Portmellon is a tiny seashore settlement to the south of Mevagissey. The authentic flavour of Old Cornwall clings firmly to the area, not least to the fishing port of Mevagissey (or ‘Meva’ to locals), in spite of the village’s popularity in summer. There has been some unsympathetic development in Mevagissey, but the older part of the port retains a rich vernacular character.
The walk starts at Portmellon, where sturdy Cornish fishing boats, yachts and launches were once built at the Percy Mitchell boatyard. Percy Mitchell was an outstanding boat-builder who was described as ‘an artist in wood’. The slipway on the seaward side of the road survives – when vessels were ready for launching, they were towed from the boatyard on a trolley, across the road and then launched from here. Just beyond the slipway, your route veers off along the route of the coast path to the delightful twin headlands of Chapel Point and Turbot Point. Chapel Point is a low-lying section of coast where the closer merging of sea with land imparts a wonderful sense of freshness and open space. The handsome dwellings on the point were built in the 1930s.
Between Chapel Point and Turbot Point is the lovely Colona Beach. Turbot Point has the alternative name of Bodrugan’s Leap. The name derives from an apocryphal event during which local 15th-century landowner Sir Henry Trenowth of nearby Bodrugan is said to have leapt from his horse into a waiting boat while being pursued by Sir Richard Edgcumbe of Cotehele. The pair had been at each other’s throats for years because of their divergent politics. Bodrugan supported Richard III against Henry Tudor during the Wars of the Roses; Edgcumbe’s loyalties were to Henry. With the triumph of Henry over Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, Bodrugan was charged with treason. Edgcumbe, no doubt to his great delight, was ordered to arrest his old rival who, politics apart, had slipped easily between legitimate business and piracy for years. Off to France went Bodrugan. His lands were confiscated – no doubt to the benefit of Edgcumbe and the ruling interests of the day. From this romantic reference point you turn inland alongside a stream to reach the public road at Bodrugan Barton, site of the Bodrugan family’s original house (contemporary reports describe it as being more like a ‘castle’).
A short walk along the road followed by a steep descent of a lane and track leads into a wooded valley from where a permissive path leads through the West Bodrugan Wood Nature Reserve. This is a rich habitat for wild flowers that include bluebells in spring, as well as primroses, celandines and white wood anemones. A particularly fine species to look for in the open marshy area beyond the woods is the yellow flag iris, a conspicuous and lovely wetland plant of early summer whose vivid yellow flowers enliven the often muted greens and browns of the valley. Look also for the southern marsh orchid with its cluster of purple flowers. Where the path down the valley ends, the sea makes its presence felt once more at Portmellon’s sandy shore.
Leave the car park at Portmellon and walk south round the sandy bay along the seafront road. Walk uphill for 25yds (23m) and then turn off left, signposted ‘Coast Path’. Continue along a surfaced road, Chapel Point Lane, lined with houses to either side.
In just under 0.5 miles (800m), just before a small stand of trees on the left, by a footpath sign, turn left away from the surfaced road onto the coast path (dogs on lead here). The path soon goes close to the cliff edge, so take care. Go over a slate stile and through a gate, and then keep to a well-defined path along the seaward edge of a steep field. The path becomes a grassy track leading towards some distinctive houses on Chapel Point.
Cross a surfaced drive and follow the coast path above Colona Beach. Go over a stile behind a stone boathouse and turn right through a small metal gate. Follow a grassy path inland, between a stream on your left and a wire fence.
Go through a gate in front of a house and climb up some steps. Go uphill on a stony track and keep walking up straight ahead through a gate to continue through Bodrugan Barton farm. Ignore a track off to the left and zig-zag to the left of various houses. Follow the drive through an entranceway to reach the public road. Turn left and walk along the road, with care, for about 350yds (320m).
Bear off right down a lane. After a few paces go through a galvanised gate, whereafter the lane heads downhill into woods. Just before the lane reaches the valley bottom, turn right through a gate signed ‘West Bodrugan Wood Nature Reserve’. Follow the sometimes muddy path through woods, cross a stile and reach some wooden steps up and down over a hedge leading into a field beside an open area of wetland.
Continue along field-edges. Go over a stile next to a gate and along a short section of muddy lane. Go ahead along a surfaced road past houses to reach the seafront at Portmellon. Turn left to return to the car park.
Excellent throughout but may be very muddy in wet conditions; several stiles
A low coastline and rocky foreshore with fields rising steeply behind, then a deep, wooded valley
Lead required around livestock, through farm and on road
OS Explorer 105 Falmouth & Mevagissey
Car park next to The Rising Sun Inn, Portmellon
None on route
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.