Whatever you imagine a village pub to be, the Logan Rock Inn in the Penwith hamlet of Treen is pretty much it – warm fire, warm welcome, good talk, good grub. ‘Thought you might enjoy this,’ said landlady Anita George, proffering Jane and me a bill – not ours, but the reckoning for an extremely costly piece of vandalism in April 1824 by Lieutenant Hugh Goldsmith, RN.
The merry young shaver and the crew of his coastguard cutter had dislodged the famous Logan or rocking stone, chief tourist attraction of the area, from its perch on a rocky promontory beyond Treen, and sent it crashing to the beach below for a jolly jape. When local complaints reached the Admiralty, their Lordships were not amused by the bad PR. It cost Goldsmith £130 – a small fortune – and many months’ stoppage of pay, not to mention a huge and salutary output of anxiety, hard labour and ingenuity, to restore the rock to its perch. At last, reported the Royal Society, ‘in the presence of thousands, amidst ladies waving their handkerchiefs and universal shouts, Mr Goldsmith had the glory of placing the immense rock in its natural position, uninjured in its discriminatory proportions.’
Down on the cliffs, we threaded our way by fly-walk paths out to where the Logan Rock rode high on its outcrop. Climbing the slippery granite stack, shaggy with coarse lichen and short of footholds, proved too much for us. So we lounged on the rabbit-nibbled turf beneath, watching the lumpy sea heaving explosively against the cliffs far below, each milky green wave surging back on itself with a wildcat hiss in a lacy shawl of pure white foam.
The dull gold crescent of Porthcurno’s beach opened ahead as we hunched west into the wind along the coast path. Across the deep cleft where the village lay sheltered, steps climbed past the bowl in the cliffs where Rowena Cade built the Minack Theatre over 30 years, with infinite labour and passion. We left the Minack’s tiered seats and wonderful rock gardens behind us, forging on along the cliffs to come to the stone-walled spring of St Levan’s Well above the tiny, pristine beach of Porth Chapel.
St Levan, a 5th-century Irish hermit, was a great fisherman by all accounts. We sat down to admire the boom and thunder of the sea across the saint’s favourite beach. In a little while it would be time to take the homeward path by way of St Levan’s Church with its carved bench-ends and rough granite pillars, and then the ancient wheel cross of Rospletha. Not just yet, though.
Start & finish: Village car park, Treen (OS ref SW 395230)
Getting there: A30 from Penzance towards Land’s End; B3283 through St Buryan to Treen.
Walk (4 miles, moderate grade, OS Explorer 102): From car park, left up track; in 10 yards, left on path (‘Logan Rock’ signs) across fields to cross South West Coast Path (397224). Ahead through outcrops to find Logan Rock (397220). NB: Path from South West Coast Path to Logan Rock is hard to distinguish – there are many paths and no waymarks! Follow your nose out, skirting to the right of the first big outcrop of pinnacles. Logan Rock sits atop the second, central outcrop of three, marked with a small plaque. Hazardous climb (up right side as you look at it) is at your own risk!
Return to coast path and bear left through Porthcurno (386223). Up steps past Minack Theatre (386221); on to St Levan’s Well (381219). Bear right off coast path, up footpath to road and St Levan’s Church (380222). From NE corner of churchyard, field path to pass ancient cross (382223) and reach Rospletha (383224). Bear left through kissing gate, then right (waymark arrows) down field track to cross road in Porthcurno (383228). 40 yards past Rockridge House, left up steep grass path; field paths to Trendrennen Farm (388231). 50 yards past houses, right across fields (yellow arrows) to Treen.
Lunch: Logan Rock Inn, Treen, TR19 6LG (01736-810495;
Accommodation: Rockridge House, Porthcurno TR19 6JX (01736-810410; www.rockridgehouseporthcurno.co.uk) – very helpful and welcoming place
More info: Penzance TIC (01736-362207; www.visitcornwall.com)