Walk - Portwrinkle to Plymouth

13.2 miles (21.2 km)

Portwrinkle Plymouth

Moderate - Moderate to easy

Walking along the final stretch of the South Cornwall Coast Path is mainly fairly easy, although there are some short, steep ascents and descents in places. The Path passes a military firing range at Tregantle Fort. Here you may take the seaward permissive path or if the red flags are flying you will need to take the route that follows the B3247. For more details see our Military Training Areas page.

Follow the rugged cliffs of Freathy, which is dotted with holiday cabins, to the impressive promontory of Rame Head and take in views enjoyed here for centuries.

The urban landscape of Plymouth is not far away, yet as you set off for Penlee Point the Path becomes rather surprisingly wild. It changes once again as you take the easy Paths through sheltered woodland to the twin villages of Cawsand and Kingsand. After following the sweep of Cawsand Bay, you reach the tamed landscape of Mount Edgcumbe Country Park, with many interesting Grade II listed features and fantastic views of Plymouth Sound opening up ahead.

Interactive Elevation

Highlights

  • Views of the four mile stretch of Whitsand Bay.
  • Tregantle Fort: built in the 19th century to deter the French from attacking Plymouth’s naval base.
  • Sharrow Grotto: a man-made cave, apparently dug out in the early 1780s by a seaman called James Lugger attempting to cure his gout.
  • The view of the ruined medieval chapel on the approach to Rame Head. The chapel is thought to be on the site of a Celtic chapel and was occupied by a priest who kept a beacon for passing ships.
  • Looking back over Whitesand Bay from above Polhawn Cove.
  • Rame Head: naturally this was the site of an Iron Age cliff fort and the defensive banks and ditches are still visible.
  • There is a National Coastwatch Station sited just inland. Keep a look out here for peregrines, buzzards, kestrels and even the rare Dartford warbler.
  • Rame church: found just behind the headland and originally a Norman church, it was enlarged in the 15th century, is only lit by candlelight and contains one of the few surviving hand-pumped organs. The churchyard contains the graves of many people drowned at sea.
  • Penlee Point with its early 19th century folly, built for Princess Adelaide who loved to walk here when she stayed at Mount Edgcumbe.
  • Walking through woodland and grassland around Penlee Battery. This area is part of a Cornwall Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve and you may see dragonflies amongst the beautiful bee orchids and grasses.
  • The twin villages of Cawsand and Kingsand: visited by the Spanish Armada, King Charles and Lord Nelson, the streets filled with colourful houses lead down to small harbours with lovely views of the Devon coast. Look out for the house bearing the words ‘Devon Corn’ which stands on the old county boundary.
  • Exploring the rock pools on Kingsand Beach.
  • Walking through Mount Edgcumbe Country Park, there are many features to see in this beautiful estate of Grade I listed gardens, so allow plenty of time. You could take a rest on the sheltered Picklecombe Seat, whose carved stone came from two churches from Stonehouse, admire the sweeping views from The Folly: an artificial ruin built in 1747, and look out across the Sound from the cannons of the Garden Battery. For more detailed information
    tel: 01752 822236.
  • Views of Drake’s Island. Records show that in 1135 the island was known as St Michael’s and had a small chapel on it. The chapel was later dedicated to St Nicholas and the island took the same name, until it changed again to Drake’s Island after Sir Francis Drake who was based in Plymouth. A small fort was built here in the 16th century to help protect Plymouth’s dockyard.
  • Taking the ferry across the mouth of the Tamar from Cremyll to Stonehouse. This has been an important passage between Cornwall and Devon since medieval times.
  • Setting off to explore the biggest city on the South West Coast Path.

Places of interest

Shorter option

Cawsand and Kingsand (9.8 miles, 15.8 km).

Longer option

As there is so much to see in Mount Edgcumbe Country Park and the city of Plymouth, we suggest you end your walk in Plymouth, where you will find plenty of accommodation and refreshment.

Nearby refreshments

You can stock up on supplies at the beginning of your day in Portwrinkle and Crafthole, however there are opportunities for refreshments further on. There are shops, pubs and cafes in Cawsand and Kingsand and there is a restaurant in the Orangery at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park. Plymouth has an extensive range of shops, restaurants, pubs and cafes.

Public transport

Plymouth has a mainline train station and a bus station which provides access into much of Devon and Cornwall. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the train station and bus stop symbols, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

The ferry across the Tamar from Cremyll to Stonehouse operates very regularly, every day of the week, all year round, Tel: 01752 822105 or for more details see our estuaries and ferries page.

Parking

Portwrinkle (Postcode for Sat Navs: PL11 3DY), Tregantle Fort, Freathy, Wiggle Cliff, Rame Head, Penlee Point, Cawsand, Kingsand, Mount Edgcumbe Country Park and Plymouth.

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