Walk - Boswinger YHA - Gorran Haven
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.
Follow the red dashed lines on the map to reach Gorran Haven. Drive along the road inland from the Youth Hostel. Turn right at the Seaview International holiday Park. Keep going straight on, pass Gorran School, taking the next right. Stay on this road down into Gorran Haven. the fee paying car park is clearly signposted on your left.
- The walk begins at Gorran Haven Car Park. Turn left onto 'Canton' and walk down the hill to the beach. You will pass some toilets and various shops (some only seasonal).
- Turn left at the lime kiln and walk up Church Street where you can then follow the 'Coast Path' waymarks and signs along another street on your right.
The early Cornish name for Gorran Haven was 'Porth Ust', or 'St Just's Cove', and the fifteenth century church is dedicated to St Just. It has a 110-foot tower designed as a landmark for sailors.
The chapel of ease is said to have been built by Sir Henry Bodrugan in around 1475. It was seized by the Crown under Henry VIII's 1547 Chantries Act. Commissioners were sent out around the country to confiscate any gold and silver from private chapels (chantries).
The chapel was sold in 1568 and its subsequent secular roles included use as a fisherman's store. In the middle of the eighteenth century, when the Rev Richard Dalby was appointed Vicar of Gorran, it had fallen into disrepair. He restored it around 1780. In 1862, it passed into the hands of the Anglican vicars of St Gorran, whose fifteenth century parish church is about a mile inland in the little village of Gorran.
The Coast Path takes you over some dramatic cliffs with some wonderful views back to Gorran Haven and Maenease Point, with the rocky outcrop known as 'Gwineas' or 'The Gwinges' out to sea.
Before you reach Turbot Point you will pass a Bronze Age tumulus and the remains of Roman earthworks. Standing on Turbot Point on a clear day, the views extend along the South Cornish coastline, beyond Rame Head and Plymouth and into South Devon.
- The Path continues through a short section of National Trust land, known as 'Bodrugan's Leap', and down to a small sheltered bay known as 'Colona'.
Sir Henry Bodrugan, the builder of the chapel, was a notoriously brutal henchman of Richard III who battled against Henry Tudor for the English throne in the fifteenth century. Bodrugan (also known as Trenowth) was sent by Richard to Cotehele near Saltash, to dispatch the Tudor supporter Sir Richard Edgcumbe. According to local legend, Sir Richard made his escape by throwing his hat into the river and hiding behind a tree. The king's men departed, assuming that he had drowned.
When Henry succeeded in seizing the throne, becoming Henry VII, Bodrugan was charged with treason. This time, Bodrugan fled to Turbot Point, with Sir Richard Edgcumbe in hot pursuit. Sir Henry is said to have leapt from the cliff-top to a boat below, waiting in the bay to convey him to France. Most of Bodrugan's estates, including St Gorran, were confiscated and handed over to Edgcumbe.
Colona is a private beach owned by the impressive spread of houses in front of you on Chapel Point.
- Continuing along the Coast Path, you will soon come into Portmellon, with a pub and a beach. The inland route follows a public footpath in from an historic boatyard known as 'Mitchell's' and continues past some wetlands a good spot for birdwatching!
There is a long history of boat-building in Cornwall. Portmellon's boatyards made an important contribution to this reputation. Many famous wooden-hulled boats left the port.
Portmellon boat-builder Percy Mitchell, born in 1901, ran a yard here. He was described as 'one of the finest traditional boat-builders in the world', and 'an artist in wood'.
His first commission, the Ibis, was one of the biggest fishing luggers to work from Mevagissey with its catch numbers making the record books. This included the largest ever haul of pilchards - a monstrous 2346 stone (almost 15,000 kg). During World War II he built motor cutters and boats for the Admiralty, including the 28-ton Windstar, which often carried King George V and the young Princess Elizabeth. Unfortunately the economics of wooden boat-building saw the yard close in 1983.
- Continue along the footpath, and through two nature reserves separated by an unclassified road.
Again, a good location for wildlife with coppiced hazel and oak woodlands and large ponds.
- The path will then take you through a meadow, over a stile and left up a very steep field which has been planted as a 'Millennium Woodland' by the local community.
- Continuing across a couple more fields and along a rough track you will pass the historic 12th century St Goran Church.
You will be able to stop for more refreshments at the pub or the small shop/post office in Gorran Churchtown.
- You can then follow the road and public footpaths across fields for the rest of your journey to Gorran Haven, down Bell Hill and Rice Lane, eventually arriving back at the car park.