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The hamlet of Coombe lies only four miles by road from Truro, yet in terms of its peace and tranquillity it could be a hundred miles away. Few know of the existence of Coombe as it is at the end of a no through road and on no tourist trail. It must be one of the very few places in Cornwall where nothing has been built since the 1930s. In large part this is due to the Tregothnan Estate which owns the majority of the village, but also due to the National Trust which owns the land on the other side of the creek.
Coombe was renowned for its Kea plum orchards – every September in Helston there was a Kea plum fair – and we will visit these ancient orchards. It was once the centre of the oyster industry on the Fal, some of the working boats still exist as well as the tanks in which the oysters were kept. We will also walk through the coppice oak woods which were another important part of the local economy. On the walk around Coombe, we will look at the houses and see how the hamlet evolved. In addition, overlooking King Harry Ferry we will look at the exterior of Halwyn, probably the oldest surviving domestic house in Kea, look at the ferry crossing across the Fal at Tolverne and discuss the remains of medieval strips which were part of the open field system. One aspect of Coombe has changed a great deal in the last decade, many of the old fields have been planted with tea by Tregothnan Estate and we will be able to visit these plantations.
Coombe maintained a unique way of life right through into the 1960s and 1970s. The cycle meant there was constant employment – the oyster industry over the winter months, coppicing the oak woods in early spring, sending primroses and violets to market in spring, fishing over the summer, and then harvesting plums and apples during the autumn. All this will be examined as we walk around Coombe.
In the second part of the walk, we turn our attention to earlier times as we pass the head of Cowlands Creek and enter Feock parish. Climbing past the medieval hamlet of Tregew we will consider the fairly recently recognised hillfort on the high ground to the west of the much better-known Roundwood promontory fort. CAS members have contributed to our understanding of the context of the hillfort through undertaking fieldwalking.
From the hilltop we will be able to consider how Coombe, Cowlands and Roundwood fit into the wider historic landscape around the Fal ria before dropping down to the promontory fort with its round and beyond that the once-busy quays where copper, coal and other goods were imported and exported. Our walk continues along National Trust paths beside the north shore of Lamouth Creek before returning to Coombe via Cowlands.
Please note – COVID 19
Please observe fully any NHS guidance on Covid at the time. If Covid restrictions on group events or numbers of attendees are in place at the time, the walk will be postponed until further notice.