Chapel Cliff walk

Near Polperro, South East Cornwall PL13 2QY

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
The Net Loft at the entrance to Polperro Harbour © Will Jones

The Net Loft at the entrance to Polperro Harbour

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

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

There is a long history of fishing in this area © Joe Cornish

There is a long history of fishing in this area

Route overview

Take a scenic walk on the edge of the bustling, ancient fishing village of Polperro. There are lots of places to sit and admire the stunning views along the coast to Devon and down into Cornwall. Look out for caves and the old net loft.

  • Grade of walk: 'Trainer' (all rounder)
  • Type of walk: 'Waterside Walks', 'Historical Footsteps'

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Route map of the Polperro Chapel walk in Cornwall
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: The shelter above Polperro harbour, grid ref: SX210508

  1. Follow signs to the coast path above the harbour of Polperro. Start the walk by the shelter and head west along the lower path.

    Show/HideNet lofts and lighthouses

    The net loft sits nestled within the stony outcrop called Peak Rock and probably dates back to the early 1800s. The ground floor is said to have been used for boat building and the top for storing the pilchard nets and sails. Some believe that this is the true site of St Peter's Chapel. By 1882, only a few stones were said to remain on the site of the former chapel. The chapel may possibly have been a chapel and lighthouse combined, as the site would have been ideally located for a beacon.

    The Net Loft at the entrance to Polperro Harbour © Will Jones
  2. After 50yd (45m) branch left; a little further on you'll come across a good viewpoint where you can see east to Rame Head. On a good day you can see even further up the coast of South Devon.

    Show/HidePolperro allotments

    Along the cliff, the observant visitor will see small hedged enclosures beside the terraced paths. These plots were let to local people, often fishermen, to grow flowers and vegetables as there was so little room for gardens around the houses in the village. Once divided by veronica or escallonia hedges for protection from the wind, these seaward-facing slopes enabled the production of early crops. There are similar plats at Weston Mouth in East Devon, where donkeys were used to transport crops into the nearby village. The local early potatoes were famous.

    Discover the secrets of the South West with our series of one mile walks © Andrew Montgomery
  3. Continue keeping left, past a bench and another shelter.

    Show/HidePilchards

    Chapel (pronounced Chay-pell) Cliff has paths at several levels, but the one nearest the sea is the true coast path. It has three bad-weather shelters, built in the 1920s by the local committee which raised funds to buy these cliffs for us. The sheltered cove has long been a haven for fishing boats. In the 19th century, when shoals of pilchards were plentiful, huge quantities were caught here and then packed into barrels and salted. The preserved fish were then exported to the Catholic countries of southern Europe to be eaten on fast days.

    There is a long history of fishing in this area © Joe Cornish
  4. Take the steps up the hill. Can you see some blocked off caves on your right? You should also pass a rocky outcrop, this is an excellent spot to take in the views.

  5. When you come to a junction, head left.

  6. At the paths fork, take a left down the (lower) path and through the privet trees. There used to be fishermens allotments here - you may just be able to make out the old terraces.

  7. Leaving the wooded area should reveal a view west as far as Dodman Point.

  8. Youll come to a right turn in the path, take this up the steps and across a spring. At the top follow signs for the coast path back toward Polperro.

  9. At the fork in the road, take the right path heading down the hill.

  10. When you get to the bottom, you should meet the path you were on previously. Turn left.

  11. At the next junction, stay left towards a bench. Can you see another bench? Continue past that one too.

  12. At the waymarker, follow the coast path down the hill, making sure to take in the view over the bay and back to the starting point.

  13. If you have time, explore the old National Trust net loft on the rocks at the harbour's edge.

  14. 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: The shelter above Polperro harbour, grid ref: SX210508

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 1 mile (1.6km)
  • Time: 30 minutes to 40 minutes
  • OS Map: Landranger 201
  • Terrain:

    A mixture of flat, even, grassy footpaths and steep, rocky paths on uneven rocky ground. Prepare for mud after wet weather. Dogs are free to run around for the whole walk.

  • How to get here:

    By bus: Buses to Polperro from surrounding towns. Walk from town centre to harbour (signposted), or follow coast path signs

    By train: Looe, 4.5 miles (7.2km), then ERH Roadcar 281 bus to Polperro

    By car: Parking on edge of Polperro, then either get shuttle bus or walk to town

     

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