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Cornish Coastal Path: Padstow to Penzance

Cornish Coastal Path: Padstow to Penzance

Trip Highlights

  • Newquay, Britain’s surf capital and St.Ives the famous artist’s town
  • Visit magical St. Ives, a town of art, ices and fish ‘n’ chips.
  • Walk to Land’s End, the furthest Westerly point on the English Mainland

Trip Summary

From Padstow, follow the shores of the Camel Estuary, the path winds through coves to descend to Porthcothan Bay. Walking on to bustling Newquay, surfing capital of the U.K you pass Trevelgue Head, the largest Iron Age fort remains in the county, and the old huts used by fishermen of old. From Perranporth tin mine buildings and chimneys dot the landscape. There follows a cliff top path to the harbour at Portreath. After a six mile strenuous climb, you reach a sensational breach in the cliffs called ‘Hell's Mouth.’ Further on, you may see grey seals and the lighthouse at Godrevy Point. A walk through the busy port of Hayle via the dunes links St. Ives, and you should have enough time for sightseeing. St Ives was once the most important fishing port in Cornwall and today just wandering the cobbled lanes is a pleasure. The next day the walk passes the ‘Carracks’ notorious ship wrecking rocks, before going inland to Zennor. The trail returns to the coast threading its way through the coves and the old tin mines around Gurnard’s Head. The path skirts inland beside Cape Cornwall and past St. Just village to the pretty fishing village of Sennan Cove. You can spend time at Land’s End which has natural ambiance with the Atlantic pounding around 'Wolf Rock' and the 'Long Ships.' Strolling on to Porthcurno you pass a famous open air theatre at Minack Point and on to the seemingly sub tropical sheltered valley reaching Lamorna with its old smuggler’s pub, the ‘Lamorna Wink’. Passing Penzer Point you get views to St. Michael’s Mount and you visit the pretty village of Mousehole before entering the busy resorts of Newlyn and Penzance where this coastal walking bonanza concludes.

Suitability

Moderate, days are not particularly long but with some tough ascents and descents and walking on sand in places.

Itinerary

Make your own way to Padstow. The town is named after St. Petroc who came here circa A.D 500. The church of St Petroc is one of a group of three said to have been founded by the Saint. It is quite large and mostly of 13th and 14th century date. The old harbour usually has a nice ensemble of boats including the old pilot vessels. Nice pub fayre and a Rick Stein restaurant. Accommodation: Our accommodation dates back to the 14th century and is the oldest inn in town. It has an open fire and parquet flooring. All rooms are ensuite. Alternatively we stay in a 4 star guesthouse just outside of Padstow easily reached by local bus.

Meals:  Nil

Leaving Padstow’s busy little tourist harbour, follow the shores of the picturesque Camel Estuary to Stepper Point, with views perhaps to Bodmin Moor inland and to the ‘Doom Bar’: an off shore sand bar which has wrecked hundreds of ships over the centuries, largely because the surrounding cliffs take the wind out of the boat’s sails as they try to enter the harbour. In fact it became so notorious that many vessels would risk being wrecked on the coast rather than negotiate the entrance to Padstow in poor weather. More coves pass by until you see the limestone and slate Porthmissen Bridge natural arch with colonies of Razorbills and Guillemots. From here continue on to Trevone Bay, a beautiful sandy beach, popular with surfers and onwards to Harlyn, another surfer’s paradise but once famed for fishing pilchards. The coastal path reaches Trevose Head where on clear days you can see both St.Ives and Newquay. There is a lighthouse, which maybe open in the afternoon. The path then turns south and crosses more sandy beaches around Constantine, passing Trethias Island nature reserve, threading its way through coves to descend to Porthcothan Bay. Accommodation: Our bed & breakfast accommodation in this beautiful part of Cornwall is only a short walk from the stunning Porthcothan Bay and South West Coast Path.

Meals:  B

From the bay the path climbs up to Park Head, which provides wonderful views of Bedruthan Steps, a set of rock stacks that have been a popular tourist feature since the railway reached Newquay in 1875. Passing the village of Mawgan Porth the route follows the cliff top above Watergate Bay. Approaching Newquay, the path arrives at Trevelgue Head and the largest Iron Age fort remains in the county. Continuing over Barrowfields, with its three Bronze Age barrows, the path descends to Newquay. This is quite a shock after the day’s peaceful walk. Nevertheless the town overlooks fine golden sands, which cushion the Atlantic rollers which make this Britain’s surfing capital. Before surfing fame, Newquay was another famous fishing port, seining out the millions of pilchards that arrived every July. It was also a silver and lead mining centre. Accommodation: Our 3 star hotel is directly on the seafront with miles of stunning coastline and views across the harbour.

Meals:  B

Leaving the harbour, the path climbs up Towan Head past the whitewashed Huer's Hut, where lookouts would shout the arrival of the pilchard shoals to waiting fishermen, and then follow the cliffs around Pentire Point to take the ferry across the Gannel River. The path winds around headlands and coves to Kelsey Head, the site of an Iron Age promontory fort, and then descends to the village of Holywell, named after an ancient well and equally aged inn called ‘Treguth’. Following golden sands along Perran Beach, pass the tiny ruin of St Piran's Oratory, said to be oldest church in Cornwall (8th century) but reburied to protect it from erosion. Depending upon tide levels, you reach the village of Perranporth either by the beach or the cliff. Accommodation: The 4 star country house offers all rooms ensuite. The house is situated in its own grounds overlooking Perranporth and is only minutes from the coastal footpaths.

Meals:  B

A fairly easy stretch today on well used paths occasionally dipping into valleys. The coast path follows the cliffs around Cligga Head past mineshafts, now home to horseshoe bats, and the remains of tin mines, with dramatic views of the mine buildings and chimneys dotting the landscape further on around St Agnes. Enroute you drop into Trevellas Porth and then Trevaunance Cove which has a waterside pub. It is then pleasant ascending to St Agnes Head past bird nesting cliffs, to the little village with the same name and terraces of miners' cottages including an interesting little museum in an old chapel. The path descends past the ruins of Wheal Coates Mine to the sandy inlet of Chapel Porth. Then back up to the cliff tops, the path goes past the Wheal Charlotte Mine, drops down to the beach at Porthtowan and then follows the cliff top path to the harbour at Portreath, from where minerals were exported from the mines at Redruth. Accommodation: You stay at a small and friendly bed & breakfast, 2 minutes walk from a sandy beach and situated on the coast path.

Meals:  B

Leaving Portreath, there is a strenuous climb up Tregea Hill and 10 km/6 miles of National Trust land, continuing high above the sea along Carvannel and Reskajeage Downs. You then reach a rather sensational breach in the cliffs called Hell's Mouth. At Navax Point, you might be lucky enough to see grey seals. Walking on to Godrevy Point you will see the lighthouse perched on Godrevy Island, probably the inspiration for Virginia Wolf's ‘To the Lighthouse’. The lighthouse marks the landward end of a treacherous line of reefs, called The Stones, which have claimed many wrecks and many of their victims are buried in the churchyard at Gwithian, a sleepy thatched cottage village with an interesting old pub, The Pendarves Arms. The path then meanders through the Towans sand dunes to the busy port of Hayle. Accommodation: We use the elegant White Hart Hotel, constructed in 1838. It is the oldest hotel in the town but all rooms are tastefully furnished and ensuite.

Meals:  B

A short day which should give you enough time for looking round beautiful St. Ives, its museums and galleries. Skirting the Hayle Estuary, which is noted for its seabirds and waders, the path passes along the dunes above Porth Kidney and then passes beautiful Carbis Bay to reach the town. St Ives dates back to AD460, when the missionary St. Ia, daughter of an Irish chieftain, landed here and gave her name to the settlement in a similar way to how St. Beda gave her name to St. Bees in Cumbria. Protected from Atlantic storms, St Ives was once the most important fishing port in Cornwall, but like elsewhere on the surrounding coast, by the beginning of the 20th century, the fish stocks became depleted and the fishing fleet largely disappeared. However as early as 1811 Turner visited to paint the seascapes and by the late 1880s there were several artists installed and the town became famous for its vibrant artists' colony. This perhaps reached its heyday during the late 1940s and the 1950s. Today their work can be seen in the St Ives Tate Gallery, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and the Bernard Leach Gallery. Accommodation: We use a mixture of accommodation here but our 1st choice is a 4 star guesthouse set in the quieter part of St Ives.

Meals:  B

Enjoy a hearty breakfast as there are some tough up and down and occasionally boggy walking for the next two days, but fortunately the days are quite short in distance and the seascapes are beautiful! Around St. Ives Head, the walk passes St. Nicholas’s Chapel (patron saint to seafarers) and a hut that was used for spotting pilchards from the cliffs. As you leave St.Ives the number of walkers rapidly diminishes, as does your pace as the path roller-coasts through a series of steep dips. After the River Cove, you descend to rocks where you can sometimes see seals basking off the rocks. There is then a final steep climb, from where you have to take a path going inland half a mile to the village of Zennor, which has a quaint church, a small museum on Cornish life, a great old pub called The Tinner’s Arms and a literary tradition! *D.H Lawrence, arrived here in 1916 and wrote ‘Woman in Love,’ inviting Katherine Mansfield over, but she was frightened by the seagulls and had to leave! Lawrence who had failed to pass the army medical and was married to a German, raised local suspicions. They presumed that the pair were spies signaling German submarines and they were officially ordered to leave! You might want to look out for the standing stones, ringed ‘quoits’ and other prehistoric remains on the moors above the village. Accommodation: Our accommodation The Tinners Arms is the only Inn in Zennor and was built in 1271 to accommodate the Masons who constructed St Senara’s church which is famous for its mermaid.

Meals:  B

Returning to the coastal path, thread your way through beautiful coves to Gurnard’s Head. Being wary of tin mine shafts you can look around the prehistoric fort site at the head. Just before you reach Pendeen, there is Geevor tin mine which is open March to October for guided tours and at Pendeen Watch an afternoon visit to the lighthouse is possible. Accommodation: Pendeen Watch, The Old Manse dates back to 1860 and has been carefully restored to bring the old and new together.

Meals:  B

The first part of the walk is quite easy, following the cliff tops around the old lead and tin mines, through the detritus of hundreds of years of activity. You pass Levant Mine that closed down in 1919 after an accident there killed 31 miners. However there is a restored beam engine which can be visited in the summer. Next is Crowns Mine at Botallack perched on the rocks. The path skirts inland beside Cape Cornwall, once thought to be England’s most westerly point, until they worked out that it was in fact Lands End. Continuing you pass Carn Gloose where a walled pit could be a Neolithic shrine. Then it is past the village of St.Just which has a square where ‘miracle plays’ were performed in Mediaeval times, then past the beach at Whitesand Bay to Sennan Cove, a pretty fishing and tourist port. Accommodation: We stay at a 4 star Inn which dates back to the 17th century. Accommodation: We stay at The Old Success Inn which dates back to the 17th century.

Meals:  B

Start your day early to enable you to visit the sights of Land’s End, the most westerly point in England. This is a highly developed commercial site, with various ‘attractions’ including a theme park! There can also be big crowds milling around the centre and car parks, however, there are some great seascapes with views as far as the Scilly Isles and towards Long Ships and Wolf Rock lighthouses. You continue your walk passing the attractive hamlets of Porthgwarra and St. Levan reaching the open air theatre at Minack point, dramatically situated and built by Rowena Cade. The South West Path follows the cliffs there follows a more challenging walk towards Penberth Cove and Porthguaron which are lovely places to pause before you reach Lamorna, a tiny harbour village with a famous once illegal old pub the ‘Lamorna Wink.’ Accommodation: We stay in Tregurnow Farmhouse a granite farmhouse, where you can relax in the landscaped gardens watching the swallows.

Meals:  B

Today the walk starts around Penzer Point and views over Mounts Bay and towards the island of St. Michael’s Mount. Next you arrive at Mousehole (pron’Mowzl’), another picture postcard village, with a history of pilchard fishing and now has a small artists community. The path from here to Newlyn is beside the road but you can go inland via the village of Paul to see the monument erected to Dolly Pentreath (died 1778) regarded as the last native Cornish speaker who spoke no English. Newlyn and Penzance are quite built up being ports as well has important vacation destinations. Although Newlyn has some nice galleries, you may want to bus into Penzance from here. The latter has more attractions including some Georgian and Regency housing, the exuberant Egyptian House, Maritime Museum and National Lighthouse Museum. Accommodation: We use a number of guesthouses in the busy town of Penzance.

Meals:  B

Depart Penzance after breakfast.

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • 12 breakfasts
  • 12 nights accommodation in guesthouses and inns on a twin share basis with ensuite facilities where available
  • One piece of luggage per person transferred from Inn to Inn, not exceeding 20kg
  • Information pack including route notes & maps
  • Emergency hotline

What's Not Included

  • Lunch, Dinner and drinks
  • Entrance fees
  • Travel insurance
  • Travel to the start and from the end point of the trip
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
  • Unscheduled transfers required during the trip

Upcoming Travel Dates

AT A GLANCE

Duration:13 Days
Countries:England
Starting Point:Padstow
Finishing Point:Penzance
Activities:Self-Guided Walking
Grade:Moderate  Click for more information
Trip Code:WNS
Prices From:GBP£930 Per Person
Single Supplement:GBP£300  Click for more information