CORNWALL WALKS: THE WILDS OF WEST CORNWALL

PUBLISHED: 15:45 15 February 2016 | UPDATED: 12:43 30 August 2017

PORTH CHAPEL FROM THE COAST PATH ROBERT HESKETH 1

PORTH CHAPEL FROM THE COAST PATH ROBERT HESKETH 1

The spectacular coast path is the highlight of this exhilarating walk around Land's End. Wind, weather and the implacable sea have sculpted the granite cliffs on this beautiful coast

Robert Hesketh takes an exhilarating walk taking in the wild weather as much as the stunning scenery

The spectacular coast path is the highlight of this exhilarating walk. Wind, weather and the implacable sea have sculpted the granite cliffs on this beautiful coast into cleft boulders, strange shapes and rocky headlands, one with a rocking (logan) stone. Each headland is a fine viewpoint.

En route is the 15th century church of St Levan, noted particularly for its Norman font, its Georgian pulpit and especially for its 15th century bench ends. One shows a jester with cap and bells, another a pilgrim with his staff. The bearded St Levan is shown wearing a hat and carrying a book.

We also pass the Minack Theatre. Built into the cliffs at Porthcurno with the sea as its backdrop, the unique Minack offers a full summer season. It is open to visitors during the day, performances permitting.

Treryn Dinas, a characteristic Cornish Iron Age headland or promontory fort, is large and defended on the landward side with a series of earthworks. The restless sea and granite cliffs provide natural defences on the seaward sides.

Take binoculars to spot birds and marine mammals. Seals and dolphins are often present, but frequently missed. If you spot one and it vanishes, just keep watching: they are bound to come up for air, though they may surface some distance from where you first saw them. I spent an enjoyable half hour watching an old bull seal from Hella Point.

He was readily identified by Cornwall Seal Group when I showed them his portrait. Like all seals, he is distinctively marked and they know him of old.

Look out too for the telltale fins of basking sharks in summer. These enormous fish – typically growing to between 20 and 25 feet long and second in size only to whale sharks - are harmless vegetarians, feeding on plankton.

Boots on? Let’s go!

1 From Treen car park, walk 50m towards the village. Turn left past Houses Farm and bear right. Follow the public footpath over six fields and stiles to Tredrennen.

2 Keep left of Tredrennen. Cross a stile. Turn sharp right. Keep the wall on your right through the first field. Follow waymarks to a road. Turn right for 100m, then left over a stile. Follow the field path towards Raftra. Go through a metal gate just to left of farm buildings. Turn right 100m up the track.

3 Turn left through the gate and follow the footpath west through the middle of three fields to Arden Sawah Farm. Turn right and almost immediately left into a signed Public Bridleway. Ignore the footpath on the right. Half-circle the farmyard. Turn right down a track towards the sea. Keep left at a track junction and only 50m ahead, fork right on the footpath. At the cross tracks ahead, stay on the same West North-West course signed with blue arrows.

4 Turn left (south) onto the coast path at Arden Sawah Cliff. Enjoy the views from headlands and watch for sea birds and marine animals.

5 Continue east on the coast path from Porthgwarra.

6 Take the coast path left of the Minack Theatre down steps. Continue on the coast path round Porthcurno (a small diversion from the coast path here leads to St Levan church). Return to coast path and continue east.

7 Ignore the first path to Treen. Continue for 550m to the outer earthworks of Treryn Dinas. Follow the path through earthworks to the headland of Logan Rock – beware, as reaching the rocky summit involves some scrambling! Retrace your steps to the earthworks and follow the coast path east.

8 Cross the ford or the nearby clapper bridge at Penberth. Follow the lane inland for 300m. Turn left onto the public footpath. Turn left again at cottages and right up the path 50m ahead. Follow the path uphill through the wood and across fields by gates and stiles to start.

Points of Interest

Stunning cliff scenery

Minack Theatre

Treryn Dinas Iron Age cliff fort

St Levan’s historic church

Sea birds and marine animals

Fact File

Distance: 12.4km/7 ¾ miles

Time: 4 hours

Grade: Challenging

Terrain: Coastpath, footpaths and quiet lanes. Several steep slopes. Rocky in parts

Child/dog friendly? Suitable for older children and dogs on leads. Beware unfenced cliffs

Start/parking: Treen car park SW395230

Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorer 102; Landranger 203; Harvey’s SWCP 3

Refreshments: Pubs at Treen and Porthcurno; cafés (seasonal) at Treen, Porthcurno, Porthgwarra and Minack

Public Toilets: Treen, Porthgwarra and Porthcurno

Public Transport: Daily buses from Penzance 0871 2002233 / travelinesw.com

More Walks: Shortish Walks Near the Land’s End, Paul White (Bossiney Books, 2013)

More about seals

cornwallsealgroup.co.uk

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