When you think of things to do in Cornwall, sun, sea and sand spring to mind — but sometimes...
From World Heritage Site mining landscapes to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, historic landmarks, harbours, heathlands and rivers – whether you wish to hike the entire circumference or simply adventure on foot, you’re never short of an abundance of stunning walks in Cornwall.
We’ve rounded up our favourite Cornish walks from across the county, so whether you’re looking for a bimble, a stroll, a hike or a ramble you’ll find it here.
St Ives forms part of the spectacular landscape of West Penwith, a unique part of Cornwall with high rugged cliffs and rocky moorland, dramatic views of the Atlantic Ocean, pretty villages and sandy beaches. Whether you’re looking for easy walks around St Ives or a more challenging coastal hike, you’ll be sure to find a walk that suits you from the list below.
This gentle two-mile walk takes you above the scenic St Ives to St Erth railway line, offering beautiful views over St Ives Bay.
Meandering along the coastal path above sparkling turquoise water, you will forget that you’re still in the UK. This breathtaking part of the South West Coast Path enjoys a warmer than average climate, with sub-tropical plants and palms, creating a Cornish paradise.
This walk is perfect for all the family and once you reach Carbis Bay you can relax on the beach or take a dip in the sea. Carbis Bay hardly ever has any surf, so is the perfect spot for families and for swimming. This St Ives to Carbis Bay walk is only a mile each way, so why not take a picnic with you to enjoy on the beach? A picturesque walk which is great for a relaxing day in the sunshine.
Perfect for the more venturesome among you is the most challenging of our walks around St Ives; the walk from St Ives to Zennor. This adventurous Cornwall walking trail begins at Porthmeor beach where you commence the 6-mile walk to Zennor.
The pathway starts above the beach on Man’s Head, continuing through a kissing gate at Clodgey Point. You’ll pass through wild scenery, over pebbly coves and there will be lots of climbs and drops; so make sure you’re wearing sensible footwear!
As you pass Pen Enys Point, be sure to look back towards Porthmeor. Lucky walkers might be able to spot basking sharks or dolphins. But, even if the sealife is feeling shy, the views are still amazing.
The route does get more challenging as you get closer to Zennor, but the payoff is that the wild scenery becomes even more spectacular. Plus, you can reward yourself with a well-deserved meal at the Tinner’s Arms, you won’t be disappointed! After your delicious meal, either retrace your steps or, if your legs are weary, catch a bus back to St Ives.
Four-legged friends adore holidaying in Cornwall and, with miles of coastal paths and vast sandy beaches to explore, St Ives offers some fantastic dog walks. Energetic pooches would certainly enjoy the previous walk, and the Tinner’s Arms is dog-friendly too. But if you’re looking for something a bit less challenging, why not embark on St Ives to Lelant coastal walk?
Starting at St Ives railway station, this walk is an extension of the St Ives to Carbis Bay route. Walk above the railway line, stopping at Carbis Bay for a break if you wish, before continuing along the coastal path towards Porthkidney Sands.
This is a level walk, ideal for a relaxing stroll with your loved ones. Porthkidney Sands is dog-friendly all year round and the pretty village of Lelant is well worth a stop in.
The ancient pilgrim route of St Michael’s Way, which takes you back towards Carbis Bay, is steeped in history, dating back to prehistoric times and thought to have been used by pilgrims and missionaries to avoid the treacherous waters of Land’s End. This four and a half mile walk has fantastic scenery and intriguing history to discover.
The Hayle to St Ives walk is an extension of the previous walk; a circular walk which is just over 6 miles in total. However, you do have the option of getting a bus or train to Hayle and then walking back to St Ives.
If you’re arriving in Hayle by public transport, why not walk through the town first? There are gift shops, cafes and a quirky market in the Old Foundry Chapel to explore. Once you’re ready to begin walking back to St Ives, start from Britain’s oldest swing bridge on Custom House Quay.
The route takes you alongside the Hayle Estuary Nature Reserve, home to many different species of birds, before following the ancient pilgrim route of St Michael’s Way and onwards adjacent to the railway line via Carbis Bay and back to St Ives.
If it’s a pub walk you’re after, you could try the Bluff Inn, a pub on the clifftop in Hayle with amazing sea views. If you do the walk the opposite way round, you might be able to enjoy the sunset at the Bluff before heading back to St Ives on the train. Alternatively, you could stop off at the Badger pub in Lelant, halfway through your journey from Hayle to St Ives or vice versa.
This circular walk is a little bit further along the coast, but still one of our favourite walks in St Ives. This walk is most easily accessed by car, with a spacious National Trust car park in Godrevy. Alternatively, park at Hell’s Mouth cafe car park and head back towards Godrevy.
Situated on an area called North Cliffs, part of the Godrevy to Portreath Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this 5-mile circular walk enjoys breathtaking views of the rugged Cornish coast, including views of Godrevy lighthouse and the chance to spot seals, dolphins and other wildlife.
The route takes you over the Towans (Cornish for sand dunes), through farmland and across the cliff-top with elevated ocean views, before reaching Hell’s Mouth, a dramatic rocky inlet.
There are cafes at both Hell’s Mouth and Godrevy, where you can stop for some refreshments during your walk and Godrevy beach, forms part of the three miles stretch of sand between Hayle and Godrevy lighthouse, so there’s plenty of space to relax on the beach.
We are spoilt for choice with spectacular scenery in Cornwall and the stunning transformations brought about by the changing seasons means it’s always the perfect opportunity to get amidst nature and enjoy the outdoors.
Read on to discover some of the glorious gardens and wild woodland walks in Cornwall perfect for witnessing the county’s transformation through the shifting seasons.
Enjoy the spring sunshine at Trengwainton Garden near Penzance. Explore the winding wooded paths and admire the pretty colours of budding leaves and the first signs of new life in these exotic gardens. Trengwainton is a lovely sheltered garden which is surrounded by mainly beech trees, providing protection from the wind and making the gardens feel a bit milder on brisk spring days.
During the spring the gardens come back to life, shifting from barren branches to budding leaves waiting to burst into full bloom. From the terrace at the very top of the garden, you can also enjoy stunning sea views.
After your outdoor adventure, why not warm up from the lingering spring chill with a drink or hearty dish from the cosy tearoom?
Kennall Vale is a peaceful area of woodland in Ponsanooth, in an idyllic valley between Redruth and Penryn, which has the ruins of an abandoned gunpowder factory. It’s a nature reserve with historical ruins, making it an extra special place to explore. The history of the vale is fascinating. Kennall Mills was a great producer of gunpowder for the mining industry from 1812 and was one of only two gunpowder works operating in Cornwall at the time.
Experience total tranquillity as you wander through the beautiful woods, listening to the sound of the birds above you and the rushing of water as your meander alongside the river. It’s a wonderful place for children to explore and play hide and seek and for dogs to paddle in and out of the stream.
The site is managed by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and is a haven for woodland life. Discover interesting flora and fauna, look out for woodland birds, and seek out ruins of old water-wheel houses from the gunpowder works. You can park in the village of Ponsanooth and begin a circular walk from there. Bear in mind that the woodland and nature reserve can be muddy and slippery even in summer, so be sure to wear suitable footwear. This is one of the most idyllic and tranquil woodland walks in Cornwall.
Loe Pool is Cornwall’s largest natural lake which is found within the Penrose Country Estate. The combination of wooded tracks, the peaceful lake and vast stretches of nearby coastline make this a fantastic place to walk to appreciate Cornwall in the autumn.
Loe Bar was originally the mouth of the River Cober which led to a harbour in Helston. However, by the 13th century, the vast sand bar had cut Helston off from the sea and formed the pool.
The stunning shimmering surface of Loe Pool hides a mysterious and deadly past. Unsafe for swimming due to deadly undercurrents, it’s rumoured that every seven years, a life is lost from swimming in the Pool and off the Bar. It’s also thought that, according to Arthurian Legend, Loe Pool is the home of the Lady of the Lake and is where Sir Bedivere threw Excalibur.
The Stables Cafe is ideally positioned halfway between Porthleven and Helston and is a great place to refuel after a long walk exploring some of Cornwall’s finest countryside and coast. After the winter of 2017, when a large part of the much-loved coast path near Penrose and Porthleven fell into the sea, a new bridle path has been created set back from the cliff edge, making the entire walk more secure for families and dogs. However, it’s best to follow signs at all times and to keep dogs on leads along the clifftops.
A gentle stroll at Trebah Gardens is a lovely way to experience the magic of winter. There are over four miles of pathways to explore which lead you through the sub-tropical gardens with an amazing coastal backdrop. The vibrant garden pathways eventually lead down to a secluded beach on the Helford River called Polgwidden Cove, the perfect place to enjoy a flask of coffee and break from your walk.
During the winter, the gardens are filled with festive themed trails and treasure hunts, perfect to get the family in the spirit of Christmas.
There are adventure play areas and children’s trails to explore and dogs are welcome too. The Sunday lunches in the Trebah Kitchen are popular during the winter, with different locally reared meat available each week, fresh vegetables and homemade Yorkshire puddings. There’s also a great gift shop and plant centre to explore.
From trails hugging the coastline to paths wending through woodland, many of Cornwall’s walking routes are accessible to a push-chairs; so there’s no need to miss out on any of the eye-popping landscapes when you’ve got tots in tow. Explore Cornwall with your little ones on these six accessible buggy walks in Cornwall to soak up some of the county’s stunning scenery.
This easy-peasy two-mile stretch flanks the glory of Mounts Bay and proves that the South West Coast Path isn’t just for serious hikers. With sailing boats and the sea-bound St Michael’s Mount on one side, and trains chugging past on the other, there’s plenty of eye candy for buggy-bound toddlers. The trail is level and wide with plenty of places to stop for a picnic, skim pebbles or build a sandcastle on the beach.
Fancy a stroll through enchanting woodland where little ones can feed ducks, spot squirrels and play Tarzan on rope swings?
Tehidy is one of the best woodland walks in Cornwall and is the largest area of woodland in West Cornwall with 250 acres of delightful wooded pathways to explore. Lose yourself inside the 9 miles of beautiful pathways and immerse yourself in nature. There are pretty lakes to discover, with designated areas to feed ducks and swans. It’s a popular place for families and dog walkers all year round.
Ideal for nature-loving little ones, why not challenge them to see how many squirrels they can spot scurrying up the trees? There are different lengths of trails to follow highlighted by different colours, or you can just create your own route through the woods.
You can access Tehidy Woods from the North along North cliffs just outside of Portreath. Alternatively, you can head to the South car park, past the Tehidy golf course. There’s also a cafe and facilities by the South Drive.
Cornwall’s westernmost point boasts some of the region’s wildest, wave-hewn scenery. And if you follow National Cycle Route 3 from Sennen Cove to Lands End, which runs parallel to the coast path, you can still appreciate much of the jaw-dropping panorama from a wide, level path. It’s about a mile to the Lands End visitor centre, and from there you can reach the
Start your stroll along Bude Canal from the Weir café and wildlife centre, where little ones can enjoy interactive wildlife exhibits, a playground and lakeside farmland. From here follow the canal towpath seaward, spotting herons, egrets and otters in the nature reserve, before emerging beside the wharf, beaches and sea lock at Bude.
Set off from the pearly crescent of Daymer Bay, backed by Brea Hill and the wonky steeple of St Enodoc Church, and walk along verdant cliff tops at the mouth of the Camel Estuary. A mile and a half of wide, well-maintained paths take you all the way to the surfy village of Polzeath. And, to rest weary legs, you can pause on route for a spot of rock-pooling at the rugged Greenaway Beach.
For a snapshot of Cornwall’s south coast scenery try this short, easy stroll between two of Falmouth’s beaches. Start in the sub-tropical foliage of Queen Mary Gardens, beside Gyllyngvase beach, and follow the tarmacked coastal path over the cliffs, taking in spectacular views of Pendennis Castle and Falmouth Bay. The next crescent of sand, Swanpool beach, is perfect for a paddle, skimming stones or snacking on a wedge of homemade cake from the beach café.
This brings us to the end of our favourite coastal walks in Cornwall, but please share yours in the comments below. Now you have plenty of inspiration for walking in and around St Ives, browse our St Ives cottages, apartments and villas to find your perfect holiday home.