Walk - Stay Cafe - Swanpool Nature Reserve Walk

4.5 miles (7.2 km)

Maenporth Beach Car Park - TR11 5HN Maenporth Beach Car Park

Moderate -

An important nature reserve and the home of Britain's only Trembling Sea Mat, Swanpool is an unusual lagoon backed by a rare wooded wetland. This gentle walk, with a relatively small amount of ascent and descent, travels on footpaths through a very pastoral area of Falmouth, a world away from its bustling docks and busy streets.

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Falmouth Lodge

Falmouth Lodge is a simple home with two rooms available for short stays. You are welcome to prepare your own breakfast in our kitchen

Tresooth Cottages

16 Cornish stone cottages with pool, sauna & hot tubs

Budock Vean Hotel

On a quiet bend of the Helford River, you will find the award winning 4 star Budock Vean Hotel. 49 hotel rooms, contemporary holiday homes and self catering cottages.

Trevarn B&B

Comfortable B&B. Convenient to Coast Path and excellent village amenities. A warm welcome awaits.

Braganza B&B

Stunning views of the harbour and bay from our Regency home. The perfect base to explore locally. Ample parking, free wifi, style and elegance.

On the Helford River B&B

Comfortable, stylish accommodation close to the Path with beautiful views & garden, breakfast and nearby local pub.. Email [email protected]

Cornwall Plus - Penryn Campus

Affordable University Rooms, Simple, economy, campus summer accommodation for groups, couples and individual travellers in the heart of Cornwall. On-site bus stops.

Sail Loft B & B

Twin ensuite in quirky converted sail loft in Helford village. 3 mins from the ferry and local pub. Spectacular view of Helford river. Directly on the Path.

Menaver B&B

Comfortable and welcoming B & B with double rooms and garden, close to Gillan beach and Path. Ideal for walkers.

Come-to-Good Farm

Luxury shepherd's hut, campsite and ensuite barn available to rent on our idyllic sheep farm in between Truro and Falmouth. Pub within walking distance.

You'll be spoilt for choice for where to eat and drink along the Path. With lots of local seasonal food on offer, fresh from the farm, field and waters. Try our local ales, ciders, wines and spirits, increasing in variety by the year, as you sit in a cosy pub, fine dining restaurant or chilled café on the beach. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Flapjackery Falmouth

Stop off and treat yourself or stock up for your trip along the Path with these delicious, award winning, gluten free flapjacks in a variety of flavours.

What is on your list of things to do when you visit the Path? From walking companies, to help you tailor your visit, with itineraries and experts to enhance your visit, to baggage transfer companies and visitor attractions there are lots to people and places to help you decide what you'd like to do. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

National Maritime Museum Cornwall

Nestled by Falmouth’s deep-water harbour discover National Maritime Museum Cornwall. Across 15 galleries, explore the overwhelming influence of the sea on our history and culture.

Fal River Visitor Information Centre

Find all the information you need to enjoy the beautiful Fal river section of the SW Coast Path and buy boat tickets tickets t

Glendurgan Garden, National Trust

Stroll down through the peaceful, exotic and playful valley to a sheltered beach at the bottom. This distinctive garden was created by Alfred and Sarah Fox in the 1820s.

Koru Kayaking - Helford River and creeks

2 hour Stunning Guided Kayak and Paddleboard Adventures along the Helford River and Frenchman's Creek from the Budock Vean Hotel foreshore. All equipment provided.

Helford River Boats

Cross Helford Passage on this 1,000 year old ferry trip. Boat/Kayak hire also available..

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. Leave Maenporth Beach Car Park. Walk past the beach and the café. Pick up the South West Coast Path behind the cafe and follow it around past Newporth Head, Sunny Cove and Pennance Point, turning right on the road at the end towards Swanpool Beach.
  2. Before reaching the car park at Swanpool Beach take the turning on the left. Follow the road around the edge of the car park, and stay with it as it travels along through the woodland bordering Swanpool, until you come to the footpath on your left. Turn onto the footpath and carry on through the trees in Swanpool Nature Reserve.

A culvert built at Swanpool in 1825 to allow water from the freshwater lake to flow into the sea led to a unique mix of seawater and freshwater, creating one of Britain's most important brackish lagoons.
The reduced water level in the lake left an area of marshland to the north west of it, fed by the six streams winding through on their way to the sea.
This in turn produced a small, densely wooded wetland of mostly willow carr behind the lake: a rare and valuable environment where the willow acts as a filter, removing pollutants before they flow into the lake and providing food and shelter for many birds and small mammals.
Willow trees will support as many as 450 different species of invertebrates, which in turn attracts a huge variety of birds, and the wet floor and humid atmosphere of this habitat also encourages the growth of rushes, mosses, ferns and lichens.
There is a wealth of bird food on offer in the lake itself: larvae in the mud at the bottom, insects in the reed beds along its shores, and fish and eels which swim through the culvert from the sea.
In all, over 100 different species of birds have been spotted at Swanpool, including mallard, moorhen, coot, little grebe and tufted duck, as well as siskin and kingfisher.
Although the name is probably derived from 'swamp-pool' there are also swans nesting on the lake. However, the black swan which tried to join the lake's community in Spring 2011 caused such uproar among the more peace-loving mute swans already here that the RSPCA was prevailed upon to remove it to live among its own kind elsewhere!
The species for which Swanpool is famous is sadly invisible underwater, but it is the only one of its kind in Britain: the trembling sea mat.
This exotic-sounding creature consists of billions of primitive microscopic animals called bryozoa, which live in colonies attached to stones or the stems of plants.
Each bryozoan is no more than two millimetres in size and is crowned by a ring of tentacles which it uses for filter feeding by catching particles in the water in the hairs on the tentacles.

  1. Turn left onto the lane leading uphill shortly afterwards, and follow it up through Boslowick, bearing right at the top and then carrying straight on ahead between the houses to come out on the main road.

The houses at Boslowick are built on the site of a medieval settlement. The first record of a hamlet here was in 1301, when it was referred to as 'Bodelewyth', or 'Leuit's abode'.
The name Boslowick did not appear until 1538, and it is thought to come from Cornish words meaning 'thicket' and 'pool'.

  1. Cross the road and pick up the footpath opposite, which will lead you to another road. Cross this one too, and once again pick up the footpath opposite and follow it downhill between two fields to come out on Roscarrock Road.
  2. Continue past the main entrance of Pendra Loweth along Roscarrock Road. Walk a little way uphill to pick up the public bridleway along the lane on your left. Fork right a short distance further on, continuing along the footpath at the end of the bridleway to walk around the edges of the fields to Tregedna Farm. This is a working farm, and it is important to stick to the path.
  3. Reaching the farm, pass on the far side of the buildings to pick up the bridleway along the drive. Follow the notices to turn right onto the lane marked to the beach and follow it to Rosemerryn Farm.
  4. The bridleway turns left here and travels past the Maenporth Estate. At the road turn left to reach the Maenporth Beach Car Park.


Public transport

Western Greyhound bus 500 travels frequently from Truro via Falmouth to Helford Passage, stopping at Swanpool Beach and Maenporth. For details visit www.travelinesw.com  or phone 0871 200 22 33


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