Walk - Rosemullion Head Circular

3.9 miles (6.2 km)

St Mawnan Church Car Park - TR11 5HY St Mawnan Church Car Park

Moderate - Mostly shallow undulations with a few steep ascents and descents.

A 4 mile circular walk with spectacular views of Rosemullion Head, secluded coves and the beautiful Helford Estuary. A lovely walk in springtime, when there are bluebells and wild garlic beneath the trees and a vivid assortment of wildflowers in the coastal grassland on Rosemullion Head. Make time to visit the gardens at Caerwinion, too, when primroses and blue anemones grow beneath the rhododendrons and camellias. In autumn it's a good walk for birdwatching, when flocks of seabirds pass through offshore, and sometimes storm petrels can be spotted among the terns and skuas.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the car park at the end of Old Church Road, there is a path straight ahead. This leads up to the Church, which is well worth visiting.

Not much is known about St Mawnan or Maunanus but the church tower dates from the 14th century, the main part of the church the 15th with major restoration in the 19th. Built on top of an ancient earthwork its tower has been a focal point for shipping for many centuries and there was talk of painting the tower white to aid navigation but this was eventually rescinded. Trees growing seaward side were taken down so as not to restrict the view to, and fortunately for the landlubbers, from the church. The churchyard affords some superb views and is well worth sitting in whilst appreciating the well tended landscape and contemplating life.

  1. Descend the steps and turn right towards the Helford.

The Coast Path leads out to Toll Point at the mouth of the Helford River. Opposite is Dennis Head the site of an Iron Age castle. It was also the site of a Royalist Civil War fort and was one of the last sites to surrender to Parliamentary forces in 1646. Also in view is the Coastguard Lookout on Nare Point. In World War II, Ealing Studios built a false Falmouth docks and rail terminal there and on Nare Head on the Roseland as a decoy to deflect the bombing away from the Real Falmouth Docks. The “film set” would be lit up at night and from the cockpit of an incoming bomber the red and green lights of a railway line and the triangular lights of doors opening and closing would be observed. These were remotely controlled from a manned hidden bunker a few hundred meters down the coast towards Porthallow.

Between Toll Point and Porth Saxon notice the boathouses along the path. These indicate the proximity of the large houses and estates of Carwinion, Trerose and Bosveal. More “recent” additions to the landscape were the pillboxes from the 2nd world War, which were built to house gun emplacements to help prevent any invasion. The Helford River was an important area for communications and secretive work by the allies including spying missions utilising disguised, motorised fishing boats to pop across to France. Many of the troops involved in the D-Day landings also embarked on their journey from the Helford River in 1945 to the beaches of Normandy. Trebah beach was the main embarkation point and you can still see evidence of the vast concrete jetty as replacement of the sand to enable the vehicular access to the boats.

The Helford River is an important area of marine conservation. With European designation it has 47kms of shoreline and a variety of habitats. There are seven creeks and the village of Gweek is 9kms from the mouth of the river. Famous for its oysters, it also has rare and protected eelgrass beds, Britains only marine flowering plant, where sea slugs, anemones, cuttlefish and even seahorses use it as a hotel throughout the year. For more information check out the Helford Voluntary Marine Conservation Group website.

  1. Descend into Porthallack and Porth Saxon. Behind the boathouse on Porth Saxon beach is a path that leads up into the woods, (Mawnan Smith ¾ mile sign). Head up the path and stop to enjoy the birdsong, the brook and the large ferns of the Carwinion valley.

Carwinion Gardens is approached from the south side with the main entrance on the road that one turns right onto. One can turn left and descend to Mawnan Smith where one can access all local facilities expected from a large village such as the Red Lion Pub and a post office.

It’s also worth visiting the local Smithy that is open to the public.

Returning to the walk, take care of the traffic along this mostly quiet road, as there isn’t any proper pavement. It does get busier during summer months.

  1. Pass the road on the right leading down to Mawnan Church. The walk continues 100 metres up on the right.
  2. From the Mawnan-Maenporth road take the driveway named Woodlands (grid ref 785283) down past Nansidwell Manor (now a private house) and head for the gate that descends down to the coast path.

There are Elm trees on the wall to ones left just after the gate. Notice the small walled garden a bit further on to the left, up some steps, with a variety of different oak trees from around the world.

  1. The path descends through woodland to the sea between Bream and Gatamala Coves.

Wild garlic and three-cornered leek abound in spring. At low tide some good rock pooling can be achieved down at these coves. Access to Bream Cove is to the left. Gatamala Cove is to the right. Both link up at low tide.

  1. Turn right along the coast path heading for Rosemullion Head.

It is believed that this was the site for an Iron Age fort and there is a possibility that two bronze age barrows are sited here.

  1. One can walk around the base of the Head and on to the top where views stretch eastwards to St Mawes, St Anthony’s Head, Dodman Point and beyond.

Westwards, one can see the southernmost point of the Lizard and the Manacles Rocks (from the Cornish “Maen Eglos” or stones of the church). The long beach directly to the right is Prisk Cove, another superb place for rock pooling. Keep an eye out for oystercatchers and stonechats and even the odd herd of cattle that descend the path and enjoy the vegetation around the back of the beach.

Two shipwrecks are at the base of Rosemullion Head, The Endeavour (1804) and the Alma (1895). Descend to the beach by going over two stiles from Rosemullion Head, hug the seaward hedge and the entrance to the beach becomes apparent.

  1. Once back on the coast path, continue up into the woods at Mawnan Church.
  1. There is a path to the right half way into the woods. Go back past the church to the car park.

Nearby refreshments

Mawnan Smith and Trebah Gardens and Maenporth Beach.

Public transport

There are frequent buses between Helston and Falmouth that stop at Mawnan Smith. From here walk up hill for a mile towards Maenporthand the footpath is on the right after the turning for Mawnan Church. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

Parking

Paying car park at Mawnan Church (SW 788 272). There is a suggested donation of £2 or you can park just off the road at SW 785 283 near Nansidwell Farm (nearest Postcode for Sat Navs: TR11 5HY).

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