The world of Daphne du Maurier at Fowey

Exploring the coast and countryside near Fowey where the novelist Daphne du Maurier found inspiration




7.5 miles (12kms)

820ft (250m)

About the walk

Fowey and its environs cry out for the romantic novel, and it is no surprise that the area inspired the writer Daphne du Maurier, who lived for many years as a tenant at Menabilly House, the ancestral home of the Rashleigh family. Menabilly was the shadowy inspiration for the fictional house of ‘Manderley’ in Rebecca. The house also inspired the setting for My Cousin Rachel.

Love Lane

The walk starts from the charmingly named Readymoney Cove, a corrupted form of the Cornish redeman, possibly translating as ‘stony ford’. From the cove you follow Love Lane, a very old cartway that rises over scarred rock slabs into Covington Wood. Soon open fields are reached and the route strikes inland along field paths and enclosed tracks. In the little valley below Lankelly Farm the path passes through a tunnel and beneath what was once a carriageway leading to Menabilly House. Beyond Tregaminion Farm and church, the long western flank of the Gribbin Peninsula is gained. Here you can divert down a zig-zag path to Polkerris Cove and beach. The coastal footpath is followed south to Gribbin Head and its crowning ‘Daymark’, an immense edifice erected in 1832 as a warning mark to sailors who too often had mistaken the shallow waters of St Austell Bay for the secure anchorage of Falmouth Roads further west. The Daymark was erected on land granted by William Rashleigh of Menabilly. The inscription defines the mercantile priorities of the day: the ‘safety of commerce’ first, ‘preservation of mariners’ second.

Head north from here to Polridmouth Cove (P’ridmouth to the initiated) and the heart of ‘du Maurier country’, from where a minor rollercoaster hike takes you to St Catherine’s Point and to the ruins of the 16th-century St Catherine’s Castle. The castle was part of a chain of defences built on the orders of Henry VIII as a precaution against potential invasion from France. Its lower level housed later 18th-century guns. From the high ground of St Catherine’s Point there is a steep descent to Readymoney Cove.

Walk directions

From the bottom end of the car park, descend the slope then turn left down The Parade. Turn right towards Readymoney Cove. Continue to the end of the road, above the beach, and follow the initially rocky Love Lane uphill on the Saints Way. At the T-junction turn right, uphill, to leave the coast path.

Turn left at the next junction and then climb wooden steps to reach Allday’s Fields. Follow the right-hand field-edge. At a field gap follow an obvious grassy track diagonally across the field to a lane end at Coombe Farm. Follow the lane ahead.

At a road, turn right and continue to Lankelly House. Pass a junction on the right and follow Prickly Post Lane for a few paces. Turn off left onto a gravel drive, then keep left and along a narrow fenced-in path.

After the barn conversions at Trenant, cross a surfaced lane, then a stile. Keep ahead alongside the field-edge, then follow the path to a gate and a footbridge to a kissing gate and footbridge into a field below Tregaminion Farm. Bear left uphill towards farm buildings, go through a gate, keep ahead and then turn right, then left, to reach a T-junction with a road by the entrance gate to the little Church of Tregaminion.

Turn right and in 100yds (91m) go left into a field. Reach a junction on the edge of some woods where you meet the South West Coast Path. Keep left along the field-edge and follow the well-defined coast path for 1.25 miles (2km) towards Gribbin Head.

Enter the wooded National Trust property of Gribbin Head. Fork right to follow the coast path through a gate and cross to the Gribbin Daymark. Go left and down a faint grassy track, then follow the coast path along to Polridmouth.

Follow the coast path and, at open ground, follow the seaward field-edge. Go into, and out of, Coombe Haven. Follow the path to enter Covington Wood.

Go right to reach the cliff above St Catherine’s Castle. Pass the path to the castle, then go down steps at the first junction on the right to reach Readymoney Beach. Return to the car park via St Catherine’s Parade.

Additional information

Field paths, rough lanes and coastal footpath; can be very muddy on inland tracks during wet weather; several stiles

Coastal fields, woodland and open coastal cliffs

Dogs on lead in fields. No dogs on beaches Easter Sunday to 1 October

OS Explorer 107 St Austell & Liskeard

Readymoney Cove car park, reached by continuing along Hanson Drive from the entrance to Fowey's main car park

Readymoney Cove

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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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