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The Cornish Shores of Plymouth Sound

A walk round the Mount Edgcumbe estate on the shores of Plymouth Sound.

Distance 8 miles (12.9km)

Minimum time 4hrs

Ascent/gradient 328ft (100m)

Level of difficulty Medium

Paths Good throughout. Muddy in places in wet weather, 8 stiles

Landscape Wooded shoreline of tidal creek, fields, woods and coast

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 108 Lower Tamar Valley & Plymouth

Start/finish SX 453534

Dog friendliness Dogs on lead through grazed areas

Parking Cremyll car park. Alternatively reach Cremyll by ferry from the Plymouth side. Daily service between Admiral's Hard, Stonehouse, Plymouth and Cremyll

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1 Go left along the footway opposite the car park entrance. Where the footway ends at an old fountain and horse trough, cross back left and go through a gap by a telephone kiosk, signposted 'Empacombe'. Keep left past the Old School Rooms. Turn right at a junction then pass an obelisk and follow the path alongside the tree-hidden creek to Empacombe.

2 At a surfaced lane, by a house, keep ahead and go down to Empacombe Quay. Turn left beyond the low wall, (dogs under control please) and skirt the edge of the small harbour to reach a stone stile onto a wooded path. Continue round Palmer Point and on to a public road.

3 Go through the kissing gate opposite, signposted 'Maker Church, Kingsand'. Follow the track ahead for 55yds (50m), then bear right, up the open field (no obvious path) heading between telegraph poles, to find a faint path into Pigshill Wood. Bear right along a track, go left at signposts and climb uphill following footpath signs. Cross a track, then go up some stone steps to reach more steps onto a public road. Cross, with care, and follow a path to Maker Church.

4 Turn sharp right in front of the church, follow the field edge, then go over a stile on the left. Follow the next field edge and cross a stile on the left, then follow the path past a house and across a lane into a field. Cross two fields to a lane. Turn up right, then go left at a junction.

5 Where the road levels off, bear off left down a track at a public footpath signpost. Keep ahead at a junction and, after a long level stretch, go left at a junction to reach Kingsand via Devonport Hill and Kingsway. To explore Kingsand and Cawsand, bear left down the narrow Heavitree Road.

6 To return to Cremyll, at Kingsway go through a gate into Mount Edgcumbe Country Park. Follow a good track to a public lane at Hooe Lake Valley.

7 Rejoin the coast path, signposted just a few paces along the lane. Keep to the upper path at a junction, then merge with another track from the left and continue through the woods.

8 A few paces after passing beneath an arch, bear off right from the main track and down a path zig-zagging steeply downhill to the coast. Follow the coast path back to Mount Edgcumbe and Cremyll.

The Mount Edgcumbe Country Park is a green oasis that flies in the face of Plymouth's crowded waterfront opposite. The two are separated by The Narrows, a few hundred yards (metres) of the 'Hamoaze', the estuary formed by the rivers Tavy, Lynher and Tamar. Mount Edgcumbe stands on the Cornish side of the river, although it was not always 'Cornish'. In Anglo Saxon times, Devon extended across the estuary as far as Kingsand, the halfway point in this walk. Today, however, Mount Edgcumbe and its waterfront settlement of Cremyll are emphatically Cornish. They stand on the most easterly extension of the Rame Peninsula, known with ironic pride by local people as the 'Forgotten Corner'. In truth Rame is one of the loveliest parts of the South West, let alone of Cornwall, and this walk takes you round the shores of the inner estuary, and then over the spine of the eastern peninsula to Kingsand, before returning to Cremyll along the open shores of Plymouth Sound.

The first section of the route takes you to peaceful Empacombe, where there is a tiny harbour contained within a crescent-shaped quay. It was here, during 1706-9, that workshops servicing the building of the famous Eddystone Lighthouse were located. Behind the harbour is the Gothic facade of Empacombe House. The path follows the wooded shoreline of the tidal basin known as Millbrook Lake, then climbs steeply inland to reach Maker Church on the highest point of the peninsula. From here you wander through tiny fields to reach a track that leads in a long sweeping descent to the village of Kingsand.

Kingsand is a charming village, linked seamlessly by the long and narrow Garrett Street to the equally charming Cawsand. These were very successful smugglers' havens during the 18th and early 19th centuries. In Garrett Street, opposite the Halfway House Inn, look for a sign on the wall indicating the old Cornwall-Devon border. The Cornish side of Plymouth Sound was incorporated into Anglo-Saxon territory in 705 ad in order to secure both banks of the estuary against, mainly Viking, raids. Kingsand remained as part of Devon until 1844. From Kingsand the route follows the coastal footpath along the more bracing sea shore of Plymouth Sound. Finally you reach the delightful park environment that surrounds Mount Edgcumbe House where you can visit the house if you wish and explore the lovely gardens.

Where to eat and drink

Kingsand has a number of good pubs, restaurants and cafés. The Rising Sun is a pleasant, old style pub. It offers pasties, crab platter and local scallops. The Halfway House has some fine beers and does excellent meals with seafood a speciality. On the seafront is Cleave Tea Rooms, a licensed restaurant serving fresh crab. In Cremyll the Edgcumbe Arms is a traditional quayside inn with a pleasant terrace overlooking Plymouth Sound and offering a good selection of real ales and a varied menu. The Orangery Restaurant and Tea Room is located in the Old Orangery in Mount Edgcumbe estate's Italian garden.

While you're there

Mount Edgcumbe House was built in the mid-16th century and subsequently enlarged. It was badly damaged by German incendiary bombs in 1941 and rebuilt in the 1960s. In 1971 house and estate were purchased jointly by Cornwall County Council and Plymouth City Council and the Mount Edgcumbe Country Park was established. The house is open to the public and has a fine collection of mainly modern furnishings and Victorian artefacts. There are paintings by artists such as Sir Joshua Reynolds. The surrounding gardens include the Earl's Garden, an 18th-century formal garden. The house is open, Wed-Sun and Bank Holiday Monday, from April to mid-October.

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