8 Cornwall walks (with places for a Cornish cream tea along the way)
PUBLISHED: 11:19 26 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:36 07 March 2018
What’s better than a ramble around Cornwall? A ramble with a Cornish cream tea en route of course! We pick 8 lovely walks in the county where you can refuel with a cream tea along the way
1. Land’s End
Land’s End’s superb scenery and massive granite cliffs make it one of Cornwall’s finest walks. Winter, when the crowds have gone, the surf is high and Penwith’s wonderful sunsets come early, is particularly fine.
Following the coast path a mile south to Pordenack Point yields a stunning view of Land’s End and on to the Longships Lighthouse. Alternatively, trek a mile north from the start to see the Irish Lady, a prominent rock in the surf said to be named after an Irishwoman who lost her life here. A little further on, at the bottom of Castle Zawn, is the rusting carcass of RMS Mulheim. A grim reminder of how dangerous to shipping Land’s End rocks still are. She ran aground in 2003.
2. Tintagel Castle
Rich in history and old in story, Tintagel Castle is one of Britain’s most fascinating historic sites. Readily accessed by a 20-minute walk from Tintagel, the castle and its exhibition centre are open at varied times throughout the year so check the website ahead of visiting.
The castle stands on a natural defensive site, and may have served as an Iron Age cliff castle. Exit the castle by joining the coast path at the upper entrance. A 500m diversion north takes you to Barras Nose, another superb viewpoint and a fine place to watch the sun set.
Walking 500m south leads to the ancient church of St Materiana, identified as St Madryn, a Welsh princess who evangelized these parts circa 500 AD. The church is essentially as it was when built by the first Norman earls of Cornwall between 1080 and 1150. An amazing history lesson awaits.
After your walk, head back to Tintagel and refuel at King Arthur’s Bistro Café with an authentic Cornish cream tea (complete with two scones). You worked hard for it so enjoy!
3. St Agnes
This section of the South West Coast Path is one in which Cornwall’s mining heritage in the landscape is paramount. There is plenty of evidence of former mining activity, including somewhat stark areas of spoil and sometimes slightly sad building relics, but also grand, imposing engine houses and chimneys. Nevertheless, the scale and grandeur of the cliffs, the beaches and the surf illustrate that nature always re-asserts itself.
A lot of this walk is through areas of open heathland offering a feast of colour and aroma throughout most of the year. In autumn the ling and bell heather form purple carpets beneath the black pods of the gorse cracking open in the sun. With spring comes thorn bushes bedecked with tumbling white scented blossom and sharp green leaf buds, while beneath them bluebells and primroses are a riot of colour in the fresh bracken unfurling between them. For step-by-step instructions of the route, click here.
No walk along the South West Coast Path in St Agnes is complete without popping to the St Agnes Bakery for an al fresco cream tea. If you’ve still got room, we highly recommend their Cornish pasty too.
4. St Ives to St Michael’s Mount
Head to one of Cornwall’s most famous harbours in St Ives for a walk to St Michael’s Mount, taking in a slice of Cornwall’s history and its beauty as you go. This superb walk uses the coast path and St Michael’s Way to make a wonderful, scenic coast-to-coast route. We begin at St Ives, long favoured by artists who recognised its natural beauty and remarkable clarity of light.
Trencrom Hill, a Neolithic enclosure reused as a hillfort in the Iron Age, marks the half-way point and gives a memorable vista, especially northwards over St Ives Bay and the Hayle Estuary. St Michael’s Mount is island home of St Aubyn’s and crowned with its medieval church and castle and surrounded by sub-tropical gardens makes a memorable conclusion.
Once you get to St Michael’s Mount, take the causeway at low tide and reward your hard work with a cream tea for two at The Sail Loft. The scones are freshly baked every day, the cream is Cornish and the jam is locally sourced too.
5. Harlyn Bay to Mawgan Porth
The spectacularly beautiful coast path between Harlyn Bay and Magwan Porth makes a wonderful linear walk, rich with wildflowers and bird life. However we must warn you that the full route is a challenging 11¼ miles/18km long and takes 7 hours to complete. That considered, we think it’s important to set off early and by lunchtime you should have reached the Carnewas Tea Rooms at Bedruthan Steps for a delicious Cornish cream tea – and you’ll definitely have worked up the appetite for it! Bedruthan Steps are impressive from every angle, but the classic place to view and photograph them is the paved area at the foot of a flight of steps leading to Carnewas car park.
Other highlights of the walk include Harlyn Bay, the lighthouse at Trevose Head and Mawgan Porth, but almost every twist and turn of the path offers fresh and exciting views. Bring a camera and binoculars if you have them and choose a clear day to enjoy this route at its best.
6. Lelant to St Ives
There’s nothing quite like a good hike along the South West Coast Path with a cream tea along the way, and a moderate walk from Lelant Station to St Ives is just the ticket. Travelling alongside the railway line high above St Ives Bay, through an area rich in ancient history, from Stone Age times to the nineteenth century, you’ll be following in the footsteps of our forebears who would look out for pilchard shoals arriving in the bay.
This is a particularly good walk in spring, when the Hayle Estuary is alive with migrant birds coming and going and resident species such as oystercatchers, plovers and godwits are moving through the RSPB reserve. Porthkidney is also noted for rare wildflowers.
This walk runs between the train stations at Lelant and St Ives, so to avoid retracing your steps either catch the train at the start or end of your walk. Towards the end of the walk you’ll reach Carbis Bay Beach and the Carbis Bay Hotel. Stop and rest awhile with a Cornish cream tea in the hotel’s conservatory where you can enjoy far reaching views of St Ives Bay whilst you devour scones and clotted cream.
7. Holywell Bay to Perranporth
If you take one long bracing walk in Cornwall make it an eight-mile hike from Holywell Bay to Perranporth and back. Use the route along the South West Coast Path just south of Newquay, taking in the grassy sand dunes and seascape of the beautiful Holywell Bay.
It’s a challenging yet fascinating walk for the enthusiast, around Penhale Point and through the dunes at Penhale Sands. The fifth century missionary St Piran is said to have washed up here on his millstone after he was banished from Ireland, and the walk visits the remnants of his oratory, as well as various other holy sites attached to his name.
On an eight mile ramble you’re definitely going to need a hot cup of tea and scones to keep you going. We recommend stopping at Chrissy’s Tea Room in Perranporth for a well deserved Cornish cream tea with heart-shaped scones and a huge dollop of clotted cream.
8. Bodmin Moor
Discover Bodmin Moor’s ancient past and its recent industrial history on this fine figure of eight walk starting at the car park at the southern end of Minions.
During the Victorian copper boom 4,000 miners toiled around Caradon and Minions and the area was loud with the gasps and whistles of engines, the pounding of stamps and the shouts of men. Now silence punctuated with birdsong predominates, but the Cornish miners have left many stark reminders of their tough and dangerous working life. Ruined engine houses, chimneys, tramways and spoil tips litter the landscape around Minions, eloquent memorials to Cornwall’s pioneering place in hard rock mining.
Minions Tearoom is the best spot on this route for taking a break the way the Cornish know best; with a cup of tea and a scone.