This often muddy walk is in an area of Cornwall known as “the seat of the storm” owing to the Atlantic weather that batters the West Penwith peninsula. Park at the church in the village of Sancreed and take the well-marked public footpath heading south-west to the Iron Age hill fort at Caer Bran. Splendid views unfold of Cornish fields, old mine workings and, to the east, St Michael’s Mount. To the south the church of St Buryan is visible. (The village itself will be familiar to Sam Peckinpah fans, having appeared in his 1971 film Straw Dogs.)
The walk progresses deep into Celtic country. A mile on is one of the best-kept secrets in England, the ancient settlement of Carn Euny. Dating back to the 5th century BC, Carn Euny is remarkably well-preserved. Amid the remnants of its “courtyard houses” – drystone-walled structures looking onto oval courtyards, found only in west Cornwall – there is a “fogou” or underground passage, discovered in the 1840s by miners prospecting for tin. An interesting detour can be made upon leaving the settlement by heading north up a track. After a short distance you will find two holy wells where pilgrims tie “cloughties” – small strips of cloth – to the branches of a nearby tree, in the belief that as they decay, they take illness with them.
Return to the path and continue south, following a country lane through Brane and across the A30 to the Bronze Age stone circle at Boscawen-Ûn. Here, 19 stones stand in a circle whose centrepoint is an obliquely angled menhir. Head north-north-east to re-cross the A30 and pick up a track to Tregonebris Farm. Climb a stile shortly after the farm to cross a field and pass Anjarden House. After crossing a road the path continues to Sancreed – you may wish to visit its holy well, also festooned with cloughties. In addition, the village has a fine 13th-century church.
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Ancient history on the Penwith peninsula
Start and finish
Sancreed, OS ref: SW 418 293
Length of walk
The St Buryan Inn, St Buryan, 01736 810385