Walk - Lamorna & St Loy
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2020. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- From the entrance to the car park at Lamorna Cove, turn left onto the South West Coast Path, signed to Penberth. The path carries on around the bottom of Tregurnow Cliff before climbing Rosemodress Cliff above Carn Barges and continuing high as it passes the lighthouse on Tater Du.
The small cross overlooking the cove is a memorial to a student who fell to his death here in 1873.
The Tater Du Lighthouse was the last lighthouse to be built in Cornwall, in 1965, as an automatic installation and was opened by the Duke of Gloucester. The tower is 15 metres high, 34 metres above the sea at high water. Every 15 seconds its main white light flashes 3 times and the red sector flashes 4 times. The main light can be seen for 23 nautical miles and the sector light for 13 miles. It was constructed to warn sailors of the Runnelstone Reef, just offshore, after the Spanish coaster, the Juan Ferrer, went down with all hands at Boscawen Point two years before. 'Tater Du' comes from the Cornish 'torthel du', meaning 'black loaf'. 'Boscawen' means 'house by the elder trees'.
All around the district you will see the remains of extensive granite quarries. Lamorna has long been a source of granite for construction work, and buildings using the stone include the docks at Dover and Devonport, lighthouses at Bishop Rock and Wolf Rock, and breakwaters at Alderney and Portland. In London, Lloyds Bank, the New Zealand Bank, New Scotland Yard, the steps to the National Gallery, the Embankment and the obelisk for the Great Exhibition were all built using local granite. The quarries to the west of the cove were owned by Col Thomas Paynter, of Boskenna, who was responsible for the construction of the quay in the nineteenth century. Flat-bottomed boats would dock here to take the stone out to ships with a larger draught, anchored in the bay, to be transported to London and elsewhere.
- As you head towards Boscawen Point, you pass above Zawn Gamper and Chough Zawn. Bear right to stay high as the path starts to round Boscawen Point and then drops into the stunted oak and sycamore trees on Boskenna Cliff above Paynter's Cove and St Loy's Cove.
Paynter's Cove is named after the Paynter family, who owned Boskenna for many generations before it was sold in 1957. Author Mary Wesley lived in Boskenna for a number of years, setting several of her novels here, including 'The Camomile Lawn', which was televised in 1992.
St Loy's Beach is part of the Boscawen Site of Special Scientific Interest, and is a nationally important geological site. It is what is known as a 'boulder storm beach', with rounded boulders on a raised platform, overlain by angular rocks that have fallen from the cliffs above. The rounded boulders were worn smooth by the action of the sea after they had fallen into it from the cliff face, some time before the last Ice Age. When sea levels dropped during the Ice Age, water was formed into ice sheets, and the rocks on the beach were left high and dry on a raised beach. Debris from the surrounding hills was packed in around them as a result of freezing and thawing processes. Angular rocks continued to fall on them from the cliffs above. When the ice sheets melted at the end of the Ice Age, the sea level rose once more and waves cut back into the cliffs, releasing the boulders.
'Hire gretteste ooth was but by seint Loy' wrote Geoffrey Chaucer of the Prioress in his Canterbury Tales: 'Even her greatest oath was only by St Loy.' According to Victorian literary commentator John Hales, 'there has been much discussion why the good lady should swear by St. Loy of all the saints in the calendar, inasmuchas St. Loy, or Eloy — for Loy appears to be a clipped and more familiar form of the name Eloy. This is the French form of Eligius — commonly known as the patron of goldsmiths, blacksmiths, and all workers in metals, also of farriers and horses.' Chaucer also has a carter swear on St Loy when his cart gets stuck, when at least the patron saint might have been expected to listen!
- At St Loys Cove the path heads inland towards St Loy. Cross the small bridge to carry on uphill, crossing a track, to the stile at the top.
- Turn immediately right after the stile to take another one, then cross the stream on stepping stones, turning left on the far bank. Turn right on the lane as the path opens out through the trees.
- Carry on along the lane beside Boskenna, taking the footpath to the right on the left-hand bend, crossing the field diagonally to come out onto a layby on the B3315 at the far right-hand corner.
Beside you is the Boskenna Cross, one of many ancient stone crosses in West Penwith. The base is modern, but the head mounted on it was found buried in the hedge during roadworks in 1869 and is very old. There is a figure with outstretched arms and feet on the front, and a four-armed wheel cross on the rear. In its original position the monument marked the churchway between St Buryan and Boscawen-Rose. In a field a short way to the east is the Tregurnow Cross, a stone slab with a cross in relief on front and back, although little remains of the latter. It also dates from sometime in the medieval period. There are many ancient monuments around the area from prehistoric times, some of them as old as the Neolithic (Late Stone Age) period (see the Merry Maidens Walk).
- Cross the stile in a corner of the Boskenna Cross layby and take the footpath along the right-hand hedge, carrying on ahead to the stile when the hedge turns to the right.
In the middle of the next field is one of the Boscawen-Ros menhirs, one of a pair of standing stones thought to date from the Bronze Age, around 3000-4000 years ago. Its seven-foot partner is in the hedge to the west, but is thought to have been moved from its original position sometime in the past when the field was ploughed. Many of West Penwith's ancient monuments were moved in this way, sometimes even being reused in the construction of a barn or a stone wall. In 1861 a local farmer decided to convert the famous Zennor Quoit into a cattle-shed. He had already removed one of its pillars and drilled holes into the capstone by the time a shocked archaeologist offered him five shillings to build his shed elsewhere.
The footpath crosses the north-eastern corner of the standing-stone field to a stile. Follow it alongside the hedge of the next field and into the long field beyond. Cross to the far left-hand corner and cross the stile beside the gate. Turn left and cross the next stile by a gate, onto the road. Turn right past the farm buildings and take the stile into the field on the left at the end of the track. Cross the field to come out onto the road beyond.
- On the road turn right and walk past Tregiffian Farm, carrying on along the track by the barns. Pick up the footpath into the field just past the farm and follow it along the left-hand hedge, carrying on along the track ahead.
- Reaching Rosemodress Farm turn left in front of the farm and then turn right beyond the buildings, passing behind the farm and coming out into the field to the north east of it. Carry on along the left-hand hedge to Tregurnow. Going through to Tregurnow Farm, ignore the farm drive on your left and the lane on your right to take the lane ahead, running roughly north east to Lamorna.
- Turn left on Well Lane to return to the road heading seawards through Lamorna.
- Turn right on the road to walk back through Lamorna, down to the quay.
Lamorna Cove was popular with artists of the Newlyn School, being particularly associated with S. J. "Lamorna" Birch who lived here, as well as Alfred Munnings, and Laura and Harold Knight. There is still an active association of artists and craftspeople living and working in Lamorna today, and an Arts Festival is held here every Autumn.