Lerryn to St Veep

A circular walk from Lerryn, along wooded creeks and across fields, to the church of St Veep which is the only one in England where the bells were cast in perfect tune.

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The route follows the quayside through Lerryn and then on a path winding through the woods along the edge of the River Lerryn to its confluence with the River Fowey. At Cliff Pill, the route turns inland and follows a bridleway and footpaths across fields to St Veep parish church. The return route is relatively quick, on footpaths and small lanes to Lerryn.

Considerations

  • The path along the riverbank is eroded in places - there are some short narrow sections on the very edge.
  • One section of the path along the foreshore can flood on exceptionally high tides. In that situation, it's possible to cut through the woodland to rejoin the public footpath further along although no formal path exists for this.

Reviews

fabulous and so pretty

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 107
  • Distance: 5 miles/8.1 km
  • Grade: Moderate-strenuous
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots, or trainers in summer

OS maps for this walk

Click or tap on map for more info (blue=laminated)

Highlights

  • Views over the creeks from Lerryn and the footpaths
  • Lost gardens of Tivoli Park
  • Wildflowers along the footpaths and lanes
  • St Veep church and churchyard

Pubs on or near the route

  • The Ship Inn

Adjoining walks

Directions

  1. Start to head out of the car park towards the road to reach the small lane just before Lerryn River Stores. If there is a high tide covering the lane, use the Public Byway on the far side of Lerryn River Stores to re-join the lane further along. Follow the lane along the waterfront to reach a humpback bridge.

    There were four lime kilns at Lerryn, the most obvious of which is beside the road opposite the public toilets. The coal and limestone for these was brought up the creek from the port of Fowey on cargo barges, when the creek was less silted than it is today.

    Internally, a lime kiln consisted of a conical stone or brick-lined chamber which was loaded from the top with alternating layers of limestone and carbon-rich fuel such as charcoal, peat or coal. At the side of the kiln was an alcove known as an "eye" which was used to access the kiln and remove the quicklime from a hole at the bottom of the chamber. The kiln was often run continuously with more layers of fuel and limestone added to the top as the previous layers worked their way down through the kiln. Air was drawn in through the bottom of the kiln and heated up as it passed through the quicklime (also cooling the quicklime) before it reached the level where combustion was taking place.

  2. Cross the bridge and keep right to follow the track along the creek. Continue until you reach the gate for Lerryn Quay.

    The source of the River Lerryn is near West Taphouse and it flows across the Bocconoc Estate where it is joined by a number of small streams, draining from the valleys of the estate. More streams join near Couch's Mill and the river then flows another mile and a half to Lerryn where it enters the ria (flooded river valley) that gives rise to the tidal creeks leading up to Lerryn and St Winnow from the sea at Fowey. At one time, the 4 miles of creek to Lerryn was navigable from the sea by cargo barges. Since then, mining activity in the river valleys has caused the creek to silt up so that it is now only navigable by small boats.

  3. When you reach the gate, turn left and follow the path into the woods. Keep right at the pedestrian gate to pass the waymark and follow the path to reach another pedestrian gate and waymark.

    The first of the two pedestrian gates in the woods leads into the lost gardens of Tivoli Park.

    Tivoli Park was an area of landscaped created in the 1920s by a China Clay magnate from the village. It was used as the venue for the Lerryn Regatta until 1968 and then the gardens were abandoned. The gardens included a cascading water feature and a bandstand although by the 1930s this was deemed impractical and planted with roses instead. There was also a 200 yard running track, and changing rooms so visitors could wear swimwear to paddle in the fountain. The structures are all built from crude 1920s concrete, decorated with pieces of quartz and broken granite.

  4. Keep right to follow the path along the fence in the direction waymarked. Follow the path across a small stream and along the edge of the creek until you reach a fork where a path rises to the left or descends to the creek ahead.

    Just after you cross the stream a gully leads from the path down to the water's edge and also into the woods on the opposite side of the path. This is where a pipeline was located to draw water from the river to feed the fountains in Tivoli Park. The water was pumped into an enclosed reservoir above the gardens and then ran through a rock-lined channel beneath one of the arches and ended in a waterfall into the pool.

    The gully itself predates the gardens and is recorded as a path on OS maps from the 1880s.

  5. Keep right to descend to the shore and follow the stepping stones to the path along the grassy bank. Follow the shore around the corner until you see a path on the left leading to a waymark.

    Ducks can change gender. This happens for about 1 duck in 10,000 and more commonly from female to male than the other way around. It seems to occur in a flock of ducks where there is a significant gender imbalance where it gives the duck that changes a competitive advantage. It's likely that the female to male direction is a bigger evolutionary win because one male can fertilise multiple females.

  6. Bear left up the waymarked path and follow it until it descends to the creek shore once again, just before a river.

    The vegetation on the ground here is quite unusual for woodland. The bilberry and heather is much more typical of open moorland but the area is shown on maps as being under tree cover since at least the 1880s. However, it's not impossible that the area had been cleared for wood in earlier times. The proximity to the river would have made transporting timber much easier than in most places.

    Bilberries (known in Cornwall as 'erts) are closely related to blueberries. The fruits are much smaller but the flavour is more intense. The plants grow on poor, acidic soils so are typically found on moorland.

    Although Cornwall is home to the village of Bilberry (near Bugle), the name is not thought to be anything to do with the plant - more likely the "bury" relates to some form of ancient earthwork.

    It is thought that rumours that the RAF used bilberries and carrots to improve night vision of bomber pilots were an elaborate decoy to conceal that Britain had radar which is what in reality made the pilots more effective.

  7. Cross the river via the stones and follow the path from the other side (take care as some parts are very close to the edge). Continue to reach a fork in the path with a wooden fence to the right.

    The path approaches the confluence of the River Lerryn with the River Fowey.

    The River Fowey rises close to Brown Willy on Bodmin Moor and is fed by 7 tributaries along its 25 mile course, many of which also start on Bodmin Moor. It is the third longest river in Cornwall after the Tamar and Camel.

    The upper reaches of the Fowey river system run through 2 Sites of Special Scientific Interest and the Fowey valley is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The river has populations of sea trout and salmon as well as brown trout which make it popular with fly fishermen.

  8. Keep right at the fork and climb the steps. Follow the path between the fences to reach a junction of paths at the top.

    The berries of holly contain a chemical compound very similar to caffeine. Only in very small doses is this a stimulant; in larger doses it is toxic. It is for this reason that you see holly berries on bushes rather than being inside the nearest bird. The birds have learned to wait until after the frosts have reduced the toxicity of the berries before eating them.

  9. Turn right to continue on the path around the perimeter of a garden to where the path bends left over the bank into the woods, just before a low building with a corrugated roof.
  10. Bear left over the bank and follow the path through the woods, passing down a couple of wooden steps by an old gate, and over a stile, until the path ends on a driveway.

    Ferns produce neither flowers nor seeds and rely on the tiny spores for their reproduction which are most commonly distributed by the wind. This allows them to colonise some quite random places such as rocky ledges that heavier seeds might not reach. Since the spores come from just one parent fern, the offspring is a genetic clone.

  11. Cross the driveway to the small path opposite and follow the path to emerge onto a lane.

    The older an oak tree becomes, the more acorns it produces. A 70-80 year old tree can produce thousands. Acorns are high in carbohydrates and as well as being a staple food for squirrels, they are also a really important food for deer and make up a quarter of their diet in the autumn.

    The (leather) "tanning" process got its name as it involved extracting the tannins from acorns or oak bark and soaking these into animal hides over 1-2 years to preserve them. From the brown oak juice containing the tannins, the colour "tan" was named and from this the expression "sun tan" arose.

  12. Turn right onto the lane and follow it down the hill to the creek, to reach a Public Footpath sign just after the cottage beside a sign for Downs Orchard, just at the start of the private lane to Prinzey Farm.

    There is a nice view both ways along the creek from beside the rock out by the boats, which can be reached except at the very highest point of the tide. To get there, cross over the stream and then follow around the left-hand edge of the creek where the ground is stony. Avoid venturing out onto the mud: one of the locals digging bait nearby became trapped chest-deep in the mud and was fortunately rescued at the last moment before he was drowned by the rising tide.

  13. Turn left up the footpath and follow it to a gate.

    A particularly good patch of wild garlic grows alongside the bridleway. There is also some along the lane at the end of the walk if you'd rather not carry it all the way back.

    Despite the pungent smell, the leaves of wild garlic are quite delicate in flavour so can be used quite large quantities in cooking or more sparingly within salads. They are at their most fiery early in the season.

    Most of a large tree's trunk is actually made of dead wood known as "heartwood". Only the outer layers (known as sapwood) are actually active. The sapwood transport water and minerals up the tree from the roots to the leaves. The sapwood next to the heartwood gradually fills up with resin and then dies to create another strong layer heartwood which supports the increasing weight of the tree.

  14. Go through the gate (you need to slide the metal block up to move the catch) and continue a few paces to enter the field. Head up the middle of the field to the gap in the trees to reach a terrace. Continue up the steps opposite and continue climbing the field to a stile in the fence at the very top.

    As you reach the top of the field, there is a nice view behind you, looking across the River Lerryn and along the River Fowey. The village of Lerryn is split across the two parishes of St Winnow and St Veep. The parish in which the walk route is located is St Veep. The land on the other side of the Lerryn River is in the parish of St Winnow and its creek-side parish church can be seen on the banks of the River Fowey.

  15. Cross the stile and continue ahead across the field to follow along the top hedge to a stepped stone stile in the corner with the far hedge.

    If there are sheep in the field and you have a dog, make sure it's securely on its lead (sheep are prone to panic and injuring themselves even if a dog is just being inquisitive). If the sheep start bleating, this means they are scared and they are liable to panic.

    If there are pregnant sheep in the field, be particularly sensitive as a scare can cause a miscarriage. If there are sheep in the field with lambs, avoid approaching them closely, making loud noises or walking between a lamb and its mother, as you may provoke the mother to defend her young.

    Sheep may look cute but if provoked they can cause serious injury (hence the verb "to ram"). Generally, the best plan is to walk quietly along the hedges and they will move away or ignore you.

  16. Cross the stile and turn left. Follow the left hedge to a gateway.

    The settlement to the right on the opposite side of the river is Golant.

  17. Go through the gateway and follow the right hedge to reach a gate onto a lane.

    The view of the river to the right is Penpoll Creek - a small tributary of the River Fowey. The name Penpoll is Cornish and means roughly "top of the creek" which refers to the mediaeval settlement there. "Top-of-the-creek Creek" is one of the many place names in Cornwall that have resulted from knowledge of the Cornish language being lost and tacking-on an English word to a Cornish name without knowing that it already meant the thing being added. Other examples include "Valley valley" (Coombe) and "Cove beach" (Porth).

  18. Go through the gate and bear left onto the lane. Continue until you reach a drive on the right for Pennant marked with a public footpath sign.

    A pair of buzzards have a territory which includes a number of possible nesting sites which can be as many as 20. They move nesting site each year which prevents build-up of nest parasites such as bird fleas. The new nest is decorated with fresh green foliage.

  19. Turn right onto the track and then bear left onto the path indicated by the white waymark. Follow this to a stile, cross this and follow the fence on the right to a white gate.

    Make sure you close the white gates properly behind you, otherwise the grazing animals will eat all the ornamental plants in the garden!

  20. Go through the white gate and the one opposite, then follow the path across the garden to the waymark and stile.

    Genetic analysis has revealed that domestic apples originated from wild apples in Kazakstan near the Chinese border. It is thought that the apple was probably the first tree to be domesticated by humans, several thousand years ago. Wild apples grew in the British Isles in Neolithic times but domesticated apples were introduced by the Romans. Over 7500 varieties of apple are now known.

    Apple pips contain contain a compound called amygdalin, which is cyanide bonded with sugar. In the gut this is converted to hydrogen cyanide. If you accidentally swallow a couple then don't panic: you'd need to chew and swallow hundreds of apple pips to get a fatal dose of cyanide.

  21. Cross the stile and follow the right hedge past one gate to reach the gate in the corner of the far hedge.

    If you are crossing a field in which there are horses:

    • Do not approach horses if they have foals, make loud noises nor walk between a foal and its mother as you may provoke the mother to defend her young. Generally the best plan is to walk along the hedges.
    • Horses will often approach you as they are used to human contact. If horses approach you, do not run away as this will encourage them to chase you. If you are uncomfortable with their proximity, calmly walk away.
    • Do not feed the horses with sweets or otherwise. Some food which is harmless to humans can be deadly to horses.
    • If you have a dog, keep it under close control in a visible but safe place, and as still and quiet as possible.
  22. Go through the gate and follow the left hedge to a waymarked gate in the corner of the field.

    The reason that you may see scruffy sheep with wool falling off is that due to cheap man-made synthetic (plastic) fibres, demand for wool declined through the late 20th and early 21st centuries resulting in many sheep not being shorn due to the low wool price.

    As well as being environmentally-friendly, wool fibre has a number of technical properties that synthetic fibres lack including fire-resistance and the ability to absorb and release moisture. Some novel high-tech uses are now being found for it including biodegradable ground cover matting to control soil erosion. As concerns grow over the effects of plastics in the environment, this may also lead to a renaissance in natural fibres including wool. It may therefore not be too long before demand increases and fields are once again full of neatly-shorn sheep.

  23. Go through the gate and bear right to a stile in the hedge opposite, roughly half-way between the church tower and the right-hand corner of the field.

    Although it's obvious that you should ensure any gates that you open, you also close, what about gates you find that are already open?

    If the gate is fully open then leave it alone as it may well be providing livestock access to a water supply, and by closing it you could end up killing them.

    If the gate is ajar or swinging loose and not wedged or tied open then it's likely that the gate was left open by accident (possibly by another group of walkers). Properly closing the offending gate behind you will not only bring joy to the landowner but you can feel good about saving lives in a car swerving to avoid a cow in the road.

  24. Cross the stile and follow the right hedge to a gateway onto a lane.

    The plant with sticky green seeds is known as cleavers due to the ability to attach to clothing or animals. The use of "to cleave" meaning "to adhere" has Saxon origins but has become less common in recent years perhaps due to the confusion of having a more well-known meaning which is virtually the opposite.

    Goosegrass is another common name of the plant due to its attractiveness to poultry as a nutritious food. It contains tannins which make it too bitter for humans. Other common names include sticky willy.

    Despite how tough mature dock plants are, at the seedling stage docks are very poor competitors with other plants such as grass. On grazing land, farmers can use docks as a warning sign that there have been bare patches of earth. This could have been caused by livestock damage or uneven spreading of manure which has killed patches of grass by blocking sunlight.

  25. Cross the lane to the driveway opposite, marked with a Public Footpath sign, and follow the driveway to the corner of the churchyard where a waymarked path departs from the corner on the right (between The Close and The Coach House).

    The parish church was originally dedicated to St Veep, but when it was rebuilt in 1336, it was re-dedicated to St Quiricus and St Julietta (which may be the same saint that the chapel at Tintagel castle and St Juliot's church in Boscastle are dedicated to). The six bells were cast in 1770 in the field beside the church. They were created in perfect tune and no further tuning was needed after they were removed from their moulds. This is termed a "Virgin Peal", and this is the only known example in England.

  26. Bear right down the path indicated by the waymark and follow it to a stile.

    Yellow Archangel is a native plant and member of the dead nettle family (and it's also known as the Golden Dead Nettle). The flowers are pale yellow, hence the first part of the name. The second part of the name (including the angelic association) is because it looks quite like a nettle but doesn't sting.

    A garden variety of yellow archangel known as "aluminium plant" (due to silvery metallic areas on its leaves) has escaped into the wild where it is spreading rapidly. It has been deemed so invasive that it is illegal to plant in the wild.

  27. Cross the stile and follow the left hedge to a stile in the far hedge.

    Crows have a vocabulary of different calls with specific meanings and these can be varied to convey emotion like a human tone of voice.

    The sounds that crows make have also been found to vary with location rather like regional accents in humans. When a crow moves into a new area, it mimics the calls of the most dominant flock members to fit in with its peer group.

  28. Cross the stile and cross the corner of the field to the stile opposite.

    Swallows have evolved a long slender body and pointed wings that makes their flight more than twice as efficient as other birds of a similar size. Swallows forage for insects on the wing, typically around 7-8 metres above the ground. They can sometimes be seen skimming the surface of water either to drink or to bathe which they also do in flight.

    Large amounts of calcium are needed when birds lay eggs to create the eggshells. Female birds store of calcium by growing a special type of leg bone which has high a high density of calcium. Similar calcium storage leg bones have been found in female dinosaur species only distantly related to birds which indicates this was a general approach used by dinosaurs.

  29. Cross the stile and follow the right hedge to a stile in the corner of the field.

    A typical large onshore wind turbine can produce enough power for about 1,500 houses. The wind turbines being built offshore are a little larger and benefit from it being windier much more often, so one of these is able to power double the number of houses.

  30. Cross the stile and continue ahead along the left hedge to a stile in the corner of the field.

    The number of cows in Cornwall has been estimated at around 75,000 (a lot of moo is needed for the cheese and clotted cream produced in Cornwall) so there's a good chance of encountering some in grassy fields.

    The Ramblers Association and National Farmers Union suggest some "dos and don'ts" for walkers which we've collated with some info from the local Countryside Access Team.

    Do

    • Stop, look and listen on entering a field. Look out for any animals and watch how they are behaving, particularly bulls or cows with calves
    • Be prepared for farm animals to react to your presence, especially if you have a dog with you.
    • Try to avoid getting between cows and their calves.
    • Move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd.
    • Keep your dog close and under effective control on a lead around cows and sheep.
    • Remember to close gates behind you when walking through fields containing livestock.
    • If you and your dog feel threatened, work your way to the field boundary and quietly make your way to safety.
    • Report any dangerous incidents to the Cornwall Council Countryside Access Team - phone 0300 1234 202 for emergencies or for non-emergencies use the iWalk Cornwall app to report a footpath issue (via the menu next to the direction on the directions screen).

    Don't

    • If you are threatened by cattle, don't hang onto your dog: let it go to allow the dog to run to safety.
    • Don't put yourself at risk. Find another way around the cattle and rejoin the footpath as soon as possible.
    • Don't panic or run. Most cattle will stop before they reach you. If they follow, just walk on quietly.
  31. Cross the stile and descend to the track. Turn left onto the track and follow it until it ends on a lane.

    On the opposite direction, the track runs for about a quarter of a mile to the creek-side hamlet of Penpoll, which is a Cornish name meaning something along the lines of "top of the creek". The Penpoll creek lies along the valley of the Trebant Water, into which all the streams here flow, and into the valley of which the route will also itself descend fairly shortly.

  32. Turn right onto the lane and follow it until it ends in a junction with another lane.

    Many of the small bushes along the top of the hedges are hazel.

    During the mesolithic (middle stone age) period, hazelnuts are thought to have been carried as portable food and this is thought to have led to the rapid spread of hazel to new areas seen in archaeological pollen analysis.

  33. Turn right onto the lane and follow it until it ends at a junction at the bottom of the valley.

    The valley in which you join the lane is crossed by The Giant's Hedge roughly half a mile further up the valley and forms the hedges of a number of the fields there.

    The Giant's Hedge is the remains of a wall from the Dark Ages which runs for ten miles from Looe to Lerryn. In some places it is still twelve feet high and it was recorded as being 16 feet high in Victorian times. Where it is best preserved, it is stone-faced and has a ditch running alongside. It is thought that it marked and defended the border of a Cornish Kingdom, which was otherwise surrounded by water from the River Fowey to the West Looe River.

  34. Turn left at the junction and follow the lane back to Lerryn, where it ends in a junction.

    As the road descends to Lerryn there is lots more wild garlic in spring along the bank on the left. The plants higher up will be further out of the range of splashing by cars, dogs etc.

    It may be an urban myth that Eskimos have a large number of words for "snow" but it's cast iron fact that there are at least this many words for "hill" in Cornish:

    • Meneth was often used to refer to Cornwall's higher peaks, or (outside of Cornwall) to mountains.
    • Tor was used for hills with rock outcrops protruding (and for the rock outcrops themselves)
    • Brea was used to refer to the most prominent hill in a district.
    • Ryn refers to a "hill" in the sense of projecting ground, or a steep hill-side or slope.
    • Garth was used to refer to a long narrow hilltop.
    • Ambel refers to the side of a hill.
    • Mulvra refers to a round-topped hill.
    • Godolgh is a very small hill.
    • Bron means "breast" as well as hill.
  35. Turn right at the junction and follow the road past the Ship Inn to the car park.

    Along the river, you may notice some boats with names such as "Mole" and "Ratty". The reason is that Kenneth Grahame spent much time on the River Fowey "messing about in boats" along with fellow writer Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, on whom the character "Ratty" is based.

    When "The Wind in the Willows" was completed by Kenneth Grahame in 1907, it was met with critical disdain and rejected by publishers both in the UK and US. Fortunately Grahame had a stroke of luck: two years after the book was completed, US president Theodore Roosevelt wrote to Grahame to tell him that he had "read it and reread it, and have come to accept the characters as old friends". Roosevelt eventually persuaded US publisher Scribner to take it on. A.A. Milne was also a fan, stating: "The book is a test of character"... "The young man gives it to the girl with whom he is in love, and if she does not like it, asks her to return his letters. The older man tries it on his nephew, and alters his will accordingly".

Help us with this walk

You can help us to keep this walk as accurate as it possibly can be for others by spotting and feeding back any changes affecting the directions. We'd be very grateful if could you look out for the following:

  • Any stiles, gates or waymark posts referenced in the directions which are no longer there
  • Any stiles referenced in the directions that have been replaced with gates, or vice-versa

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