Walk - Lundy Bay & Pennywilgie Point
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.
- From the National Trust Lundy Bay car park cross the road to take the footpath opposite, winding downhill to the coast.
- Reaching the South West Coast Path, turn right, forking left shortly afterwards to the sea cave at Lundy Hole. From here carry on down the path to Lundy Beach.
Also known as 'Pigeon Hole', Lundy Hole was formed when the roof of a sea cave collapsed, leaving a round crater with a rock arch on its seaward edge. From the high vantage point on the Coast Path you can watch the waves crashing around the cave and see the huge forces which carved the cavern from a fault in the rock. This causes enormous pressure to build up inside, which weakens the roof until eventually it falls in. There is a wall across the top of the cave, beside the path, but keep an eye on children and animals.
According to local legend, the hole was made by the Devil, who visited St Minver while she was combing her hair on a local rock. Startled, she threw her comb at him with such force that, terrified, he fled to 'Topalundy, where on a round high hill there is a strange deep hole there made by the Devil in avoiding St Menfre'.
St Minver (also known as Menfre, or Mynfreda) was - like St Enodoc at Rock - one of a great many children sired by the Welsh King Brychan of Brycheiniog, and she arrived here from Wales in the fifth or sixth century. There is much dispute over the number of Brychan's children, but most, if not all (as well as many grandchildren) are said to have gone on to found churches in Celtic lands. Other missionary children of the Welsh king sent to champion the Christian cause in pagan Cornwall included St Issey, St Endellion and St Nectan, all of whom are said to have founded early churches in this part of North Cornwall. (The search function on this website will list the walks where you can see these sites).
- From the beach continue along the Coast Path to follow it around Pennywilgie Point and on above Epphaven Cove.
- Ignoring the paths heading inland from Epphaven, carry on along the Coast Path as it climbs the hill above Trevan Point. Ignore the smaller paths to left and then right to continue to the fork at the top of the hill.
From here there are tremendous views along the ragged rocky coastline, back to The Rumps, a volcanic twin headland topped with a prehistoric cliff castle, (see the Pentire Point & the Rumps Walk), and The Mouls, an offshore islet also known as 'Puffin Rock'.
Across Epphaven Cove, the side of Pennywilgie Point is pitted with an extensive series of interconnected caves. (Don't be tempted to explore them, even at the lowest tide, because the tide rises quickly and will almost certainly trap you inside).
- When the path forks at its highest point on Trevan, take the right-hand path running back along the ridge. Fork right again after it starts to descend and follow it to the bottom of the valley at 4. Turn left here to retrace your steps along the Coast Path to Lundy Beach at 3. Ignore the path climbing steeply uphill to your left above the beach, but take the left-hand path beyond. When this brings you back to the path at the start of the walk, turn left and walk back uphill to the car park.
Lundy Bay belongs to the National Trust. The Trust manages the land using traditional methods to encourage a biodiversity of flora and fauna. Over the winter the butterfly glades and wet meadows are cut and the cuttings removed to help the next summer's growth. This encourages an abundance of wildflowers, which attract butterflies and other insects, a handy living larder for an large variety of birds.
Elswhere, scrub is cut back, maintaining the maritime grass and heathland, and creating feeding areas for scrub-loving birds. Listen out for stonechats and whitethroats calling from the bushes, and look out for butterflies such as the small copper, the wall brown and the tortoiseshell.
This is also one of the special places in the south west where the Trust has planted wild thyme as part of a major programme being carried out by a number of conservation bodies to reintroduce the Large Blue butterfly to the British Isles. Even when this species was first recorded in 1795 it was described as rare, and since then modern farming methods have destroyed the insect's vital habitats. The UK's last specimen was spotted on Dartmoor in 1979. Following the introduction of stock from Sweden in a number of carefully managed locations, by 2006 the estimated number of adult Large Blues on the 11 sites was 10,000 - the largest number seen in the British Isles for over 60 years. For more information see the Butterfly Conservation website.