Towards Prussia Cove

Heading across the cliffs from Cudden point and enjoying the great weather takes me towards a place that if you are familiar with tales of Cornish smuggling you’ll have already heard of. And that place is Prussia cove. It’s a secluded cove that has a small sandy middled beach with the rest of the shoreline flanked by the typical sharp Cornish rocks. And it is a pretty beach but it is also a beach with an interesting history, being owned by the Carter family and the famous smuggler Harry Carter known as ‘the king of Prussia’ which was said to be a self given nickname from when he was a young boy. Of course the majority of tales of the family are from local legend and folklore, however by between 1770 and 1807 the Carters Gang controlled the majority of the smuggling trade from their base in what became known as Prussia cove. And tiny Prussia cove is of course ideal for smuggling because it’s small beach is hidden just behind a headland and being a good size for small boats, just the kind of small boats that were good at evading customs officials. From their house overlooking the cove, the Carters could watch everything. Despite the Carters breaking the law, at the time the taxation on imported goods was heavy and more than a few people were against it. Unsurprisingly, due to this other locals did not disprove of the brothers breaking the law, in fact the enterprise required the help of many others to store and transport the goods. They were both accomplished sailors who owned their own boats and also knew not just the Cornish coast well but also the coast of France, in short they were excellent at what they did and more than a match for the excise men.

Rather than being the kind of rough criminal gang you might expect the Carters also appeared to be pretty tight on discipline and order. In fact on the two large vessels that Harry Carter owned bad behaviour and surprisingly even swearing, which in many situations would be difficult to avoid (like when customs were firing at you for example) was banned. And talking of swearing because of running into customs, some skirmishes did happen one resulting in Harry getting seriously hurt during 1788. He himself describes in injury “the bone of my nose was cut right in two and two very large cuts in my head that two or three pieces of my skull worked out afterwards”. I’d imagine that was caused by the flying spinners of wood when cannon fire hit the ship, which much has been terrifying. Following this Harry went into hiding until his wounds healed. They must have put up a good fight though because the two ships that Harry owned did not just have smaller boats for getting closer inshore with goods but were also loaded up with 19 guns on the one vessel and 20 on the other, so they were by no means defenceless.

Even though run in’s with the authorities were often violent, some of the less prominent officials were happy to be bribed in order to ignore the comings and goings of the gang. And that’s not so surprising as many of them had to live among the locals and would have been a part of the community. And getting paid to turn a blind eye and not have everybody hate you is a bit of a no brainer. On the one occasion when the house at Prussia cove was raided by excise men, and the smuggled goods found taken back to the customs house at Penzance John Carter apparently robbed the customs house but only took his own goods, which not only showed his apparent fair and honest nature but also was the thing that made the excise men realise it must have been him that broke in.

Heading past Prussia Cove takes me down Praa Sands beach and towards Rinsey Head where the coast path climbs and I reach the next notable landmark which is Wheal Trewavas Mine.

Engine Houses Of Wheal Trewavas

Stabbing bluntly at the white and blue streaked sky are the engine houses of the Trewavas Copper Mine, where below the sea gently foams. Below the waves crash gently and it makes me thing of how scary it must have been as a miner down there, because these copper ore mines actually extend out underneath the sea. Imagine chipping away at the rock knowing you have thousands of tons of sea water pressing on the rock over your head. No thanks.

The first engine house I pass is the Old Engine house which was built around 1834, and then through the ‘new’ engine house which was built in 1836. And unsurprisingly for a mine that extends under the sea, in 1846 the mine flooded and was then closed. A great story of how the mine eventually flooded was that every year a dinner would be held for shareholders, but not somewhere sensible it was held in the mine. And just the the section that sat right underneath the sea, because you know what could possibly go wrong with that? Local lore says that two waiters noticed water leaking out of the tunnel roof while they were setting final table decorations and legged it (can’t blame them really) with the sea flooding the mine just minutes later.

Walking along in the sun listening to the wind and the seagulls is quite relaxing I think, then again anything is I guess compared to drowing in a man made cave. The mine buildings are pretty striking structures and seem to have weathered the often harsh storms of the Cornish coast. The weather here is often excellent but when it’s bad weather, it’s usually really bad weather so it’s impressive they have stood the test of time.


By the time I find myself eventually shuffling into the town of Porthleven I manage to stop for a moment and find a tapas bar. Why a tapas bar? Well apparently Porthleven is a bit of a foody location so, as I don’t fancy messing about being sat on the harbour wall boiling up pasta on my stove I manoeuvre my massive backback and sweaty visage into the bar, looking like a massive scruff. Totally worth the funny looks to swap pasta for a pint of beer and some tapas. I get my breath back as I chomp on my chorizo bites and take in the excellent views of the harbour, before mustering up the willpower to carry on and almost knocking over several post couples with my rucksack on my way out (whoops). I make a mental note in future to take it a bit easier and stop piling through each destination like I’m on a military exercise.

The Loe Sandbar

Not far out of Porthleven awaits the giant Loe Sandbar, this massive sandy beast is a bit hard going with a heavy pack on but it sure is impressive. The sandbar takes you towards the cliff and separates the Loe, which is the largest freshwater lake in Cornwall at 50 hectares lake and the rough sea. Once on the middle you are flanked on both sides by water, which must be interesting in bad weather to say the least. Loe means pool in Cornwall and by this point you probably aren’t surprised there’s a few legends about this place too. One legend says that a giant dropped a bag of rocks in the mouth of the river while falling out with another giant who was throwing rocks at him. But this does go a bit against the giant legend of St Michaels mount as one of these supposed rocks was meant to be the mount itself! Another story is that the Loe has a sunken Spanish treasure galleon in the bottom of it that was during an epic storm was apparently washed over the sandbar and into the pool.

Leaving this spectacular area and heading to the far end of the Loe bar takes me up onto the cliffs and towards the town of Gunwalloe, bringing me well into the Lizard Peninsula area. The whole area is famed for being rugged and wild, and it’s at this point the terrain starts to become much harder going. Soon I’ll be seeing towering cliffs and churning water below, with the background noise of a variety of seabirds.


Notable things about Gunwalloe, Poldark (which became a thing long after this blog is set) and the Halzephron Inn which is 500 years old and guess what, yup a smugglers local pub. Halzephron is an unusual name which apparently means ‘hells headland’ and based on the rough coastland of the Lizard is pretty appropriate. On the smuggling tip, the inn is reputed to have been built in 1468 and apparently has a tunnel behind the fireplace that leads to the local monastery. Of course this sounds perfect for the local smugglers at the time. I wish I could stop and enjoy a pint and enquire about the history, but I’ve got to meet Bukey and Keith later and times definitely wasting. I speed up plenty and head quickly next though the small and photo worthy village of Mullion, but I don’t stop long enough to take any photos, It’s my goal to get almost totally through the Lizard in time to meet up with the lads.

Kynance Cove

Coming down the cliffs gives me a great view towards Kynance cove, which is easily the most beautiful cove on the Lizard which has a much welcome cafe, at which i stop to grab a drink. Unfortunately at this point I’ve missed the tide being out which exposes sharp rocks and the golden sands, highlighted by the deep blue green water. Never mind though because in the future I will visit this place again, and even with the tide in the area is striking. If you are passing by it is an amazing looking place however it is quite easily accessible by car and a short walk so if it’s the summer holidays expect it to be rammed with families, which I feel kind of ruins the magic of the place as a solo traveller. The name of the cove comes from the Cornish word ‘kewnans’ which means a ravine, and if you see the rock formations around here you can understand why. Some of the rocks and islands of the cove have names, one being ‘Asparagus Island’ due to the wild Asparagus that grows there. The most famous rock was named ‘Prince Albert’ as he apparently visited the cove with his children in 1846, hardly surprising as earlier mentioned in the blog, the coast and it’s beaches became popular destinations in the Victorian era.

Check out part 3 of the blog: Heading through Lizard point and onwards. Have you visited the area? Tell us about it in the comments below, we’ve love to know what you thought of it and if there’s anything the author missed!


I hope you found my blog useful or entertaining, any donations given go towards more adventures and therefore more blogs and equipment reviews! Donation is voluntary, and you can donate as much or as little as you wish, or not at all.

Thanks for reading and your support!

I hope you found my blog useful or entertaining, any donations given go towards more adventures and therefore more blogs and equipment reviews! Donation is voluntary, and you can donate as much or as little as you wish, or not at all.

Thanks for reading and your support!

I hope you found my blog useful or entertaining, any donations given go towards more adventures and therefore more blogs and equipment reviews! Donation is voluntary, and you can donate as much or as little as you wish, or not at all.

Thanks for reading and your support!

Choose an amount


Or enter a custom amount


Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly