The Cornish shores of Plymouth Sound

A walk around the Mount Edgcumbe estate on the shores of Plymouth Sound.


Mount Edgcumbe


7.5 miles (12.1kms)

328ft (100m)

About the walk

The Mount Edgcumbe Country Park is a green oasis that flies in the face of Plymouth’s crowded waterfront opposite. The two are separated by the Narrows, a few hundred yards of the ‘Hamoaze’, the estuary formed by the rivers Tavy, Lynher and Tamar. Mount Edgcumbe stands on the Cornish side of the river, although it was not always ‘Cornish’. In Anglo-Saxon times Devon extended across the estuary as far as Kingsand, the halfway point in this walk. Today, however, Mount Edgcumbe and its waterfront settlement of Cremyll are emphatically Cornish. They stand on the most easterly extension of the Rame Peninsula, known with ironic pride by local people as the ‘Forgotten Corner’. In truth Rame is one of the loveliest parts of the southwest, let alone of Cornwall, and this walk takes you round the shores of the inner estuary, and then over the spine of the eastern peninsula to Kingsand, before returning to Cremyll along the open shores of Plymouth Sound.


The first section of the route takes you to peaceful Empacombe, where there is a tiny harbour contained within a crescent-shaped quay. It was here, from 1706–1709, that workshops servicing the building of the famous Eddystone Lighthouse were located. Behind the harbour is the Gothic façade of Empacombe House. The path follows the wooded shoreline of the tidal basin known as Millbrook Lake, then climbs steeply inland to reach Maker Church on the highest point of the peninsula. From here you wander through tiny fields to reach a track that leads in a long sweeping descent to the village of Kingsand.

Kingsand is a charming village, linked by the long and narrow Garrett Street to the equally charming Cawsand. These were successful smugglers’ havens during the 18th and early 19th centuries. In Garrett Street, opposite the Halfway House Inn, look for a sign on the wall indicating the old Cornwall–Devon border. The Cornish side of Plymouth Sound was incorporated into Anglo-Saxon territory in ad 705 to secure both banks of the estuary against Viking raids. Kingsand remained part of Devon until 1844. From Kingsand the route follows the coastal footpath along the shore of Plymouth Sound. Finally you reach the park environment that surrounds Mount Edgcumbe House, where you can visit the house if you wish and explore the lovely gardens.

Walk directions

Find an exit by the rear of the car park next to a ‘Have you paid and displayed?’ sign (making sure you have first paid and displayed). Turn left along a public footpath. After a few paces, turn right at a junction and follow the path alongside the tree-fringed creek to Empacombe.

At a surfaced lane, by a house, keep ahead and go down to Empacombe Quay. Turn left beyond the low wall (dogs on leads) and walk along the grass, skirting the edge of the small harbour to reach a stone stile on to a wooded path. Continue round Palmer Point and onto a public road.

Go through the kissing gate opposite, signposted ‘Maker Church, Kingsand’. Follow the track ahead for 75yds (69m) then bear right up the field, heading between telegraph poles, and through a kissing gate into Pigshill Wood. Climb uphill following footpath signs. Cross a track, to go up five stone steps and then reach more steps onto a public road. Cross with care and follow a path to Maker Church.

When level with the church turn sharply right and follow the hedge. Go left over the stone and metal stile. Follow the left field-edge and cross a stile on the left, then follow the path past Friary Manor Hotel and across a lane into a field. Cross two fields to reach a lane. Turn up to the right, then go left at the junction.

Where the road levels off, bear off left down a track at a public footpath signpost. Keep ahead at the first junction and, after a long gentle descent, go left at a junction to reach Kingsand via Devonport Hill and Kingsway. To explore Kingsand and Cawsand, bear left down The Green, past the Rising Sun pub.

To return to Cremyll, at Kingsway go back to Devonport Hill and turn right to a gate proclaiming ‘Welcome to Mount Edgcumbe’. Pass into a field onto the coast path. Follow an obvious track to meet a lane at Hooe Lake Valley.

Turn right; a few paces along the lane turn left on the coast path to enter Mount Edgcumbe Country Park. Keep to the lower path, soon passing through a gate and following coast path signs through the woods.

Above Fort Picklecombe zig-zag uphill as signed. Ignore some unwaymarked stairs with bannisters to your right, and pass a folly-cum-shelter, eventually descending via some wooden steps. Cross a broad path by a gate and zig-zag down through woods; follow coast path signs along the lower edge of woodland, and then all the way back to Mount Edgcumbe, the Historic Gardens (which close in the evening) and Cremyll. Take the footpath at the rear of the Edgcumbe Arms to return to the car park.

Additional information

Good throughout; muddy in places in wet weather; several stiles

Wooded shoreline of tidal creek, fields, woods and coast

Dogs on lead through fields, Mount Edgcumbe Country Park and Empacombe Harbour

OS Explorer 108 Lower Tamar Valley & Plymouth

Cremyll car park. Alternatively reach Cremyll by ferry from the Plymouth side. Frequent service every day between Admiral's Hard, Stonehouse, Plymouth and Cremyll

Cremyll and Kingsand

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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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