Walk - Mullion Cove & Poldhu
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.
- In Mullion Cove head up the flight of steps beside the Cellar House apartments to pick up the South West Coast Path towards Polurrian. Follow the Coast Path steeply uphill above the harbour, coming out at the top in the Mullion Cove Hotel car park. In the far left-hand corner the Coast Path continues through the National Trust land at Polurrian Cliff. Bear left along the stony path when a footpath leaves to the right and ignore the next tiny path on your left. The Coast Path continues behind the houses and then comes to another small path to the left and a road to the right. Carry on ahead, along the Coast Path, passing under a footbridge and then forking left to drop steeply to Polurrian Cove, crossing the stream on another footbridge.
Polurrian marks the western end of a major boundary running through Mullion and across to Porthallow on the eastern side of the peninsula. This is where Cornwall stops, geologically, and the Lizard begins, the slate of the former giving way here to the hornblende schist of the latter.
- For a shorter walk turn right on the bridleway after the stream at Polurrian Cove, turning right again on Laflouder Lane and carrying on ahead to rejoin the longer walk at 5. For the longer walk, carry on ahead across the National Trust land at Mere's Cliff, following the Coast Path's acorn waymarkers along Angrouse Cliff past the Marconi monument, rounding Mên-y-grib Point and Poldhu Point to walk above Poldhu Cove.
'An grouse' is Cornish for 'The Cross' and it was the meeting place for local Methodists from 1758 until 1762. It is thought that there was a stone cross here in medieval times, although there is no trace of it today.
- Coming out onto the tarmac lane on the right, detour left to visit the beach at Poldhu Cove, but otherwise turn right, towards the Marconi Centre. Carry on along the path past the centre, walking uphill towards Mullion village, until you come to Angrouse Farmhouse.
Erected in October 1900 to avoid publicity in the early stages, the Poldhu Wireless Station (just a short distance from the Marconi Monument) had by 1901 transmitted messages more than 200 miles to ships at sea. In December of that year, the first-ever transatlantic wireless telegraphy signal was sent from here to Newfoundland, 1800 miles away. Guglielmo Marconi was able to receive the message on his yacht in the South Atlantic.
- Take the small footpath to the right beyond Angrouse, noting the plaque behind the right-hand gatepost and follow the waymarked path through the fields.
This field is known as Parc Venton (Cornish for 'Spring Field'). John Wesley, father of the Methodist movement, preached here in September 1752.
- Going ahead along the lane at the end of the second field, fork right and then left onto Laflouder Lane. Turn left to walk up towards the top of the village.
- Turn right along the lane in front of the converted barns, bearing left and then right with the lane. Carry on ahead past the track into the field on your right, staying with the lane as it returns to the road at Laflouder Fields. Turn right and walk to St Mellans Terrace, turning left here to walk to Nansmellyon Road.
- On the main road turn right and follow the pavement to walk past both the cricket ground and Glenmoor Lane. Take the footpath to the left of the bungalow after the postbox and cross the field to the corner diagonally opposite, coming out on a small road.
This road is known as Ghost Hill. Bob Felce’s 2012 book, "A history of Mullion Cove Cornwall" tells us that "the nearby copper mine was sometimes known as Ghost Mine. The name originated from the type of undrained, boggy and marshy ground on which Copper Ore was first found in the 1720s. Gases were often released from the wet ground, which frequently caught fire and burned above the ground drawing in travellers who often became trapped there. The process was given the name of "will `o the wisp".
Documentation for the mine exists from the 1740s. A local Vicar obtained a lease. The mine was then called Wheal Providence but closed in the 1750s. By 1807 the mine had reopened as Wheal Unity. Large quantities of high quality copper were extracted from near the surface but unfortunately a deeper adit could not be completed. It had closed by 1811. In 1845 the mine was reopened as Wheal Trenance, the deep adit was completed and large quantities of very pure copper called Virgin copper were extracted. One piece weighing 30 tons had to be cut up to allow it to leave the miine! In 1851 the largest piece was sent to London to the "Great Exhibition". Finds became scarce and the mine closed for the last time in June 1852. No engine house was ever built, but it remains one of the most important sources of good quality copper ever extracted in this country."
- Turn left on Ghost Hill and turn onto the footpath on your right a moment later. Follow this path across two fields, going into the left-hand field beyond and walking along the left-hand hedge of this field to the lane.
- Turn right on the lane and walk to Nansmellyon Road, turning left to drop gently downhill to Mullion Cove.
Mullion Island is formed of lava which erupted on an ancient seabed about 350 million years ago. It is the most important site on the Lizard for nesting birds: look out for cormorants, shags, kittiwakes and black-backed gulls.
Bob Felce’s book talks about “The construction of Mullion Harbour, financed by Lord Robartes at a personal cost of almost £10,000 commenced in 1890 with the construction of the west pier or breakwater. Using granite, serpentine and other local stone, building was delayed in the Spring of 1891 by the "Great Cornish Blizzard", but it was eventually completed and opened by Lord and Lady Robartes in December 1892.Construction of the shorter south pier began in 1895 and was completed in 1897.
The 19th century Harbour provided assistance and protection to the inshore pilchard seine fishery and a restocking facility for the many ships which had sought shelter and anchorage nearby during periods of adverse wind and weather. It heralded many annual Regattas, involving Fishermen, Coastguards and visitors, all taking part in well organised sailing and swimming races which attracted hundreds of spectators watching from the Piers and surrounding cliffs.
In August 1905 storms destroyed fishing boats, nets and gear cancelling the Regatta, but the loss was made good with contributions with the help of famous Victorian and Edwardian visitors staying at local Hotels. This help allowed the Regatta to continue and saved the fishing industry from total financial loss. By the early 1920s, with the introduction of fishing boats with engines and market changes the seine fishery soon declined but the Mullion fishermen were able to travel to new fishing grounds further out to sea and return with larger and fresher catches.
From this small Harbour, which has now survived the storms for over 120 years, Fishermen still used the tried and tested methods of catching crab, lobster and crawfish in baited pots and continued to supply the markets, Today modern materials have replaced the old willow pots but the crabs and lobsters are still caught and sold each year.”
Between 1867 and 1909 the cove had its own lifeboat station, after 69 lives were lost in nine shipwrecks during a six-year period, along just 1½ miles of coastline. Bob Felce's book tells us that "the first of three Lifeboats, the Daniel J Draper, was stationed at Mullion in September 1867. One month later the crew were credited with saving 3 lives from the Achilles at Polurrian on the occasion of its first launch. Two other lifeboats eventually followed but the Station was closed in 1908."