Walk - Perranuthnoe

Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2019. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.

Route Description

  1. With your back to the beach car park at Perranuthnoe cross the road and take the footpath signed through the field opposite. From here follow the South West Coast Path until you come to a track where the path splits. Fork right here, past the National Trust sign for Trenow Cove, carrying on through the gap in the hedge.

The old mine workings here were part of Trenow Consols, which started producing copper in the middle of the nineteenth century. Trenow included an old mine named Carn Perran, with an 85" cylinder engine, and it was important enough for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to visit when they were in Penzance. Its success was short-lived, and by 1847 its engine, horse whims and materials were advertised for sale, although a good £1000 of ore was raised from the Carn Perran adit after this. It was later reopened to run as part of the Charlotte United Mine Group.

  1. Keep going until the large stone outcrop at Venton Farm comes into view. Turn right onto the path heading inland.
  2. Continue along the hedge to the grassy lane beyond, turning right at the waymarker to follow the grass track to Trenow Farm. Going through the kissing gates, cross the next field.
  3. Carry on up the small hill ahead, past some disused waste tips (known as 'burrows').

Wheal Charlotte stood nearby, working in conjunction with Trenow Consols after a group of adventurers built an engine house here with a 24" engine, in 1847-8. By 1856, when the concern failed, the engine shaft had been driven to a depth of 60 fathoms (about 110m) and had produced ore worth over £11,000.

There were many other mines in the area, and it is said that at one time a 100 windlasses (winding gear) could be seen turning above the shafts. One of the most successful was Wheal Neptune, owned by Perranuthnoe's Gundry family, who became so wealthy that they issued their own bank notes. Neptune was at work by 1787, when records showed a sale of 180 tons of copper ore. Later production records show that the mine produced 1,082 tons of copper ore from 1808-1812, and a further 13,760 tons of 10% copper ore between 1815-1823. At the start of the twentieth century silver was also mined, with 14 tons of ore producing 3,440 ounces of silver.

The granite slabs laid across the gateway form a traditional 'coffen stile', (from the Cornish word meaning 'man-made hole'), an early form of cattle grid.

  1. Follow the farm track past two modern houses. After passing the second, turn right down the lane to Perranuthnoe Church. From here you can make your way back through the village back to the car park at the beach.

Perranuthnoe has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and a number of flint tools have been found in the district dating from Middle and Late Stone Age times. Tin was being traded from here by around 2000 BC, in the Bronze Age, and it is thought that there is a prehistoric chambered tomb in a field still known as Parc-an-Chamber. The 1086 Domesday Book lists it as 'The Manor of Uthno', with a population of eight smallholders, seven villagers and three slaves. Around 1830 the prosperity of the tin and copper mines had boosted its population to over a thousand, but as the price of tin and copper fell and the mines closed this dwindled to 742.

Uthno's Manor was also associated with St Piran (hence the name Perranuthnoe). Cornwall's national saint is said to have washed up on Perran Sands in North Cornwall, on a millstone, after he was banished from Ireland in the fifth century missionary (see the St Piran's Walk). He built his first small chapel on a rocky outcrop on Perranporth Beach which still bears the name Chapel Rock. He built an Oratory in the dunes at Perran Sands some time later, and began to preach from there. His sermons were very popular, and the tiny chapel was repeatedly enlarged to accommodate his congregations. There was also a graveyard attached; and nineteenth-century archaeologists excavating it discovered a very large skeleton with no head. St Piran was said to be enormous, and after he died, aged 200, his head was was kept in a sacred box, bound with iron and locked, and carried around the county.

Perranuthnoe church was first recorded in 1348, when transepts with pointed arches were added, but the earliest part is thought to date back to the twelfth or thirteenth century, when it was probably a two-cell building with just a chancel and nave. Of this church a Norman font, possible corbel heads and some walling survives. Over the centuries the building was further modified. Three bells in the belfry date from the seventeenth century, the oak pulpit from 1740 and the royal coat of arms from 1814. In 1926 the chancel screen, choir stalls and reredos were added in memory of a former general manager of the Great Western Railway. There is a little granite figure of St James the Great set in the south wall above the entrance, from a former chapel founded at nearby Goldsithney in 1400, which fell into ruins in the 18th century.

Nearby refreshments

Pub in Perranuthnoe and seasonal refreshment kiosk above the beach.

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