Silver dollars, shipwrecks and scenic views walk

Gunwalloe Church Cove, Cornwall TR12 7QE

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Discover the secrets of the South West with our series of one mile walks © Jim Parry

Discover the secrets of the South West with our series of one mile walks

This stretch of coast is teeming with history © Jim Parry

This stretch of coast is teeming with history

Reed Warbler - more often heard than seen. Listen for their loud chatter © Marilyn Smyth

Reed Warbler - more often heard than seen. Listen for their loud chatter

Route overview

A scenic walk along beautiful coastline, with coastal views across Mounts Bay to the Penwith Moors and inland over Gunwalloe Marsh, a nationally important wildlife site.

  • Grade of walk: Trainer (all rounder)
  • Type of walk: 'Waterside Walks', 'Beautiful Views'

Route details

Start: National Trust car park next to Winnianton Farm, grid ref: SW659208

  1. Start at the National Trust car park next to Winnianton Farm. Winnianton Manor was one of the largest and most important Dark Age settlements in Cornwall. From the car park, turn left along the road and after 55yd (50m) climb the stile opposite the farm entrance onto the coastal footpath.

    Show/HideA medieval settlement

    The Royal Manor at Winnianton near Gunwalloe, owned more land than any other manor in Cornwall or Devon in 1086. It was a very important place, where local people would come to pay their taxes to the king. For many years local residents and archaeologists have seen archaeological features eroding out of the cliff. The archaeological remains belong to an early medieval settlement, now buried by the sand dunes, dating between 600 and 900 AD. This site is important because only one other settlement of this date has been excavated in Cornwall.

    Discover the secrets of the South West with our series of one mile walks © Jim Parry
  2. You're now looking over Dollar Cove. The wreck of the Spanish ship, San Salvador, lost in 1669, was laden with silver dollars. It was said to be carrying two tonnes of coins at the time, some of which it is claimed, on occasion, are still washed up after storms which pound this exposed coast. Head North up the slope away from the beach and follow the coast path running inside the fence. Look out for sand martins overhead which nest in the eroding cliffs on your left.

    Show/HideDoomsday, boundaries and St Winwaloe

    The small stream which flows across the beach is the ancient divide between two lands of ancient families: The Rogers of Penrose and the Enys family of Enys near Falmouth. The Church of St Winwalloe has changed little in 600 years. It's dedicated to a Celtic priest who went on to Brittany where he became the abbot of a monastery. Winnianton, once a great royal Saxon manor, is the first place named in the Cornish section of the Doomsday Book (1086), 'The King holds Winnianton'.

    This stretch of coast is teeming with history © Jim Parry
  3. Walk through the stile on the site of a recent cliff slump, and continue on the path up the slope; the path widens as you meet the fields which stretch across Halzephron Head.

    Show/HideGunwalloe Marsh birdlife

    The reedbed within the valley at Gunwalloe is one of the largest in Cornwall and is an extremely important habitat for birds. Breeding species include the rare cettis warbler as well as more common species like reed, sedge and grasshopper warblers. The secretive water rail may also breed here. Other birds use the reedbed as feeding grounds, particularly during spring and autumn migration, when species like the swallow and house martin congregate to feed on airborne invertebrates. Sand martin nests in the soft rock cliffs nearby and feed over the marshland all through the summer.

    Reed Warbler - more often heard than seen. Listen for their loud chatter © Marilyn Smyth
  4. Continue on the path around the headland and pause to turn and look back at Dollar Cove. Behind the farm buildings you can see Gunwalloe Marsh stretching inland, a nationally important reedbed and wetland which supports a huge variety of birds and associated wildlife.

  5. Spectacular views now open up across Mounts Bay to Loe Bar, Porthleven and further afield to Penzance and St Michaels Mount, with the Moors of Penwith rising behind them. Cornish choughs use the flower rich cliffs you are looking down on for feeding, and you may be lucky enough to see a passing kestrel, raven or peregrine which all patrol this wild coastline.

  6. Continue on the coast path until you reach a small car park next to the Gunwalloe road.

  7. At this small car park, you can choose to either return to the main National Trust car park where you started via the road, or re-trace your steps to Dollar Cove on the coast path route. When you get back, there's the option of a short additional route too.

  8. The Church of Winwalloe shelters behind a huge prehistoric cliff castle, and was originally established in the 6th century by a Breton saint of the same name. The buildings visible today were built in the 13th century, with a distinct separate bell tower in the cliff itself. The golden sands of Church Cove nestle at its side. Return to the car park via the track and road.

  9. We hope that you really enjoyed this one-mile walk. The National Trust looks after some of the most spectacular areas of countryside for the enjoyment of all. We need your support to help us continue our work to cherish the countryside and provide access to our beautiful and refreshing landscapes. To find out more about how you too can help our work as a volunteer, member or donor please go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk

End: National Trust car park next to Winnianton Farm, grid ref: SW659208

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Easy
  • Distance: 1 mile (1.6km)
  • Time: 30 minutes to 40 minutes
  • OS Map: Explorer 103
  • Terrain:

    There are some steps, stiles and the walk passes close to cliff edges in places. Dogs are welcome on Gunwalloe Dollar Cove. Although, there is a seasonal dog ban at Church Cove.

  • How to get here:

    • By bus: Western Greyhound 538, Helston to Gunwalloe, then 30 minute walk
    • By train: Redruth train then Western Greyhound 534 to Helston and 538 to Gunwalloe then 30 minute walk
    • By car: A3083, Helston to Lizard. After 2 miles (3.2km) take right turn following brown sign to Gunwalloe Church Cove. Stay on this road through the village of Gunwalloe and after another mile park in the National Trust pay and display car park next to the farm buildings

     

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