Walk - Pentire Point & The Rumps

Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2020. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.

Route Description

  1. From the car park at Polzeath beach, cross the head of the beach and pick up the South West Coast Path as it starts out towards the headland along the cliff path above the beach.

Before you leave the beach, take a look at the rocks on its southern side. These are Polzeath Slate, an important rock for geologists (see the John Betjeman Walk).

  1. Just after Slipper Point, at Pentireglaze Haven, the path heads briefly inland around the haven; but turn left with it at the fork, to travel around the hill above the beach.
  2. On the far side of the hill, heading briefly inland again around the stream, fork left again and carry on along the Coast Path as it makes its way to Pentire Point and around the headland.

If you are starting the walk from Pentire Farm, take the path which heads south-west, to the left as you approach the car park from the road, and just before you reach it. From here follow the path down to the South West Coast Path, and join the longer walk at (3), leaving it again at (6).

In 1936 a speculator bought up a large area of land here, parcelling it up into individual building plots which were then put up for sale; but enough opposition to the plan was found at local and national level for the National Trust to be able to raise the money to buy the whole estate and maintain it as one of Britain's most beautiful wildernesses.

Just around Pentire Point, a plaque commemorates the occasion when poet Laurence Binyon sat on these cliffs and was moved to compose “For the Fallen”. The poem was published by the Times newspaper in September 1914, at the start of the First World War, and is widely quoted today at Remembrance Services. The plaque quotes the fourth stanza of the poem:

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

In the summer look out for dolphins and basking sharks. The islands are popular with breeding colonies of seabirds, especially puffins, gannets and kittiwakes.

  1. Before you reach The Rumps another path leads away to the right, but ignore this one too, to carry on to the Rumps.

As you walk around the headland, note how the rocks change, from thin layers of soft slate to the dark hard basaltic (volcanic) rock which is very clearly visible on the twin headlands ahead of you.

Geologists believe that the layers of rock of the Padstow area were formed on the bed of an ocean in the Mid Devonian period, some 397-385 million years ago. In the Upper Devonian period that followed, volcanoes erupted deep beneath the seabed. The molten lava was cooled by the seawater, which caused it to form the 200-foot thick pillow lavas at Pentire Point. Check out the rocks beside the path as you descend to The Rumps, and see how different the rock looks, its knobbly surface pricked through with tiny holes where the hot air was forced out of the volcano far below.

Archaeologists have found evidence of people living in a prehistoric cliff castle here as long ago as the second century BC, and the remains of the three lines of ramparts are still visible, dividing The Rumps from the rest of the headland. The outermost one is thought to have been built at a later date to defend the inner two, and it may have been topped with a wooden palisade. There were timber bridges across the ditches and a complex gatehouse which would originally have been of wood. It was later rebuilt in stone, with timber gates.

Traces of roundhouses have been found between and beyond the two inner ramparts, and other evidence suggesting that the earliest inhabitants here traded with people from as far away as the Mediterranean. 

  1. From the Rumps the path turns south once more, climbing uphill around the wall.
  2. At its highest point, a path leads off to the right, across the peninsula, while the Coast Path carries on straight ahead.

Turn right here if you started the walk at Pentire Farm, and follow the path around the wall and back to the car Park.

  1. For the longer walk from Polzeath to Porteath, carry on along the Coast Path and follow it around Corn Head to Pengirt Cove. Ignore the next path heading inland here, and stay with the Coast Path as it starts to travel east, and follow it past Downhedge Cove and Carnweather Point towards Lundy Bay.
  2. As you approach Lundy Hole the first path inland travels uphill to the National Trust car park on the road. Ignore this path and take either of the two ahead, both of which lead to the beach below.

If you take the left-hand of these paths, it will lead you past the top of Lundy Hole. Here the roof of a sea cave has collapsed, leaving an impressive crater, and there are dizzy views down to the water churning around the walls beneath the archway, far below. The whole of this part of the coastline has been sculpted by the sea into many fascinating formations (see the Padstow & Stepper Point Walk).

The secluded beach here is one of Cornwall's gems, with rocks, sand, surf, cliffs and a little tumbling waterfall. if the weather is fine it is the perfect spot for a picnic.

At Lundy Beach, you leave the Coast Path to take the path which heads directly uphill, towards the road and follow it through the fields beyond to Porteath, where you can catch the bus at Port Quin Cross. Alternatively, you can continue along the Coast Path for another 4 miles to Port Isaac before catching the bus back to Polzeath.

Nearby refreshments

During the holiday season there are a number of tearooms in Polzeath, as well as the Beehive Tearoom in the Bee Centre in Porteath.

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