Walk - Tregardock Cliff

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.

Route Description

  1. At the junction between Delabole's High Street and West Down Road, turn onto Treligga Downs Road and follow it to the Poldark Inn, about half a mile ahead, at Treligga Downs. Continue straight ahead on the lane to the left of the inn, following the path ahead along the left-hand hedge.
  2. Just after the hedge pulls out to the right, take the footpath on the left and follow it along the left-hand bank in two fields to the road beyond. Cross the road and carry straight on ahead to Tregardock.
  3. Walking past the concrete shed on your right inside the farm entrance, take the footpath signed to the right, just beyond it, bearing left ahead to follow a clear path to the South West Coast Path.
  4. The path immediately ahead descends to Tregardock Beach on the steep slopes of the pyramid-shaped hill known as The Mountain. Take this path for an interesting detour to the beach; but otherwise turn left on the Coast Path to walk along the top of Tregardock Cliff, dropping down the zigzag path to the stream at the bottom of the steep-sided Dannonchapel valley.

As far back as 1580 there were silver and antimony mines on the lower slopes of Tregardock Cliff. A mines adviser of the time called it 'the very best and very richest vein in Cornwall ... I can show you ore in the rock there that beareth 5 oz of silver in the 100 of ore.' A shaft was sunk, 30 fathoms under the sea, and at the end of the seventeenth century the mine was producing large quantities of lead as well. The operation was abandoned later, when a visiting Duchy officer reported that the Duke of Cornwall was claiming royalty on all minerals retrieved from below high-water mark.

Operations resumed in the middle of the nineteenth century, tunneling inland instead of underwater, and between 1853 and 1860 the mine recorded a total output of 60 tons of 50% lead ore, 690 ounces of silver and some copper. A beam engine was installed, acting first as a pumping engine and then later as a winding engine. The remains of the engine house can still be seen, as well as traces of the boiler house.

In the cliffs below Dannonchapel Valley there was a quarry, and the remnants of a platform used for shaping and dressing the slate can be seen below the main line of the cliffs. The finished slates would have been winched up the cliff-face using a 'whim' (a horse-powered winch) or an aerial cableway known as a 'blondin'. There is a stack of these slates still piled by the cliffs, waiting to be retrieved and no longer accessible.

Delabole Slate has been famous as a building material for more than six centuries. In Delabole Quarry itself, just outside the town, some 1000 men produced a daily average of 120 tonnes of slate in the middle of the eighteenth century. This was taken to Port Gaverne to be loaded onto waiting ships, and each ship carried a cargo transported there by over 100 horses pulling 30 wagons.

  1. In Dannonchapel valley, turn left without crossing the stream, and follow the path through the valley, alongside the stream, climbing steeply uphill with it after a while and bearing right through the field at the top to walk to the buildings at Tregragon.

On the hilltop to your right as you walk through the steep-sided valley, the ancient manor of Dannonchapel is no more than a handful of ruined buildings, now owned by the National Trust. Its name comes from the Cornish 'dow nans', meaning 'deep valley'. Although the suffix 'chapel' was not added to its name until 1306, it is thought to have indicated a Saxon chapel that was here before the 1086 Domesday Book listed it as the manor of 'Duuenant', which had 'land for 3 ploughs and 40 acres of pastureland.'

  1. Carry on between the farm buildings at Tregragon, forking right beyond, continuing ahead on the footpath when the track doubles back on itself and heads off to the right. Follow the footpath ahead through a couple of fields, following the left-hand hedge towards the houses in the third, to come out on the road at Westdowns.
  2. Turn right and walk to the junction, crossing the road to take the narrow lane opposite.
  3. Take the footpath on the left a short distance beyond and cross the B3267 to continue along the footpath ahead, aiming just to the right of the buildings and carrying on in the same direction through three more fields, heading to the left of the far right-hand corner of the last to come out on a track.
  4. Bear right on the track and follow the path around to the right of the buildings, to go through into the field to the right of them. Bear left in this field as you head to the far hedge, following the path straight ahead through two more fields to come out on the road opposite a bungalow.
  5. Turn left and walk down the road, past the cemetery, coming out at the junction in Delabole at the start of the walk.

Nearby refreshments

The Poldark Inn, en route at Treligga Downs, or the Bettle & Chisel in Delabole

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