Cornwall

Walking the Penrose Estate, from Helston to Porthleven in Cornwall

This walk is perfect whatever the weather and time of year, with a winding path through a gorgeous country estate to the coast then on towards the iconic seaside village of Porthleven. With places to eat and drink en route, this is a great day out.

Waking up Sunday morning, we were determined to make the most of the surprisingly sunny November day, so we decided on one of our favourite walks – from Helston to Porthleven, through the stunning Penrose Estate and along the coast.

The best thing to do is park opposite the boating lake in Helston in the car park which is free – very handy! The path to start your walk to the right of the park. The path, smoothly tarmacked, is a firm family favourite as it’s ideal for buggies and children who have a bike or scooter, and the path is wide enough to accommodate everyone, from dog walkers to horse riders.

The path gently undulates through established groves of oak, and trees gnarled by sea salt and wind. Dogs will love running off into the woodland that lies either side of the path and there’s always plenty of sticks to throw, whilst the River Cober and marshy surrounds makes this a fascinating, athmospheric spot – this whole area used to be covered by sea which went all the way up past the boating lake. Please note that dogs seem to love jumping into the swampy water, so be prepared!

There are several paths that lead off to the left into the woodland, so if you just want a gentle stroll, take any of these and you’ll find yourself by the River Cober which you can follow back to the car park.

Alternatively, carry on and you’ll soon spot glimpses of Loe Pool to your left. ‘Pool’ is a misnomer really, as it’s a huge lake. Further on you’ll pass Helston Lodge, a pretty house with an old boat house to the front. Pause a moment here to get the whole view of the lake across to Degibna Woods. It is said the lake is home of the mythical Lady of The Lake and Excalibur – and on a day like today it’s not hard to imagine.

Carry on until you come to a turning to your left and you’ll see Penrose House, a grand private home with some of its gardens open to the public. Follow the left-hand path and it will climb until you reach the National Trust-run Stables Café – a great spot for a cup of tea and cake, and a toilet stop. Pop into the adjacent walled garden for a peek too – it’s a lovely tranquil spot which in summer and autumn is bursting with home grown produce.

This is a great half way point if you want to keep the whole walk easy access – just turn back on yourself after your break and retrace your steps.

If you want to carry on like we did, it’s at this point the path turns from tarmac to gravel and climbs up slightly, following the edge of the lake. The trees here are truly majestic and catching the last of the burnt orange autumn leaves against the cool blue sky is just magical.

Eventually, you’ll approach Loe Bar – a vast sandy beach separating Loe Pool from the sea. Catch your breath here and admire the spectacular view – the rolling surf here can be extremely strong and even on calm days you should never swim here – the current can be deadly.

Whilst we stand admiring the view, we notice a kestrel hovering right in front of us and we watch for a couple of minutes. Although there are people about, it’s a very peaceful spot.

You can either at this point walk down onto the Bar and walk across the sand to the path opposite, which you can follow back into Helston via a longer route. We continue and join the South West Coastal Path.

This part of the path was destroyed during a storm and the re-routing has just recently been completed. When you approach the impressive Bar Lodge (total house envy), the path climbs up the side of it and behind onto a higher ridge. The views here are astonishing; to the left you can see the Lizard and Loe Bar, to the right Porthleven and beyond towards Rinsey.

From here it’s an easy walk followed by steps that lead down to a car park and into the village of Porthleven. If you can, allow an hour or two to explore this pretty seaside village. The beach is large and sandy, with the farthest part away from the village dog-friendly all year around, so if you have your pooch with you it’s nice to let your dog enjoy the sea for a bit.

The pier is very picturesque and a walk to the end is a must. The little independent shops are worth a peek and Porthleven enjoys more than its fair share of incredible places to eat and drink.

Although we’re hungry we don’t want a full meal, so we opt for a snack at the fabulously named Nauti But Ice, our go-to café for ice creams, pizzas, cakes and light lunches. The log burner is roaring and other like-minded walkers share the bustling spot as we rest our feet and gaze through the window out to sea.

To go back is the same way, which is not repetitive in the slightest as you have a completely different view. We have a quick stop at the café on the way back (I was beginning to flag!) and ended the walk just as dusk was beginning to descend.

The full walk from Helston to Porthleven and back is approximately eight miles long. If you would like to walk just one way, there are buses from Porthleven to Helston on a regular basis which you can catch from the harbour.

Please check the National Trust website for opening times for The Stables Café as they do vary depending on the time of year.

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