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The Looe River Valleys by Rail and Ramble

A short journey by rail leads to a leisurely walk along country lanes and riverside paths.

Distance 6.4 miles (10.4km)

Minimum time 3hrs 20min

Ascent/gradient 197ft (60m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Good woodland, riverside paths, tracks and quiet lanes. Can be very muddy on riverside sections

Landscape Fields, riverbank and woodland

Suggested map aqua3 OS Map Explorer 107 St Austell & Liskeard

SX 249591SX 250538

Dog friendliness Notices indicate where dogs must be on lead

Parking Millpool Car Park, West Looe, across river bridge from East Looe. Looe Station ½ mile (800m) from Millpool car park, reached by crossing river bridge then walking north along A387 (Small car park at Looe Station is much dearer)

Public toilets Duloe

Notes The Looe Valley Line, Liskeard-Looe. Request halts at Coombe, St Keyne, Causeland, and Sandplace. Tell the conductor your destination for request stop halts. 8-9 trains both ways, each day

1 On leaving the station, turn immediately left along a quiet lane to a junction with another lane opposite Badham Farm Holiday Cottages. Brace yourself for a stiff climb for the next ¼ mile (400m). The effort is worth it; you gain height and then the rest of the route is generally downhill all the way.

2 In ¾ mile (1.2km) go left over a stone stile, turn right through a gap and then head diagonally across a field towards the opposite right-hand corner and a row of houses. (If the field is under crops and no right-of-way apparent, you may have to go round the field edge). Go through a gap in the far hedge, just left of the field corner, then turn right and go through a field gate and down a lane to the main road. There are public toilets along to the right. Opposite is the post office and village shop. Go left along the footway to reach the welcoming Olde Plough House Inn, preferably in time for lunch.

3 Continue along the main road from the pub and in about 275yds (251m) you'll reach a signpost indicating the way to the Duloe Stone Circle. This haunting Bronze Age ceremonial site is composed of eight quartzite stones, each one representing the main points of the compass. Take the opportunity of checking your directional instincts - and your compass. Once back on the main road, walk the few paces to Duloe's Church of St Cuby.

4 Leave the churchyard by the top gateway into the lane alongside the village war memorial. Turn right and follow the lane, past the village green and school, for ¾ mile (1.2km). Keep ahead past a junction on the right and descend steeply into the wooded valley of the West Looe River.

5 Go left at a T-junction. As the trees close gently round you here and, just before reaching the river, go left over a stile by a gate. Do not follow the track directly ahead; instead bear right at a signpost and follow a grassy path that becomes a broad track above the river. Follow the well-signposted riverside way for the next ¾ mile (1.2km) in tandem with the chuckling river to reach a narrow lane at Sowden's Bridge.

6 Turn right here, then cross the bridge and follow the lane, ignoring side junctions but going left at a final three-way junction, signed 'Kilminorth and Watergate'. In ½ mile (800m), turn left by some pretty cottages into the nature reserve of Kilminorth Woods. These ancient oak woods were once 'coppiced', the trees being cut back to a stump and the resulting clusters of new shoots harvested for hedging and other uses.

7 You can choose your route through the woods to Looe, either by following a lower riverside footpath, or the higher Giant's Hedge footpath that first climbs steeply uphill, then follows the line of the vegetated Giant's Hedge, probably a 6th-century boundary dyke that marked out the territory of a local chieftain. Both routes are well-signposted and take you pleasantly back to Millpool car park.

This walk begins with a short, stress-free train ride from busy Looe to the serenity of Causeland Station Halt in the valley of the East Looe River. Once the train has gone, enjoy the tranquillity of this tiny 'one-horse' stop. With its electronic information point it may not be entirely Betjamenesque, but it is close.

Where to eat and drink

Ye Olde Plough House Inn at Duloe is a classic village inn with oak beams, open fires and flagstone floors and with a pleasant garden area. Imaginative food includes leek and mushroom crumble, and baguettes with tasty fillings. Sharps' Doom Bar is a fine ale.

What to look for

In the more open valley below Sowden's Bridge, buzzards can often be seen wheeling through the sky. The buzzard is more scavenger than raptor; its prey includes small birds, lizards, snakes, frogs and even earth worms and it will happily eat insects and other birds' eggs. Crows and gulls will often mob a buzzard relentlessly. The buzzard's response is usually a lazy indifference, but if pushed too far, it will flip over onto its back with its ferocious talons unsheathed.

While you're there

Visit Duloe's Church of St Cuby whose tower leans noticeably. The lean was so acute that the top storey was removed in the 1860s. One reason given for the lean was that the huge amount of smuggled goods hidden in the tower had caused the supporting walls to sag. The story of the ancient water basin inside the church is told on an accompanying notice. The gravestones near the access gate are a graphic and brutal record of the child mortality of the 19th century.


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