Walk - Carlyon Bay Hotel - Charlestown & Porthpean

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.

Route Description

The South West Coast Path passes between the hotel and the cliffs.

  1. Coming out of the hotel onto the Coast Path, turn right in a westerly direction. Follow the Coast Path towards Charlestown. Rounding the first headland you will come across the National Coastwatch Institute’s Lookout Station on Landrion Point.

The National Coastwatch Institution is a voluntary organisation set up in 1994, when two sailors drowned within sight of the newly-closed Coastguard lookout at Bass Point, on the Lizard. Visitors are welcome to visit the station at the discretion of the duty watchkeeper although all children should be accompanied by an adult. The two-story building used to be a coastguard lookout. The NCI flag and the Union Jack will be flying if the station is open.

  1. Walk on the South West Coast Path until you reach Charlestown.

Charlestown was named after and developed by Charles Rashleigh who used plans prepared by John Smeaton, the designer of the Eddystone Lighthouse,  to start building the harbour and dock in 1791. The first gates were completed in 1799 and the harbour was used to facilitate the transport of copper from local mines. In competition with nearby Pentewan and Par, Charlestown prospered from the rapid expansion of china clay use in the 19th century.

Charlestown Harbour still remains relatively untouched by development and so has been a very important film and TV location over the years. It was used in the filming of the 1976 World War II drama The Eagle Has Landed, the 1975-77 romantic drama Poldark and the 1970's series The Onedin Line. The Shipwreck and Heritage Centre on Quay Road has many artefacts from shipwrecks and one of the largest underwater diving equipment collections in the country. Open from March to November from 10.00-17.00, Tel: 01726 69897.

After looking around Charlestown you can either retrace your footsteps back to the Carlyon Hotel or take a further circular walk.

  1. To continue to Porthpean, walk around the harbour to its western side and follow Barkhouse Lane at the southerly edge of the main carpark. At the wooden fence, turn left onto Duporth Road and keep on the left-hand side of the road ignoring any side roads until you reach a staggered road junction.
  2. Turn left onto Porthpean Road. Pass Ridgewood Close and then turn left down Porthpean Beach Road. On your right, you will see the Porthpean Golf Club’s course.
  3. Follow the road down to Porthpean beach.

Porthpean, Cornish for small cove, was once part of the Penrice estate owned by the Sawle family. During the Second World War, the beach had anti-invasion devices to prevent enemy invasion. Concrete pyramids were dotted on the slope above the beach to stop invading vehicles.

  1. At the beach, turn left onto the South West Coast Path and follow the path back towards Charlestown.

You will see glimpses of Duporth’s beach and Polmear Island before reaching the trees and the ruins of Crinnis Cliff Battery. This was built in 1793 to protect Charlestown from the French. Volunteers from Charles Rashleigh's estate formed a company of artillerymen that lasted until 1860. The Crinnis Cliff Volunteers later became the Cornwall Artillery Volunteers. The battery continued to be used for practice until 1898. 

  1. Reaching Charlestown, walk around the harbour and follow the Coast Path back to the hotel.

Nearby refreshments

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