Romance in the air
PUBLISHED: 09:00 21 February 2014
Enjoy idyllic paths, glorious views, an ancient church and well-preserved ruins on this gem of a romantic walk from Bodinnick
Terrain: Good paths, though some may be muddy after rain. The furthest point of the walk is a pretty ‘there-and-back-again’ stretch.
Dog friendly: Pandora enjoyed it and The Old Ferry Inn welcomes dogs
Start point: Bodinnick. Postcode: PL23 1LX. Grid ref: SX131522
Map: OS Explorer 107, St Austell & Liskeard 1:25 000
Distance: 3 miles / 4.8km
Public transport: Bodinnick is served by buses from Fowey (timetables from travelinesw.com)
Exertion: A fairly easy walk with some gentle ascents, although the lane through the village is steep
Refreshment & comfort stops: The Old Ferry Inn, Bodinnick: 01726 870237
Points of interest:
- Quiller-Couch memorial
- Swans at Pont Creek
- Daymark tower on Gribbin Head
- Ruined Hall Chapel
Starting from the delightful village of Bodinnick this is a walk of ‘treats’, including the romantically-named St. Wyllow’s church, dedicated to a 6th century hermit, and the historic ruins of 14th century Hall Chapel. This chapel has a chequered history varying in use from private oratory to cowshed, until, in 1997, it was saved from further decay and preserved as a rather atmospheric monument to bygone times.
On a crisp winter’s day this lovely walk will blow away the cobwebs; come back in spring or summer and your way will be graced by wild flowers - and you may encounter the swan family at Pont Creek.
1. From The Old Ferry Inn head uphill, ignoring a footpath you see on your left. Pass St. John’s Church on your right and, further up, the entrance to the inn car park. The lane goes round a bend after which you find a footpath on the right signed for Hall Walk, Pont and Polruan. Take this, passing the Old School House on your right.
This footpath, flanked by wild garlic in spring, has appealing views to the right over gardens and down to the village. Pass through a gate and continue, glancing down to the estuary where you may see the ferry wending its way. A National Trust sign indicates that you are joining the Hall Walk and soon you reach a WWII memorial. From here the views across the estuary to Fowey are superb; there are well-placed benches – relish them.
Continue on the path and soon the view of Polruan, on the opposite side of the estuary to Fowey, opens up. The path passes an attractive National Trust shelter before arriving at a memorial to the influential writer, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, who lived in Fowey for over 50 years. Continue past his monument on the clear path. The water down to your right is Pont Pill and the path winds its way through light woodland, abundant in spring with wild flowers: bluebells, red campion and stitchwort vying for space with the unfolding fronds of male and hart’s tongue ferns.
At the end of the Hall Walk you reach a stile. Cross it and continue to a kissing gate about 20m further. Beyond this, walk along the bottom of the field with trees to your right. Just over 100m further you find a field gate on the right with a stone stile next it. Remember this point as you return here later.
2. Pass through the gate and descend on the woodland path beyond. Be cautious in wet weather as the rocky patches underfoot can be slippery. You drop to a crossing path, turn right towards Polruan, you’ll see the buildings of Pont Creek below you and here you may find swans. This is a lovely area; notice the old lime kiln across the water, then cross the footbridge and continue ahead, passing The Farmhouse, with its old toll charges, and Pont Creek Cottage on your right. Here you find a footpath sign directing you straight ahead for Polruan. Take this.
Walk up away from the creek, ignoring the right turn for Polruan which you soon pass. Keep ahead and the path ascends steps to join a lane. Go left here for less than 20m and as the lane bends left, take a track right, passing through a gate leading onto a footpath to the church.
3. Follow this until you reach the beautiful, ancient church of St. Wyllow, which dips its historic toes into Norman times. Explore here then retrace your steps all the way back to Pont Creek. Re-cross the footbridge and ascend the footpath which you descended earlier, now signed for Bodinnick. A walk in the opposite direction is a different walk and this is a very nice stretch! Soon you reach a sharp left turn, take this and climb back up to the gate and stone stile. Beyond here you’re no longer retracing.
4. From the gate head diagonally left across the field to another gate in the top left corner, sparing a glance to the rolling hillside views behind as you climb. Go left through this gate and walk across the top of the next field with the boundary to your right. There are sweeping views round to your left, back towards St. Wyllow’s church. Enter the next field and continue in the same direction, now with stunning views towards the estuary. Fowey and Polruan can be seen as you progress and, in the distance, the red and white daymark tower on Gribbin Head – the headland beyond Fowey. The tower was erected in 1832 as a navigation aid to shipping.
5. At the end of this field go through the middle of three gates, which is slightly to the right rather than straight ahead. This leads onto a track, descending in the same direction as before to a gate, beyond which you continue down on the track towards the buildings of Hall Farm. Along here on the right look out for the stile leading to Hall Chapel.
From the chapel return to the track and continue down it to a gate. Go through and keep on in the same direction through the field, boundary to your right, leaving over a stile in the bottom corner. At this point you emerge back on to the path at the war memorial. Turn right here and retrace your steps the short distance back to the lane above The Old Ferry Inn.
This walk is taken from A Dozen Dramatic Walks in Cornwall by Simone Stanbrook-Byrne & James Clancy. They have also written Town Walks in Cornwall. culmvalleypublishing.co.uk / 01884 849085.