This stunning section of the South West Coast Path leaves Plymouth behind for the wilds of Rame Peninsula AONB. Stroll through woodlands budding with wildflowers and along sandy bays to historic Kingsand and Cawsand, before reaching spectacular Rame Head.
Ferry to cornwall Park at the Strand Street Car Park, just a stone’s throw from Plymouth’s Barbican and city centre, and take the Cremyll Ferry to Rame Peninsula – Cornwall’s forgotten corner. The boat service, which dates back to at least the 11th century, costs £2 per foot passenger. Look out for lively cormorants diving as you cross.
Stop off at Kingsand, Cornwall ©Getty
From the landing stage at Wilderness Point, follow signs for the South West Coast Path through the historic grounds of Mount Edgecumbe.
1. Coastal flora
In early spring, Mount Edgecumbe’s national camellia collection bursts into bloom. The path passes through the formal gardens, soon emerging to spectacular views across Plymouth Sound and its many historic maritime defences, including Picklecombe Fort. Stay with the coast path through scrub woodland – it soon opens up, hugging the rocky shoreline below as you near Kingsand.
2. Volcanic secrets
A small fork in the path offers a choice: drop down to the rocky shoreline and make your way to Kingsand, or wander through the fields above it; both options rejoin at Kingsand. The shoreline’s rare volcanic geology, with its 16th-century pilchard fishing cellars, is a designated SSSI.
Wildlife highlight: red admiral
Braving an epic migration from North Africa, the red admiral butterfly – an iconic coastal species – hails the advent of warmer days and the arrival of spring. These pollinators can be identified by their striking orange and black colouring.
3. Fishing villages
You’ll soon enter the delightful twin fishing villages of Kingsand and Cawsand. Pass straight through these picturesque 19th-century smuggling havens, or have a warming coffee and a slice of cake at The Old Boatstore Café in Kingsand, overlooking the sea. The beach here is a particular favourite for dog owners, with year-round access.
Walk through The Square in Cawsand then turn left on the coast path out of the village towards Penlee Point.
4. Hidden coves
Follow the path, passing Pier Cove and Pier Cellars Brennan Torpedo Station down to your left. Pause here to take in one of the world’s largest natural ports and listen out for rousing birdsong in the leafy woodland above. Look out for kestrels braced in their iconic hover position as they search for small mammals along the coast.
5. Grotto lookout
Walk beyond Pier Cove and continue to Queen Adelaide’s Grotto, an old watch-house above Penlee Point. A short detour takes you to Penlee Battery, a vital wartime defence turned into a nature reserve, now managed by Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Try to spot the distinctive bee orchid among the wildflowers; the flower’s lower lip resembles the body of a queen bee.
Cave near Penlee Point in Cornwall ©Getty
6. Pollinator paradise
Back at Penlee Point, follow the coast path sharply to the right as you approach Rame Head along the high cliffs. Revel in the wild open space of the nearing headland, dotted with wild ponies grazing the rich coastal grasses.
Climb the snaking steps to St Michael’s Chapel and walk to the end of the headland. On a clear day, you can see the famous Eddystone Lighthouse offshore. Listen to the soothing buzz of busy pollinators and
the unmistakable metallic chirp of the stonechat.
Soak up the panoramic views and enjoy a picnic before your return. Or, if a relaxing slap-up cream tea back in Kingsand and Cawsand appeals, there is a regular bus service from Kingsand back to Cremyll and the ferry.
Click on the map below for an interactive version of the route.