Around Dodman Point

A circuit of the headland of Dodman Point, where Iron Age people established a fortified encampment.


Dodman Point


4.5 miles (7.2kms)

377ft (115m)

About the walk

The high and lonely headland of Dodman Point thrusts its great bulk into the sea near Mevagissey and Gorran Haven, forming the eastern arch of Veryan Bay, on the south coast of Cornwall. To local people this dark and brooding promontory has always been the ‘Deadman’. The source of the name may be prosaic, of course, a probable distortion of an ancient Cornish word, but ‘Deadman’ strikes a menacing echo with the nearby Vault Beach and such tideline rocks as the Bell and Mean-lay Rock that lie at the base of the 328ft (100m) Dodman cliffs. By whatever name, the Dodman is a natural fortress, and across its broad shoulders lies a massive earthen embankment, the landward defences of a promontory fort that dates back to the Iron Age.

Vault Beach

The first part of the walk leads from the village of Gorran Haven along the coastal footpath to the great sweep of Vault Beach, or Bow Beach as it is also known. From above the beach the path rises steadily to the broad-backed promontory of the Dodman. The headland is crowned with a granite cross placed there in 1896 by the Reverend George Martin, rector of nearby St Michael Caerhays. Whether the cross was placed as a navigation aid or as a religious gesture is not clear. Just inland from the cross (see waypoint 4), but hidden by scrub, is the Dodman Watch House, a survivor of the late 18th century. This much-restored little building was an Admiralty signal station, part of a chain of similar structures along the English Channel Coast. It was used in later years by coastguards and was restored by the National Trust.

From the Dodman, the route follows the coast path for a short distance along the headland’s western flank to where a gate allows access to fields that bear the vestigial marks of prehistoric and medieval cultivation systems. On the main route, you turn off the coast path here to follow the line of a great Iron Age earthwork, known as the Bulwark. This is an impressive piece of engineering, even by today’s standards, some 2,000ft (609m) in length and over 12ft (4m) high. Eventually a track leads to the serene hamlet of Penare and then across fields and down a little valley back into Gorran Haven.

Walk directions

Turn left on leaving the car park and walk down to Gorran Haven harbour. Just before you come to the access onto the beach, turn right to walk up Foxhole Lane, then go up some steps, signposted ‘Hemmick via Dodman’. Walk up some more steps, passing the Coast Path Café. Now follow the coast path ahead, past a sign for the National Trust property of Lamledra.

Keep to the main coast path, which goes down a flight of stone steps just beneath a rocky outcrop. At a junction marked by a coast path sign, bear right uphill, going straight ahead and through a kissing gate (the left-hand track leads down to Vault Beach from where you can come back to the coastal path again by another track that leads uphill). Where the path begins to level out, fork left and go through a gap in the hedge.

Go through a pair of gates and follow a path through scrubland. Keep ahead at a kissing gate by a junction signed ‘Dodman Point’ then eventually go through another kissing gate onto open ground. Continue on this footpath to the summit of Dodman Point.

Just before the large granite cross on the summit of the Dodman, two paths branch off right. The first leads to the Watch House. After visiting the cross take the second of these paths and continue along the coast path.

Turn right off the coast path through a gate signposted ‘Penare’ and then follow the path between the high banks of the Bulwark.

Keep ahead where a path comes in from the right, bear left and follow the hedged track to reach a gate and a surfaced lane at Penare. Turn right along the lane.

At a junction leave the road and go through a field gate signposted ‘Treveague’. Follow the path across the fields and through the Treveague Farm Campsite. At the campsite gates turn right, signposted ‘Gorran Haven’. Go left at another signpost and go along a drive behind a house, bearing right. Drop steadily down a path through scrub.

Cross a muddy area by some stepping stones, then go through a kissing gate. After a gate, follow the driveway to a T-junction with the road. Turn right and walk down, with care as there can be traffic, to Gorran Haven car park.

Additional information

Good coastal paths; inland paths can be muddy; several stiles

Open fields and coastal cliffs

Dogs on lead through grazed areas; be aware ponies graze the cliff-tops

OS Explorer 105 Falmouth & Mevagissey

Gorran Haven car park, pay at kiosk

Gorran Haven

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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.

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