Walk - Reskajeage and Tehidy
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.
- Coming out of the car park nearest the coast at North Cliffs, facing the sea, turn left on the South West Coast Path to walk along the cliff path at Reskajeage Downs. The path travels alongside the road, passing a number of small car parks. Carry on around the headland at Hudder Down to where it meets the road again above Hell's Mouth.
The small headland at the start of the walk was once the site of Crane Castle, an Iron Age promontory fort, which would have consisted of ramparts across the neck of the headland to defend the fort on the landward side, relying on the sheer cliffs to protect it from the sea. Most of the interior has been lost to cliff erosion, but it is thought that the original castle would have incorporated the rocks below, known today as 'Crane Islands'.
Sixteenth-century antiquarian John Leland, visiting around 1540, referred to it as 'Coombe Castelle'. When Cornish antiquarian William Borlase visited two centuries later, he wrote that the remains of the fort 'stand now on the very brim of the Cliff, and much more than what is now standing is fallen with the Cliff into the sea'. He went on to say that they had once enclosed 'a cape of land which ... turning about to the West, formed a Pool where vessels might have had some shelter'. Archaeologists excavating the castle in 2013-4, as part of the South West Coast Path's 'Unlocking Our Coastal Heritage' project, found only a single piece of evidence to date the fort - a pottery sherd from around AD 100, during the Romano-British period.
- Leave the Coast Path here to cross the road and take the footpath immediately opposite. Follow the footpath through the right-hand hedge in the first field, travelling along the edge of the woods and then turning left through the trees and carrying on ahead along the left-hand boundary of the next two fields to come out on a minor road.
- Turn left on the road and take the footpath on the right soon afterwards, following the left-hand boundary again through two fields. In the third walk downhill, bearing left to the buildings at Menadarva.
- Follow the footpath downhill to the road, turning left briefly to pick up the bridleway on your right just beyond. Cross the Red River to walk along beside it through the Nature Reserve, carrying on ahead ignoring all the little paths to come out on the road beside the caravan park.
It is difficult to believe that the Red River Valley Local Nature Reserve is located in what was one of Cornwall's most industrialised valleys during the peak mining period. Today the Red River runs through a peaceful, partially wooded valley, with some lakes and ponds and areas of heathland. The riverbanks are bright with wildflowers and the insects they attract, and other wildlife to be seen in the reserve includes badgers and foxes, as well as the occasional otter. Listen out for woodpeckers drilling in the trees in search of grubs and insects.
Most of the activity associated with mineral extraction in the Red River Valley revolved around the recovery of tin that had been lost from mine dressing floors, and this form of tin streaming was carried out here right up to the 1960s. As a result the river channel is sluggish, lacking the fast and slow sections that are present in a natural flow. Here and there its banks have been strengthened by means of willow bundles or even masonry.
At Bell Lake, the lake and wetland area has been created from the old millpond, whose wheel powered the equipment used for tin streaming. A little way upstream, at Kieve Mill, the remains of the old tin streaming works have been preserved. As well as water channels and partially drained leats, these include a concrete dressing mill, and bases for the tables that were used to extract the tin by shaking the mineral slimes.
- On the road turn left, turning left again at the junction.
- As the road bears left, take the footpath on the right and follow the yellow waymarkers of the Mineral Tramways Trail along West Drive through Tehidy.
The Camborne and Redruth area was a major mining centre in the nineteenth century, producing half of Cornwall's total metal output. The ports at Hayle and Portreath were linked to a network of railways and tramroads which ran throughout the district. At first dozens of pack mules were used to carry the ore and coal, but in 1809 a tramroad, or 'plateway' was built along the valley between Portreath and Poldice (see the Basset's Cove & Tehidy Walk).
This footpath is one of the old tramways renovated as part of the Minerals Tramway Heritage Project, a £6 million Cornwall County Council initiative. 60 kilometres of paths have been created for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders along the routes of the old railway and tramway, giving access to some of the key sites of this unique mining area.
- At Otter Bridge turn left, turning right at Kennels Cottage beyond it. Turn left off the yellow trail soon afterwards to follow the pink waymarkers to North Cliffs Plantation. At the crossroads continue ahead, coming out at the car park by the road.
Tehidy was first recorded as Tedintone, in the 1086 Domesday Book. It was the area's biggest manor in the area, and from the twelfth century it was owned by the Basset family, some of the earliest Norman settlers in England. In the eighteenth century the leases the Bassets granted for the mines exploiting the tin and copper reserves on their land made them enormously wealthy (see the Basset's Cove & Tehidy Walk).
The original manor house was rebuilt in the fifteenth century, and then again in the mid eighteenth century, when profits from the mines funded an elegant gentleman's residence with extensive landscaped grounds and a deer park where today's golf course is. At the end of the eighteenth century, Francis Basset was responsible for having Plymouth's fortifications strengthened after the Tamar was threatened by a joint French and Spanish fleet anchored off Cawsand (see the Basset's Cove & Tehidy Walk) and was rewarded with a peerage. His nephew lavishly refurbished Tehidy, but the family sold the house in 1916 and soon after this it became a sanatorium for TB sufferers. The sanatorium was destroyed in a fire two weeks after it opened, but it was rebuilt and continued as a hospital until 1988.
Cornwall County Council purchased the grounds in 1983 and developed the country park as a community resource.
- Cross the road and pick up the track almost opposite, to the right of the car park, and follow the track back to the car park above the cliffs, at the start of the walk.