A lighthouse, an old paraffin store and a bird hide
At the tip of the Roseland peninsula, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, St Anthony Head commands panoramic views across Falmouth Bay. The headland is now a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest, while the military fort has been of strategic importance for centuries, guarding the entrance to Falmouth harbour.
St Anthony Head car park
Your walk begins at the entrance to St Anthony Head car park, just before the parking area itself, where you will see an information board about the headland. The large scale map shows the walk route outlined in pink and your starting point. From here, cross the road and take the path opposite, way-marked by the sign showing “Link to Coast Path”.
St Anthony is a superb viewing point for marine species. Diving birds such as shags and cormorants can be seen congregating on the low rock near the lighthouse, along with grey seals hauling out when the tide falls, especially during the winter months.
The steep path winds its way down through shrubby tree cover, until you reach a series of stone steps near the bottom. Little Molunan beach is before you, with its wooden bridge crossing the stream above. If you do not intend to spend time on the beach, follow the coast path around to your left.
After a few yards, you will come to a white wooden gate with a stone style around it on the seaward side that doubles as a viewing point. Passing through these, continue on along the coast path.
100 metres or so further on, a small white building, the Old Paraffin Store, will be seen to your right. Towards the end of this low section of coast path you will find yourself approaching the Lighthouse. Your walk dog-legs back up to the left before reaching the lighthouse, which you may choose to view before continuing on.
At certain times of the year the bay is host to spectacular sailing regattas and races. This may include majestic tall ships and, very occasionally, the famous J-Class yachts.
Take your time to climb the steep section of path that leads back up to the car park. Just before the very top you can take a detour to your right, to visit the battery observation post and bird hide. Otherwise, turn right at the top way-marker, and head on out towards the fortifications on the top of the headland.
Most of what survives today is the remains of a coastal artillary fort, built in the early 1900s, to protect Falmouth at a time of turmoil in Europe. What once were officers’ quarters are now National Trust holiday cottages. The battery observation post was added during the second world war. Tours of the Military history are held throughout the year. Tour dates are advertised next to the information board at the entrance to the parking area.
After spending time admiring the views across Falmouth Bay and beyond, continue your walk along the coast path as it winds around to your left through shrubby vegetation. The view will open up on your right, to reveal the tiny sheltered bay overlooked by the bird hide below on the right and steep cliffs opposite on the left.
Take a detour to watch seabirds from the bird hide, including fulmars gliding up to and back from the vertical rock faces. You may be lucky enough to get a view of peregrine falcons on the cliffs opposite, during the breeding season. In spring and summer, listen out for whitethroat, dunnock, greenfinch and linnet, providing the background song of the coastal heath, while kestrels hover over the cliffs, hunting. Count the many butterfly and bee species collecting nectar from delicately scented bluebells and other, colourful wildflowers.
Follow the path on for about 100 metres or so, until you see a pink arrow way-marker pointing you leftwards inland. Passing by arable fields and wide inland views to your right, the path returns you to the car park and your start point, via a wooden gate at the end.
From the tip of the headland there are spectacular views of St Mawes, sweeping past Falmouth, to the Helford estuary and the Lizard peninsula beyond. Around Zone Point to the far distant east you will see Nare Head and Dodman Point on clear days. Across the elevated farmland to the northeast you can see as far as St Austell and the hills of the surrounding china clay country.
St Anthony Head car park
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