Penrose Estate // Helston Porthleven

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Autumn afternoon - Penrose Estate
Autumn afternoon - Penrose Estate

The Penrose estate is a large area of parkland between Porthleven and Helston. The rolling parkland of the estate stretches down to, and includes a section of coast from Gunwalloe to Porthleven. There are many areas of mature woodland and miles of paths and bridleways exploring all corners of the beautiful countryside here.

The parkland at Penrose has been owned by the National Trust since 1974 when the then owner, Lt. Cdr. J.P.Rogers, gifted the 1500 acre estate to them. Penrose House still remains in private hands, and in an almost fairy tale twist of events, the house was inherited by a 30 year old former care worker in 2019.

Penrose House - Helston
Penrose House

On Saturday mornings Penrose becomes the venue of West Cornwall's Parkrun with around 200 runners completing the 5 Km course every week. The running trail follows the old Victorian carriageway through mature woodlands and into the parkland with views of Loe Pool and beyond. Dogs on leads are welcome.

It isn't just people and dogs who can enjoy the paths and bridleways of Penrose. A circular route around the estate has been developed with horse riders in mind. In total there are over 8 miles of horse-friendly bridleways in Penrose, plus the beach beyond.

Penrose Stables - Cafe
Cafe in the old stables - Penrose

Housed in the old stables and coach house is the Stables Cafe which is open on the weekends serving hot drinks, cakes and snacks.

The Loe

Within Penrose is Loe Pool (or The Loe). At just over a mile in length this is the largest natural freshwater lake in Cornwall with any larger being man-made. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) with several rare species of both flora and fauna found here.
One of the conditions attached to Cdr Rogers' gifting of Penrose to the NT was that there would be no activities on the water of the lake to preserve its beauty and character. As such there is no swimming, fishing or boating on the Loe.

Loe Pool - The Loe
Loe Pool - The Loe

The lake is barely separated from the sea by a shingle bank, Loe Bar. As well as providing a barrier between the sea and the lake Loe Bar has something of a sinister reputation with several shipwrecks here over the centuries. Most notable of these was the wreck of the HMS Anson in 1807 for which there now stands a memorial cross. The 44 gun frigate was beached whilst on her way to the blockade of Brest in France. Despite being on the beach over 100 lives were lost that night. One man who witnessed the disaster was Henry Trengrouse who went on to invent the "Breeches buoy", a rocket-powered life-saving device that saved countless lives over the years.

Eggs and Bacon Flowers
Eggs and Bacon Flowers

As well as the shipwrecks, Loe Bar has a grim reputation for drownings. Legend has it that the sea here takes a victim every seven years, and this is not far from the truth. With steeply shelving shingle and powerful, unpredictable waves you should not even consider entering the water here, whatever the conditions.