Walk - Port Quin & Pine 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 2021. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- Turn left out of the main entrance to the Port Quin car park to take the South West Coast Path up the steps between the two cottages on your right. Follow the path as it winds above the harbour and on to Kellan Head.
If the tide is low at Port Quin, have a look at the rocks on the foreshore, especially around the cave to your left as you approach the sea. The black rocks at the base of the cliffs are pillow lava, formed by underwater volcanic activity in the Upper Devonian Period (see the Pentire Point & The Rumps Walk). Another volcanic rock to be seen here is dolerite. The brightly-coloured seams and streaks on the rock faces indicate the presence of mineral ores, such as lead, copper and zinc, and there is evidence of antimony mining in the hillside above.
Pigeons nest on the ledges inside the cave, and the acoustics of the rock distort the sound of their cooing, so that it is easy to understand the origin of the Cornish legends of the mythical birds and tormented spirits said to haunt the the county's coastal caves.
In the fifteenth century, granite from quarries on Lundy Island (some 35 miles out to sea) was landed on Port Quin beach and taken up to St Endellion, above, to build the church there. Viking longboats were also rumoured to have landed here a few centuries earlier, and locals claim that there is one still buried here under the sand.
On the hill to the west of Port Quin is Doyden Castle, a folly built in 1830 by Wadebridge businessman Samuel Symons as a venue for the wild parties he frequently hosted. A 1909 map showed an inscribed Chi-Rho stone nearby, moved here by Symons, but in 1932 it was returned to its rightful place at Long Cross, where it can still be seen beside the road to St Endellion. The Chi-Rho is the Christian Christogram symbol denoting the Greek word for Christ, formed from a long-tailed 'P' drawn through an 'X', and it indicates a site that has been in use as a holy place since some time around the fourth century. Another Chi-Rho was found near St Helen's Oratory, at Cape Cornwall.
Port Quin was one of the locations used for the filming of the 'Poldark' TV series, first screened in 1975 and based on a series of novels by Cornishman Winston Graham. Doyden Castle was used in the series as The Gatehouse, residence of Doctor Dwight Enys. The folly also featured in an episode of the TV series 'Doc Martin'.
Doyden House was built in 1900 as a gentleman's country retreat by a former prison governor, who was sailing around the area in search of a place to build his retirement home. As he approached Port Quin he realised instantly that his search was over, because he knew that the hillside above the beach would certainly have the spectacular sea views that he craved.
- From Kellan Head the Coast Path rounds another small headland before plunging steeply to Reedy Cliff, only to climb out again above Downgate Cove. Carry on along the path as it veers sharply left to head out above Scarnor Point.
- From Scarnor Point the Coast Path continues above Greengarden Cove and cuts across the back of Varley Head before turning south again. It rises and falls a couple more times before it finally drops abruptly to Pine Haven.
- At Pine Haven turn right onto the path heading inland and follow it up the valley to the junction of paths as it reaches the woodland.
- Take the path to the right that crosses the footbridge and doubles back above the valley, climbing through the gorse bushes. As you head towards the buildings at Roscarrock, the path veers to the right to carry on along a track through fields before descending to a green lane running along the valley back to Port Quin.
Roscarrock was named from the Cornish meaning 'rocky promontory', and it was first recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book. The current buildings date from the early sixteenth century and have been remodelled several times since. It is thought that at one time the manor may have been partly fortified, possibly during the English Civil War.
- Coming out on the road, bear right to return to the car park.
In the hedge to your right you can see the ruins of some old fishermen's cottages. Port Quin is sometimes called 'The Village That Died Twice'. The first time it was abandoned, it was after the supply of pilchards in Port Quin Bay had failed; and the second time was in 1697, when all the men of the village drowned in a storm while out fishing, and the women and children went home to their families. They must have returned, however, because the 1841 census told of a population of some 93 people living in Port Quin, in 23 houses. It listed their occupations as antimony miners and market gardeners, as well as fishermen. The old pilchard cellars still stand beside the car park.
In Port Isaac