Head to Cornwall’s ancient village of Porth Naven for the perfect walk with your dog
PUBLISHED: 11:04 18 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:04 18 September 2020
Mooch with your pooch with our perfect walk for you and your dog
Alexandra Pearce-Broomhead goes in search of a little playful peace and quiet in one of Cornwall’s most ancient villages
Tucked away behind the quaint village of St Just is a dramatic part of Cornwall’s coastline that is dying to be explored. The free car park is at the very end of Cot Valley as it is known locally, but you may more luck finding it on your sat nav by typing in Porth Nanven, its official name.
Once here, you will be faced with a small river at the bottom of a valley which leads onto a sandy beach surrounded by large boulders. Scrabbling over these is not for the faint-hearted but is worth it to get to the sand, enjoy a swim and explore the small caves. The rocks here are now protected, but in the past, they were once stolen from the beach and used as garden ornaments.
In the car park there is an informative sign that tells you all about Porth Nanven’s history over the last 120,000 years and how the landscape has changed, which includes the formation of this beach’s iconic rocks. Today, what remains is spectacular coastline and beautiful views of the Celtic Sea, which is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
From the car park, cross over the small bridge and follow the path that leads up the cliff side. There will be options from here to head inland, but if you stick to the outer path then you can head inland for the circular route later. I would strongly advise that no matter how well behaved your dog is, you keep it on a lead whilst you are on this coastpath. It is quite a drop and there are also mine shafts and adits along the way, so it is better to be as safe as possible. As you walk, you will find yourself on a path flanked by wildflowers, with the sea to your right and landscape to your left. Keep an eye out for holes in the cliffside. This area was once part of Cornwall’s tin mining heritage and there are lots of remains that can be seen along the way. Admire from a distance though, and always obey the signs.
As you walk, you will find yourself slowly sloping upwards with the path. At one point, signs will ask you to keep walking and not stop due to breeding birds in the area during the summer months. Head up some steps and then follow the path as its winds back on itself, leading you to the top of the cliff. Eventually you will find yourself at a crossroads with a sign for ‘Letcha’. If you take the left path here, you can circle back to the beginning, or you can head right on a path that will take you down and then back up again. At the top of this path, you will find the cliff top opens a little bit more. Boscregan Farm is on your left and during the summer months you will be treated to the glorious views of the vibrant Purple Viper’s Bugloss, a beautiful and vibrant native plant that the farm has brought back to the area with the help of the National Trust, mixed in with the golden yellow of corn marigold plants. This is one of the highest spots, so it is a great place to stop; take a load off and sit atop a rock and take in the views or you can nip through the farm gate and enjoy a closer look at the flowers.
Once you have taken a breather, you can continue along the coast path towards Sennen (around two miles) or you can turn back, either heading the same way you came, or by taking the alternative path at the sign for ‘Letcha’ and following the inland path through the fields back to the beginning. At this time of year, the heather is in full bloom and makes for a stunning foreground to the water.
Rating: Moderate to difficult. There are a lot of inclines, and the path is thin and rocky.
Accessibility: Not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs due to the paths.
Facilities: None at the beach, but the village of St Just is a few minutes’ drive away and has toilets, dog-friendly pubs, shops, bins and some fantastic places to get delicious food.
Wildlife: During our walk, Laika and I saw a peregrine falcon, a kestrel and a group of choughs. I recommend taking a long lens camera or a pair of binoculars to enjoy all this dramatic coastline has to offer.
Beach in focus
With a café, toilets, bins, paid car park and free car park and a short walk to another dog-friendly beach, Poldhu is a great place to enjoy a day with your four-legged friend.
Why we love it
This National Trust owned beach is a short drive from Mullion and has everything you need to enjoy anything from a short play on the beach to a full day. Under the recent new regulations, it is dog-friendly again from 31 August so you may still be able to enjoy some of the late summer weather. With a river that runs along the beach for dogs who aren’t too fond of the waves, rock pools and a café that is famous for its hot chocolate, there is a little something for everyone here.
And if you decide you want a break from sitting on the sand, you can head up the cliff on the right hand side of the beach for a walk that has some beautiful views and down onto Gunwalloe beach for a change of scenery!
Merv Davey is a regular columnist in Cornwall Life. Discover our latest subscription offers here.