Walk - Killigarth to Talland Bay & Tencreek
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.
- From the reception car park at Killigarth Manor Holiday Park turn right and follow the Claremont Falls road uphill, continuing ahead when Carey Park joins from the left, to where Bridals Lane leads off to the right at the next junction.
- Turn right and walk down Bridals Lane, curving right with it after the houses, to Talland Bay.
The secluded beach at Talland Bay has been a popular place for landing contraband over the centuries, and there are a number of smugglers' tales associated with the cove, including that of 'Battling Billy', who used a hearse to convey his kegs of brandy inland, knowing that the Customs men were unlikely to search a coffin for smuggled goods. He swore that, if they ever killed him, his body would still drive the hearse to Polperro; and legend has it that when the Revenue men did shoot him, his corpse went on to drive the hearse over the cliffs despite the gunshot wounds to his neck. Locals say that his spirit still haunts the bay on a windy night.
- Bearing left on Bridals Lane above the beach at Talland, carry on along it, past the car park, to the road beyond. Turn left on the road ahead and walk uphill a few yards, to the lane on the right just as you are coming out of Porthallow.
- Turn right onto the lane, towards Tencreek, and follow it downhill to the river, crossing the footbridge to climb the opposite hillside to Tencreek, walking past the buildings to come out on the road beyond.
Two fields in Porthallow are known locally as 'Holy Well' and 'Little Holy Well', although there is no trace of a well and no legends relating to one. There is a natural spring in the hamlet which may once have been used as a healing well, however, and some locals refer to this as the 'Holy Well'. Other traditions call it Bridewelle, the old name for the settlement at Bridles, and Bridals Lane, said to be the route used by brides when travelling to Talland Church.
Tencreek was first recorded as a settlement in 1327. The name comes from the Cornish 'Keyncrug', meaning 'ridge barrow', and there are traces of a barrow here which dates from the Bronze Age (some 3000-5000 years ago).
- A few yards to the right, a footpath sign points through the caravan park towards Talland. Follow this footpath through the park and then the fields beyond, keeping the hedge to your right and walk past the tower to come out on the road.
Talland Church, nestling in the hollow of the hill above the bay, was built in the thirteenth century and enlarged and reconstructed in the fifteenth. The bench-ends from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries survive to this day, but the medieval wall paintings were destroyed in the restoration carried out in 1848.
Christianity reached Cornwall long before St Augustine brought it to Canterbury in the sixth century. Merchants from Lebanon and Palestine, arriving by sea and trading in tin and cloth, gave the county strong links with the Middle East, while at the same time its remote location cut it off from the links with Rome which were being established meanwhile in the rest of England.
In addition, there was a wave of Welsh and Irish saints arriving by land as well as sea, and many of them settled along the shoreline, establishing many hermitages and monasteries. It is said that St Tallanus was a hermit who settled here in the fifth century, and that the altar of the present church is to be built on the site of the original Celtic altar. Like all Celtic churches, the first was built near an ever-running source of water - the nearby stream - which would have supplied the founder's drinking water.
The ancient Celtic tribes who once inhabited England were increasingly driven to the inhospitable edges of Britain by successive waves of invaders, and Cornwall was one of the last outposts of the Celtic resistance to Anglo-Saxon domination. It was not until the tenth century that the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Cornwall was appointed and the power of the Cornish Chieftain Kings was diminished.
- On the road turn right and follow it downhill back to Talland, detouring through the field on your left again to avoid a small section of road-walking.
The pairs of towers above Talland, marked on the map as landmarks, together with another pair on the hillside above Hannafore, are a measured nautical mile, used by ships to time their speed. Although advances in technology since they were built have meant that ships can measure their speed electronically, vessels often still use the measured mile as they come out of Plymouth Sound.
Timing starts when the first pair of towers passed lines up, and it stops when the second pair does the same. The distance between is a nautical mile (about 1.15 land miles), enabling the ship's crew to calculate their speed in knots (nautical miles per hour). In order to be allow for wind and tide, the process needs to be done between four and six times in both directions.
On Talland Beach at low tide you can see the boiler of a French trawler wrecked here in 1922.
Like other secluded coves around the Cornish coastline, Talland was a favourite landing site for contraband, and the village has its share of smuggling yarns. One of the most colourful is the tale of the Rev Richard Dodge, who at the start of the eighteenth century was a renowned exorcist. He was often to be seen leaping around the churchyard at night, cracking a whip around the headstones to drive away evil spirits. More cynical narrators have suggested that the clergyman's eccentric behaviour was actually a cover to keep prowlers away from the churchyard while the smugglers were bringing their cargo through.
Retrace your steps along the road above the beach at Talland, but instead of taking Bridals Lane uphill to the right, carry straight on along the lane ahead and follow it to the road on the right, just after the first caravans.
- Turn right on the road and walk back up to Killigarth, just a short distance ahead.
The Smugglers Rest and the beach café at Talland.