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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Walk 149 Mullion to Praa Sands (Cornwall)

Walk 149 Mullion to Praa Sands (Cornwall)

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

Map: L/R 203
Distance: about 14 miles or 22km approx
Difficulty: Moderate
Terrain: coastal paths and a small amount of road walking
Access: Parking at both ends.
Public transport: 37 bus runs from Helston to Mullion and No 2 bus runs between Praa Sands to Helston. Also main line rail link at Praa sands.

This a full days walk so allow good time to complete it.

Rejoin the coastal path at Mullion Cove and walk along past Polurrian Cove. Soon you will see the Marconi monument which commemorates the man's work at Poldhu Wireless Station. This is the spot where Marconi arranged the first message across the Atlantic in 1901. He had gone across to Newfoundland in order to pick up the pre arranged signal – three 's'. Work continued here until 1933. The Marconi family gave the land to the National Trust.

Soon the path cuts inland to the attractive Poldhu Cove. A short distance after this cove is Church Cove. St Winwaloe Church is very close to the sand dunes. The name derives from a 6th century Breton saint whose mother is reputed to have grown a third breast when she had triplets (handy). It is one of the oldest churches in Cornwall and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. Most of the current church dates from the 13th century or later. Near to this cove a Portuguese treasure ship was wrecked and in 1788 a vessel carrying more than two tons of gold coins also came to grief.

Gunwalloe Cove is a further mile along and interestingly there are notices here warning divers not to interfere with an historic wreck – this usually applies to wrecks where there could be some gain.

On the land side of Porthleven Sands are the picturesque stretches of water - Carminowe Creek and The Loe. Local legend has it that this is the lake where King Arthur threw his sword Excalibur. Look out for the memorial overlooking the sands, it records the tragedy that befell HMS Anson wrecked in 1807 on Loe Bar with the loss of about 100 lives. Henry Trengrouse of Helston was so disturbed by this tragedy that he invented the life saving rocket apparatus where a line is shot across to a shipwreck and survivors taken off in a cradle attached to the line.

The walk continues to Porthleven. As you walk into the town look out for the Wreckers Studio with its collection of objects from the sea. Soon the 70 foot tower of the Bickford Smith Institute, once a centre for science and literature, comes into view. This was built by local man George Smith and named after him and his grandfather. It is now a snooker club and council offices and featured as police offices in the TV series Wycliffe. Porthleven harbour was built in 1811 to import mining machinery and export tin. It remained in tin mining hands until 1961.

A few miles further along is Praa Sands which is supposed to be pronounced 'pray' and means hags or witches caves! The village is the site of Pengersick Castle supposed to be one of the most haunted buildings in the UK.

Although not on the coastal walk, I have to mention The Blue Anchor in Helston for real ale lovers. It is the oldest brewery in Cornwall with several varieties of Spingo on sale in a totally unspoilt bar.  

Photos show: Poldhu Cove; Praa Sands.

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