One of the best walks I’ve ever done in Cornwall (and it was raining much of the time) was set in and around the grounds of Mount Edgcumbe. Located across the River Lynher on the knobbly Rame Peninsula, dubbed ‘Cornwall’s forgotten corner’, this estate, along with nearby Antony, crowns the eastern headlands; all else is empty hilly farmland and long beaches sheltering beneath crumbling cliffs on the Channel shore.
Originally a deer park located about ten miles south of Cotehele, Mount Edgcumbe once caught the eye of a 16th-century captain of the Spanish Armada, who declared that he would live there when the war was over. Today, the Cremyll foot passenger ferry to Plymouth deposits walkers at the eastern approach to the 1,000-acre park, where they are heralded by a grand slope of grassy, tree-fringed hillside sweeping up to the estate’s house and formal gardens. Well-marked routes lead past lakes and camellia-clad slopes, through woodland and a wide-open deer park, full of scenes sure to lead one to the same conclusion the Spanish captain came to so many centuries ago.
OS Explorer map 108 or Landranger map 201; start: free car park at Maker Church, SX446520; 6 miles, shortened version: 3½ miles; moderate
This route starts in the field by Maker Church (free car parking); you could also start at the Cremyll passenger ferry landing. The walk takes you on a looping circuit of the Mount Edgcumbe section of the Rame peninsula, through woodland, parkland, clifftop and deer park, with the almost surreal backdrop of Plymouth city and dockyards, and several good pitstops along the way.
Walkers looking for a longer route – this one is a pleasant two-hour ramble – can continue westwards on the coast path to Kingsand, where an inland path doubles back, along a high ridge and across farmland towards the start point.
During the summer months you can enjoy the best of both worlds – the rural peninsula as well as the shops, cafés and restaurants of Plymouth’s waterfront development – by using the seasonal ferry service between Cawsand and Plymouth Barbican, in conjunction with the year-round passenger ferry from Admiral’s Hard in Plymouth to Cremyll.
1 Park at Maker Church and follow the signed footpath northwest across the field to the B3247. Cross the road carefully and rejoin the footpath which descends through woods and open meadow to a narrow lane.
2 Cross the lane and rejoin the path, following the field edge, overlooking the muddy shores of Millbrook Lake to Empacombe Quay, an attractive cluster of houses overlooking the water. The path continues to Cremyll, where the passenger ferry from Plymouth lands. There are public toilets, a car park and pub.
3 Enter Mount Edgcumbe (free admission to the park) through the imposing gates on your right. Turn left and walk under the arch. Pass the Orangery café and continue through the gardens, keeping to the left. There are views across the water to Plymouth. Stay on the coast path as it winds through the park, following the contours of the cliff.
4 The path passes above Fort Picklecombe (built in 1848 to defend Plymouth from possible attack by the French, and converted into a residential complex a few years ago) and forks:
For the short cut back to the start: fork right, steeply uphill through the deer park to reach Maker Church.
To continue the full walk: turn left at the fork, crossing the lane that leads to Fort Picklecombe and continue along the coast path for two miles to Kingsand – ensure you allow time to explore the village before returning. Remember also, that if you want to linger in the village, ferries run from neighbouring Cawsand to Plymouth Barbican during the summer months.
5 As you enter the village through a gate, turn right up the steep hill, keeping an eye out for the sign on the right indicating the footpath that takes you along the ridge.
6 Join a lane that leads to Maker Farm. Follow the lane as it curves first left then sharply to the right. Join the footpath at a stile in the hedge and cross the fields to the Friary Manor Tea Rooms. Pass behind the building and follow the footpath through the fields, using the tower of Maker Church to guide you back to the car park. The 15th-century church has a Norman font (pinched from St Merryn), carved with a virtuoso display of twirling, coiling snakes.
Discover more walks in the area in our Slow Travel guide: