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Trail Guide: Sancreed to Goldherring and Boscawen-ûn

A relatively level walk through prehistoric and medieval landscapes, with views of the southern areas of the peninsula, plenty of variety and a great range of features to explore along the way.

Distance:

4.5 miles / 7.25km

Time:

Approximately two hours plus time for stops

Starting grid reference:

SW 419 293, by Sancreed Church

Public Transport:

Buses from Penzance to Sancreed Church (route 8)

Car Parking:

Limited parking by the church; large lay-by up the road by Sancreed Beacon.

Nearest Facilities:

St Buryan Farm Shop, and St Buryan village.

Accessibility & Terrain:

Includes some open fields that may contain livestock, and one short section along the busy A30. Although the route avoids significant hills, there are several stiles which require a little scrambling over; some have been modified with the addition of a scaffolding pole or wooden beam to prevent cattle being able to cross.

Safety info & disclaimer:

See here

Downloadable PDF:

 

CLICK HERE FOR TRAIL PHOTO GALLERY

Route Instructions:

1.

It is worth either starting or finishing your walk with a visit to the Church.

To start the walk, across the road from the church is a telephone box. Look for the footpath running between the phone box and the garden wall of a neighbouring house. Follow the path between houses and gardens.

 

 

There are five Celtic Crosses to be found in the graveyard of Sancreed Church; Trannack, Anjarden, Sellan, a cross-base from Treganhoe which now supports the 10ft high churchyard cross, and to the right of the church porch, a fifth carved cross, originating from as early as the 10th Century. The names represent the major farms of the Parish, each of crosses having originally come from the respective farms. In the churchyard are graves of several Newlyn artists, including Stanhope and Elizabeth Forbes and Florence Munnings, wife of Alfred Munnings, whose sad life featured in the 2013 film ‘Summer in February’.

 

2.

On reaching a step-over stile you have the choice of continuing straight on over the field or to turn right, for a short but very worthwhile spur path to Sancreed Holy Well and Chapel.  Note that the well path can sometimes be quite muddy.

After visiting the Well, retrace your steps to the stile. From the Well path it is a right turn into the field. You are heading straight across to the step-over stile in the far corner. Be aware that this field can sometimes contain livestock.

 

 

Sancreed Holy Well is a wonderful chambered well. Many stories are attached to it, and it is frequently visited and celebrated. The Hawthorn tree over the well is often decorated with ‘clouties’, ribbons or woven pieces of materials, left as prayers or offerings. The Well is beautiful, look out for the reflective moss glowing as you step down to the water. The neighbouring Medieval Chapel is tiny and in late summer can be almost covered in vegetation and hard to find. There is also a much more recent granite stone memorial cross.

 

3.

After the next stile, you pass in front of a white painted farmhouse on your right and will probably stop to admire the donkeys in the field next to the house. At the far end of the field cross another stile and turn left. You are now on a gentle downhill slope.

 

   

4.

At the bottom of the slope is a farmhouse on the left and an old barn on the right. The path to follow is directly opposite, next to a house on the left of the path.  It is sometimes a little concealed amongst vegetation but indicated by a yellow arrow way marker disc on the telegraph pole next to the house. The path climbs up along the edge of fields, running past some old ruined farm buildings on the right-hand side. There are a series of step-over stiles crossing six fields until you emerge onto a track running across your path.

 

   

5.

Ignore the temptation to walk up the path to your right, up to Caer Bran hill fort (a walk for another day!). Instead climb the stile opposite, by the old Celtic Cross, and enter the field, heading straight ahead for the hamlet of Brane. Cross three fields and enter a nice wide track running into the village of Brane. There is a gate across this track which you will need to open (and close again).

 

 

Brane Cross serves as a boundary stone between Brane and Boswarthen, and its presence suggests that the footpath by which it lies served as the ‘church path’ from Brane to Sancreed Church.

 

6.

CAUTION! This next section is on public road, look out for cars. Follow the small road through the village and round to the left. Stay on the road around the next sharp left-hand bend, then the following right-hand bend. 

 

 

Brane is a settlement of early medieval origin first recorded in 1323, the name likely being associated with the nearby Caer Bran hillfort.

7.

At the next bend in the road go straight ahead through the stile and gate, onto the track rising onto the moorland, heading for the large modern covered reservoir.

 

 

The rough ground here on a slight hilltop (on which Goldherring settlement lies to the sheltered side), contains remnants of prehistoric field systems.

 

8.

Pass the reservoir on your left-hand side; you now have a choice of continuing along the path or taking a short (but very worthwhile) diversion to visit the ancient Iron Age settlement of Goldherring. To get there, take the path off to the left just past the reservoir. Follow this around to the left, around the reservoir, to the interpretation board. Carry on past the interpretation board - the village is a little further on, to the right of the track leading to a field gate.

Retrace your steps to the path and turn left (if returning to the main trail from your visit to Goldherring). Follow the track down to the gate and onto the A30 (you may have to climb over the gate if padlocked).

 

 

Goldherring is a lesser-known ancient village, consisting of a round, courtyard house settlement and surrounding field system. Pottery found at the site confirmed occupation during four periods: from the 1st Century BC; between the 3rd and 4th Centuries AD; 5th to 6th Centuries AD (when the area was used as a workshop and for smelting); and again in the 13th Century, again used for tin smelting. In Cornish, the site is named Gwelleuren, ‘Gwel’ meaning ‘open field’, and ‘Leuren’, likely a personal name.

9.

Turn right onto the main road. CAUTION! You now have a short section of walking alongside the A30. There is no path off the road so walk in single file on the right side of the road.

 

   

10.

When you see a layby on the left-hand side of the road cross the A30 and pass through the kissing gate at the far end of the layby, signposted for Boscawen-ûn.

 

   

11.

Follow the path towards the stone circle, of which you may catch some glimpses up ahead. If you wish, take a short diversion off to the right to Creeg Tol, which gives lovely views over the Lamorna Valley and across to St Buryan. You can also get a view over the stone circle, which is obscured from most directions. 

 

 

Creeg Tol is a natural granite outcrop with smooth rounded bowls carved by centuries of water, also known as the ‘Giant’s Footprints’ because of the shape of part of the outcrop. Craig Weatherhill suggests the name is from ‘crug’ (barrow, or tumulus) and ‘toll’ (hole) – but as there is neither a barrow or a hole evident on the site, it could be a corruption of ‘carrek’ (rock) and ‘tal’ (brow, hill brow), as the site is at the head of a slope overlooking the stone circle.

 

12.

Take the path down towards the beautiful stone circle of Boscawen-ûn. When you reach the bottom, and the path becomes enclosed by a blackthorn thicket, turn left at the junction, walk a short way then look for the sign and gate for Boscawen-ûn Stone Circle on your right.

Leave the circle by the same gate you entered. 

 

 

Boscawen-ûn Stone Circle dates from the late Neolithic to early Bronze Age periods, somewhere between 2500-1500 BC. The name is inherited as a variant spelling of the nearby farm, Boscawen-noon. ‘Bos’ (dwelling) and ‘scawen’ (elder tree), and ‘an woon’ (of the downs).

13.

Follow up the hedged lane, which eventually opens out on the Boscawenoon Farm track. Carry on down the track, passing Boscawenoon Farm. This track emerges back onto the A30.

 

 

Boscawen-ûn Standing Stone is an impressive upright menhir in the hedge on your left just past the farm. It has been associated with the stone circle, along with a second standing stone in the fields between here and the circle.

 

14.

CAUTION! Cross the A30 heading for the stile directly opposite the end of the farm track. Cross the small field diagonally to your left and emerge onto the small lane running towards Tregonebris.  Follow the lane through Tregonebris.

 

 

Tregonebris is a settlement first recorded in the 14th Century. The name is made up of ‘tre’ (farm, settlement) and a Celtic personal name ‘Kenhebris’.

15.

After Tregonebris leave the lane on footpath straight ahead, where the lane bends to the right. Head diagonally down to the right across the field and cross the stream on the stepping-stones. (This area can be rather wet!)

 

   

16.

Emerge briefly onto the lane at Anjarden, crossing over and into a field, cut across this field, then out into the lane again.

 

 

Andjarden, or Nans ar Donn’ in old Cornish, is a farm first recorded in the 15th Century. Made up of the words ‘Nans’ (valley), ‘ar’ (facing), ‘tonn’ (pasture, lea-land). Similarly, the next farm Chiverton, or ‘Chiwardonn’ translates as ‘chi’ (house), ‘war’ (on, upon), and ‘tonn’. Chiverton being “on the lea-land” while neighbouring Andjarden “faces the lea-land” (from Craig Weatherhill).

 

17.

After a short distance cross a stile on the left had side of the lane, pass to the left of Chiverton Farm and cross a final field to emerge back opposite Sancreed Church.