Walk - Nare Head
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.
- Starting from the National Trust car park at Kiberick Cove, take the footpath through the gate to head steeply downhill towards the cove. When you reach the South West Coast Path, turn right to follow it around Nare Head.
In 1955, during the Cold War, when the USA and NATO were at loggerheads with the USSR and the rest of the Eastern Bloc, the Royal Observer Corps was charged with monitoring radioactivity in the event of air attacks in a future war, in addition to its existing role monitoring aircraft.
The Veryan Cold War bunker was opened in July 1963, to be manned by the ROC. It was designed as a basic survival unit which would support three people for three weeks, giving them almost total protection from radioactive fallout during that time. It consists of two sections, accessed by means of a 12-foot ladder: an operations room, housing what was state-of-the-art equipment at the time, and very simple living accommodation. After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union brought the Cold War to an end, the bunker was decommissioned. It was later restored in a joint project between the National Trust and the Truro branch of the Royal Observer Corps, and it opens to visitors several times a year.
- After it has rounded Nare Head, the path drops steeply downhill, passing a small ruin, and crosses the stream at the bottom of the valley.
In the sixteenth century Nare Head was known as Penare Point, from the Cornish 'pen ardh' meaning 'prominent headland'. Manare Point, at 9, is from 'men ardh' meaning 'prominent stone'.
Jan Tregagle, from near Wadebridge, was a seventeenth-century lawyer and JP from the Wadebridge district who made many unpopular judgements from the bench. After his death he was said to have been summoned to court by a defendant calling upon him as a witness; and once resurrected, he swore that he would not go back. Ever since then his spirit has been heard howling around the coastline when storms blow in from the Atlantic, and he has been spotted hunting on Bodmin Moor, sometimes disguised as a black dog and at other times as a giant bird.
Exorcists called in to deal with him sent him to Dozmary Pool on the moor, said to be bottomless, which he was to empty with a limpet shell. Against all the odds he succeeded nonetheless and fled to the hermitage at Roche Rock. From here they sent him to St Minver, where he was to weave all the sand into ropes; but after residents complained about his howling he was banished again, this time to Helston, where he had to carry sacks of sand from Bareppa to Porthleven. Here the devil came looking for him, to bring him back home, and he tripped and spilt the sand, which is how that area became land-bound. Fleeing from the devil, finally he ended up in Tregagle's Hole, a sea cave deep beneath the land, where his crashing and howling can be heard to this day.
Sea caves are formed when the pounding waves weaken a crack in the rock, eroding it into a cave. The water washes around the cave, carrying sand and boulders with it. Pressure builds up inside so that eventually the roof falls in and the rubble is washed away, leaving an arch or a stack. Over time this, too, is demolished by the power of the waves, and the process begins all over again.
- Climbing steeply on the other side of the stream, fork right to leave the Coast Path, which drops downhill above Pannarin Point, and continue uphill to Carne. Fork right to go between the buildings, carrying on along the lane to the main settlement at Carne.
- Reaching the road, bear left, ignoring the turning on your right. Take the footpath straight ahead at the sharp left-hand bend. The path passes to the left of Carne Beacon and comes out on another road. Turn immediately right onto the footpath on your right, which follows the right-hand hedge before coming out onto Pendower Road beside Churchtown Farm.
Later used as a beacon site to warn of the approach of enemy ships, Carne Beacon - thought to be almost 4000 years old - is Cornwall's largest surviving Bronze Age burial mound, and one of the largest in Britain. According to local legend, King Geraint of Cornwall was buried here in the sixth century, brought here in a golden boat with silver oars. A piece of gold inscribed with figures is said to have been removed from the barrow in 1816. Archaeologists excavating it in 1855 found a cist containing ashes, small stones and charcoal. Geraint is said to have had his main fortress at nearby Dingerein Castle (see the Porthscatho & Gerrans Bay Walk).
As you travel downhill to Churchtown, in the field to your left are the remains of Veryan Castle, or 'Ringarounds'. This was an Iron Age or Romano-British hill fort, built some 2000 years old. It had an inner enclosure thought to be for settlement and an outer annexe used for stock. It is not believed to have been heavily defended, although its position on the steep slope made it a useful lookout.
- On the road turn right to walk through Veryan, continuing straight on at the crossroads, following Back Lane to the church.
- Go through the churchyard to take the footpath running from the left of the church. This runs alongside the stream for a moment and then climbs straight ahead through two fields separated by a small copse to come out on on a lane leading to another road.
- Turn left on the road and then immediately right, continuing straight ahead at Trewartha and on down the lane to Trewartha Hall. Stay on the footpath as it turns to the left between the buildings and goes into the left-hand field ahead. Going through the hedge halfway down, it heads for the far right-hand corner of this right-hand field, descending steeply to the stream and coming out by the houses at Sunny Corner.
- Bear right past the houses and turn left on the road. Take the footpath on the lane opposite, dropping downhill to a track. Turn left on the track and walk to the junction where the South West Coast Path leaves on your right, heading back towards Kiberick and Nare Head.
- Turn right onto the Coast Path and follow it around the coast to Kiberick. In the field below the car park pick up the footpath on your right to retrace your steps uphill to return to the start of the walk.