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Rocks and Reefs at St Keverne

A walk of startling contrasts through a coastal and industrial landscape south of the Helford River.

Distance 4 miles (6.4km)

Minimum time 3hrs

Ascent/gradient 606ft (185m)

Level of difficulty Medium

Paths Field edge paths, coastal footpath, steeply stepped path, country lanes, 8 stiles

Landscape Fields, woods and coast

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 103 The Lizard

Start/finish SW 807218

Dog friendliness Dogs on lead through grazed areas. Notices indicate

Parking Large area of parking on grass and gravel above beach. Donation box

Public toilets Porthoustock and St Keverne

Notes Dean Quarries are working quarries. Please heed all warning notices. Blasting may take place at certain times, usually late afternoon. A custodian is on duty at the coast path approach to the quarry. Please respect his instructions

1 The walk starts at Porthoustock Beach, a vast apron of grey sand and shingle that has been artificially extended by quarry waste. You turn left outside the car park and follow the road steeply uphill, then turn left at the first junction. In another steep 55yds (50m), go right and over a stile, then bear left across three fields to reach a lane.

2 Turning right along this lane takes you to the peaceful little hamlet of Rosenithon, where you turn left down a lane by a post box. Where the lane ends, cross a stile by a gate, then bear round left past a house and barn to a stile, (dogs should be kept on lead from here). Go down an enclosed path, and then straight down fields from where there are panoramic views of the infamous wrecking reef of The Manacles, ½ mile (800m) offshore.

3 Once on Godrevy Beach, head for the south end to a path beside a quarry warning notice. If blasting is imminent, (usually in the late afternoon, if at all), you will be stopped by a quarry employee until blasting is completed. Continue up the path and then, beyond two huge boulders, bear left down a quarry track to follow footpath notices round the edge of Dean Point and its quarried amphitheatres. The path runs alongside dirt tracks and wriggles between heaped banks of shale; it even passes beneath a conveyor belt that carries roadstone to a loading jetty. Finally the path descends to another quarry warning sign.

4 Go right just before the sign and follow a steep path uphill and continue to a broad gravel track by houses, then turn right to reach a surfaced lane. Turn left here and in just under ½ mile (800m) look for a stile on the right, just before a sharp bend. Use this stile to cut across a field and back onto the lane. At the next, immediate, road junction you can divert left to a farm that is famous for the delicious ice cream it produces. On the main route keep ahead at the junction for ½ mile (800m) to reach St Keverne and its landmark church.

5 Go into the churchyard and follow a footpath to the left of the church. At the bottom corner of the churchyard go through a gate, cross a gravel path, then go through a wooden kissing gate. Follow the edges of fields ahead. Cross a lane and then a stile, then keep to the left edge of a field. Where the field edge bends left, keep ahead following the contour of the field to reach a wooden stile.

6 Cross a small stream, then follow a sunken path into some woods. You are now in a completely different world to the open coast and quarry country, but not for long. Cross a bridge and a stile, follow the stream to reach a right turn, signposted 'Porthoustock'. At a road, turn left uphill, then in 50yds (46m), turn off right. Cross a stream and a stile, then follow a path beneath trees to reach a lane by thatched cottages from where you descend to Porthoustock.

The heart has been torn out of the Cornish coast at the great quarries of Porthoustock and Dean Point below the handsome village of St Keverne. There has been an honourable trade in quarrying here for many years and though Porthoustock Quarry no longer operates, Dean Quarries still do. The route of this walk traces its way round the seaward perimeter of Dean Quarries through a desolate yet fascinating industrial landscape.

Where to eat and drink

The walk passes conveniently close to a truly Cornish institution, Roskilly's, the working dairy farm of Tregellast Barton, where the Roskilly family have established a famous ice cream parlour and restaurant, and a shop selling mouth watering fudge, jams, chutneys, apple juice and cider. There are two pubs in St Keverne, the Three Tuns and the White Hart Inn, both of which do bar meals.

What to look for

At Godrevy Beach, just north of Dean Quarries, a variety of salt-resistant plants covers the inner section of the beach, including sea plantain with its tall greenish spikes, the green-flowered sea beet, sea splurge, and sea bindweed, with its white bell-like flowers. All of these maritime plants are specially equipped to cope with the extremes of their environment, such as seasonal dryness and the punishing effect of salt-laden sea winds. Most have fleshy leaves that absorb and store water and that act as reservoirs against the desiccating effect of salt. They also have long roots that probe deeply for moisture.


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