Trebarwith Strand Circular Walk
- Distance:3-3.5 miles/5-6km
- Walk grade:Moderate
- Start from:Trewarmett
- Recommended footwear:walking boots/shoes or trainers in dry weather
- Explore the beach at Trebarwith Strand
- Cliff views over Trebarwith Strand
- Old slate quarries colonised by wildflowers
- From Park Farm turn left and walk up to the crossroads and take the lane left down to Treknow.
- At the bottom of the road, in Treknow, turn left (almost doubling back) and walk down the hill a little way until you reach Rose Cottage where a public footpath departs from the right.
Treknow (which in Cornish means 'the valley place') is perhaps one of the oldest 'industrial' settlements in the area dating back to Mediaeval times, based mainly on slate quarrying with some early metal mining. The physical structure of Treknow - its bowl-like formation, in parts literally carved out of the rock - could be the result of early slate excavations. It was in direct response to the needs of industrial workers, in the expanding quarrying industry of the early 19th century, that the rows of cottages were constructed. The use of slate for roofs, chimneys, walls and paving, which contributes so greatly to their character, is further testimony to the dominant role of the local industry.
- Go through the gate to Rose Cottage and bear right in front of the house to another gate. Go through the gate and follow the right hedge past a gateway to a waymark.
The woods in Trebarwith Valley provide an ideal habitat for buzzards.
Despite their reputation for being lazy and scavengers, buzzards are formidable predators. Diving on rabbits and small mammals from a slow or hovering flight, or from a perch, they nearly always make the kill on the ground. During their breeding season in spring, buzzards create spectacular aerial displays by soaring high into the air and dropping suddenly towards the ground.
- From the waymark, bear right to the bottom of the steps then turn left onto the path down the valley. Follow the path over two stiles to reach a third stile into the meadow at the bottom of the valley.
The deeply-cut holloway from Treknow to Trebarwith Strand provided access to the harbour and a route for the pack animals to bring lime-rich sand from the beach to neutralise the acidic soil.
- Cross the stile and the meadow and follow the ramp up into the car park.
- Cross the car park to the road and turn right, then follow the main road down to the beach.
Several small beaches make up Trebarwith which, at low tide, join to form a mile long ribbon of golden sand:
- Port William round to the left is strewn with rocks except at the lowest point of the tide. It's popular with local surfers but not recommended for novices due to the rocks and strong currents.
- Trebarwith Strand is in the centre and is the lifeguard-patrolled area. It's sandy on the left and, to the right side, there are more rocks including some good rock pools.
- Lill Cove around to the right. There is a gully between rocks that makes it possible to get through to Trebarwith when access is cut off by the sea (though this route isn't available at high tide). There is also a footpath up from Lill Cove joining the coast path which is accessible at all times of the tide.
- Vean Hole, further to the right, is a continuation of Lill Cove once the tide is a little way out, but is technically a separate beach.
- Hole Beach to the far right. There is some good snorkelling along the right-hand edge of Hole Beach and due to the large numbers of Sea Bass, it's a good spot for beachcasting. Apart from at the lowest couple of hours of the tide, Hole Beach is cut off by the sea.
- Take the public footpath on the right of Trebarwith Surf Shop, climbing up the path to the cliff top until you reach a waymark.
If the tide is out, there are some rockpools on the right-hand side of Trebarwith Strand towards Lill Cove.
Rockpool fishing is quite a popular childhood pass-time as a number of species can be lured out from hiding places by a limpet tied on a piece of cotton (leave a trailing end as if anything swallows the limpet, very gently pulling both ends of the cotton will cause it to release the cotton-tied limpet from its gullet). If you are intending to put the creatures into a bucket: ensure it is large, filled with fresh seawater and kept in the shade; ideally place in a couple of rocks for the creatures to hide under; do not leave them in there more than a couple of hours or they will exhaust their oxygen supply; ensure you release them into one of the rockpools from which you caught them, preferably a large one (carefully removing any rocks from your bucket first to avoid squashing them). Species you're likely to encounter are:
- Blennies which are fish about 5-10cm long, often found hiding under rock ledges. They can change their colour from sandy to black within a couple of minutes in order to match their surroundings. They have strong, sharp teeth for crunching barnacles and will bite if provoked.
- Shore crabs and sometimes edible crabs which can also sometimes be found hiding under rocks (carefully replace any rocks you lift up). Shore crabs have a fairly narrow shell which is almost as deep as it is wide. They vary in colour from green through brown to red (the redder individuals are apparently stronger and more aggressive). Edible crabs have a much wider shell which resembles a Cornish Pasty and are always a red-brown colour. Both have powerful claws so fingers should be kept well clear.
- Shrimps and prawns - do you know the difference? Prawns are semi-transparent whereas shrimps are sandy coloured and generally bury themselves in sand.
- When you reach the waymark, follow the coast path up the steps. Continue to reach another waymark where the path to Treknow rejoins the coast path.
In 1886, an iron-hulled sailing ship, named the "Sarah Anderson", got into difficulties off Tintagel Head in a violent gale then blew up and sank off Trebarwith Strand. According to one source, the ship was carrying a cargo of 966 tons of manganese ore and 15 tons of dye. According to another source, it was hinted that she might also be carrying copper, silver and gold. Due to the huge waves, the Port Isaac lifeboat was unable to launch and the ship was out of range of the marine rescue rockets brought to the shore at Trebarwith Strand. All the 14 crew and 4 passengers (2 women, including the captain's wife, and 2 children) perished. Divers report that the hull is now almost entirely gone. One section (presumably the stern) stands about 3m high and is separated from the main wreckage; the remainder consists of the ore cargo with the odd piece of steel protruding.
- Follow the path left, up the steps, until you reach another waymark at a junction of paths.
The beach at the bottom of the cliff to your left is Lill Cove.
A small water-powered copper mine existed on the cliff slopes above Lill Cove and was worked until the early-mid 19th Century. A hollow in the cliff was dammed to form a reservoir which was fed by a leat; the reservoir in turn was used to drive a waterwheel to pump out the groundwater draining into the mineshaft. Little remains now as some massive landslips on this part of the cliff have obliterated the majority of the mine workings.
- At the waymark, bear left in the direction indicated to Tintagel and follow the coast path up to the rock outcrop. From the top continue along the cliff until you reach another waymark (to Treknow) at the start of the coastal quarries.
Coastal slate quarries are confined to a small area of about five miles either side of Tintagel and relatively little is known about their history. In order to work the vertical cliff face, strong points were built from stone above the working areas. From these, ropes were dropped down the quarry face. Men were lowered down the faces on these ropes to split blocks of slate from the face. The slate was hauled up the cliff face on these cables which were wound using "horse whims" - capstans powered by horses or donkeys walking around a circular platform. The stone was split and shaped on "dressing floors" on the cliff top, originally covered with sheds. The remains can be seen as level terraces and are marked by screes of waste rock on the cliff below. Splitting was (and still is) done with a bettle (hammer) and chisel, hence the name of the pub in Delabole.
- At the waymark, continue straight ahead on the coast path passing the rock pillars at West quarry and following the wall behind Lanterdan quarry until you reach a waymark.
There are 9 slate quarries along the coast path between Tintagel Church and Trebarwith Strand. Slate quarrying began here in the early 14th Century and ended just before The Second World War. The slate was exported from Tintagel Haven and later from boats moored along Penhallic Point.
Cutting the stone and loading it onto boats was harsh work and could be lethal. A local man - Alan Menhenick - recalled in the 1920s: "we worked with the tides, around the clock. I've been at the quarry at four in the morning. When the tide was in, we blasted; when the tide was out, we went down and collected the slate". In 1889, three men vanished into the sea when the face that they were boring sheared off the cliff.
- Continue straight ahead at the waymark, past more of Lanterdan quarry and along the edge of a wall to a stile.
The Lanterdan and West quarries above Vean Hole and Hole Beach at Trebarwith Strand were once some of the biggest in North Cornwall. In Lanterdan quarry there is a tall, distinctive, pinnacle of rock. This was left behind as the slate in the pinnacle was not of a sufficiently good quality; shorter pinnacles were left in West Quarry for the same reason. These chunks of inferior-quality slate were known locally as "scullocks".
The quarry workings never reached the shoreline as there is a fault along the base of the quarry, known as the Trambley Cove Formation. This is made of volcanic lava which was no good to the quarrymen. Lanterdan Quarry is now owned by the National Trust and is a site of geological interest for two reasons. The first is that it contains brachiopod (shellfish) fossils. Second, a rare mineral called monazite is present which contains rare-earth (lanthanide) metals.
- Cross the stile and follow either of the paths which rejoin at a waymark.
The headland ahead is Penhallic Point.
Penhallic Point is the long headland along the northern edge of the bay at Trebarwith Strand. In the late 1800s, a wharf (which has now been taken by the sea) was constructed at Penhallic Point where the cliff edge was trimmed to form a 100ft vertical face. Ships could lie against this face as there is a natural deep-water berth alongside the point. The slate was lowered by crane down into their holds.
A path from the top of the point zig-zags down to a grassy platform where there is a lifebuoy. It's possible to get down onto the rocks from here, but only in the summer when the rocks are dry.
- Turn right at the waymark to Tregatta and cross the stile into the field.
If there are sheep in the field and you have a dog, make sure it's securely on its lead (sheep are prone to panic and injuring themselves even if a dog is just being inquisitive). If the sheep start bleeting, this means they are scared and they are liable to panic. If there are pregnant sheep in the field, be particularly sensitive as a scare can cause the lambs to be stillborn. If there are sheep in the field with lambs, avoid approaching them closely, making loud noises or walking between a lamb and its mother, as you may provoke the mother to defend her young. Sheep may look cute but if provoked they can cause serious injury (hence the verb "to ram"). Generally, the best plan is to walk quietly along the hedges and they will move away or ignore you.
- Cross the stile and follow the path to a stile next to the gate opposite.
The footpath comes out on the lane between Treknow and Tregatta which was part of the mediaeval route which led to the castle at Tintagel.
- Cross the stile and turn right onto the lane. Walk a short distance along the lane until you reach a Y-shaped junction with a bench on a grassy island.
- Keep left at the junction and follow the main road until you reach a public footpath sign on the left opposite Atlantic Close on the right.
- At the public footpath sign, turn left over the stile, crossing another stile into the field. Follow the left hedge to a stile in the fence along the middle of the field.
- At the end of the hedge, cross the stile over the fence (or go through the gate if open) and continue following the fence on the left until you reach a stile in the corner.
The number of cows in Cornwall has been estimated at around 75,000 so there's a good chance of encountering some in grassy fields. If you are crossing fields in which there are cows:
- Do not show any threatening behaviour towards calves (approaching them closely, making loud noises or walking between a calf and its mother) as you may provoke the mother to defend her young. Generally the best plan is to walk along the hedges.
- If cows approach you, do not run away as this will encourage them to chase you. Stand your ground and stretch out your arms to increase your size.
- Avoid taking dogs into fields with cows, particularly with calves. If you can't avoid it: if cows charge, release the dog from its lead as the dog will outrun the cows and the cows will generally chase the dog rather than you.
- Cross the stile and another and bear right through the gateway into the farmyard, to a gate beside the barn.
- Go through the gate and follow the left hedge a short distance to a waymarked gate.
- Go through the gate and over the stile and bear right to a stile in the opposite hedge, slightly to the left of the wall on the right.
- Cross the stile carefully onto the road and take the footpath on the other side. Cross the stile and bear left slightly in the direction of the barn to a stile in the hedge opposite.
The fields here are sometimes used for arable crops such as barley.
Barley is a fundamental part of the rural culture - the word "barn" literally means "barley house". During mediaeval times, only the ruling classes had bread made from wheat; the peasants' bread was made from barley and rye.
Barley was one of the first domesticated crops and has been dated back over 10,000 years. Consequently beer made from barley is likely to have been one of the first alcoholic drinks consumed by the Neolithic tribes.
- Cross the stile and head straight across the field to another stile, which comes out onto a small lane.
- Cross the stile and turn right onto the lane. Follow the lane uphill to a T-junction.
- Turn right at the T-junction and follow the lane down to another T-junction in Trewarmett.
Locals call this lane Menadue (since it goes to Menadue Mill and Farm).
Menadue is the name of a farm and mill on the downs above Trewarmett. The place name Menadue is possibly from the Cornish word meneth which means hill, and due is the word for black, i.e. "Black Hill". The hill in this case is the one that overlooks Tintagel with Condolden Barrow at the summit.
- Cross the road and turn left, following it downhill to Park Farm.