Holywell Bay to Penhale Sands and the Lost Church

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The habitats, plants and animals at Penhale Sands are of international importance. The area has been selected as a Special Area of Conservation, the highest level of recognition in Europe. Penhale's sand-dune system is thought to have originated over 5,000 years ago. It has been used by people ever since for mining, agriculture and religious worship and more recently, for military training, tourism and recreation. Beneath the shifting sands are many signs of human activity. The Domesday Book of 1086 records the existence of a small monastery in the area, but it is not clear if this refers to the oratory or the church. The church probably dates back to the 12th Century, while the cross is likely to be 11th Century or even earlier.

Buried in the sands is the ancient oratory of Cornwall's Saint Piran. Nearby are also the ruins of the old parish church, dismantled and moved in 1805 as the sands engulfed it. According to legend, Piran was born in Ireland in the 6th Century. Angering the jealous king with his miraculous deeds and popularity, he was tied to a millstone and cast into the sea. The millstone floated towards Perranporth, where he established his oratory in the sand-dunes.

St Piran is the patron saint of Tinners and the Cornish people acknowledge his flag as their national banner. The white cross on a black background is said to signify the white tin coming out of the black ore and the Light of Truth shining in the darkness.

Mines worked for metal have left their mark on the area. World War II features include a decoy airfield set up to distract enemy planes from the real airfield at Trevelles, near St Agnes.

England - South West England - Cornwall - Coast


Ancient Monument, Birds, Butterflies, Cafe, Castle, Flowers, Food Shop, Gift Shop, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Industrial Archaeology, Moor, National Trust, Pub, Public Transport, Restaurant, Sea, Tea Shop, Toilets, Wildlife, Woodland
10/22/2009 - Adrian Perkins

Message from Roy Davenport. "Walked 19/10/09 and all OK". Thanks for this, Roy. Adrian (Admin).

7/16/2009 - Stephen Harris

What a fabulous walk!. Parking is £4 at the NT car park and there are a lot of spaces but get there in the morning as it gets busy. Directions perfect, only one thing is that when you leave the car park continue as directed but note that you pass into Military ground through a gate to gain access to the coast path. A superb walk, be careful on the dunes, easy to get lost!. Some great things to see, perfect views and the beach at Perranporth fabulous!. It's worth driving into Perranporth after the walk, park on the sea front and explore the various coves and caves around the beach and The Watering Hole. 20/10, superb!!!!

5/21/2009 - Roy Davenport

Walked 16/05/2009 and all OK.