This walk takes you round a lake that was once an estuary of the sea. Today, the sea may grumble in the distance, but the quiet waters of The Loe lie peacefully within wooded environs below the ancient Cornish town of Helston and are a haven for birds.
Helston flourished during Cornwall’s historic tin and copper mining era when it was a designated ‘Stannary’ town. This meant that the town held rights of measuring and assaying tin, and so profited from it. But Helston originated many years before this period when it was a seagoing port on the then estuary of the River Cober.
Success from mining brought its own penalties, as sediments brought down by the river from tin processing deep inland built up across the mouth of the Cober and eventually turned Helston into an inland town rather than a seaport. Tidal movements added to the build up of materials, so that eventually a solid barrier spanned the mouth of the estuary, trapping an expanse of water behind it. This stretch of water became the Loe Pool, called more accurately The Loe, from the Cornish word logh for pool.
The same process of silt deposit has seen the head of The Loe develop into a classic wetland environment, and the great expanse of water lying between this and the bar is one of the finest wildfowl overwintering sites in Cornwall. Even rare ospreys have been recorded here. The commonest birds likely to be seen as you walk along the wooded shoreline during the first part of the walk are coot, widgeon, mallard and teal. You might spot a cormorant on an inland foray, and herons roost in the tall pines on the west side of The Loe near Loe Bar.
The Loe was once part of the Penrose Estate, an ownership that dated from the 13th century, until it came into the hands of the Rogers family during the 1770s. Extensive landscaping and woodland planting by the Rogers has resulted in today’s delightful park-like aspect of The Loe area, and today the estate is in the care of the National Trust.
Leave the car park at its far end and walk down a steep, concreted lane.
Where the lane ends at Degibna, bear left between buildings and descend a steep, stony track past a small barn. At a wooded junction by the water’s edge, turn left and follow a track beside The Loe.
Climb some steps and then turn right at a junction. At a rocky step-down in the track, turn left and follow the track inland for about 50yds (46m) to a T-junction. Turn right. At the next junction, turn left and continue above the edge of The Loe.
Emerge from the woods into an open field and follow the field path alongside the water.
Follow the path round the edge of the subsidiary Carminowe Creek. The sandy expanse of Loe Bar can be seen on the other side of the water. Reach a junction with a wide track.
You can, if you choose, extend your walk to Loe Bar (see While You're There). Otherwise, turn left and follow the track uphill to return to the car park.
Farm tracks, woodland and field paths
A gentle countryside of woods and lakeside habitats with the sea in the background
Lead required on field sections and around livestock
OS Explorer 103 The Lizard
Car park (free) at the end of Degibna Lane (access lane near junction of A394 and A3083)
None on route; nearest at Helston
Walking in safety
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
Discover Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
Cornwall has just about everything – wild moorland landscapes, glorious river valley scenery, picturesque villages and miles of breathtaking coastline. With more than 80 surfing spots, there are plenty of sporting enthusiasts who also make their way here to enjoy wave-surfing, kite surfing and blokarting.
In recent years, new or restored visitor attractions have attracted even more visitors to the region; the Eden Project is famous for its giant geodesic domes housing exotic plants from different parts of the globe, while nearby the Lost Gardens of Heligan has impressive kitchen gardens and a wildlife hide.