First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
Twenty-four hours of solid, stair-rod Cornish rain had given way to an afternoon of patchy, wind-streaked blue sky. At Gweek, where the winding Helston River pushes its blunt finger-ends against the land, the houses lay quiet along the quay. Houseboats both ramshackle and trim, ebb-fast yachts, ancient storm-decked trawlers and families of ducks shared the mud companionably with mournfully piping oystercatchers. On Naphene Downs above the village, wind seethed in over the oak woods and battered the hedges of the bridleway that Jane and I were following. Among the bushes a crude little shelter of sticks called to mind Eeyore’s house. We half expected to hear a squeaky and a growly voice chorusing, ‘And nobody knows, tiddly-pom, how cold my toes, tiddly-pom …’
Which way around Napheane Farm? ‘Do you like my little black Dexter cattle?’ said the woman of the house at her door. ‘The path? Oh yes, climb over the gate, you’re welcome – just don’t let the horses out!’
A tangled lane led down to a brook in a secret dell, then up to a wonderful ridge-top view across the patchwork landscape of the Lizard peninsula. Beautiful to walk through, this west Cornwall countryside of small fields and granite rocks, but tough to farm. Polanguy among its tumbledown sheds showed broken windows, holes in the roof and a jumble of tractors and bailers abandoned where they last stopped. A skinny cat, sole occupant of Polanguy, ran off down the flooded lane. We followed its paw-prints through the mud and came up to the old stone cottages at Merther-Uny, a hamlet whose name commemorates the martyrdom of St Euny, one of the first Irish missionaries to reach Cornwall back in the 5th century. Opposite the cottages we found a gateway to a walled enclosure choked with scrub, the site of a chapel dedicated to the Irish hermit. Old tales tell how a prosperous family who farmed Merther-Uny lost all their worldly goods after they were unwise enough to use the font from the ancient chapel as a pig trough.
Buzzards mewed over the wooded valley beyond Little Trussall. At Boskenwyn the primary school wall was studded with climbing aids – sky-blue footholds, red and green handholds. Lucky kids, to have a school with fun on the timetable and a high and mighty view each playtime.
Down through the fields we went, passing Boskenwyn Manor, down to the stream valley that led east to Gweek, where horses lifted their head to check us out with long, deliberate stares. Under dead trees bearded with lichens on a seek-and-ye-shall-find path, and a final step along the muddy margins of Gweek Quay where the oystercatchers had never left off piping.
Start & finish: Gweek Inn, Gweek TR12 6TU (OS ref SW 707268)
Getting there: Bus (0845-600-1420; www.firstgroup.com/cornwall) service 35 (all week), 32 (Sunday)
Road: A30, A39 to Truro; A39 towards Falmouth; A394 towards Helston; Gweek signed to left.
Walk (7½ miles, moderate grade, OS Explorer 103): From Gweek Inn, turn right up Redruth road. Right at Tolvan Cross by white corner house (706282; bridleway fingerpost). In 200 yards cross footbridge; in another 200 yards leave gravelled track and keep ahead along grassy track (blue arrow) over Naphene Downs for ½ mile to road at Carwythenack Chase (716279). Left (‘Falmouth, Truro’).
In ⅓ mile, pass entrance to Napheane Farm. In another 50 yards, left over stile (717285); diangonally left to cross farm drive. Bear right round field edge; cross stile opposite farmhouse, then next one (714284); right and right again over gate, to turn left along green lane past Napheane farmhouse and on (yellow arrows/YA). In 100 yards, at left bend in lane, go through gate on right; left along hedge, then over stone stile (YA). Bear right with hedge on right; over next stone stile, cross field, over another stone stile (712286); forward (YA on pole) down tangled green lane (YAs) to cross stream (711287). Steeply up to road (707288). Right; pass staggered crossroads; in 200 yards, left past ruined farm of Polanguy (706294).
On along boggy track (half path, half stream!) among trees; cross brook by stone slab bridge (704294); bear left up path, through gate at top, past houses of Merther-Uny (702293) and on along lane to road (697293). Right for ⅓ mile. Left by Little Trussall house (692294; bridleway fingerpost), past cottages and on along path through wood for ½ mile. Path turns uphill to leave wood and reach Woodside Farm (691284). Left through gate, right past farm to road (691283). Left for 350 yards to Boskenwyn primary school (691280). Right along road for 250 yards; left (fingerpost) to Boskenwyn Manor Farm (686279).
Pass manor house on your right; bear left in front of barn conversion; left again into open area; sharp right round right edge of field, with hedge on right. At far end of field, cross stile; cross next field to go through gate to right of barn. Pass Pollard Farm house (685275). Bear right through farmyard; follow track past houses for ½ mile to road; turn right. In 200 yards (684268), two signed bridleways diverge to left. Take left-hand one, between granite gateposts, and follow bridleway signs. At Millbrook (686267) follow left fork (concrete track); then through fields, keeping just up slope with valley bottom on your right. Pass Pollard Mill (688266); continue for nearly a mile to reach green lane by cottages (701265); follow this to road (704264); left to Gweek.
NB – This walk is not dog-friendly (farm dogs!). Online map, more walks: www.christophersomerville.co.uk.
Lunch: Gweek Inn (01326-221502) – handy village inn.
More info: Falmouth TIC (01326-312300)