Looe to Portwrinkle Back to South Cornwall Coast Path index Plymouth to Yealmpton

The Walk

The final part of the South Cornwall Coast Path has a bit of everything - it features a city, three villages, cliffs, headlands, woods, a country park, a golf course, several military forts and a ferry crossing. The one thing it really lacks is a cove, unless you count the small inlet of Cawsand harbour. Much of the walking is on roads or driveways and there is not a great deal of up and down work except for the off-road loops at Whitsand Bay. Buses call at several points along the walk and there is ample opportunity to break this section up into two or more half day walks should you wish. Mount Edgcumbe Country Park deserves a half day at leisure, and no doubt you will wish to explore the city of Plymouth as well.

Walk Statistics:
Length: 15.5 miles / 24.84 km
Total ascent: 3163 ft / 964 m
Total descent: 3181 ft / 970 m
Estimated time: 6 hrs 3 mins

Map: OS 1:25000 Explorer 108 (Lower Tamar Valley & Plymouth)

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The coast path leaving Portwrinkle

Portwrinkle is a tiny little place, dominated by the Whitsand Bay Hotel at its eastern end. A couple of buses a day out from Plymouth call here but there is a rather more regular service to Crafthole, less than half a mile inland, and the chances are that you will enter the village by walking from Crafthole down Finnygook Lane.

Climbing to Crafthole golf course

There's a bit of a steep ascent along the edge of a patch of heath, after which you reach the Crafthole golf course. Follow the edge of the greens, alongside the clifftop, taking care not to put anyone off their stroke. At the far end of the golf course, about a kiloetre out from Portwrinkle, you reach Trethill Cliffs and the path dips and rises quite steeply. The edifice of Tregantle Fort has been drawing ever closer and now stands directly ahead of you.

Golf course and Trethill cliffs

Tregantle Fort

Although the maps declare that Tregantle Fort is disused, it's not only still Ministry of Defence property but also an active firing range. Tregantle is just the first of a considerable number of old forts, batteries and other coastal defences that surround Plymouth, and there are also many naval bases in the area. The official route of the coast path takes quite a long inland loop, the biggest on the entire coast path in fact, to avoid it. However, within the last couple of years the Ministry of Defence have introduced a permissive path through the grounds that may be used when firing is not taking place. Look out for either locked gates or red flags flying - in either event use the original route round by the road. Otherwise, follow the marked route through the grounds, observing all safety notices.

The coast path approaching Tregantle Fort

If firing is taking place and you encounter red flags or locked gates, turn off to the left away from the coast where indicated. You come out onto the road, which you follow to a junction immediately north of the fort. Go to the right here to follow the Tregantle Down road around the fort towards another junction, where there's also a big car park. You're also following the route of the Plymouth / Torpoint / Cremyll bus service. As you round the loop you are rewarded with a substantial view of Plymouth across the Tamar estuary, with the Devonport dockyard smack opposite. The dark swell of Dartmoor looms above and beyond the city.

Retrospective views from Tregantle Fort

The Tregantle Fort route; the main gate

The permissive path through the grounds of Tregantle Fort reveals that most of it is just grazing land, although there are tracks, huts and equipment sites dotted about. I've been careful not to photograph anything within the grounds of the fort other than bland views of heath. The fort itself is a very handsome and imposing building in grey stone, and I would have liked to show a photo of it here but I think the best policy is not to do so. The permissive path takes you directly in front of the fort and a little way around the east side, from where you turn right along the drive to the main gate (third image above). Strangely, the permissive path ceases to be marked at the fort and there is no ondication of its existence for east-west walkers. Outside the main gate you come to the car park mentioned above, which stands by the Tregantle Down road junction. At this junction turn right to get back to the coast once more.

The Tregantle Down junction

Whitsand Bay

The Tregantle Down junction and the Whitsand Bay road

Just a few hundred metres down from the Tregantle Down road junction the road hits the clifftop and turns left to run along it. To your right you can see the Tregantle Fort rifle range, with the beach below it and the cliffs stretching back to Portwrinkle and beyond. There is a permissive path down to the beach (here named Long Sands) but it may only be taken when the red flags are not flying. Turn left with the road. You're now at Whitsand Bay (spelt "Whitesand" at some localities). The coast path can't make up its mind here, sometimes following the road, at other times finding stretches of path  off to the right. This is largely "can't sit down" country, there being little if any provision for plonking yourself down for refreshments or just to contemplate the view. There's good cliff scenery here and there, however, notably at Sharrow Point. This stretch lasts for roughly a mile.

A view back to Portwrinkle and the firing range, and the coast path below the road

The coast path from Tregantle Down to Freathy

Cliff scenery west of Freathy

The coast path returns to the road and now you're close to Freathy, the principal settlement of Whitsand Bay. There is nothing else remotely like Freathy on the whole coast path - it's an entire community of holiday chalets, huts and shacks, in a seemingly random layout. No two buildings are alike. An intricate maze of access paths connects the chalets with the road. There are two schools of thought about Freathy - it's either a place of unique charm or it's an unsightly, ramshackle mess. You decide.

Returning to the road just short of Freathy

You reach Freathy itself and walk through it along the road. The place is completely haphazard. Some of the chalets look half derelict, others are in perfect order with lovingly tended gardens. They may look cheap but if one comes on the market the price will make your jaw drop (a recent search on the web found two of these chalets each going for nearly £350,000, for which sum I'd personally expect to buy the entire village). There are a couple of paths down to the beach and apparently a seasonal cafe or two is rumoured to operate, but if you do venture down to the shoreline you will only have to climb all the way back up again. Stay on the road as far as the road junction by the former Whitesand Bay coastal battery, the second of many old forts and assorted coastal defences in the area.

Huts and chalets at Freathy

Just past the road junction for the holiday park the coast path slants down to the right, en route for a cluster of chalets deep in an un-named coombe in the cliffs. It's a fascinating diversion, but if it's a hot or humid day then give consideration to ignoring it and staying with the road, for it's a real stamina sapper. The path twists, turns and doglegs among the chalet plots and at every turn you wonder at the tenacity of those who sought out a few square meters of level ground on these slopes and built a holiday home thereon.

Leaving the road for the un-named coombe

More intricacies and more chalets

The path meanders along, still dodging and weaving between the chalet plots, tending ever downhill towards the main cluster of chalets in the coombe itself.

The path down to the coombe

A cluster of chalets deep in the coombe

Once you reach the main cluster of chalets your heart will no doubt sink. There is a very steep climb out to the road. Imagine, as you labour up the steps, owning one of those chalets and struggling to get a double bed down to it.

Climbing out of the coombe

The coast path only just climbs up to the road before heading off to the right once more, this time for the long approach to Rame Head. Just off the road is a seat, a very welcome rest point after the exertions of the last half mile. The seat is dedicated to the memory of Bill Harris, a former Plymouth librarian.

The coast path leaves the road again for the approach to Rame Head

Rame Head

Although you don't realise it the approach to Rame Head is two miles long and involves a right hand curve of a good ninety degrees, so that you end up facing south west. Having left the road at Whitsand Bay the coast path resumes something of a switchback ride up and down the scrubby slope, coming almost up to the road again at one point before sticking as close as it can to the shoreline along the approach to Polhawn Fort. The third of the many sea defences that surround Plymouth, Polhawn has apparently been sold off by the military and is therefore in private hands. The route gets a little bit complicated in the vicinity of the fort itself, doglegging inland and uphill before resuming its approach to the conical height of Rame Head. 

The approach to Rame Head; Polhawn Fort

Just short of Rame Head itself you reach the minor headland of Queener Point and here the path turns half left, or south, towards a coastguard station. There's a road and car park a couple of hundred yards to your left and the path's continuation to Penlee Point leaves just the other side of the road loop, but first you should cross the narrow isthmus to reach Rame Head proper. The little tower on top of the knoll is a former chapel. Doubtless your eyes will be drawn to the view back along the coast to the west - Rame Head has been in view ever since Dodman Point, a good 45 miles back, and you should be able to see right back past Whitsand Bay, past Downderry and Seaton, past Looe and Polperro, past the Fowey Estuary and the Gribbin, across St Austell Bay to Black Head and Chapel Point and ultimately Dodman Point. The view ahead, however, stretches only as far as Penlee Point; your first close look at Plymouth Sound is still a mile and a half ahead.

Scenes at Rame Head

The mile and a half between Rame Head and Penlee Point is an oddity. It's atypical of today's walk yet it's the last taste of the coast path in its pristine state - a walk in wild country along the top of a slope, half scrub and half rock, heading down to a rugged shoreline. It also stands alone, isolated from the rest of the day's walk by Rame Head (blocking all views to the west) and Penlee Point (hiding all views to the east). The walking, however, is good - the path is relatively broad and even and sticks to much the same contour. The scenery softens as you approach Penlee Point, and suddenly Plymouth Sound is revealed before you as you turn north to tackle the final leg of the South Cornwall Coast Path.

The walk from Rame Head to Penlee Point

Penlee Point

There's a complete change in the nature of the walk here. Having turned the corner into Plymouth Sound the coast path becomes sheltered and wooded. Views of Plymouth are tantalising but incomplete, though part of the Hoe should be visible. Down on the shoreline is a control post for some of the area's lighthouses, and Penlee Point itself has some interesting rock outcrops as well as an architechtural oddity or two (e.g. the stone arch pictured below). For the next mile, as far as Cawsand, the coast path runs through woodland on tracks and drives and the walking is very pleasant.

Looking back to Rame Head;  Penlee Point rocks;  stone arch

Plymouth Sound and the walk through Cawsand Woods

Cawsand Woods


Cawsand and its neighbour, Kingsand, are effectively one village. Up until the mid nineteenth century Cawsand was in Cornwall and Kingsand was in Devon; nobody seems to know quite why this was, and the only clue to the meeting point of the two is a little house named “Boundary Cottage” just short of the post office.  Nowadays the county boundary follows the centre of the river Tamar and you will cross it in a couple of hour’s time on the ferry from Cremyll to Plymouth. These anomalous boundaries can and do persist for cenuries and even now you can find countless examples of district, county and even parliamentary boundaries that pass through the middle of houses for no apparent reason. But I digress.

The coast path deposits you in Cawsand at the southeast corner of the main square. The main road into and out of the village goes off to the left (west); if you’re looking for the hourly bus back to Plymouth from here then walk along this road for a couple of hundred metres as far as the junction called the Cawsand Triangle, where you’ll find the bus stop. To the right of the square is a rudimentary harbour and beach, where you’l find the Cawsand Bay Hotel. An occasional passenger ferry runs to Plymouth from here during the summer and is probably quicker than the bus. The coast path runs up the steep lane at the northwest corner of the square, where a huge “No Entry” sign is painted on the road.

Cawsand and the harbour

Cawsand and Kingsand together form the last example of Cornish “quart in a pint pot” architechture, in which cottages are crammed and shoehorned together among steep and narrow lanes. There is a real maze of lanes and alleys, but unfortunately the coast path is only waymarked once, and so discretely that the sign is all too easy to miss. When I came here in the summer of 2005 I got thoroughly lost three times in twenty minutes and these routefinding problems can be cumulatively annoying.

Cawsand Bay

From Cawsand into Kingsand

Firstly, when you reach the post office, go to your right into what appears at first to be a back alley. It turns a corner to the left and runs along close by the waterfront, then  runs steeply uphill. Look out now for a cottage in dark red stone jutting slightly into the road (picured, second image below); the coast path goes left in front of this cottage into an even narrower alley and then turns to the right. Immediately in front of you is a complex little junction of narrow lanes heading northeast, northwest and west, without a sign or waymark in sight. Choose either the northeast or northwest route, as they converge some 50 metres higher up on the south side of a little green.

The coast path through the lanes of Kingsand

Now things become simpler again. On the northeast corner of this little green you will see a large gate bearing the sign, “Mount Edgcumbe Country Park”. Go through the gate to find yourself at the south end of a long sward of grass, sloping up to your left.

Entrance to Mount Edgcumbe estate

Parkland north of Kingsand

This area is marked as “Minadew Brakes” on the map. Although it’s part of the Mount Edgcumbe estate you won’t reach Mount Edgcumbe proper for a couple of miles yet. The grassy stretch is supplied with plenty of bench seats and rewards you with a view across Plymouth Sound to Staddon Heights and Bovisand Bay opposite. You’re also nearly end-on to Plymouth Bar here. You can’t see Plymouth itself but if you look along the coast to the northeast you will see the semicircular edifice of the old Picklecombe Fort about a mile ahead. The fort has been “let go” by the military and now functions as residential flats, but the coast path keeps well inland from it as you will shortly discover.

Mount Edgcumbe

The approach to Picklecombe

At the far end of the open grassland area you enter a very pleasant stretch, treading a wide and well maintained path running through patches of mature woodland interspersed with open areas. This section continues for a good mile and rewards you with excellent views across the Sound plus some delightful woodland dells. Picklecombe Fort looks ever nearer. There are a number of gradients so don’t expect this section to be effortless. There are still a few bench seats dotted here and there, and the occasional superfluous coast path marker.

The coast path north of Kingsand

Approaching Hooke Lake Point

Eventually you spot a building ahead and the path delivers you onto a road; you’ve reached Hooke Lake Point and now, where you really need a coast path marker, there isn’t one to be seen. Go to your right. This is the public road to Picklecombe Fort but you don’t follow it very far; not fifty metres ahead a coast path marker is seen, directing you through a gate to the left. You find yourself on a path running steeply uphill through a patch of open heathland;  at first it runs parallel with the adjacent road but road and path soon diverge and the heath gives way to mature woodland.

Turn left here;  heathland slope;  woodland path

The path through mature woodland near Picklecombe

This is a lovely stretch indeed, albeit rather dark and therefore not easy to photograph well. The path is broad and even and is floored with leaf litter that resembles gravel, an excellent walking surface and probably the easiest rural section of the whole coast path. Rhododdendrons line the path, giving a bold splash of colour during May and June when they’re in flower. The path twists and turns a lot, and unless you study the map it’s not really apparent that the woodland path is skirting high above Picklecombe Fort in a broad arc. The dense woodland denies you a view of the sea. Look out for the stone folly containing a bench seat at a right-hand bend, the halfway point of this woodland section.

The coast path west of Picklecombe Fort

Rhododdendron groves west of Picklecombe

Once you’re past Picklecombe Fort and the rhododdendrons, things change. The woodland becomes more open. Then the path hits a bewildering series of diversions. You’re just proud of the upper park area of Mount Edgcumbe here and there is a veritable maze of woodland paths zig-zaging up and down terraces and visiting half-hidden stone follies. The coast path used to follow a simple broad path through the middle of all this but a landslip in the winter of 2003 has necessitated a rerouting onto the path maze. This would be a thoroughly enjoyable interlude but for one thing – the pitiful lack of waymarks. It’s OK at first and you find yourself zigzagging left and right up a series of woodland terraces, but then you reach a point at which you have to infer the route from the ocasional waymarks placed for those going east to west. It’s annoying, it’s confusing and it’s frustrating. You should, eventually, find yourself walking past the stone folly pictured below, the highest elevation of the diversion. Now you start zigzagging down again, partly on obviously newly made paths as illustrated.

Diversion routes through the woods

It’s when you reach the foot of the longest stretch of new path that the worst confusion occurs. Another new route descends a flight of steps ahead of you and doglegs back to the south, while a mature, broad path crosses left to right. No waymarks at all. Which way to go? If I hadn’t encountered some walkers coming the other way at that point I’d have taken the broad path to the left and made an error – it would have led me to Mount Edgcumbe house rather than along the coast path proper. The correct way is down the steps, then along the path for a hundred metres to the southwest to a sharp dogleg, then back along a lower path where at long last there’s a coast path marker, pointing you down a path to the right.

The coast path runs down to the shoreline

Now the nature of the walk changes again. For the first time since Portwrinkle the coast path comes right down to the shoreline and you find yourself in open woodland with a grassy floor, and the path here is quite tentative. In fact, when I first walked this section in 1994 there was no path at all and walkers were left to pick their own way through the trees. You come out onto a little pebbly beach from where you get your first decent closeup view of Plymouth itself, and the Hoe and its obelisks and terraces is clearly visible. Save your film or your card memory, however, for there are even better views of the city not far ahead (not to mention Mount Edgcumbe park and gardens). Just beyond the viewpoint the path is routed across a marshy section on wooden planking, after which it begins to run uphill into the wood once more. At a partly open section you reach a gate in a high fence; this is a deer fence and you’re entering Mount Edgcumbe park proper.

The shoreline and Plymouth Sound

Approaching Mount Edgcumbe upper park

A few hundred metres beyond the gate you come out into an open space, and up to your left is a ruined stone tower, another folly. The path goes downhill into mature woodland again. Another couple of hundred metres further on you reach the first section of parkland proper. This is where you get the better views of Plymouth. The path curves around to the right beside a low stone wall, but to your left is a little circular portico and beyond this is a lovely little pond, fringed with trees and shrubs and surrounded by lawns. It’s worth a walk around. Head back to the coast path and go through a further stretch of wood. You emerge from this onto a vast swathe of parkland, which will undoubtedly be busy with day trippers. The path becomes a vehicle track.

The Folly;  woodland path;  view of Plymouth

First parkland of Mount Edgcumbe

The Pond

Mount Edgcumbe

Take the path around to the right. You’ve now reached Wilderness Point, the headland at the narrowest part of the Tamar; it’s just four hundred metres from here across to Devil’s Point in Plymouth. A restored battery, complete with naval cannon, stands on the coast at this point and to our left is a large rectangular patch of grass, an old bowling green, backed by a huge yew hedge. An old blockhouse stands adjacent to the battery at the northern end of the hedge. The path now rounds a corner to the left and you see the ferry terminal at Cremyll a few hundred metres ahead, but first the path runs through Mount Edgcumbe’s formal gardens.

Bowling green and battery

Cremyll, and approaching the formal gardens

The path comes out in front of the Orangery, nowadays a cafeteria. There’s a toilet block in the rear of the building at the far end but you will be drawn to the Italian Garden in front of the orangery with its fountain and its marble balcony at the far end. Take either path away from the balcony and you will find yourself in a little maze of formal gardens. They are not extensive but they pack a lot in and will take a good hour to explore; each section within the gardens is themed and you will find the English Garden, the French Garden, the New Zealand Garden, the Rose Garden and the Fern Garden among others. Look out for the Geyser, which spouts a fifteen foot fountain for about ten seconds every minute or so. There are two summer houses within the gardens and plenty of bench seats.

The gardens at Mount Edgcumbe

A portfolio of the formal gardens at Mount Edgcumbe

The formal gardens and the geyser

More photos of the formal gardens at Mount Edgcumbe

Finally you emerge into parkland and see Mount Edgcumbe House itself, at the far end of a broad grass slope. The house can apparently be visited though I’ve not actually done so myself. The house dates from 1540 but what you see is a restoration following a fire in the 1940’s. The grounds as a whole became a country park in 1970 and there has been free public access since that time.

Mount Edgcumbe park and house

Once you can tear yourself away from the park go through the gates at the north end to reach the tiny hamlet of Cremyll, the last village in Cornwall. It consists of the harbour buildings, a pub called the Edgcumbe Arms and a couple of cottages. The passenger ferry to Plymouth leaves from here – there is nominally a half hourly service until mid afternoon after which it reverts to hourly, and in summer it continues to operate into mid evening. The hourly 81B bus from Plymouth via Whitsand Bay, Antony and Torpoint also runs from here but it’s a ninety minute journey by bus as opposed to a ten minute crossing by ferry, so unless you’re headed somewhere other than Plymouth itself the bus is an option not worth considering.

Mt Edgcumbe gatehouse;  Plymouth Sound from Cremyll;  The Edgcumbe Arms

As you cross the Tamar you leave Cornwall and enter Devon, and the City of Plymouth.   


The city of Plymouth is, by a very long way, the largest place on the route of the End-to-End Walk. (Technically the End-to-End also wanders just inside the municipal boundaries of the city of Edinburgh, but as it doesn’t actually touch the built-up area the Edinburgh incursion doesn’t count).

The city lays immediately to the north of Plymouth Sound, a bay roughly three miles square that forms a huge natural harbour. The Sound contains a number of smaller bays and inlets, not least the mouth of the river Tamar which enters the Sound on its northwestern corner and which itself is a vast complex of estuaries, inlets and creeks. The river Plym, from which Plymouth takes its name, finds its way into the Sound at its northeastern corner. The Sound is bounded to the south by Plymouth Bar, an artificial breakwater a mile long that serves to protect the Sound from the swell and the currents of the open ocean.

Armada Way

Plymouth is a fascinating place with a rich maritime history. The city was originally three separate coastal villages – Sutton, laying on the west bank of the Plym, Devonport, situated on the east bank of the Tamar, and Stonehouse, midway between them on the minor inlet of Stonehouse Pool. By the mid 1500’s they had amalgamated into one town, Plymouth, which had become Britain’s premier naval centre (and for a time the largest built-up area in Britain). The navy is still based at Devonport and in fact the dockyard here is now the largest naval base in western Europe. Although warships are no longer built here Devonport is home to a large fleet and it berths, repairs, refits, services and provisions the greater part of the British Navy. Some of the older parts of the dockyard south of the Torpoint ferry are being returned to Plymouth city council for redevelopment.

Armada Way and the sundial, Plymouth city centre

In the days of the great ocean liners the dock at Millbay (between Stonehouse and Plymouh Hoe) served as a passenger liner berth, and nowadays it functions as the terminus for vehicle ferries to Spain and France. The huge concrete building beside the dock, arguably the ugliest building in Devon, is a former grain silo and is apparently retained to proect the dock from the prevailing winds. The imposing Duke of Cornwall Hotel still stands nearby, a landmark on the coast path. Sutton harbour, east of the Hoe and the original heart of Plymouth, is now a huge marina dedicated to leisure craft, small cruise vessels and passenger ferries, while a little further east the Plym estuary (otherwise known as the Cattewater) is home to a number of commercial wharves. The new National Maritime Museum stands on the east side of the harbour and has become a major tourist attraction. There is yet another marina at Stonehouse, which is also the terminal for the passenger ferry to and from Cremyll that joins two legs of the coast path.

The foot of Armada Way between the city centre and the Hoe

The aforementioned Plymouth Hoe is a small limestone ridge that stands right on the north edge of the sound, seperating the seafront from Plymouh city centre. It has always been a public recreation ground. Nowadays it’s laid out as a park with a huge hard stand (the Promenade) that occasionally houses fairs and similar events. It was on Plymouth Hoe that Sir Francis Drake was reputedly playing bowls when news reached him of the imminent arrival of the Spanish Armada. Drake is just one of a number of historical naval figures associated with Plymouth, for a great many voyages of discovery and exploration set out from here. Sir Walter Raleigh, Drake’s contemporary, was based here. Captain Cook’s three great voyages of exploration left from Plymouth. The Pilgrm Fathers left Sutton Harbour on the Mayflower in 1620 to set up a colony in what is now the USA, and it was the first of a number of great voyages of colonisation. Captain Bligh, of Mutiny on the Bounty fame, was a Plymouth man. Darwin sailed from Plymouth on the voyage that led him to formulate his theory of evolution, Robert Falcon Scott sailed from here to become the first Briton to reach the south pole, and Sir Francis Chichester embarked from and returned to the small harbour on West Hoe to make the word’s first solo circumnavigation in 1966. Just across the Plym from Sutton Harbour is Mount Batten, a former seaplane base from where the first transatlantic flight was made in 1919 and at which T.E. Lawrence (a.k.a. Lawrence of Arabia) served in the Navy.

The ferry landing at Admiral's Hard;  the streets of Stonehouse

Millbay Docks and the Duke of Cornwall Hotel

The Coast Path reaches Plymouth at Admiral’s Hard on the east side of Stonehouse Pool, then passes an industrial area and rounds Millbay Dock to reach the Hoe. Strictly it runs around the coast road from here but most visitors will want to go up to the Hoe itself, so turn left from Hoe Road into Cliff Road to reach the Promenade. Surrounding the Promenade is a huge grassy sward, part of which is laid out as gardens. The Hoe is home to a number of obelisks, memorials and other commemorative developments, not least Smeaton’s Tower, the lightouse that used to stand on Eddystone Rocks some 18 miles out to sea. The adjacent Belvedere is a series of terraces leading down from the Hoe to the sea front, and next to that is Plymouth Dome, a recent visitor attraction that tells the story of Plymouth and is well worth a visit. It also contains a shop and a café. Tinside Lido and the adjacent collonade and terraces lay seaward of the Dome and the coast road. On the eastern end of the Hoe is the Citadel, an imposing military fort built by Charles II in the aftermath of the civil war. There are several other forts in and around Plymouth, commissioned and built by various monarchs and governments through the ages – not one of them has ever fired a gun in anger and those built in the Victoian era by Palmerston as a defence against the French are now collectively known as Palmerston’s Follies. Some, like the Citadel, are still home to various parts of the Navy, the Army and the Marines, while others have been sold off for conversion into residential flats. West of the Hoe is a grid of streets of smart Regency terraces, home to Plymouth’s largest cluster of tourist accommodation.

Arriving on Plymouth Hoe;  view west to Mt Edgcumbe; the Promenade; view east to Staddon Heights

The Promenade

The Promenade, and the view across West Hoe to Mount Edgcumbe

Drake's Island and Mount Edgcumbe seen across the lido;  Smeaton's Tower;  Plymouth Dome

The Hoe from the east;  the Citadel

A gun battery near the Citadel;  approaching Sutton Harbour;  the National Maritime Museum

The coast path doesn’t touch Plymouth city centre but there can’t be a single coast path walker who doesn’t make use of its many facilities. The city centre lays immediately to the north of the Hoe. It suffered badly during the second world war and was almost completely obliterated by the Luftwaffe. The modern city centre was built in the 1950’s by Abercrombie to replace the wartime ruins, and features a grid of wide and largely pedestrianised streets fronted by buildings in white Portland stone. Its central boulevard, Armada Way, runs due north from the Hoe to the railway station and is some three quarters of a mile long.

Armada Way, Plymouth city centre

Plymouth city centre

The original heart of Plymouth around Sutton harbour survived the bombing. Known nowadays as the Barbican, it is a place of great character crammed with narrow lanes and buildings dating back to medieval times. A good proportion of the city’s nighthlife is found here. The old fish wharf on the quayside has been reborn as a glassworks and gift shop, the city’s tourist information office is found here, and it’s here that the Coast Path ends at the Mayflower Steps, the mooring from which the Mayflower left Britain for the New World.

Scenes around the Barbican and Sutton Harbour

A number of plaques around the harbour walls tell of not only the Mayflower but also many other voyages that left from Sutton harbour, and it says a great deal about Plymouth that these plaques have never been vandalised or defaced by graffiti. For those setting out to walk onwards along the South Devon coast path (perhaps to turn off at Bovisand for the Devon Coast to Coast walk), the adjacent yellow boats of Mount Batten Ferries run a half-hourly service across to Turnchapel on the opposite side of the Plym.

The Mayflower Steps, Sutton Harbour

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This page last updated 29th January 2006