Cornwall

Coastal Walks in Cornwall

When it comes to sun and sea-soaked walks, we always come back to the Cornish coast where you can slip between rugged cliffs and sandy shores within a matter of eager steps. Out to sea, there’s always something to draw the eye, from the impressive visage of St Michael’s Mount to the protective prominence of Godrevy lighthouse, while inland you’re met with sweeps of purple or crisscrosses of ancient fields.

Whether you’re looking for a light amble you can do in your sandals or a proper stomp that quickens the pulse and clears the cobwebs within a matter of minutes, there are some truly unmissable coastal walks in Cornwall. Here are just a few to get your Cornish wanderlist started.

 

Boscastle to Tintagel

The impressive bridge standing over the cliffs at Tintagel

When it comes to the drama of north Cornwall, you can’t get much more arresting than the 5.5-mile stretch between the sleepy village of Boscastle and the ancient grandeur of Tintagel. Starting your coastal trek at the pretty harbour at Boscastle, you’ll start your journey with a test of the calves as you climb the path out of the valley. It’s worth the workout though, as you’re instantly rewarded with views that stretch out across the chocolate-box village and surrounding seas.

Follow the winding coast path round, keeping one eye on your footing and one on the ocean for the peeking nose of a seal, until you reach Willapark and its 3000-year-old Bronze Age tumuli. Using the ancient burial grounds as an excuse for a breather, take a moment to stop and really absorb the scenes that surround you with the smooth curve of the tumuli and the jagged outcrops of the cliffs standing in utter contrast to one another.

Once your breath returns, it’s not far to the equally breath-taking ruins of Tintagel, where legends say King Arthur was born. Snoop and explore the ancient castle and marvel at the incredible bridge that links the mainland with this enchanting chapter of history. If your legs can handle another climb, a detour to the beach below rewards you with fascinating caves and waterfalls seemingly plucked out of the legends that surround this mythical corner of Cornwall.

 

Zennor to St Ives

Looking out over the flower covered cliffs at Zennor

West Penwith has to be one of our favourite areas in Cornwall, with its gorse-crowned headlands that stand guard over quiet coves and white-tipped seas. And if we had to whittle down our top pick even further, we would most likely settle on the magical 6.5 miles between the heights of Zennor and the vibrant seaside town of St Ives. It's not for the faint of heart as there are quite a few strenuous climbs, but each one rewards you with sweeping views of the incredible surrounding coast and countryside.

Your spectacular journey begins in the peaceful village of Zennor, which is known both for the legend of the mermaid of Zennor and its close proximity to the fabulous (and dog-friendly) Gurnard’s Head with its proud yellow exterior and welcoming fireside menu. As you set off on the single-track path to the coast, you may well find yourself “accidentally” stumbling into the 700-year-old pub The Tinners Arms (as many have before), which sits temptingly close to the path. After your quick, pre-amble drink, you’ll find yourself on the headland where the true beauty of Zennor begins.

As you head east along the ups and downs of the South West Coast Path, you’ll pass many secluded coves with crystal clear waters and curious rocks scattered across the shorelines. Some of these beaches are accessible but they’re not easily reached so exercise caution if tempted by the pristine sands. Although you’ll be met by many a steep climb, each effort quickly earns you another extraordinary view, ending with the famously pretty town of St Ives where cobbled streets and a startling number of exceptional beaches lie waiting. Try Porthminster Beach Café for a salt-kissed meal with glorious sea views.

 

Lizard Point to Kynance Cove

Looking out over the stunning coastal scenes of Kynance Cove at sunset

From the granite grey of Penwith to the rich hues of the south coast’s serpentine, the coastal views around the Lizard peninsula are understandably famous. This deliciously short (only 2.5 miles) walk packs a serious punch thanks to the bracing sea views and dreamy destination of Kynance Cove. It’s also a part of the West Kernow Way if you fancy swapping the walking boots for bike wheels as you tour the entire south western stretch of Cornwall.

Before you begin your southerly trail from the car park in Lizard village, we seriously recommend stopping off at Ann’s Pasties for one of their world-famous oggies. It turns the dusty stroll to the sea into a culinary experience and we wouldn’t be without one!

Once on the green swatches of the cliff, the walk should only take around an hour. Of course, with scenery this beautiful, it’s only natural to add on some time for countless photo opportunities. There’s also a herd of wild ponies that regularly graze on the cliffs, again providing a delightful reason to stop.

As you tootle along the Cornish heath-lined path, you’ll be met with many opportunities for wildlife spotting from the small and elusive Cornish chough with its trademark red beak to the lazy shadow of a seal or two. Of course, the real sight comes when you reach the cliffs above Kynance Cove. With its stacked, rocky outcrops, curious islands, and white sands, there’s little surprise this bewitching cove is amongst the most photographed spots in Cornwall. After a balmy dip in the azure waters, a cream tea at the café overlooking Kynance Cove is a must – just remember it’s jam first in Cornwall!

 

  

St Just to St Mawes

Looking over the harbour at St Mawes as the boats move through the water

This unerringly peaceful walk from St Just (not the Penwith one, unless you fancy a Herculean walk) to St Mawes takes you through the tranquil beauty of the Roseland peninsula with its pretty fishing villages and English countryside charm.

A little over 6 miles, you’ll pass alongside idyllic creeks and historic scenes, creating a collage of fond memories of the balmy south coast of Cornwall. Setting off from St Mawes, we love to quickly dart into one of the many cafés for a cheeky ice cream – nothing puts a spring in your step quite like clotted cream and vanilla perched atop a crunchy cone!

The first stop on the tour (ok, second if you stopped for ice cream too) is the impressive St Mawes Castle that stands guard over the Carrick Roads estuary. This regal remnant of Henry VIII’s reign enjoys commanding views as well as a fascinating history you can unfurl at your leisure. After your historical detour, it’s back onto the beaten track until you reach St Just and its pretty creekside church and gardens. The route back weaves in and out of some lovely National Trust paths before bringing you back into St Mawes where a sparkling and ice-cold drink in The Idle Rocks is next on the agenda. 

There are oodles of beautiful beaches along the Roseland, each one destined for dreamy days amidst golden sands and sun.

 

 

Penberth to Porthcurno

Looking out across Porthcurno to Pedn Vounder and Logan Rock

While you can really set off from either end, we must admit starting and finishing at Penberth is a special treat thanks to the cosy fires and sun-drenched beer garden at the Logan Rock Inn – we love a finish line with a pub!

If you choose to begin this 3-mile jaunt at Penberth, you’ll be treated to a picturesque working slipway that still sends fishing boats off daily. Spend a few wistful moments perched on the rocks here until the pull of turquoise vistas tempts you from your reverie. It’s a steep climb, to begin with, but you can stop as often as you like under the pretence of seal spotting (we won’t tell).

Along the flower-flecked cliffs, a great sweep of blue banishes all negative thoughts as it fills your mind with complete calm. An obligatory stop-off at Logan Rock is a must where the famous rock balances precariously on the dramatic outcrop. History has it that the rock was once knocked off by some boisterous seamen. The locals were having none of it though and made sure they put their famed rock back where it belonged - too right! While the rock no longer moves, it still makes for an impressive spectacle. 

From here, you can look across the craggy cliffs at the beautiful Pednvounder beach. Although a little trickier to get to, it’s one of Cornwall’s most picturesque beaches and is well worth the scramble. It’s also nudist-friendly should you forget your swimsuit.

If you can tear yourself away from here, it’s then a short walk to Porthcurno, with the unique Minack Theatre standing resolutely above. Enjoy a refreshing dip in the pristine waters, before talking the rural route back to Penberth through a patchwork of fields.

 

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