peacocks, Red Admirals and Painted Ladies twirl flamboyantly among the muted shades of the Small Heaths and the pearl-bordered Fritillaries.
The Celtic Labyrinth is on your left on the hillside after the wooden steps, shortly before the path ahead plunges into the trees. There are a number of information panels mounted on the fence.
The Labyrinth is an ancient symbol, and the earliest examples, found in cave paintings in southern France and Spain, date back some 10,000 years ago to Palaeolithic times. Since then it has been created throughout the world in various forms carved into rock, cut out of turf, even woven into baskets. The most noted example is in a five-thousand-year-old passage grave, believed to be an ancient temple, at Newgrange near Dublin.
The seven trails are carved into the grass as walks which spiral in towards a seven-foot menhir, made of slate and quartz from the Carnglaze Caverns near Liskeard. (The Carnglaze Caverns, themselves, are well worth a visit, with underground caverns and a subterranean lake deep beneath ancient woodland).
Traditionally, the walk into the centre of the Labyrinth is designed to gather information about a problem that is troubling you. There are a series of questions to ask yourself on the way in. Reaching the centre, you pause and relax, concentrating on the here and now. After a time you return through the loops to the world outside the Labyrinth. As you walk you make decisions, based on the answers to the questions you asked yourself on the way in.
The Monkey Sanctuary is above you as you carry on along the Coast Path beyond the Labyrinth, but there is is no path into it from here. You will pass the entrance later in the walk.
- Shortly after entering the National Trust property at Struddicks, where the Coast Path travels high above the turquoise sea at Keveral Beach, a small path climbs steeply up the hillside above you, Turn left onto this path and follow it all the way up to the road at the top.
- Coming out at the crossroads below Penhale Farm, turn left on the road back towards Millendreath and walk to the next junction.
The Monkey Sanctuary is on your left. After visiting it (or not), carry on along the road until you come back to Bay View Farm at 2. Retrace your steps to the car park from here; or for a pleasant detour take the footpath on your right and follow it downhill through the trees.
The Monkey Sanctuary is an active rescue centre and is home to over 25 monkeys. Some are capuchin monkeys, named after an Order of Franciscan monks who wear brown robes with large hoods; some are woolly monkeys from the South American rainforests; and others are tail-less barbary macaques from the Atlas mountains.
As most of these animals have had an unhappy start to life, some areas of the sanctuary are not accessible to the public, in order to allow them space for recovery and progress.
There are also wildlife gardens, surrounded by beech and sycamore trees facing south over the bay. They are mown at particular times of the year to encourage a wide variety of plants and animals.
In the pond an important feeding and breeding station for many species there are frogs, toads and newts. Great water diving beetles hunt newtlets in the water, and no fewer than 10 different kinds of dragonfly have been spotted hovering above it.
The edge of the woodland area is alive with birds and insects, attracted by the shelter afforded by the densely packed shrubs, small trees and native weeds. Inside the grounds, the formal Victorian Garden harks back to the days of the Empire when the Murray family introduced exotic plants like rhododendrons and azaleas to their country estate.
In the cellar beneath the house there is a bat roost, where rare lesser horseshoe bats are able to breed in the warmth provided by the oil boiler. An infra-red camera, funded by the Mammals Trust UK, enables visitors to watch the bats without disturbing them.
- Turn left on the road to return to the car park.
There is a vegetarian café in the Monkey Sanctuary.