The two settlements of West and East Looe were quite separate until a bridge linked them from 1436 onwards. Looe has a long history of fishing and shipbuilding, and is still a thriving deep-sea fishing port with a daily fish market. Evidence of East Looe’s past wealth can be seen in its narrow lanes and alleyways, and substantial buildings such as the Old Guildhall (now a museum) and Gaol, Looe’s former courthouse, dating from 1500, and the timber-framed Golden Guinea Restaurant in Fore Street. West Looe is much quieter, and overlooks St George’s Island, a notorious haunt of smugglers in the 18th century, and today a marine nature reserve.
The East and West Looe valleys
This walk begins with a short train ride to the serenity of Causeland Station Halt in the valley of the East Looe River. Once the train has gone, enjoy the tranquillity of this tiny ‘one-horse’ stop. The walk starts with a climb to the little ridge-top village of Duloe, famed for its Bronze Age stone circle composed of eight quartzite stones, each one representing a main point of the compass. From Duloe’s Church of St Cuby, with its 13th-century tower, the walk drops into the valley of the West Looe River, which is followed all the way back to Millpool car park. Note that stretches of this are very muddy. The final part threads through lovely Kilminorth Woods, ancient oak woods that were once coppiced and are now a nature reserve.
On leaving the station, turn immediately left along a quiet lane to a junction with another lane opposite Badham Farm Holiday Cottages. Turn right and brace yourself for a stiff climb for the next 0.25 miles (400m).
In 0.75 miles (1.2km), just before the crest, go left over a stone stile, then head diagonally across a field towards the opposite left-hand corner and a row of houses. (If the field is under crops and no right of way apparent, go round the field-edge.) Go over a stile in the field corner, bear left around the back of garages and bear left to the main road. There are public toilets to the right.
Go left along the pavement to pass the Plough at Duloe, preferably in time for lunch. Continue along the main road and in about 275yds (251m) you’ll reach a signpost to the Duloe Stone Circle. Once back on the main road, walk the few paces to Duloe’s Church of St Cuby, accessed via the cemetery.
From the south door of the church bear left past the tower to leave the churchyard by the top gateway into the lane (the war memorial is to the left). Turn right and follow the lane, past the school, for 0.75 miles (1.2km). Just before the tarmac ends keep ahead past a junction on the right and descend steeply into the wooded valley of the West Looe River. Go left at a T-junction.
Just before reaching the river, go left over a stile by a gate. Bear right opposite a gate and follow a faint, grassy path that becomes a broad track above the river. Follow the riverside way for the next 0.75 miles (1.2km). Be aware that stretches of the path are indistinct, and some areas extremely wet underfoot. Eventually reach a narrow lane at Sowden’s Bridge.
Turn right here, then cross the bridge and follow the lane, ignoring two side junctions, going left at a three-way junction, signed ‘Kilminorth and Watergate’.
In 0.75 miles (1.2km), turn left by pretty cottages into Kilminorth Woods. There is a choice of onward routes: either a riverside footpath, or the Giant’s Hedge footpath that first climbs steeply, then follows the line of the vegetated Giant’s Hedge, probably a 6th-century boundary dyke that marked out the territory of a local chieftain. Both are well signposted and lead back to West Looe. The riverside walk can be submerged by the river at one point as the tide rises. A short signed detour will guide you safely onwards if the tide is in.
Good woodland, riverside paths, tracks and quiet lanes, can be very muddy on riverside sections; several stiles
Fields, riverbank and woodland
Dogs on lead in fields and Kilminorth Woods
OS Explorer 107 St Austell & Liskeard
Millpool Car Park, West Looe, across river bridge from East Looe. Looe Station, 0.5 miles (800m) from Millpool car park, reached by crossing river bridge then walking north along A387 (small car park at Looe Station fills up quickly)
Duloe and at Millpool car park in West Looe
The Looe Valley Line, Liskeard–Looe, has request halts at Coombe, St Keyne, Causeland and Sandplace, so tell the conductor your destination; 8–9 trains daily; not all trains stop at Causeland so check in advance
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.