Loe Bar is a half mile shingle bank near Porthleven, which separates The Loe — the largest natural fresh water lake in Cornwall from the sea. Loe Bar was originally the mouth of the River Cober which lead to a harbour in Helston. However, by the 13th century the bar had cut Helston off from the sea and formed the pool.
Loe Bar has a well earned reputation for being treacherous – over the years several lives have been lost. The combination of powerful waves, a steep slippery shingle bank and vicious currents make it a very dangerous stretch of beach. Don’t even think about swimming here.
There are two walks:
Distance and time: 10 miles (4 hours + pub stop) or 7 miles (3 hours) if you just walk around the Loe without detouring to Gunwalloe.
Parking: There is a free car park, on Porthleven road, just outside Helston. Follow signs to Porthleven and follow the signs to Helston Amenity Car Park next to Flora motors.on the left hand side opposite Coronation Lake.
Food & facilities: Lakeside cafe is at Coronation Lake at the start / end of the walk. The Halzephron Inn is five miles along the 10 mile walk at Gunwalloe and the Stables Cafe is about one mile (20 minutes) from the end of the seven mile or ten mile walk.
From the car park walk to the end away from the road and bear left to a small track which will take you beyond the water works. Do not cross any streams at this point. The path here goes along the left of the woods beside the River Cober and you will pass some old mine buildings before you come to a fork in the path. Bear right, away from the farm buildings and the path then skirts around the edge of the Loe. It is often very muddy at this time of year so wear good strong waterproof boots. Keep an eye out for birds as the marsh and reed beds provide a haven for a wide variety of bird life. Carry on through the woodland path, keeping the Loe to your right. At the end of the woods, you can see the Bar , but the path then takes you left, through a field and then down a lane and through some Hawthorn trees. There is a wooden footbridge here over Carminow Creek.
7 mile walk
Continue along it and follow the path to the left of the Loe towards Loe Bar.
10 mile walk
Follow the path as described until you skirt the edge of Carminnow Creek and cross the stream on the wooden footbridge. Just after this you will see a footpath sign to Chyvarloe through a five bar wooden gate. Follow path through woods and fields to a group of cottages, go through the middle of them until you find a narrow footpath between hedges which emerges into a field and arrives at a lane with Gunwalloe in view. Follow the lane into the village and the welcome sight of the Halzephron Inn for refreshments.
Turn right out of the pub to return and take next road left to head for the sea and coast path with magnificent views out to Penzance and Lands End. Don’t be tempted to walk along the beach, although it looks easy and flat, the sand is very soft and makes the going tough. Follow the coast path back to Loe Bar passing the white cross, a memorial to lives lost in 1807 when HMS Anson sank and prompted Henry Trengrouse to invent the rocket life saving apparatus used ever since.
Cross the Bar (DO NOT SWIM HERE) and leave the beach up a hill until you reach the path. Turn immediately right to follow the road into the Penrose Estate.
(If you have done the short walk you may wish to carry on into Porthleven approx 1 mile along the coast and not turn right here)
The path then heads through the woods passing some green gym equipment which lured me in to have a go, prompting much laughing from passers by! It emerges into beautiful parkland and a very welcome little cafe The Stables, in the old stable buildings.
Proceed across the park over the small stream with the Manor House behand and to your left and the Loe on your right and turn right and continue straight along the trail, through the woods until you reach the boating lake and your car park on the right.
If you have need of refreshment the Lakeside cafe beside the lake opposite the car park offers a good selection of meals and snacks.