The Most Beautiful Coastal Walks in Cornwall

The coastal path from St Ives to Zennor is one of the most stunning walks in Cornwall
The coastal path from St Ives to Zennor is one of the most stunning walks in Cornwall | © mikebm70 / Getty Images
Photo of Lauren Williams
Freelance Travel Journalist31 August 2020

With dramatic cliffs, green pathways and stunning coastal views, Cornwall is a walker’s paradise. With more than 400 miles of coastline, you can wander through heritage mining country, discover King Arthur’s Cornish hideaway and cool off in hidden coves. It’s time to put those walking boots to good use.

St Agnes to Perranporth

Hiking Trail
Map View
Perranporth beach, Cornwall
© Ben Ivory / Getty Images
A short walk of 3.5mi (6km), this relatively level coastal stomp starts at the Driftwood Spars pub, with an ale brewed onsite, then follow the path to the clifftops. The ascent takes you out of the valley, when Trevaunance Cove bursts into view. With just one steep up-and-down, amble along turquoise coves accessible only to kayaks and surfers. Your final view as you enter Perranporthwill be line after line of waves breaking on the beach. Get some well-deserved rest at this gorgeous stone cottage, a short stroll from the beach at St Agnes, with its welcoming restaurants and pubs. Built on the ocean-facing land of the West Polberro mine, the one-bedroom cottage can sleep three, and makes the perfect romantic escape.

Mount Edgcumbe to Kingsand and Cawsand

Hiking Trail
Map View
The village of Kingsand on the Rame Peninsula in South East Cornwall.
© ianwool / Getty Images
Clinging to the edge of southeast Cornwall and just a seven-minute boat trip from Plymouth, Mount Edgcumbe boasts gardens that are a heady-scented wonderland of flowers. Entry is free, but there’s an admission fee for the manor house. With stunning views of Plymouth Sound and the South Devon coast, follow the pathway until you reach a stretch of grassland known as Minadew Brakes. After a breather, zigzag through woodland and across beaches until you reach the twin villages of Kingsand and Cawsand. The Cross Keys Inn in Cawsand has an excellent range of local ales, with outside seating and live music on Sundays. As for where to lay your head, it doesn’t get more picture-perfect than Bay Cottage, with its castle-wall entrance and gardens. Three bedrooms sleep up to six guests and there’s a strong chance you’ll never want to leave.

Mousehole to Lamorna Cove

Natural Feature
Map View
© incamerastock / Alamy Stock Photo
The pretty fishing village of Mousehole is the perfect starting point for a sunny walk along Cornwall’s south coast. Join the South West Coast Path and follow it along weather-beaten cliffs, over exposed fields and round Carn Du headland into Lamorna Cove, where the sparkling sea borders a wooded nature reserve. The Lamorna Wink Pub and Restaurant is a great pitstop for a pint of ale before the return trek. If you need somewhere to stay, book into this beautiful renovated fisherman’s cottage in Mousehole for the night and enjoy watching the boats drift past the harbour wall. This cosy one-bedder features a fireplace, exposed beams and a designer touch throughout.

Porthcurno to Land’s End

Natural Feature
Map View
The cliffs around Lands End, Cornwall
© diane10981 / Getty Images
Start your hike with a dip off Porthcurno beach, where the water is so blue, it could almost be the Caribbean. Once dry, head up the crag past the Minack Theatre, carved out of the rock, and onwards to Porthchapel beach. The route will take you through tiny villages, across sandy beaches and clifftops. Climb out of Nanjizal beach, and the home stretch to Land’s End is an easy walk past dramatic rock formations. The pub at Land’s End comes with a premium for being the first and last in the country. Spend the night in this gem of a beach house, complete with its own garden next to the water’s edge. Sleeping two, the house is a unique retreat in a Cornish paradise.

Fowey Hall Walk

Hiking Trail
Map View
Fowey from Polruan Cornwall
© ianwool / Getty Images
Through woodland and creek, and by ferry boat, this circular walk from Fowey to Polruan and back again is a truly tranquil trek. Take the passenger ferry from Fowey to the Old Ferry Inn, walk up the steep hill and veer right to follow the footpath. The route undulates through the Fowey Estuary, over wooden bridges and through woodland shade. Arrive in the village of Polruan and wander to the quay to pick up your return ferry. Families and large groups may want to book this four-bed spacious house, which sleeps 10, overlooking the River Fowey. From here, you can gaze out over the harbour, with all the amenities of Fowey close by.

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  • The Lizard Peninsula

    Natural Feature
    Map View
    © Kevin Britland / Alamy Stock Photo
    England’s most southerly point is a huge hunk of land jutting into the Atlantic Ocean, battered by the elements. Start your hike at the National Trust’s Kynance Cove, where giant rock formations and pretty beach collide. Stride along the edge of England with sea spray in your hair and the wind at your heels, at what feels like the end of the world. Dramatic cliffs and unpredictable weather make for a beautifully wild stroll. If you want to wake up here, book a stay at Bay House, with its panoramic ocean views. Eight guests can sleep comfortably in this four-bedroom home, a short walk from Lizard village.

    Tintagel to Boscastle

    Map View
    © MIKE WALKER / Alamy Stock Photo
    This stretch of coastline offers some of the best views in Cornwall, and from Tintagel Castle to Boscastle’s witching links, it offers an impressive hike steeped in history. Start at the castle, where King Arthur is said to have been conceived, and head north past breathtaking rocky islets and seabird colonies and through an Iron Age settlement before reaching the charming town of Boscastle. The millionaire shortbread in the National Trust cafe comes highly recommended. To spend the night, you can’t go wrong with this studio by the sea. Known as Captain’s Cabin, this luxury shed includes a king-size bed and ensuite bathroom.

    St Ives to Zennor

    Hiking Trail
    Map View
    View from Zennor Head, Cornwall
    © PitcherPost / Getty Images
    Probably the most spectacular walk in Cornwall, this hike is for the strong of heart and sturdy of foot, so watch your step as well as the view – some scrambling is needed, and the path itself is a trip hazard. As you depart from Porthmeor beach, in St Ives, say hello to the Man’s Head rock and look out for the ruins of the sick-house and old leper colony. Seal Island sits off the coast, and you can marvel at the view. Stop for a well-deserved drink at the Tinners Arms in Zennor, before taking the bus back to bustling St Ives. Wake up refreshed the next morning in this luxurious one-bed penthouse apartment, which sleeps two. As if the harbour views weren’t enough, the open-plan space features elegant interiors, wooden beams and beautiful artwork.
    These recommendations were updated on August 31, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.