Walking is incredibly good for you and as the winter months draw in, it’s more important than ever to get out in the fresh air and winter sun (when it shines) to make the most of those precious days mercifully free from the wet stuff.
Best then to have some all weather walks up your sleeve and this one fits the bill perfectly!
Penlee Woods extend from the scenic village of Cawsand along the coast to Penlee Point whereupon the woods give way to wild cliffs and dramatic Cornish coastline. This woods are part of Mount Edgcumbe Country Park, having originally been planted to provide game bird cover for and by the Edgcumbe family estate in the 1800s.
Start at Cawsand Square; Grid ref: SX433,502 – what 3 words: roadmap.sapping.tablets
Motorists can use the Cawsand pay and display car park some 400 metres west of the square and walk down Armada Road. A bus service runs from Plymouth City centre and stops close to the car park entrance.
From Easter to October a ferry service runs from Plymouth Barbican and lands on the beach at Cawsand. Its a brilliant trip, offering unique views of Plymouth, the Breakwater and Drake’s Island as well as making an exciting adventure to take children on.
- From the village square, with the Cross Keys Inn to your right and the slipway behind you, head south (uphill and to your left) keeping close to the buildings which include the Rame Gig Club. Follow signage for the coastal Footpath and Pier Lane leading off to your left.
- Pier Lane will end and become the Coastal Footpath, but keep going for about a mile until you come to Bayfield Cottage on your right. Immediately after the cottage, take the footpath extending diagonally uphill and away from the high fenced enclosure of the military site at Pier Cellars.
- Walk until you reach the tarmac road (shown on maps as Earl’s Drive), then turn left and continue until you reach the coast.
- There are plenty of benches at Penlee Point to enjoy the spectacular views from, an information panel about ship wrecks in the area and Queen Adelaide’s Grotto to explore. The grotto is an arched folly offering views around the peninsula and even a bench seat hewn from the cliff rock!
- When you’re ready, return back along the Earl’s Drive. You can return to the square by the same route or continue along the Earl’s Drive until the woods end. You will see the Cawsand Car Park behind Penlee Lodge (an amazing mediterranean style building built by the Edgcumbes as a hunting lodge) or you can turn right and proceed downhill back to the square.
This route comprises footpaths laid with stone and tarmac road enabling year round access. However, following the worst winter weather it’s still possible for some mud, puddles and leaves to gather on the paths, so leave your very best shoes at home and wear footwear that can cope with this.
Likewise, never underestimate how exposed the Coast at Penlee Point can be and dress accordingly!
If getting there by ferry, be aware the crossing can be affected by adverse weather conditions and may not be suitable for persons with restricted mobility (access on and off the ferry at Cawsand is by a gang plank).
It’s advisable to check in advance whether the ferry crossing is suitable for you and to stay up to date with the latest crossing news by following the ferry twitter account.
Why Walk Here?
The nature of the paths and Earl’s Drive mean this walk is doable when many footpaths have become quagmires. Not only does this make for a more pleasant winter walk (which doesn’t cause erosion damage) but it also provides opportunities for families with pushchairs and learner cyclists to get out and about too.
This area is steeped in history largely due to the Edgcumbe family. For example, (the) Earl’s Drive was originally a carriage route enabling the Earls of Mount Edgcumbe to tour their estate and the name has remained. Cornwall’s Forgotten Corner, by Tony Carne, is the definitive read and makes for a fascinating companion when walking in the woods and nearby picturesque villages of Cawsand and Kingsand.
The Woods are enjoyable all year round. Dormant winter trees enable far reaching coastal views, the magic of spring can be enjoyed in all it’s glory as the trees and flora return to life and the summer canopy offers welcome shade on the hottest of days. Fallow deer live here and the area surrounding Penlee Point is rich in wildlife on the land, in the sea and in the air.
Furthermore, I guarantee you will never tire of the stunning views from Penlee Point!