10 of the best short walks in North Cornwall

April 30th, 2015

Following on from last month’s article featuring short walks in South Cornwall, we are pleased to present our 10 favourite short walks in North Cornwall, all under an hour’s journey from The Valley. Whilst many of the walks listed can be extended to make a full day at each location, you can also accomplish several of them within a single day out.

With primroses, bluebells, and foxgloves now adding glorious colour to Cornish hedgerows, May is the perfect time to take a last minute Cornwall cottage holiday, and explore the dramatic and beautiful footpaths of the North Cornwall Coast. The Valley’s luxury contemporary cottages offer the perfect place to relax and recharge after your day of exploration, with Café Azur on hand to reward your efforts with great cuisine and extensive wine list.


Land’s End to Sennen Cove

Distance 1.3 miles

Start Sennen Cove Car Park, grid ref SW354263. Finish Point Lands End – SW342254

Sennen Cove draws a vast number of visitors to its golden sand, but many miss the great vistas afforded by a brief walk up to the old coastguard lookout – and the opportunity to wander a little further to get the most amazing views of Land’s End without the associated car chaos. There is a great cafe on the beach and a good pint in the Old Success Inn. If the tide is out, you can also walk north and scramble over the rocks towards Gwenver, you must check the tides as the shallow nature of the beach means it can come in pretty quick.


Botallack mining walk, St Just

Distance 1 mile

Start/finish Count House, Botallack, St Just grid ref SW333365

The area around St Just was a hub for Cornish mining activity, the remains of which are clear to see along this stretch of coastline. The specific appeal of this area is difficult to put your finger on, there are just so many things to see and wonder at: industrial archaeology, brutal natural landscape and loads of interesting wildlife. A favourite view is looking south to Cape Cornwall, jutting out into the Atlantic with the white water crashing around its base. There are many options for short walks around the area but we recommend the route north from Cape Cornwall up to the Levant Mine with its steam engine, lovingly restored by the Greasy Gang volunteers.



Distance 3 miles

Start/finish Carn Galva car park, grid ref SW421364

This beautiful valley is like a time machine, walking around you will jump between pre-historic, medieval, industrial revolution and second world war periods. Sitting proud on the highest point is Bosigran iron age castle, enjoying views westwards to Pendeen Watch and eastwards to Gurnards Head. The ramparts of the castle are clearly visible, if you peek between them to the opposite side of the Zawn you are looking at one of the Royal Marine Commando’s cliff assault training areas. Commando Ridge cuts a distinctive line out of the sea and this route still provides an adventurous experience even with modern climbing equipment. A reasonable (deceptively long) walk east rewards the weary rambler with a pint at the wonderful Gurnards Head pub.


Zennor Head

Distance 1 mile

Start/finish Zennor village car park, grid ref SW453385

Zennor is steeped in both history and marvellous tales: there is a mermaid in the church; the Quoit burial chamber on the high moor; and the steep sided beach valley evokes stories of illicit smuggling activities. This area was widely used by a number of west Cornwall artists – Patrick Heron’s house sits above the village to the east. There is very pleasant walking through fields, along the coastal path and up onto the moor, all of which work up a good thirst to be slaked in the Tinners Arms, a great little pub with a pleasant garden right in the centre of the village.


St Agnes lookout (Carn Gowla)

Distance 1 mile

Start/finish Car park at St Agnes Head, grid ref SW702514

The beautiful little village of St Agnes is at the centre of an amazing area to walk in and explore the wealth of natural riches. Most spectacular is Carn Gowla (rock lookout in Cornish) – on a clear day you can see the area’s vast coastal landscape from here. From Mesolithic hunters to WW2 ammunition stores, St Agnes Head is steeped in history, and is also home to rare heathland and important seabird colonies. Chapel Porth beach is a hidden gem, unveiling itself as you come round the coastal path. At low tide there is a large expanse of golden sand – well worth a stroll to look back at the imposing outcrops and caves. Chapel Porth also has a great little beach cafe to restore you for your hike back out of the valley.


Cubert wildlife walk, near Newquay

Distance 6 miles

Start/finish West Pentire car park, grid ref SW775605

Although Newquay itself doesn’t evoke thoughts of great walks, the area around it is a gem. The coastline just south of Newquay is incredibly varied with fantastic displays of arable flora in summer. At West Pentire you can see whole fields scarlet with poppies and other rare meadow plants. There’s also lots of sandy grassland, rich in wild flowers like cowslip and pyramidal orchid. The dunes behind Holywell Bay are the home for hundreds of different insects and great for bug hunting. Both Crantock and Holywell beaches are well worth a visit with Penhale Point offering amazing vistas for those who are prepared to stretch their legs a little further.


Lundy Bay walk, near New Polzeath

Distance 1 mile

Start/finish Lundy Bay National Trust car park, grid ref SX953795

The coastal path around the Camel estuary is one of Cornwall’s most well-known areas, and the transition from the comparatively soft estuary to the wild rocks of Pentire Point is quite striking. The shifting sand bar at the mouth of the estuary has given its name to one of Cornwall’s most prolific exports – Doom Bar beer. But it is the geological diversity, which makes this place very special; epitomised by the intimidating black rock of Pentire Point. For a slightly tamer yet no less interesting experience Lundy Bay, looking out to the island some 80 miles distant, holds a treasure trove provided by a collapsed sea cliff cave and rock pools galore.


Tintagel to Boscastle harbour

Distance 1 mile

Start/finish Boscastle car park, grid ref SX101912

Most famously associated with King Arthur, Tintagel also has links to the sainthood. The area between here and Boscastle has links to St Nectan and St Pirran with a cave and a well respectively. The Boscastle area was a favourite of Thomas Hardy, who wrote about it as Castle Boterel: “a region of dream and mystery”. He met his first wife, Emma Gifford, here in 1870. The coastal path is steep and strenuous but the views are well worth the effort. The famous flooding of Boscastle is now a distant memory and this delightful coastal village has a number of good watering holes to receive and replenish the weary traveller.


Crackington Haven, Bude

Distance 3 miles

Start/finish Crackington Haven car park, grid ref SX143968

Explore a stunning stretch of north Cornwall’s coastline on a walk that leads you from Crackington Haven’s sandy beach, to magnificent vistas of Cambeak headland and the cliffs beyond, before returning by the sheltered woodlands of Ludon Valley. Intriguing rock formations and varied wildlife are just some of the highlights you’ll discover on the way. The Coombe Barton Inn provides a pleasant stop-off with amazing views. It is worth noting that the Strangles beach is an amazing secluded spot yet it has very strong currents which can catch the unsuspecting bather off guard.


Hawker’s Hut walk, Morwenstow

Distance 1 mile

Start/finish Rectory Farm Tearoom car park (rectory-tearooms.co.uk), grid ref SS205153

This gentle clifftop walks encompass breath-taking views of north Cornwall’s coast. You’ll come across a beautiful church, believed to date back to Saxon times, and of course Hawker’s Hut, the refuge of poet Reverend Robert Hawker. When you take a good look at this part of the coast, you can clearly see why Hawker spent so much of his time looking after shipwrecked sailors. The outcrops in this part of the county are brutal, and it is worth keeping dogs under close control as the drops are unforgiving. On a clear day, Lundy Island can be seen out in the Bristol Channel.

Picture Credits: Boscastle, Adam Gibbard & Visit Cornwall