Beautiful Cornish walks with something special along the way
Explore Cornwall through its pubs, gardens and castles
Cornwall: the home of cream teas, milelong beaches and some of the most spectacular walks in the country. It’s no wonder so many of us love nothing more than slipping on our walking boots and taking to the coast path whenever we have the chance.
But what makes walking in Cornwall so unique is that there’s always something new to discover. Whether it’s a pitstop at a friendly local pub, an ancient heritage site or the wildlife waiting around every corner, we’ve handpicked five of the most interesting and beautiful walks in Kernow, each one promising something special along the way.
A chance for seal spotting: Pentire Point and The Rumps
Considered one of the best places in the county for year-round seal spotting, a walk at Pentire Point and The Rumps is a haven for wildlife watching. Offering views across a handful of Cornish landmarks, from Trevose Lighthouse to Tintagel Castle, this walk is little over three miles and best enjoyed on a clear day.
Starting out from the National Trust old lead mine car park, go through the wooden gate and head straight for the coast path. Passing through fields and following the bridleway that leads inland, you’ll soak up beautiful sea views across Port Isaac Bay for the next two miles, before reaching Pentireglaze Haven – a small beach that sits beside Polzeath. Hints to Cornwall’s past are dotted all around this part of the walk, with Iron Age hill forts peaking out from the earth.
Before long you’ll reach the iconic twin headland of The Rumps, so be sure to pack the binoculars for your best chance at spotting the local seals. They can often be seen in small numbers around the headland, whether they’re bobbing in the waves or basking on the rocks beneath the cliffs. The surrounding islands are also popular with seabirds, so keep an eye out for puffins, gannets and if you’re lucky, perhaps even a peregrine falcon.
Three miles | 90 minutes | Moderate | See more details here.
Perfect for a pub lunch: Kelsey Head and West Pentire
Starting out from The Bowgie Inn, this three hour circular walk in North Cornwall will keep your heart racing and your step count high. The challenging five mile stint stretches from West Pentire and along the South West Coast Path, with spectacular views along the way.
After descending onto Polly Joke Beach then walking up onto the headland, you’ll be surrounded by flora and fauna at Kelsey Head – a Site of Special Scientific Interest that comes alive in summer. From this unique lookout point, watch the seabirds soar above the Atlantic spray, keep an eye out for dolphins or simply fill your lungs with that restorative Cornish air. The walk then meanders through the Holywell dunes and across grassland at Cubert Common, before landing you back at the pub just in time for lunch.
A refuge for weary walkers, The Bowgie Inn is open daily from 11am and sandwiched between the beaches at Crantock and Polly Joke, giving you incredible views while you drink and dine. Early morning rambles aren’t complete without stopping off for the Bowgie Brunch, but for winter walks, their warming Sunday lunch may just prove all too tempting. Think roasted meats, fresh vegetables and fluffy Yorkshires, all accompanied by a pint of something local.
Five miles | Three hours | Challenging | See more details here.
One for wild swimmers: Cape Cornwall and Priest Cove
On Cornwall’s wild and rugged west coast, a little piece of paradise awaits. Enveloped in the history of Victorian mining, the Two Streams walk sits in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Starting in the car park at St Just, wander down past the chapel and take to the footpath. Climbing the north side of the valley and joining the South West Coast Path, you’ll pass historic mines, chimney stacks and Bronze Age burial sites. On a clear day, you’ll be treated to views out to Sennen Cove, Land’s End and the Isles of Scilly.
If you’re hoping to cool off at the halfway point of your walk, look no further than Priest Cove. With a natural saltwater pool, wild swimmers will feel instantly at home, while the fisherman’s huts clinging to the cliffside add to the area’s Cornish charm. Priest Cove is well-known in the community for its long-running annual swimming race that takes places every summer. Find a spot on the shingle beach and watch the locals zoom across from the surrounding granite outcrops known as the Brisons, back to the sheltered side of the cape.
Five miles | Three hours | Challenging | See more details here.
Take a wander through the woodland: Mevagissey to The Lost Gardens of Heligan
Setting out from the picturesque south coast fishing village of Mevagissey, the penultimate walk on our list explores the beautiful Lost Gardens of Heligan. Leave the car in the village car park and walk up Valley Road – the start of the mostly flat mile and a half long footpath. A popular spot for an amiable bike ride, it forms part of the Coast and Clay trail and the Cornish Way cycle route, perfect if the little ones prefer to pedal.
Take in the surrounding countryside as you walk, until you spot the sign for pedestrian access to Heligan. Leave the cycle route here and go through the gate, where you’ll soon reach Heligan Mill and its gently flowing stream. The trail becomes a little steeper as you ascend through Mill Woods, where at the top of the hill, the outlying buildings of the Heligan estate come into view.
You’ll know you’ve arrived when the familiar scent of camellias and rhododendrons greets you at the entrance – setting the scene for a leisurely stroll through the 200 acres of gardens.
For the return route, we recommend descending into Pentewan Valley, where the South West Coast Path will guide you past the clifftops and coves of Portgiskey and Penare Point, before bringing you out by the harbour. Stop for a drink by the water or wander Mevagissey’s cobbled streets on your way back to the car.
Three miles | 90 minutes | Easy | See more details here.
A walk from Tudor times: Falmouth to Pendennis Head
From the pretty streets of maritime Falmouth to Pendennis Castle’s striking grounds, this circular walk may just be a new family favourite. It’s an easy route with incredible views, but pack a summertime picnic when the weather’s warm and keep the children re-fuelled for the five miles ahead.
Starting out from Falmouth high street and leaving the Maritime Museum, harbour and docks behind, choose the ‘scenic route’ at Castle Drive and continue along the wooded path. Soon you’ll arrive at Pendennis Point – where more often than not, a local ice cream van is waiting to make those sensational views even sweeter.
Enjoy a wander down to Little Dennis Blockhouse or for keen historians, take a detour and visit Pendennis Castle itself. An artillery fort built in the 16th century by Henry VIII, little ones will love exploring the grounds and keep, while adults can take a tour of the Half Moon Battery. On your way back, the little bit of road walking will be worth it when you reach the beaches at Swanpool and Gyllyngvase – which both offer soft sands and calm waters for paddling.
Five miles | Three hours | Easy | See more details here.
Some of the facilities listed above require booking in advance to aid social distancing, please consider this when planning your route.