Walk - The Cove - Merry Maidens

3.0 miles (4.8 km)

The Cove Cornwall - TR19 6XH The Cove Cornwall

Easy - There is very little ascent or descent, but the path travels through fields, so wear good shoes.

A fascinating jaunt through an ancient ceremonial landscape littered with stone circles and other monuments, some of them dating right back to the Stone Age. From the highest ground there are tremendous views over St Buryan with its sixteenth-century tower, the engine house of Ding Dong Mine, and the eighteenth-century Roger's Tower, a folly built on an Iron Age hillfort. There is very little ascent or descent, but the path travels through fields, so wear good shoes.

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.

Bosula House

Bosula House, set in a peaceful location. Val & Paul offer a warm, friendly welcome, comfortable night’s sleep, ensuite rooms and a good breakfast to start your day.

Lamorna Pottery B&B

We offer an en-suite family room sleeping 4 as well as double & twin rooms available. Single night stays. Evening meal by arrangement. Seating area and outlook onto patio and woods.

Treen House B&B

Newly renovated vegetarian/Vegan, eco-friendly B&B in an unspoilt, magical location. All rooms en-suite. Use of guest lounge.

The Studio, Treen

The architect designed Studio is located on the west side of Penberth valley in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 8 mins walk from the Path

Sea View House

Long standing B&B offering comfortable accomodation, conveniently situated for Coast Path.

Glencree House

We're a friendly, award-winning B&B located 50 yards from the Promenade. Cozy beds and great breakfasts in an award winning B&B

The Tremont Hotel

The Tremont is approx. 300 metres from the South West Coast Path offering quality bed & breakfast, packed lunches and drying facilities. Walkers welcome.

Keigwin House

Popular 'home from home', 5 minutes from the Path and town centre. Great breakfasts and a warm welcome awaits. 2 x standard single and 2 x family ensuite rooms

Number Nine B&B

Number Nine offers extremely comfortable accommodation in a lovely Georgian house in central Penzance. Conveniently situated for the South West Coast Path.

Porthgwarra Holiday Cottages

Six holiday cottages in and around Porthgwarra. Porthgwarra Cove Cafe open 10-3pm daily.

Sunnybank House B&B

Comfortable B&B close to SWCP. Free WiFi. Sea Views. Packed Lunches with prior notice. Refreshment trays. Hair Dryers, TV

Cornerways Guest House

Close to the Path & bus/rail stations, Silver/Breakfast/Rose Awards. All rooms ensuite. Ideal touring base.

Honeydew Guesthouse

5 mins from the Coast Path, bus/train stations, town centre, pubs, and restaurants. Ideal location. We aim to make your stay a comfortable and memorable one. Dog friendly.

Lands End Hostel and B&B

Family run boutique Hostel and B&B, 1/2mile from Lands End. Great for walkers, cyclists, Lejog. Close to The Minack, St Just Airport & Sennen.

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.

St Pol de Leon Church

Ancient church in village of Paul featuring unique heritage features, including World War 1 stained glass window

Western Discoveries Walking Holidays

Western Discoveries are the local experts for walking holidays in Cornwall. They are based in West Cornwall and specialise in providing self-led walking holidays along Cornwall’s stunning coast path. Accommodation, luggage transfers, maps, their own detailed route notes and arrival/departure transfers from local transport terminals are all provided with an unparalleled attention to detail.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

The Cove Cornwall

The Cove at Lamorna provides walkers with afternoon teas, lunches, dinners and free car parking. The House itself is of historical interest as it was built in 1854 for John Freeman, who owned the quarry in the cove. In the late 1800s it  became a temperance hotel and in the early 1900's was home to Alfred Munnings. The book “Summer in February” by Jonathan Smith details the story of Munnings and other famous Newlyn artists when they used Lamorna as base for painting and partying. The book has been made into a film with Dan Stevens.

  1. Coming out of the entrance to the Cove Cornwall onto Well Lane, turn left and then left again on the road beyond. Follow the road along Lamorna Valley for a short distance, until you come to a lane leading away to the left.
  2. Turn left onto this lane and follow it uphill, past Menwidden and Borah Chapel, until you come to a road.
  3. Carry on ahead along the road to where it comes out on the B3315.

Just before you reach the road, there is an unmetalled lane to the left. Detouring along the public footpath here and going into the big field beyond, cross it diagonally to the far left hand corner to visit the old Tregurnow Cross.

The Tregurnow Cross is a stone slab with a cross in relief on front and back, although little remains of the latter. It dates from sometime in the medieval period, and is one of many stone crosses in the area. Another stands at the side of the road at Boskenna, a little way to the west. This has a modern base supporting an ancient head which was found buried in the hedge during roadworks in 1869. There is a figure with outstretched arms and feet on the front of the cross, and a four-armed wheel cross on the rear. In its original position the cross marked the churchway between St Buryan and Boscawen-Rose.
The footpath passes the old Tregurnow Pottery, set up in the early 1960s by George and Margaret Smith, who converted the seventeenth-century farmworker's cottage into a studio. Now it is the Old Well Studio, which has occasional open days in its ceramics and painting workshops.

In the fields across the B3315 from the junction, but sadly with no public access, are the Pipers standing stones. They are two massive granite menhirs, the largest surviving in Cornwall today. They date from the Bronze Age, more than 3000 years ago. In AD 931, Cornish King Howel supported by the Danes was defeated in battle here by the Saxon King Athelstan, who went on to conquer the Isles of Scilly.

To the north west of the Pipers is the Boleigh Fogou. Named after the Cornish word for 'cave', a fogou was a type of underground chamber. Found only to the west of the River Fal, dating from sometime between 400 BC and AD 300, their purpose is unclear. It is thought to have been either ceremonial, or used for the storage of food. The fogou at Boleigh is extensive, with two internal passageways leading to the main vault. Its first documented use was as a hideout for a group of Royalists on the run from Cromwell's men in the English Civil War.

  1. As you reach the B3315, exactly on the junction, a footpath heads into the field on your left. Follow the path across the field, bearing right at the hedge to go through into the next field a moment later, and on to the Merry Maidens.

Dating from the Neolithic (Late Stone Age) period, sometime between 4000 and 2501 BC, the Merry Maidens is a stone circle formed of 19 granite megaliths. There is a gap between the stones forming an entrance at its eastern end. Some of them are as tall as 1.4 metres. The tallest ones stand to the south west, with the shorter ones opposite them on the north eastern rim. This is thought to mimic the waxing and waning of the moon, and the circle was probably used in early pagan religious ceremonies.
The monument is also known as 'Dawns Men', thought to come from the Cornish 'dans maen', meaning 'stone dance'. According to the local legend, a group of frivolous and heathen maidens were dancing here on a Sunday, accompanied by two pipers across the way. As punishment the dancers were turned to stone, and so were their musicians. As with many of the ancient stone monuments in Cornwall, the early Christian movement of the fifth and sixth centuries is thought to have adopted the old pagan sites and symbols. They associated them with the rites of the new religion, in order to bring the pagans into the Christian fold.

There are many other ancient monuments in the area, including a second 19-stone Neolithic circle at nearby Boascawen-Un and a number of lone standing stones from the same period. Some of the very old stone crosses are thought to date from this time, too, being later adapted by the church to remove the traces of the pagan religions. The Tregurnow Cross, with its 'crucified' figure in relief on the granite slab may be an example.

Other prehistoric features of this special landscape include many barrows from the Bronze Age and traces of settlements and hillforts from the Iron Age which followed it. The Tregiffian Barrow, beside the B3315 to the west of the Merry Maidens, dates from the late Neolithic/early Bronze Age and was found to incorporate a cup-marked granite slab, whose indentations chiselled into its stone are thought to have played some part in religious ceremonies.

  1. Retracing your steps from the Merry Maidens to go back into the first field, turn right along the hedge and walk to the lane at the end. 
  2. Instead of turning onto the lane, go into the first field on your right, following the left-hand hedge to carry on along the path beyond. Cross the next field diagonally to follow the left-hand hedge through the two beyond, heading straight across the last to come out on a road. 
  3. On the road turn left and walk past Tregiffian Farm, carrying on along the track by the barns.
  4. Pick up the footpath into the field just past the farm and follow it along the left-hand hedge, carrying on along the track ahead.
  5. Reaching Rosemodress Farm turn left in front of the farm and then turn right beyond the buildings, passing behind the farm and coming out into the field to the north east of it. Carry on along the left-hand hedge to Tregurnow.
  6. Going through to Tregurnow Farm, ignore the farm drive on your left and the lane on your right to take the lane ahead, running roughly north east to Lamorna. Turn left on Well Lane to return to The Cove Cornwall.
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