Walk - Mullion Cove & Predannack Wollas
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2018. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- From Mullion Cove follow the road uphill, past the toilet block.
- Just before the road on the left, leading to the hotel, there is an entrance on the right to Criggan Mill. Turn right here and follow the track uphill. As the track bears left at the top, go over the stile to the right, by the standing stone. Stay to the left as you follow the path uphill through the trees and through fields.
Hidden behind the thorn bushes on your left are the ruined remains of Wheal Unity copper mine, where the largest single piece of copper ever found was discovered (see the Mullion & Poldhu Walk).
At the side of the path a little further on is one of several medieval stone crosses to be found around the district. This one marks the old path from Predannack Worths (Wollases) to Trenance, just north of Mullion Cove. In 1695 the field it stood in was known as 'Gwell Grows' (Cross Meadow). In 1852 the stone cross was found face down in a ditch and then was secured with metal wedges in its original position, where it still stands today.
- Reaching the road carry straight on ahead on the drive to Predannack Manor Farm, taking the footpath on the left just before the farm and turning left again over a stile to cross two fields to the road. On the road turn right to the Predannack Wollas car park.
- From the car park go through the gate past Windyridge Farm. Take the path to the right, leading to the coast, crossing the stile and forking right when the path splits.
Of the three farms here, two are owned by the National Trust, but Windyridge Farm is privately owned. All three are built of local serpentine, with granite quoins and slate roofs. They are still farmed using the traditional system of sharing out the local land fairly, meaning that their fields are intermingled. This medieval system was inherited from prehistoric times, when Bronze Age settlers divided the best arable land, close to home, so that each family had an equal share. They allocated the pasture land beyond it in a similar way, and the rough moorland outside their enclosures was common land used for grazing.
- Returning to the South West Coast Path, turn right.
In winter Dartmoor ponies or cattle are used to graze the cliffs in order to keep the scrub down. This gives the more delicate species a chance to flourish, and in spring these cliffs are carpeted with spring squill, with tiny star-like blue flowers. At the end of the summer, autumn squill takes its place, with a pinkish blush to its own starry flowers. The many other wildflowers growing here include up to 20 different species of clover, attracting moths and butterflies.
Below as you join the Coast Path are Parc Bean ('Little Field') Cove and Ogo Dour ('Water Cave') Cove. There is a waterfall tumbling onto the beach here, and caves around the shoreline.
- As you approach the headland at Mên-he-teul ('Brow Stone'), Mullion Island comes into view. Carry on along the Coast Path to descend to the harbour.
Mullion Island was formed from lava after an underwater volcano erupted, some 350 million years ago. On contact with cold water the lava hardened into lumps shaped like pillows, giving it the name 'pillow lava'. The other island nearby is Vro Island ('Badger Island'). In summer both islands are host to many nesting seabirds. There were once many more, before the local stocks of pilchards and sand eels began to decline. Look out for puffins among the razorbills, gulls and gannets around the islands.
The bay from here to the headland at Pedngwinian, visible ahead, is known as Mullion Roads. The bay provides shelter for vessels from northeasterly gales, but the prevailing wind blows from the southwest, and many a ship was wrecked here when it failed to move away in time as the wind swung around.
As you descend to the harbour, notice how the vegetation changes abruptly, as the rock beneath your feet does the same. The conical island by the harbour is formed of serpentine, as is Vro Island and most of the southern part of the Lizard peninsula (see the Kynance Cove Walk). The headland at Mên-he-teul and the area around Mullion are different, being formed of hornblende schist. If you look at the wall beneath the black shed, on the far side of the cove, you will see that most of the stones in the wall are fine-grained, flecked serpentine of various colours. In the middle are two prominent grey rocks, which are hornblende schist. This rock began life as a lava flow beneath the sea. During Earth movements, enormous heat and pressure on the rock resulted in a lot of shiny crystals, which are characteristic of hornblende schist. The valley heading inland from Mullion Cove is a major geological fault line caused by these Earth movements.
Mullion pier was built by local landowner, Lord Robartes of Lanhydrock, between 1890 and 1897. The project gave employment to impoverished fishermen after several disastrous pilchard seasons, and it also provided a place for ships to unload coal for the Lanhydrock estate. The pilchard cellar and net loft are preserved on the harbour, and there is still a small fishing fleet registered here.