Walk - Tregantle

6.5 miles (10.5 km)

Tregantle layby - PL11 3AZ Tregantle layby

Moderate - Quiet country roads and lanes, footpaths and the Coast Path. There are stretches of ascent and descent, none very steep. The route travels through the MoD range at Tregantle, which is closed to the public when live practice is taking place. An alternative route is available if this is the case. For further details see here:


A long loop with an optional shortcut (when the MoD practice range is not in use), taking in the best of Cornwall's 'forgotten corner'. Features along the way include a tiny medieval market borough with stone crosses and a haunted coaching inn, and one of the ring of 'Palmerston follies' built to defend Plymouth during the Napoleonic Wars. Travelling high above Whitsand Bay, the footpaths follow ancient routes and medieval green lanes inland through woodland and heathland, past wetlands full of wildlife.

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.

The Bungalow B&B

A warm welcome awaits walkers in my home overlooking Whitesand Bay. 200m from Coast Path. Open all year.

1 Fisherman's Cottage

Delightful 18th Century stone built fisherman's cottage. Fully equipped and perfect for 2. B&B also available

Coombe House, Cawsand

Beautifully renovated farmhouse, stunning sea views, ample carparking, 15 mins from the Path, 5 mins from Kingsand/Cawsand offering 4 pubs for dinner. Highly recommended on Trip Advisor.

Treliddon Farm

200 year old farmhouse in Downderry is a home from home offering drying facilities, wifi & free Downderry pick-up/drop-off. Self catering also available. Phone 01503 250288 for further details

The Edgcumbe Arms, Cremyll

The Edgcumbe Arms is situated on the Coast Path where Cornwall meets Devon. We have 4 recently refurbished B&B rooms and are open all day for food & drinks.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the parking area on the B3247 walk along the road opposite, towards Whitsand Bay and Freathy Cliff, to go through the MoD gate, on the right opposite the layby. Here the South West Coast Path heads towards Portwrinkle on a permissive path through Tregantle, most of which is only available when firing practice is not taking place.
  2. If firing practice is taking place, red flags will be flying at the entrance to the range. If this is the case, turn right at the board and follow the waymarked route around the perimeter of Tregantle, taking the path to the left when it leaves the road, to rejoin the route below at 3.

When there are no flags flying, follow the waymarked path through the range, avoiding the areas where public access is prohibited. When you reach the gate at the end of the range, go through it and follow the waymarkers through the field above Kerslake Cliff, to the gate into the National Trust land at Trethill.

For a shorter walk turn right before Trethill and take the footpath uphill to the road. Turn right onto the Coast Path as it travels alongside the road to rejoin the return route at 8.

Tregantle is the most westerly fort in a chain of more than 20 forts and batteries around Plymouth, built in response to Napoleon's launch of the first armour-plated battleship, La Gloire, in 1859. The Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, set up a Royal Commission to consider the UK's defence systems, and as a result rings of fortresses like these were built around the ports on the south coast, at a cost of £11m. Before the building work was complete it became obvious that the fears of the French threat were ill-founded. In addition, advances in cannon technology made many of them unfit for purpose, and they became known as 'Palmerston Follies'. Some, like Polhawn on Rame Head, faced in the wrong direction, and most of them were designed for just 2 or 3 guns, manned by a handful of men. One of the biggest, Tregantle was designed for 35 guns, with accommodation for 2000 men, but only one 32-pounder was installed, needing just 6 gunners to operate it.

  1. Going through the National Trust gate into the open access area at Trethill, follow the waymarkers to come out on the golf course at Skinner's Ball. Stay on the marked path, looking out for flying golf balls, until you come to the footpath leading uphill to the right.
  2. Turn right onto the path, following it through the golf course and onto Finnygook Lane, turning right on the road to walk to the crossroads at the top.

Finnygook Beach, below the golf course, is named after a notorious eighteenth-century smuggler, Silas Finny. He and his fellow 'free traders' fell out after they failed to agree over where to land a contraband cargo. The argument became so heated that Finny tipped the wink to the excise men about the forthcoming operation, vanishing into the night when they carried out their raid. After their capture some of the smugglers were deported to Australia, under the punishing regime of disciplinarian governor Captain Bligh. Those smugglers who escaped the penalty exacted an awful revenge on Finny. Nobody knows what the dirty deed was, but Finny's ghost, or 'gook', is said to haunt the fifteenth century Finnygook Inn to this day.

Crafthole was one of eleven medieval Cornish communities who were granted a charter to hold markets and fairs within the village boundaries, which made it officially a borough. It is thought that the medieval settlement was built around a manor house, possibly near the Finnygook Inn. The charter was granted in 1315, and some historians believe that the ancient stone cross at the crossroads was a market cross, although it may also have marked the road into Cornwall from the east. Stone crosses were widely used as waymarkers in medieval times, often indicating the paths connecting holy sites such as chapels or graveyards, and there is another just off the road into Crafthole from the A374.

  1. Turning right along the main road, fork left towards Liskeard at the roundabout and pick up the footpath on your right shortly afterwards. The path passes Crafthole Reservoir and continues into woodland, crossing the stream on a wooden footbridge and carrying on along the edge of several fields before coming out on the road.

Since medieval times the natural reservoir above Crafthole has provided a plentiful supply of fish for the local population, and anglers today land carp, tench and bream. The nearby wetlands are also a haven for wildlife. The native willow carr growing in the marshland act as a filter to keep the water pure, while supporting many different species of invertebrates, giving a valuable food source for many birds and small mammals. In spring the bushes in the woodland are covered in tumbling blossom and in summer the grass beneath them is studded with wildflowers. Along the edge of the pastureland and dotted around the heathland and along the coast, banks of coconut-scented gorse bushes are a riot of colour. Listen out for their seed pods popping in the autumn sun.

  1. Turn right on the road and then left at the T-junction beyond.
  2. Passing the ponds at Kerslake, bear left, turning left down the lane to pass the archway on your right and carry on to Lower Blerrick. When you reach the house on the corner, turn sharp right to walk to the main road.
  3. On the main road turn left to return to the parking area at the start of the walk. Take particular care on the blind bend, as the road can get very busy.
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