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Holywell Bay to Penhale Sands and the Lost Church Walk

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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.

Try the Holywell Bay to Penhale Sands and the Lost Church walk out on the FREE WalkExplorer app for iPhone. This walk will be on the Android app soon.

Other nearby Walks

Tintagel - Trebarwith - Barras Nose - Tintagel
Holywell Bay to Penhale Sands and the Lost Church
Tintagel and Trebarwith - Coast and Country
Padstow and the South-West Coast Path
Holywell Bay - Cubert Common
Portscatho - St Anthony Head - St Anthony - Place Quay - Gerrans
St Ives - Bosigran - Penzance: Part 1
Rinsey Head - Trewavas Head - Rinsey Head
Nancledra - Baker's Pit Reserve - Castle-an-Dinas - Nancledra

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