Walk - Hooe Lake Point & Earls Drive

Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2022. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.

Route Description

  1. Take the path heading out of the Maker Church car park, away from the entrance, forking right to carry on ahead, downhill through the deer park towards the coast. The path loops around the head of Hooe Lake Valley. Fork right towards the bottom, carrying on ahead to the road.

The name 'Maker' is derived from the Cornish 'magor', meaning 'ruin'. The earliest documented evidence for the name was in 1428, when it was spelt 'Magre'. It is thought it may have been named this after the church was built using stone from the ruins of West Stonehouse, at Cremyll, which was burnt down by French invaders in 1350.

Maker Church was possibly founded as a medieval chapel in the eighth-century Anglo-Saxon manor of Macuir. There are records of an earlier church here being given to Plymouth priory in 1269. Today's Church of Saints Julian and Macra was built around the start of the sixteenth century, possibly incorporating the nave and chancel of the earlier church. The Norman font dates from the eleventh century. The church was fortified during the English Civil War, when it was captured from the Royalists by Cromwell's men in 1644. In the Second World War it was an anti-aircraft and barrage balloon site.

The church also houses the Edgcumbe family vault. Mount Edgcumbe estate has belonged to the Edgcumbe family since 1493, when Sir Piers Edgcumbe of Cotehele acquired it through marriage (see the Mount Edgcumbe Walk). His descendant, Richard, was created Baron of Edgcumbe in 1742, and the third Baron was made the first Earl of Edgcumbe in 1789. Sir Piers enclosed the Deer Park in 1515, around the summit of Maker Heights, and the fallow deer in the park today are descended from that first herd. The deer park was improved during the 1660s. At the end of the eighteenth century or the beginning of the nineteenth, a fodder house was built for the deer in the woods to the north of the church.

  1. On the road turn right and walk a short distance to the corner ahead, where the South West Coast Path goes through a gate into the field on the left. Turn onto the Coast Path here and follow it through the field and on through scrubby trees above the rocky shoreline.

On the rocks below and to the left as you join the Coast Path, Fort Picklecombe is part of the extensive ring of defences built around Plymouth Sound in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Tudor adventurer Sir Richard Grenville built the 'Picklecombe New Bulwark' on the site in 1545 with 'three pair of ordnance now placed to defend the landings in Cawsand Bay'. It was demolished and replaced by the Fort Picklecombe battery in 1851 (see the Cawsand & Polhawn Forts Walk). This was owned by the Edgcumbe family and leased by the Royal Navy until the end of the Second World War.

  1. After a while a smaller path heads off to the left towards the shoreline, and another path below it follows the shoreline itself. Both rejoin the main Coast Path at 4 (ahead), so the choice is yours. If you stay on the main (top) path, the small path heading steeply uphill shortly afterwards gives a shortcut to 5, shortening the route by about a mile.

This open area is known as Minadew Brakes. There was another battery here - the Minadew Battery, completed in 1779, armed with eight 18-pounder guns. Along with two other nearby batteries, Cawsand Battery B and Sandway Battery, it was intended to cover the beaches in the event of an enemy landing. By 1783 it was redundant and nothing can be seen of it today.

On the shoreline below are the ruined remains of a number of fish cellars, some of them dating back to the sixteenth century. Here pilchards brought in by the fishing fleet were packed into barrels in layers of salt and the oil was squeezed out of them by means of wooden beams laid over the top of the barrels.

The shoreline itself is part of the Kingsand to Sandway Point Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is the only geological site in south west England to provide visible evidence of 'suprabatholithic volcanic activity after the emplacement of the Cornubian' - that is, rocks that were brought up from below the Earth's surface by volcanic activity, after the granite backbone of Cornwall had been formed.

Approaching Kingsand you can see Cawsand Fort on the hillside beyond. Nowadays a complex of luxury apartments, Cawsand Fort was built in 1863 and designed to cover the shore to the East of Kingsand and the approaches to Cawsand Bay, with guns facing inland as well to defend against attack from the rear (see the Cawsand and Polhawn Forts Walk).

  1. As they arrive in Kingsand the paths converge on Devonport Hill. Turn briefly left to bear right onto Lower Row, turning right at the bottom onto Jackman's Meadow. Passing the community hall on the left, turn right a moment later onto Earls Drive. Take the left fork beyond to follow the drive uphill past the allotments.

The twin villages of Kingsand and Cawsand share a history of fishing and smuggling, and their links outside the district were traditionally by sea rather than by land. A ferry still runs today between Cawsand and Plymouth. Although Cawsand has always been in Cornwall, Kingsand was part of Devon until boundary changes in 1844, and one of the houses still displays a marker showing the county boundaries.

Originally known as 'The Terrace', Earls Drive was created in 1788 as a carriage drive to Maker Church, travelling around round the coast. By 1823 it had been extended as far as Penlee Point.

  1. The shortcut joins the main route on Earls Drive here. (Turn right on Earl's Drive if you have arrived from the shortcut). Ignoring the footpaths leading off to either side, carry on along Earls Drive to Maker Farm, bearing left in front of the barns to walk to the junction just beyond. At the junction turn right, turning left onto the footpath to signed to Maker Church a little way ahead. Pass to the left of the buildings at the top of the first field, bearing right around them to follow the path alongside the hedge and into the next field on the left to go through the churchyard and back to the car park.

There are more remnants of the Georgian and Victorian defences on either side of Earls Drive as you walk uphill. To the right is the Grenville battery, once flanked by the Maker Hospital, while uphill to the left are the Maker Barracks, built early in the programme of military fortifications to accommodate the garrison. Today the barracks are the HQ of the Rame Conservation Trust, a group of local people dedicated to keeping the site in the hands of the public and out of the clutches of developers. The community includes artists, craftsmen and musicians, as well as other mainstream enterprises ranging from sustainable energy consultants to wedding services.

Nearby refreshments

Cawsand, Kingsand, Maker Heights, Mount Edgcumbe

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