Canicross in Cornwall

PUBLISHED: 16:09 11 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:09 11 May 2018

Huge sand dunes on way down to the beach at perran sands, perranporth

Huge sand dunes on way down to the beach at perran sands, perranporth


The South West Coast Path is the perfect adventure for you and your pooch to try your hand at canicross, a dog-powered cross country run

The breath-taking views, stunning scenery and refreshments offered by dog-friendly pubs are what make the Cornish stretch of the South West Coast Path one of the most beautiful places in the country to take your dog for a walk. Whether walking from Poldhu to Mullion Cove or Cawsand to Whistand Bay, boredom is never an option.

Dogs are allowed on the beaches at Harbour Cove and Hawker’s Cove all year-round, making the walk from Padstow to Harlyn Bay a favourite with dog walkers. With views from St Saviours Point, the dramatic headland of Stepper Point that features prominently in the opening episodes of Poldark and acres of sand for your four-legged friend to play on, you and your canine companion are sure to love this seven-mile circuit.

For those of you interested in Cornwall’s mining history, a twirl of the cape may be just the ticket. Taking in the stunning coast near St Just, this 4.8 mile circular route passes through an area once heavily mined for tin and copper passing historic sites like Ballowall Barrow and the Cape’s landmark chimney built in the 1850s for the Cape Cornwall Mine. The large white building at the base of the cape was the count-house for the mine. Once you’ve had your fill of mining, head to Priest Cove or the Cot Valley where dogs are allowed on the beach all year round.

Cape Cornwall - Tim JepsonCape Cornwall - Tim Jepson

Have you tried canicross? For those of you wanting to push the boundaries of your usual stroll though, we’d recommend trying canicross, which allows you and your dog to explore even more of this glorious section of coast. The increasingly popular activity of canicross is effectively dog-powered, cross-country running with your faithful companion and the South West Coast Path is the perfect place to get started.

The runner traditionally wears a comfortable waist belt and the dog dons a padded harness, with the duo attached by a two-metre long bungee cord that provides shock absorption for when your best friend gets up to top speed. This is a sport for all ages, sizes and breeds, with timid terriers to mighty huskies are sure to enjoy this popular pastime, although it is recommended to wait until your pup reaches between 12-18 months of age as their bones are still forming prior to this.

There are numerous benefits to undertaking canicross on the coast path as the sport is a great way to get fit, spend more time outside and gives you the chance to strengthen the bond between you and your new running companion.

Keeping Watch taken on Stepper Point by the Daymark beacon. Photographer Lindsay PhilpKeeping Watch taken on Stepper Point by the Daymark beacon. Photographer Lindsay Philp

Your dog will relish the added stimulation of running with you and the chance to learn new commands, with some canicross runners using traditional ‘mushing’ terms to direct their dog. You can sound like a pro by learning a few terms like ‘go gee’ (go right) and ‘go haw’ (go left).

Don’t worry if running along the South West Coast Path on your own sounds a bit daunting, the sport has a great social scene and offers a wonderful opportunity for both you and your dog to make new friends. The friendly Canicross Cornwall group is a great place to start as they welcome new members, including beginners, and organise regular running events. You can also head to the South West Coast Path Association’s website and access detailed information from the charity on hundreds of circular and linear routes all over Cornwall.

The emphasis of canicross is very much on enjoyment. It involves panting, a bit of enthusiastic howling and a lot of gleeful lapping up of water from the nearest available bowls. Your dogs will enjoy it too!

Harlyn Bay Beach Photographer Vicky WilliamsHarlyn Bay Beach Photographer Vicky Williams

Padstow to Harlyn Bay

1 This 4.8 mile walk starts at Market Square, one of two squares in the centre of the town, outside the Wellington Hotel. Walk down Church Street, with the parish church on the left.

2 Continue past the granite houses to Venton Square East. Here bear slightly left and go down the surfaced path, past the granite house with the outside steps.

3 At the bottom turn left along the road – be aware of the traffic here. Join the footway and follow the road round to meet the B3306 St Just-St Ives road at Nancherrow.

4 Cross the B3306 and go along the narrow lane opposite. This leads into the Kenidjack Valley, one of the area’s premier former mining sites, and soon evidence of its mining past is seen in old buildings and chimneys.

5 The lane becomes a track, which begins to climb the valley side. At the fork keep right, still climbing gently, and do the same again at a second fork.

6 As the track bears round to the right the outlines of a number of chimneys and remains of mine workings appear ahead. At the point these first appear, a grassy path leaves the track to the left and back. This is the coast path – turn left along it.

7 Follow the path to arrive at a ruined building on a headland.

8 The coast path descends to the left of the ruined building to a stone stile over a wall. Cross this and descend to a track.

9 Turn left at the track, passing above numerous more mining remains in the valley below, which is the seaward extension of the Kenidjack Valley passed along earlier. At the first fork bear right, down towards the valley bottom. At the valley floor turn left and then take the next path on the right, towards the old workings, and cross the footbridge.

10 The path then climbs the other side of the valley. Where it meets another path turn right, along the lip of the valley. At a junction bear right, by a house (Wheal Call), and this path then arrives at the access road to Cape Cornwall. Turn right here.

11 To visit the cape walk along the path field alongside the road, through a stile and into a field with a ruined building.

12 From the oratory continue to the stone stile in the far corner of the field. Cross this (NB do not go through the obvious gap in the wall) and follow the path ahead, which then narrows. Turn left uphill on reaching a rocky outcrop and this leads to one of the main access paths to the top.

13 From the top descend down one of the obvious access paths to the buildings at the bottom.

14 Walk back towards the car park but before reaching it turn right down the track and steps from the gate. At the bottom turn left up the tarmac path and then at the next junction go sharp right and back, still climbing. This climb is quite long and steep and leads to a surfaced lane at the top. Continue ahead here then fork right, off the lane, opposite the trig point.

15 The coast path continues along the cliff top, passing a number of capped mine shafts, then curves round and down into the Cot Valley, where it meets a lane. Turn left here, up the lane and leaving the coast path which here turns right, back towards the sea. The lane twists and turns, climbing steadily to arrive back in St Just. At the junction at the top turn right then left, past the car park and toilets, to return to Market Square.

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