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Friday, 31 July 2015

Walk 137 Plymouth to Millbrook (Cornwall)

Walk 137 Plymouth to Millbrook (Cornwall)

(Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End)

Map: L/R 201
Distance: 13 miles or 20km approx
Difficulty: moderate
Terrain: coastal path
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Buses run to and from the Cremyll Ferry, leaving from the Royal Parade in Plymouth. Bus 32 runs once and hour until mid-evening from Millbrook to the Royal Parade in Plymouth.

Get the Cremyll passenger ferry from near Stonehouse in Plymouth. On the way across there is a good view of the impressive naval buildings. The ferry has run for many years and was particularly busy with dockyard traffic in the 18th century.

On arrival at Cremyll is The Edgecumbe Arms, a pub with inviting outdoor seats giving excellent views across the water. Cremyll was an important place for boat building in the 18th century. The yard is still active building small boats and restoring historical craft. In World War 2 American soldiers were in this area preparing for the D Day landings.

The coastal path passes through Mount Edgcumbe Country Park although it is not always clearly marked by signs. The house and grounds here were to have been given to the Duke of Medina Sidonia from Spain if the Spanish Armada had been victorious in 1588. The house was built in the 1500s and was the former home of the Earls of Mount Edgcumbe. The house (in the summer) and 865 acre garden are open to the public.

Follow the path around Cawsand Bay and on to the twin attractive villages of Kingsand and Cawsand. The bay's most famous visitor was Napoleon whose ship anchored here after Waterloo. Evidently, hundreds of sightseers rowed out from the two villages to catch a glimpse of him. The local people also foiled an attempt to prevent Napoleon being exiled to St Helena. His friends had arranged for him to be presented with a writ requiring his attendance at London law courts. On hearing of this the locals towed Napoleons ship out to sea, leaving the lawyer behind.

Kingsand and Cawsand were originally split by the Devon/Cornwall border. Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton were said to be regulars at The Ship Inn.

Continue the walk around Penlee Point and on to Rame Head. Walk up to the 14th century mariners chapel at the highest point of the head. The chapel is dedicated to St Michael and is thought to have been on the site of a Celtic hermitage. Take care coming down the steps. A lady walker slipped here when I was going up and the coastguard and ambulance took her away with a suspected broken collar bone. Waters off the headland are renowned for shark fishing. This is a good spot for bird-spotters with a great variety of species including the very rare Dartford Warbler.

The path passes Queener Point then goes alongside Whitsand Bay which has been notoriously dangerous for ships caught in south westerly winds as they tried to enter Plymouth.

At Tregonhawke follow the road into Millbrook. This village is at the head of a tidal creek which has been dammed to prevent floods. The resulting pool is a very pleasant place to sit and rest and is popular with bird watchers. The Flower Boat Festival takes place here on May Bank holiday each year. It dates back to the 14th century and is thought to be pagan in origin. The parade passes through Kingsand and Cawsand stopping at inns and houses on the way. A boat is carried decorated with flowers. In the evening it is put on the water with fireworks.

Photos show: naval buildings, Plymouth from the Cremyll ferry; Kingsand/Cawsand; Rame Head and chapel.

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