above: Vault Beach
Duration / Distance: 2+ hours (plus walk on Vault Beach) / 3.5 miles
Terrain: Two small stone stiles at Menagwyns farm, steps on the coast path, reasonable hills up and down, steep in the woods.
Overview: far reaching views above the woods and above Vault along the south Cornwall coast to Plymouth and beyond, deserted half mile beauty of sandy Vault Beach, pretty coast path walk back around the headland
Leave Cotna Eco Retreat entrance and on up Cotna Lane to St Goran church; turn right at the back of the church, then left down the small road into Gorran village. Come back out onto the “main” road, cross straight over onto the pavement, turn left and follow the footpath uphill then to the right behind the hedge. At the road junction at the top cross over and through the gate on the public footpath into Menagwyns Farm and plant shop.
Follow the footpath signs behind the house and across the vegetable fields; cross the stiles and turn left on reaching the school cycle track. Follow this down to the junction with Bell Hill road. Walk down Bell Hill into Gorran Haven; about ¼ mile turn right at the Public Footpath sign along a rough driveway. Keep on the path through a gate into the woods until you come to a second gate on the left “Mariella’s Wood Footpath” . Go through this gate and follow the path steeply up through the woods, left at the top to a kissing gate into a field. Cross the field, views down left to Gorran Haven and across the bay. Go through the next kissing gate into the hedged track and come out onto the lane at Lamledra Barns. Cross the road and through the white gate to Lamledra House. Follow the track then fork right to join the Coast Path through a kissing gate, with a fine view of Lamledra House across the field to your left. Now admire the view down to the sea at Vault Beach below, with the poetically brooding bulk of the Dodman Point hunched on the right. On the Coast Path turn left downhill (sea on the right), through another kissing gate then right, down onto Vault. Well worth the walk right to the end of the sand; good safe swimming if not too cold and stormy! There’s only one way on and off Vault, so retrace your steps if the tide has not erased them, then keep straight on the Coast Path, sea on your right, towards Gorran Haven. About 15 minutes walk, round Maenease Point, up and down steps and come down into Gorran Haven; take a right down the slipway onto the beach by the boatyard. The quay is open and worth walking to the end, then come back to the Mermaid café and up to the road.
Turn right up steep Church Street, note cobbled Rattle Street on the left and the ancient tiny St Just church on the right. At the junction turn right up Cliff Road to follow the Coast Path up through the village, then right again to stay on Cliff Road to the end. Here you climb a couple of stiles and you are back in fields, on the Coast Path.
To return to Cotna Eco Retreat turn uphill on the field, away from the Coast Path and aim for the gate to a field track at the top of the field. Go through the gate and follow the track leading up to the right to Trewollack.
At the lane turn left and follow the road through Trewollack, then keep straight on to Trelispen. At the next junction turn right (unsuitable for motors, but they do use it!) Cross the next lane with care and go through the gateway onto the field track opposite. Lean on the next gate to admire Cotna across the valley.
Climb over the stile on the left before the gate and follow the hedge on the right across the field and then down to the stream with its stiles and wooden bridge. Follow the narrow path past the first cottages into Gorran. Up at the back of the church, turn right back down Cotna Lane to Cotna Eco Retreat. Or keep straight on for a 100 yard stumble into the Barley Sheaf pub.