Prussia Cove and Mount's Bay


Prussia Cove


4 miles (6.4kms)

394ft (120m)

About the walk

Smuggling clings to the image of Cornwall like the Atlantic mist through which the old-time ‘freetraders’ so often stole ashore with their cargoes of tea, spirits, tobacco, silk, china and even playing cards. However nostalgia blurs the record of incidental brutality that often accompanied 18th-century smuggling.

Mount's Bay

Such ‘honest adventuring’ seems personified by the famous Carter family, who lived at Prussia Cove on the eastern shores of Mount’s Bay in west Cornwall. The cove is really more of a series of rocky inlets close to the magnificent St Michael’s Mount, the castle-crowned island that so enhances the inner corner of Mount’s Bay. John and Henry (Harry) Carter were the best known members of the family and ran their late 18th-century smuggling enterprise with great flair and efficiency. They even fortified the headland overlooking Prussia Cove in a move that echoed the defensive settlements of the Celtic Iron Age. John Carter was the more flamboyant, styling himself in early childhood games as ‘the King of Prussia’. The name stuck and the original Porth Leah Cove became known as the ‘King of Prussia’s Cove’. He also had integrity. He once broke into an excise store in Penzance to recover smuggled goods confiscated from Prussia Cove in his absence. The authorities knew it must have been Carter because they said he was ‘an upright man’ and took only his own goods. His brother Harry became a Methodist preacher, and forbade swearing on all his vessels.

The remote nature of the coast and countryside around Prussia Cove says much about the environment in which smuggling flourished. As you follow the route of the walk, you can sense the remoteness, the secretiveness of the lanes and paths that wriggle inland from a coast that is formidable, yet accessible to skilled seamen. At Perranuthnoe, the narrow, flat beach resounds with the sound of the sea where modern surfers and holidaymakers now enjoy themselves. From here the coastal footpath leads back along the coast across the rocky headland of Cudden Point, to where a series of secluded inlets make up the Carters’ old kingdom of Prussia Cove.

Walk directions

From the Trenells car park entrance walk back along the approach road, past the large house. Keep left and round the next sharp right-hand bend. Watch out for traffic. Ignore the first footpath sign on the left and, in about 150yds (138m), just past a wide gateway, go over a stile on the left, and into a field.

Follow the field-edge, bearing off to the right, where it bends around to the left, to reach a slate stile by a telegraph pole in the hedge opposite. Walk down the edge of the next field, behind the privately owned Acton Castle. Turn right and follow the bottom field-edge to its end. Go over a stile and follow the next field-edge to a gateway. Go through this and turn right along a lane.

On reaching tarmac, turn left along a rough track at a junction in front of a bungalow entrance at Trevean Farm. In 55yds (50m), by Trevean House, keep right, up a stony track, then go through a gate on the right, by Beare’s Den campsite. Follow the left-hand edge of a long field to a stile on its top edge, then follow the right-hand edge of the next field.

At Trebarvah go through a kissing gate. Cross a lane and continue across a stony area with houses on your right (there’s a view of St Michael’s Mount ahead), then follow a field-edge to a hedged-in path. Keep ahead at a path junction and then go through fields and pass the front of houses to reach the road opposite the Victoria Inn. Go left and follow the road to the car park above Perranuthnoe Beach.

For the beach keep straight ahead. On the main route of the walk, go left, just beyond the car park, and along a surfaced lane. Bear right at a fork, then bear right again just past a house at a junction. Go down a rough track towards the sea and follow it round to the left. Then, at a field entrance, descend right (signposted), turn sharp left through a gap and follow the coast path.

At a junction above Trevean Cove, bear off right from the track to walk along a path that follows the cliff edge.

At the National Trust property of Cudden Point, ignore the broad inland path to your left and continue ahead around the coast. Then cross the inner slope of the headland above Piskies Cove, keeping right wherever the path divides.

Go through a gateway and pass some ancient fishing huts. Follow the path round the edge of the Bessy’s Cove inlet of Prussia Cove. Turn left at a fork to go up some steps and reach a track by a thatched cottage. The cove can be reached down a path on the right just before this junction. Turn right and follow the track, past a post box. Keep left at junctions, to return to the car park at the start of the walk.

Additional information

Good field paths and coastal paths, many stiles

Quiet coast and countryside

Dogs on lead through grazed areas

OS Explorer 102 Land’s End

Trenalls at Prussia Cove, a small, privately owned car park, or car park at Perranuthnoe, from where the walk can be started at waypoint 5


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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.