Walk - Tregurrian & Trevarrian
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2019. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- Turn left out of the Watergate Bay beach car park, walking steeply uphill to pick up the South West Coast Path on the left, heading towards Mawgan Porth. Follow the path along the coastline, past Stem Point and Stem Cove just beyond it, to the promontory at Griffin's Point.
Warm and cold currents mix in the water off Watergate Bay, making it a good habitat for a wide range of species. Herring gulls and fulmars nest on the cliffs, surrounded by clumps of tufty sea pinks, while on the tideline sand hoppers and beach bugs known as sea slaters clean up the rotting seaweed. Limpets, mussels and winkles feed on the algae in the rock pools, where you can sometimes see a shanny, a remarkable fish that can survive out of water. Out in the open sea, the Gulf Stream brings in plankton, food for jellyfish and sun fish, sometimes even drawing bottle nosed dolphins and harmless basking sharks.
On Griffin's Point you can see the remains of an Iron Age cliff castle. There are many of these on the northern coastline between Newquay and Clovelly, usually dating from between the second and first centuries BC. Also known as promontory forts, cliff castles were fortified enclosures built on headlands, using the natural defences of the vertical cliffs on the seaward side and protecting the landward side by means of ditches and ramparts. The local area was widely populated throughout prehistory, and archaeologists have found traces of flint tools from Stone Age days, as well as burial mounds from the Bronze Age, which followed immediately afterwards.
- Cross the stream on the footbridge to carry on above Beacon Cove, ignoring the paths inland, to descend to Berryl's Point, climbing again to round Grange Point and drop to the road at Mawgan Porth.
The coastguard cottages on the hillside overlooking the cove were built in 1894. Originally set up to combat smuggling around the British coastline, by the end of the nineteenth century the role of the coastguard service was changing. The increase in merchant shipping meant that the number of shipwrecks was also rising dramatically, and coastguards were ordered to add lifesaving to their customs and excise duties.
- Turn left on the road to walk through the village, taking the road on the right to walk about a mile towards St Mawgan.
On the hill above the beach at Mawgan Porth are the remains of a Saxon settlement, dating from around AD 850-1050, in the Dark Ages. Archaeologists investigating the site in the middle of the last century discovered three courtyard house complexes, two of which are still visible on the hillside. The stone-clad walls were built of soft slate and earth, and in each building a series of small rooms enclosed one long room opening into a courtyard. This long room was partitioned, to accommodate livestock while still separating the animals from the central living area. There was also a hearth and wall cupboards.
In the field to your right, just before you reach 4, are the remnants of a fourteenth-century chapel, although it is not certain how much of the present tumbledown structure is from the original building. Over time it was used a house and then a wagon shed, and it is said that an arch and mullioned windows were removed to Lanherne Mill.
- A couple of hundred metres after you start dropping downhill, by the farm, a lane leaves on the right, marked 'Unsuitable for Motor Vehicles'. Turn onto this lane, descending rapidly to the footbridge at the bottom of the valley before climbing up into the trees below Tolcarne Merock. Turn right on the minor road and follow it around the farm to climb steeply uphill for about two hundred metres.
In the Lanherne and Menahyl river valley below, the twelve lakes and ponds of the Polgreen Fish Farm are fed from natural springs flowing into the valley from the hills on either side. The farm is one of the UK's biggest producers of carp, tench and roach, reared to stringent standards in the aquatic equivalent of a free-range farm.
In 1773, work began on the Edyvean Canal, intended to run from Mawgan Porth via St Columb Major to Lusty Glaze in Newquay, with tub boats carrying seaweed and sand inland to fertilise the fields. Designed and mostly funded by Cornish engineer John Edyvean, in the end only this first section was put to use. It was found that the sandy bed of the canal allowed the water to leak away, and this section closed after just three years, while the rest of the canal was never built.
- Take the footpath on the right towards the top of the hill and follow it through fields to the main road into Trevarrian. Turn right on the road and walk into the village, forking left when you reach the houses.
- About a hundred metres on, take the footpath signed along a lane on the left before the end of the road, respecting the privacy of the residents as you follow it through to the field beyond. Make your way to the far end of this field, walking through the field ahead along the right-hand hedge, following the path through into the next field to cut across the corner and out into the farmyard, to walk down the lane to the road.
- Turn right and follow the road to Trevarrian Hill. Turn left here, taking care on the road, and drop back to the car park at the start of the walk.
Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Restaurant on Watergate Bay is run by a charity set up by the TV chef to ‘empower those who deserve a second chance in life’. Every year the restaurant takes on a group of disadvantaged youngsters, aged 16–24, to work in the restaurant, giving them training in the catering trade to help them find work afterwards. Over 80% of the food served in the restaurant is sourced from Cornwall, including fish from St Ives, pasta made from wheat grown in Padstow, eggs from a traditional breed of hen in Liskeard, cheese from Bude, cream from Redruth and mussels from St Austell. Even the seasalt comes from the Lizard!
In Watergate Bay