Walk - Stepper Point from Trevone
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2019. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- From the beach car park in Trevone pick up the South West Coast Path on the right as you face the sea and follow it around above the northern side of the beach. (NB As at April 2014 the end of the front car park is closed following storm damage. Go through the car park behind you to pick up the path a short way up the hillside). Carry on around the first headland, detouring to explore the astonishing crater in the grass. As a track joins from the right, bear left with the Coast Path to continue past the ragged rocks and islets. At the first larger island the path descends steeply into a small valley and climbs out again, only to repeat the process a moment later.
As you walk along here you will hear the hollow boom that tells of caves in the rock below your feet. These are carved out by the sea, which exploits weaknesses in the rock and then enlarges them with the power of its waves as they wash around the cave. Sometimes these collapse, leaving a sinkhole. The enormous crater was formed in this way, and so were Pepper Hole, Butter Hole and Fox Hole, ahead.
- Ignore the path heading inland to the right and carry on along the coastline, past a disused mine by the second island and the rocky inlet beyond it.
Seabirds nest on ledges on the high cliffs here, and peregrine falcons are often seen. Look out for seals around the islands.
- Stay on the Coast Path as it passes high above a small sandy cove and carries on around Stepper Point to the tower.
At Stepper Point much of the cliff land is farmed as part of the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme - an environmental scheme where no sprays or fertilisers are used and field margins are left uncultivated. This creates a better habitat for rare species of plant and encourages endangered wildlife such as the corn bunting, barn owl, grey partridge and hare. Sheep graze these fields, and ground-nesting birds raise their young in the areas of rough grassland, so please keep your dog on a lead, particularly in the spring and early summer.
The daymark tower was built, probably in the early nineteenth century, as a maritime navigational aid, designed to guide sailors into the River Camel.
From flint tools found on the headland it appears that people lived in this part of Stepper Point as far back as 6000 years ago, and possibly even earlier.
The dramatic headland at Stepper Point marks the entrance to the Camel Estuary and features prominently in the opening episodes of Poldark.
- Rounding the point, the Coast Path heads due south above the mouth of the River Camel and the famous Doom Bar.
Looking out across the estuary, at low tide the sand on this side of the water extends almost to Doom Bar. According to a traditional ballad, the Mermaid of Padstow fell in love with local lad, Tom Yeo, who mistook her for a seal (or so he said), and shot her. In the awful rage of a woman scorned, she called up a mighty storm, wrecking all the ships in the harbour and throwing a huge sandbar across the river to imperil all future sailors venturing in. Look out for her on the rocks at Hawker's Cove...
- Ignore the track to the right shortly after the point and continue to the hamlet at Hawker's Cove.
- Ignoring the path to the right before the houses, carry on along the Coast Path as it goes past the cottages and rounds the back of the cove, behind the old lifeboat station. When the road turns sharply right, leave it to carry on along the Coast Path to the left.
The first Padstow lifeboat, built by the Padstow Harbour Association, was stationed here, before the Padstow branch of the RNLI was formed in 1855. In 1931 a new boathouse was built, and a roller slipway, but by 1967 silting up became a problem and the lifeboat was moved to Trevose Head, a few miles to the west.
- At Harbour Cove the path detours behind the dunes. Turn left on the track to follow it above the beach, bearing right with it past the small paths through the dunes. Leave the Coast Path here, staying on the main track as it travels alongside fields. Turn right behind the last barn at Tregirls Farm, turning immediately left to continue along the road, past roads to right and then left, to where a footpath leaves in the field on the right.
- Take this footpath and cross the field, diagonally to the right. Cross this road and continue ahead, following a clear path directly through six fields to the road at Crugmeer.
- Turn left on this road and walk to the junction ahead, turning right here.
- Bear left at the next junction a moment later, heading for Porthmissen and Trevone. Stay on the road as it bears left around Porthmissen.
- Carry straight on ahead after the buildings to head steeply downhill, back to the beach car park at Trevone.