Once one of Cornwall’s busiest smuggling spots, today Lansallos forms part of a stunning coastal walk. Join Robert Hesketh for a tour



Surrounded by deep coombes and rolling hills, the charming stone-built village of Lansallos is an ideal place from which to explore a splendid section of the coast path and enjoy the vistas from Pencarrow Head. Much less visited than neighbouring Polperro, Polruan and Fowey, Lansallos is mainly noted for its fine medieval church’s remarkable 16th century carved bench ends.

Tranquil now, Lansallos had a more turbulent past during the classic era of Cornish smuggling in the 18th and early 19th centuries, when free traders’ - as they liked to call themselves - profited from its relative remoteness. West Coombe in Lantivet Bay, a favourite landing site for contraband, is en route. So too is Lantic Bay, scene of a major encounter between smugglers and the preventives in 1835.

The Daniel and William, ostensibly a passenger vessel, but one often employed by smugglers, had landed a large cargo of brandy at Lantic Bay. It was temporarily hidden in a cave overnight as the landing party had failed to arrive. Next morning, Revenue cutter Fox was observed sailing west to Falmouth. Confident that bad weather would keep her there, the smugglers planned to bring the cargo inland that night. Unfortunately for them, two coastguards enjoying a quiet smoke behind a hedge overheard their scheme and slipped away to call assistance; four colleagues joined them.

A violent struggle ensued when the six coastguards attempted to capture some of the smugglers and one coastguard was knocked unconscious. Meanwhile, Fox had made her return from Falmouth to Fowey surprisingly early. Hearing of the landing at Lantic Bay, her commander sent his crew to assist. The preventives seized 484 gallons of contraband brandy and captured five men.



Charged with assisting others in landing and carrying away prohibited goods, some being armed with offensive weapons’, the prisoners were duly brought to trial. However, as was often the case in Cornwall, the sympathetic local jury found them not guilty. Frustrated, the authorities had the Watch House built in neighbouring Lantivet Bay.

Usually, smuggled goods were landed without such unwanted attentions. An adit mine belonging to a farmer at Trevader near Lansallos provided one convenient hiding place. From there, the contraband would have been taken onwards for distribution and sale. Lanreath, some four miles inland on the obvious route north, may have been the first stop in the distribution network - the parson and his parishioners, including the landlord of the Punch Bowl Inn, were known to be sympathetic.

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Boots on Let’s Go

1. Turn left out of the car park and walk down to the church. Turn right over stone steps by the churchyard gate for Trevader’. Continue along the edge of the field. Cross another stile and head down the next field, then slightly right to another stone stile. Continue downhill to a pair of wooden gates. Take the one on the right. Just 50m ahead, the path divides. Keep right for Trevader’ and turn almost immediately left down steps and over a wooden bridge.

Follow the path uphill through trees. Continue across fields to a lane.

2. Turn left down the lane. Reaching a junction, keep left. Join the laneside path opposite the turning to the car park.

3. At the gate ahead, the path turns sharp left. Follow it to Pencarrow Point.

4. Follow the coast path around Pencarrow Point (ie there are several unofficial paths). Continue eastwards on the coast path past the Watch House to West Coombe. You may short cut back to Lansallos here.

5. For the full route and more fine views, follow the Coast Path east for another 1.2km.

6. Reaching East Coombe, turn left at the stone marker for Lansallos’. The path leads through a gate and into species rich meadows, which support varied populations of wildflowers and insects, including many butterflies. Follow the path through the meadows, keeping the stream on your right. Continue up steps and along a fenced path to a lane.

7. Turn left and follow the lane back to Lansallos church. Retrace your steps to the car park.

Fact File:

Start/parking: National Trust car park, Lansallos SX173518

Distance: 9.7km/6 miles

Time: 3 ½ hours

Exertion: Fairly challenging

Terrain: Coast path, field paths and quiet lanes. Some steep slopes and rocky footing

Child/dog friendly: Suitable for dogs on leads and older children

Stiles: 8

Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorer 107; Landranger 201; Harvey’s SWCP 2

Refreshments: None en route, but good choice in Polperro

Public Toilets: None

Public Transport: 0871 2002233,