Look out St Agnes (Carn Gowla) walk

St Agnes Head, near St Agnes village, Cornwall TR5 0ST

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
The dramatic expanse of St Agnes Head with the beacon in the background © John Such

The dramatic expanse of St Agnes Head with the beacon in the background

Stretch your legs on a walk past the vibrant heath © National Trust

Stretch your legs on a walk past the vibrant heath

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

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

Route overview

This walk takes in Carn Gowla (rock lookout in Cornish). On a clear day you can see a vast coastal landscape. From Mesolithic hunters to Second World War ammunition stores, St Agnes Head is steeped in history; it’s home to rare heathland and important seabird colonies.

  • Grade of walk: Trainer (all rounder)
  • Type of walk: 'Flora & Fauna','Beautiful Views'

 

Route details

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

Route map of the Look out St Agnes walk in Cornwall
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Car park at St Agnes Head, grid ref: SW702514

  1. From the car park walk along the path, heading north-east and down to the coast path.

    Show/HideTraining the troops

    During Cameron Camp between 1939 and 1940, a light anti-aircraft training camp was built here within five fields, and named after a local landowner. The camp contained lots of buildings; the partial remains of a few can still be seen today. The area is also covered by slit trenches, which are likely to have been made by infantry men during field exercises as they prepared for the D-Day embarkation to Normandy. After the war, the camp was used as a housing estate. This was bulldozed by the early 1970s and the rubble was used to backfill several old mine shafts.

    The dramatic expanse of St Agnes Head with the beacon in the background © John Such
  2. When you reach the coast path turn left and walk in a westerly direction.

    Show/HideThe wind-pruned heath

    The cliffs stretching from St Agnes Head to Porthtowan form one of the largest remaining tracts of heathland in Cornwall, most of the rest having been lost to agricultural use. The heath survives because the soils have been contaminated by the mining that previously took place here. The combination of soil conditions and salty winds blowing off the Atlantic means few plants other than heathers can survive. Even these grow very slowly in the most exposed areas, where they develop a distinctive wave like form. A suite of specially adapted invertebrates live within this patchy heath, including a remarkable diversity of spiders.

    Stretch your legs on a walk past the vibrant heath © National Trust
  3. Continue along the coast path underneath the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI).

    Show/HideNational Coastwatch Institution lookout

    The first lookout here was probably established at the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. The present building, rebuilt by us, opened in 2009 and is leased to the NCI. The NCI, which is a registered charity founded in Cornwall in 1994, now maintains over 40 stations and has more than 1,700 uniformed volunteer watchkeepers. They keep a visual watch, monitor maritime radio and radar signals and record sea and weather conditions. The watch here is kept from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week throughout the year.

    Discover the secrets of the South West with our series of one mile walks © Shirley Blaylock
  4. After a slight incline you'll reach a network of paths linking to a car park. Take the path towards the car park.

  5. Head in an easterly direction along the path above the NCI lookout. This path then joins a tarmac road.

  6. Continue along the tarmac road with care to the car park you set out from.

  7. 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: Car park at St Agnes Head, grid ref: SW702514

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 1 mile (1.6km)
  • Time: 30 minutes to 40 minutes
  • OS Map: Landranger 203
  • Terrain:

    A well maintained, but naturally uneven coastal path, which can get muddy after heavy rain. Be aware of cliff edges, unstable cliffs and mine shafts - keep children and dogs supervised. Dogs welcome under close control.

  • How to get here:

    By bus: service 85, 403 and 583, Perranporth and Truro to St Agnes; 315, Redruth to St Agnes. See the Public Transport in Cornwall website for details

    By train: Redruth, 7 miles (11.3km); Truro, 9 miles (14.5km), then bus to St Agnes

    By car: From A30: At Chiverton Cross roundabout, take B3277. At roundabout to St Agnes village, turn left and continue around the beacon for parking at St Agnes Head. From St Agnes: follow one-way system, turn left at top of British Road, as if going back to A30. At roundabout, past fish shop, turn right and continue around beacon for parking at St Agnes Head. Park in first car park on right as you drive out along military road

     

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