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Coastal Walks in Cornwall

Pebbled beaches, shaded coves, heather swaying on breezy cliffsides. There is no shortage of rustic beauty on the coastal walks in Cornwall, with some of that classic Cornish countryside charm around every turn. Have a pint at a bar overlooking a beach. Take a stop along the windswept coast to catch sight of seals in the ocean or watch wild horses graze. Immerse yourself in the history of the county or take the opportunity to have a romantic moment with your partner. Coastal walks in Cornwall have something for everyone. Here’s a list of some of the best the county has to offer.

Our Top Choices for the Best Coastal Walks in Cornwall:

Botallack to Higher Bal

The wild, sheer coastline of Botallack Head in St Just may offer a relatively short walk – 3.7 miles – but it is packed full of the history of Cornwall’s old mining days. Part of a Cornish Mining World Heritage Site, the journey from Botallack Head to Higher Bal will take you past two of Cornwall’s most legendary mines, Levant and Botallack. The ruins are perched on the rocks right at the coast’s edge, just above the sea spray that breaks against the stone. The ruins look half-imposing, half-natural, almost a part of the landscape now. 

The Botallack mines reach far under the sea on the Tin Coast with evidence of mining going all the way back to Roman Britain and even the Bronze Age. The hustle and bustle of working miners have long since faded, leaving the mines a peaceful place caught between time. Take a moment on the walk along the rugged coast to pause at the mines in Levant where thirty-one miners lost their lives in a 1919 tragedy.

The Botallack mines were also used as one of the locations in Poldark. The dramatic scenery and secluded location lent themselves perfectly to be utilised for the setting of the Poldark family mines. Any fans of the TV show would jump at the opportunity to visit one of the most iconic locations in the show and walk in the footsteps of Ross Poldark himself.

Polzeath to St Enodoc Church

A sprawling village fronted by a sizeable slice of beach that is popular with surfers, Polzeath holds plenty of charm, providing a good starting place for this walk along the Atlantic coast of Cornwall. Take the family across the lush green coast after a couple of hours of playing on the beach and head around Trebetherick Point. The headland can be both dramatic and serene, a perfect place to stop and take in the sights including Hawkers Cove and the Doom Bar. 

The Doom Bar is rich in the history and mythology of Cornwall. Legend has it that a mermaid created it as part of a curse after she was shot. The bar has since been the site of hundreds of shipwrecks since the nineteenth century, being virtually invisible by night. 

End your walk at the striking St Enodoc Church, snuggled in amongst the dunes between Brea Hill and Daymer Bay. Throughout the years, the church has been partially buried beneath the sands and in the mid-nineteenth century, the only way to enter the church was through the roof! You can take a break from wandering the stone ruins by visiting the rock pools at Daymer Bay or travelling a little further on into Port Isaac and even making the trip to Doyden Castle, sitting remotely on the edge of the coast and quite possibly the tiniest castle you will ever see in your life!

Crackington Haven to Tintagel

Harsh, steep hills are the main characteristic of the walk from Crackington Haven to Tintagel, meaning this walk is not for those looking for an easy or peaceful stroll. But for those of you who do make the rolling trek to Tintagel, the ruins and scenery offer up a compelling and worthy reward. 

This walk features many such rewarding sights including the highest cliff in Cornwall – High Cliff, a craggy towering rise, reaching 735 feet and offering stunning, vertigo-inducing views of the ocean foaming far below your feet. Pay a visit to the Strangles as well, ominously named for its reputation for shipwrecks due to high currents and unforgiving rocks, painting a picture of a wild and dangerous Cornwall in striking contrast to the picturesque villages and sun-soaked cliffs that characterise other coastal walks in Cornwall

As you reach Boscastle, marvel in the ethereal beauty of the Pentargon Waterfall, a thick ribbon of water all but throwing itself out of the grass-topped cliffs. Take a moment as well to watch for birds. This walk is a great one for kestrels, falcons and puffins so while you’re walking this adventurous path, don’t forget to look up once in a while – the skies are just as alive as the land around you. 

Tintagel is a charming and serene end to your walk. Wander the ruins of the legendary castle where King Arthur was supposedly born, explore Merlin’s Cave or take this opportunity to relax in one of Tintagel’s cafes. You’ve earned it!

The Lizard

A circular coastal path beginning and ending at Kynance Cove, the Lizard Peninsula offers rich scenery guaranteed to take even the most seasoned explorer’s breath away. Kynance Cove is probably the most scenic and tropical-looking cove in all of Cornwall, characterised by rock outcroppings and crystal blue water, white sand gleaming under the sun. It can get quite crowded due to its popularity, boosted by its appearance in Poldark, but on a quiet day, there is nothing more relaxing than looking down on the cove, making your way down to the beach and basking in the warmth, 

Wild, rustic flowers carpet the landscape as you journey on, following the coastal path. It is worth noting that the Lizard Peninsula is reputedly where the legendary English pirate Henry Avery hid the treasure he acquired from a late 17th-century raid on ships in the Arabian sea. His hoard has never been found; did he bury it on the cliffs? Hide it in one of the many secret coves that punctuate the coastline? Or has it long been lost to the sea? You could always keep an eye out for it while taking in the sights. Who knows, maybe you will be the one who finally stumbles across it.

Other sights along the Lizard coastal walk include The Lizard Lighthouse, vast and white, the light visible from at least a hundred miles on a clear night and the Lion’s Den, a gigantic dip in the ground created when a cave collapsed. There are plenty of good picnic spots along the peninsula as well for a much-needed reprieve from the walk whether you’re heading from Kynance Cove or back to it, giving you the chance to soak in the ocean views and rest your feet. 

Par to Polperro

On the South Coast of Cornwall, Par to Polperro offers the quintessential romantic Cornish experience. Starting from the Par Sands in St. Austell, the sand is glaringly white, you can then walk along to Gribbin Head, adorned with wildflowers and rolling patchwork fields. You could even take a quick detour to the Daymark, a tall red-and-white-striped pillar standing like a sentinel on the headland. It helped to stop sailors from mistaking the shallows of St Austell Bay with the deep, more accommodating waters of Falmouth Harbour. It makes an excellent setting for a picnic.

You’ll soon come across Fowey, a gorgeous town rising up from the water’s edge, boats strewn in orderly lines, and looking like white jewels in the blue water from afar, embroidering the river with masts and sails. J.M Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, provided one of the most accurate descriptions of the town: ‘it is but a toy town to look at, on a bay so small, hemmed in so picturesquely by cliffs and ruins, that of a moonlit night, it might pass for a scene in a theatre’. 

St. Catherine’s Castle sits regally atop the cliff guarding the river’s mouth, a fort built on the order of Henry VIII to defend against possible invasions. It is always worth taking a break on your walk to have a bite to eat in Fowey and then head up to wander the circular ruins, immersing yourself in history and getting a new, spectacular view of the harbour and town while you’re at it. 

Enjoy some more rugged and grassy landscapes as you head along sea-soaked cliffs to Polperro where you can take a much-deserved break, a fishing village with streets too narrow for cars, making it the perfect place to truly soak up the atmosphere, making for a charming end to your coastal walk. 

Rinsey

A short but sweet coastal walk, Rinsey is perfectly situated to give you dazzling views of both the Lizard and Penwith peninsulas and supplies walkers with romantic landscapes and seascapes. A half-moon shaped beach provides the opportunity for relaxation and playing for the kids and there is all manner of wildlife to watch out for, from choughs in the clouds, ponies grazing in the grasses and dolphins out in the waves which is sure to give your kids a thrill. 

The main draw of Rinsey is its mining heritage with three old engine houses to admire as you hike around the secluded cliffs. The Wheal Prosper tin mine is the most dramatic, out on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the sea. Though not the most successful mine, only being open for six years, it has the most beautiful backdrops of rolling hills on one side and the lapping ocean on the other. 

Sennen to Lamorna

An exciting and varied walk, the Sennen to Lamorna coastal path offers up a range of views and histories to keep you going and leave you feeling fulfilled. The path starts in Land’s End. Water churns around majestic rocks near the cliff’s edge, the most south-westerly town in England home to stunning clifftop views from where you can observe basking sharks, seals and dolphins along with a range of attractions that makes Land’s End into a day’s worth of adventure in and of itself. 

As you head out over the striking, flower-strewn cliffs, you can observe the Isles of Scilly and Bishop’s Rock Lighthouse on a clear day. Come to rest on the golden shores of Porthchapel Beach, backed by imposing cliffs. It is a popular beach with families and you can head off to explore the old St Levan’s Church as well as a scenic waterfall trickling down through the grassy heathland.

Follow the coastal path onwards to the Minack Theatre, an open-air amphitheatre built over the sea and one of the most impressive locations Cornwall has to offer. Take a tour of the unique setting and maybe even catch a show. Don’t worry if you can’t though. Even if there’s no performance you can watch the rehearsals on the stage, and revel in the magic of a performance against the stunning backdrop of the ocean beyond. 

Finish off your walk through the picture-perfect woodland of St Loy and emerge into the cosy hamlet of Lamorna, a hidden gem in the cliffs of Cornwall with a rocky and isolated atmosphere that may very well make you feel like you are suddenly walking in another time. 

Constantine Bay to Mawgan Porth

Start on the sunny dunes of Constantine Bay Beach, headed by tufted grass. Take a surf in the ocean before heading off to Porthcothan, another of Poldark’s filming locations, being the basis of Nampara Cove in the series. With clear waters and soft sands, Porthcothan is a great place for a spot of sunbathing and families can have a great time nestled in between the rise of cliffs on either side. 

The walk can also make you privy to some of Cornwall’s smuggling history with the many inlets and coves along the trail the perfect hiding places for contraband. Further back in history – the Iron Age to be exact – there were promontory forts set up along the cliffs. One of these is at Park Head, set against the sheer cliffs, stunning in sunny weather, dramatic and stark on cloudy days. 

The Bedruthan Steps is one of the main pulls of this walk. They are perfect for a romantic getaway to watch the sunset or gaze at the stars. Though the steps are currently closed due to the cliffs falling, you can still take in the harsh beauty of the sea foaming around the rocks from up high on the cliffs. The steps themselves purportedly get their name from a giant who used the beach stacks as a stepping stone shortcut along the bay. 

Finally, you will reach Mawgan Porth and drink in the sights of the broad sweeping beach and the far-reaching greenery of the fields and cliffs that rise above the town. This beach is a perfect place for families to build sandcastles, play in the shallows and relax after a long walk accentuated by the sheer drama of the Cornish seascape. 

Pentire Point and The Rumps

Along the North Cornwall coast, you can enjoy a walkout to the mystical and eye-catching Pentire Point, a curve of land carving into the sea, rich with flora, the sea breaking hard against the cliffs. The Point offers some of the best sea-watching in Cornwall, with all manner of wildlife able to be spotted from dolphins and porpoises to seals and Oceanic Sunfish. The sweeping views and isolation from the hubbub of modern society mean you can take a moment to focus on the wildlife, just as someone would have done hundreds of years ago.

The Rumps is the most striking attraction of the area, a twin headland promontory come to be used in the Iron Age as a defensive position, with ditches and ramparts. It is widely thought to have been abandoned after the Roman invasion but you can still head out to enjoy the views out to the ocean, the pathway dotted with wildflowers, a subtle enhancement to Cornwall’s charm. 

You can then head onwards to Pentireglaze Haven, re-joining the modern world. The charm of the beach is a small stream cutting through the sands and it is a peaceful place to kick back and relax, bathing in the shallows and enjoying a picnic.

Perranporth to Trevellas

Perranporth Beach boasts the highest dunes, the sand attractively golden and fronted by rich blue waves. The beach can get very heavily populated so this walk can be a good one for kids as you let them splash around in the water and play before taking a trip up to St. Piran’s Oratory. The ruins of the lost church date back to the sixth century. They are named after St. Piran who legend states washed up on the shores tied to a millstone. He is generally regarded as the patron saint of Cornwall so be sure to soak up the history of the area before heading out on your walk. 

As you make the trek to Trevellas, there are many unique features of nature to observe, adding flavour and variety to the Cornish countryside. Cligga Head’s red-stained cliffs are a striking change from the slate colour of the cliffs around it, contrasting sharply with the vibrant green of the landscape and giving an impression that the cliffside is bleeding – in reality, it is simply a high concentration of mineral lodes. You can then pass the quintessentially Cornish Hanover Cove in St. Agnes, named after a shipwreck in 1763 that was carrying £60,000 worth of gold and treasure. 

When you reach Trevellas, you and the family can spend time wandering the coarse sand and shingle beach, exploring hidden coves and playing with your dog. You can head back up to the coast path, take a break at Driftwood Spars pub and then head on back to Perranporth when you’re ready. 

Mount Edgecumbe to Kingsand

On the Cornish side of the Plymouth Sound, the Mount Edgecumbe estate sits proud and stately. Built in the sixteenth century, start your day discovering the hidden secrets of the country park and gardens that can take you all over the world from the Italian Garden to the New Zealand garden, giving you a refined look at the world of a sixteenth-century noble before you head out on your adventure along the Cornish coast. 

Enjoy a relaxing trip through the woodlands and the Warn Sandway to reach the pretty coastal village of Kingsand. Visit the seaside clock tower built to commemorate the coronation of George V and take the kids down to play around with the rock pools that are revealed at low tide. That famous enchanting Cornish quality is prevalent in the quaint cottages and narrow streets, maintaining that timeless feel that permeates many of Cornwall’s old villages, creating a perfect picture of a long lost time. 

If you want, you can also head on a little further to Cawsand, the neighbouring twin village, in some ways a mirror of Kingsand, with its narrow streets and rock pools.

Deadman’s Cove to Red River Valley

It is best to come on this walk with a pair of wellies to change into as the area is reliably muddy and marshy. Start your walk on the staggering cliffs above Deadman’s Cove, between Portreath and Godrevy, a rock and pebble beach said to be haunted. In fact, the whole area around Hell’s Mouth is rich with ghost stories and legends. The nearby Ralph’s Cupboard was home to a giant who would lie in wait for ships which he would then attack. The myth only ends a dark sort of allure to the sharp knife edges of the collapsed sea cave, giving the impression that a chunk of the land has been torn straight off. 

Walk inland a little to come across the Gwealavellan Cross landmark tucked away in the farming countryside before descending into the Red River Valley nature reserve. It was given its name by mineral deposits through the waters no longer run red. The river flows through Menadarva, a hamlet, remote and rustic. It’s not as wild and untamed as Hell’s Mouth with its sheer cliffs and rugged beauty but it does provide a more natural and unkempt view of Cornwall, just as alluring as the picture-perfect villages that dot other coastal walksin Cornwall. 

Marazion to Perranuthnoe

Marazion is a place steeped in history. It has been plundered by both the French and Cornish rebels and St Michael’s Mount, a nearby tidal island that has strong religious ties with a Benedictine monastery built there as well as a military garrison, their beacon being pivotal in warning of the Spanish Armada in 1588. St Michael’s Mount is also home to a number of legends ranging from a sighting of Saint Michael himself to tales of Jack the Giant Killer who slew the giant Cormoran who was terrorising the town. 

A visit to Marazion should always start with a visit to St Michael’s Mount before playing on the family-friendly beach and maybe even partaking in some watersports. Don’t expend all your energy though! Have a bite to eat in Marazion before beginning the trek to Perranuthnoe, stopping off at the church, one of three in the county dedicated to Saint Piran.

Take in the flat stunning views of Mount’s Bay, making a change from the dramatic slopes of cliffs, the sea stretching out before you. Look back to see St. Michael’s Mount in the distance, imposing and regal on the water. In the late afternoon, the water will glow rose gold under the light of the sun, ringing the island in a halo of warmth, casting magic over the landscape. 

Make the trek to Perranuthnoe Beach, wild and unspoiled. It is quieter and more relaxed than the beach at Marazion, marking a peaceful end to a relaxing walk.

St. Endellion to Port Isaac

Starting at the inland church at St. Endellion, head out across the countryside towards the coast and Port Isaac. The church you start at is the only church dedicated to Saint Endelienta. One legend says she is the daughter of a Welsh king and Saint Brychan. Others say she was King Arthur’s goddaughter and that she lived as a hermit, surviving on the milk of her beloved cow. 

When you get to Port Isaac, you have the opportunity to take in the old-fashioned charm of the granite-and-slate buildings that give the little fishing village a rough and stormy kind of beauty. In the past, before it became a fishing village, Port Isaac was famous for the coal, timber, pottery and slate that passed in and out of Cornwall. The village overlooks a crystal clear harbour and is both a part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Heritage Coast Area. 

The port is framed by rolling hills and cliffs teeming with wildlife and flora that enhances the prettiness of the coastal walks in Cornwall with the sprawling white-washed cottages of Port Isaac on one side and the gentle lapping of the sea on the other, creating the kind of tranquillity you could only find in Cornwall, making the perfect romantic getaway for you and your partner. 

Lelant Saltings to Carbis Bay

 

This walk starts at St. Michael’s Way at the railway station, heading through Lelant and St. Uny Church, a neat and stately building in view of the ocean. Head around the coast to reach Porthkidney Beach beside the estuary. The wide crescent stretch of pale sand provides a striking contrast to the rich blue of the sea. It is a perfect beach to walk the dogs on and the northern end of the beach provides good – if unreliable – surf. 

Head on off the beach to Carrack Gladden, a wild lush headland stretching into the sea and positioned at the eastern end of Carbis Bay Beach. The beach is perfect for families, great for swimming, snorkelling and kayaking, providing hours of fun after you stroll around the curving coast from Lelant. Take a moment to relax while your kids play and get a glimpse of the famous Godrevy Lighthouse that inspired Virginia Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse

After your break on the beach and taking your time to admire the granite cliffs seamed with copper and tin, head on up to Carbis Bay proper and take in the sights of St. Ives, the most modern and artistic towns in Cornwall, sleek, fresh and cultured, combining the modern-day with a rich mining history with an exciting range of galleries for you to explore to get out of the sun for a little bit. But don’t worry! There’s still plenty to do in St Ives. Its host of beaches ensure plenty of fun for all the family and there are far more coastal walks in the area to satisfy your wanderlust. 

Cornwall is a poetic duality of wild, ancient beauty and picturesque charm. With spots of liveliness and energy like the modern freshness of St Ives, it ensures that there is something for everyone when it comes to coastal walks in Cornwall. Whether you are fascinated by the history of the county, or just want to have an adventure or a quiet stroll with loved ones, the coasts of Cornwall will never disappoint. The ocean is calling and its irresistible charm and magic take root even in the souls of resolute homebodies.

After a long day walking the Coastal Paths, it’s time to book some accomodation. Fortunately, we’ll save you some time and effort. Check out the fantastic variety of accommodation offered by Carbis Bay Holidays here, or get in touch if you have any questions!