St Ives to Coverack: 7 days (Category B)
Distance: 80 miles
Av. daily distance: 11.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate/difficult with rocky and hilly sections
Price: £650 for 7 days/ 8 nights*
(includes bed and breakfast, bag transfers, maps & info packs, arrival and departure transfers between accommodation and local train stations/car parks. B&B includes the night prior to starting the walk and the night after finishing the walk)
Consider: having a rest day in Penzance or adding a day at St Just to explore the moors
This walking holiday covers the two peninsulas of West Cornwall and the most varied and spectacular scenery in the county. From vaulted cliffs to pebble beaches, golden sand to open moorland and promenades to wilderness – it’s all here.
You can expect rocky outcrops and headlands, cliffs and golden beaches. Wild seas and wild flowers scent the coast path and the isolation is superb in parts. The rugged north coast contrasts with the gentle shingle beaches of the south coast and yet again with the high serpentine cliffs of the Lizard. A truly great walk in stunning scenery.
Start: St Ives
Distance: 7 miles | Height gain: 1890 feet/576 metres
Time walking: 4 hours excluding breaks
Difficulty: Difficult. The distance is short but there are several steep hills and rocky/muddy sections.
Highlights: The Barbara Hepworth museum in St Ives, Porthmeor beach (and cafe), the view from Clodgy Point, Zennor Head and the mermaid chair in Zennor Church.
St Ives is a busy town of winding streets lined with art galleries, where summer time crowds converge on the harbour and shop keepers enjoy a swift trade. Zennor is a tiny village, with one pub, one church and little else. In between the two lies an empty stretch of coast, rocky, rugged and beautiful.
Here, following the edge of the Penwith moors, it is a wild and dramatic lanscape. There are inland hills crowned with strange granite formations, cliff tops where no soil or plant can cling on to the rocks and boulders litter the path for much of it length. It is a superb and remote region.
Start Point: Zennor
Finish Point: St Just/Cape Cornwall
Distance: 12 miles | Height gain: 2185 feet/666 metres
Time walking: 5 hours 45 minutes excluding breaks
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult. The path is hilly, narrow and for the first 6 miles it is littered with rocks, making for slow progress.
Highlights: Bosigran cliffs, Portherras Beach, Pendeen Watch lighthouse, Geevor tin mine at Pendeen (underground tour of the mine workings), the Crowns Mines at Botallack.
Along rocky paths and moorland fringes, the route passes through hard countryside littered with blocks of granite, towards the Pendeen and St Just mining districts. The harsh landscape maintains a beauty in its wildness, one that inspires countless stories of piskies and giants (how else can you explain the lumps of granite thrown across the land?).
Sections of the path take you away from the sea edge and there are grand views of the granite hills (carns) that back the coast. Particularly impressive are the Carn Galvers and Watch Croft. Finally, passing by beautiful Portherras beach, the coast path winds past Pendeen Watch lighthouse.
The last 4 miles to Cape Cornwall are a celebration of natural beauty and Cornwall's great industrial past. With engine houses perilously perched just above the sea and mine workings evident at every turn, this is a great opportunity to discover another side of Cornwall.
Start Point: St Just/Cape Cornwall
Finish Point: Porthcurno
Distance: 12 miles | Height gain: 2887 feet/880 metres
Time walking: 5 hours 45 minutes excluding breaks
Difficulty: A moderate beginning with few hills but some rubble on the path. Several moderatley steep hills are encountered later on and a little scrambling over/around rocks is required.
Highlights: The raised beach and 'dinosaur egg' rocks at the Cot Valley, surfing at Sennen Cove, the sea arches around Lands End, the view across to Treen headland and the Minack Theatre. To watch a performance on a summer’s night at the open air Minack Theatre is a magical experience.
This walk takes in the most significant staging post on the entire Cornish coast path – Land’s End, the most westerly spot in mainland Britain. After rounding the storm-lashed cliffs of Land’s End the path traverses open cliff tops that provide sustenance for only a sparse covering of heather and gorse. Further south these give way to open bays and sheltered valleys.
The waters are the clearest you will find in Cornwall and the beaches en route are spectacular. Porthcurno and Porthchapel are real gems, with turquoise water and golden sand. During the warmer months dolphins and basking sharks can often be spotted here, so keep your eyes open.
Start Point: Porthcurno
Finish Point: Penzance (buses available from Mousehole to Penzance - 3 miles)
Distance: 11 miles | Height gain: 1775 feet/541 metres
Time walking: 6 hours excluding breaks
Difficulty: Varied. A difficult start with some serious hills to climb. It remains relativley difficult until Lamorna, where boulders litter the path but from then on it is straight forward.
Highlights: Lamorna Cove, Mousehole harbour (and the restaurants), Newlyn Harbour and Chapel Street in Penzance.
Aside from Porthcurno and Lamorna, tiny fishing hamlets are the only signs of habitation on this coast, until you reach Mousehole. Enjoy the sense of wilderness because just around the corner wait the calm waters and towns of Mounts Bay. This is West Cornwall’s economic centre and it has maintained a seaside charm that draws tens of thousands of visitors every year.
It is a picturesque working district that caters for visitors and locals alike. The busy harbour at Newlyn is still home to the country’s second largest fishing fleet, the shops and cafes of Penzance provide a centre for the surrounding towns and villages and St Michael's Mount draws visitors from across the world.
The towns share a history dating back to pre Roman times and the short distance to be covered allows ample chance to wander the streets, investigate the busy harbours and pay a visit to St Michael's Mount.
Start Point: Penzance (buses available to Marazion to avoid dull 3 miles at start)
Finish Point: Porthleven
Distance: 14.5 miles | Height gain: 1795 feet/547 metres
Time walking: 6 hours excluding breaks
Difficulty: An easy start, with only one or two hills as the walk progresses.
Highlights: St Michael's Mount and Marazion, Praa Sands beach, Prussia Cove and the beautiful Loe Bar just outside Porthleven (this is Cornwall's largest fresh water lake and a lovely place to relax).
An easy start as the path runs alongside 3 miles of flat, pebble beach to Marazion. With St Michael's Mount just offshore, this attractive town marks the end of the developed Mounts Bay and its not long before the coast path leads off through tree-lined hedgerows and out on to the rocky south coast. With the natural shelter of the extensive bay and the Mount itself, it is a gentle and charming section of coast that slowly opens up as the day progresses.
The highlights are plentiful on this section of coast, but mention must be given to the delightful Prussia Cove, Rinsey Head, and the tranquil Hendra at the end of Praa Sands. The narrow coves and prominent headlands mean that in all but the worst weather, you can find a sheltered spot to rest and recover.
Start Point: Porthleven
Finish Point: Lizard Head
Distance: 14 miles | Height gain: 2428 feet/740 metres
Time walking: 6 hours 15 minutes excluding breaks
Difficulty: Generally moderate with several difficult sections.
Highlights: Church Cove (Gunwalloe), the Marconi Centre at Poldhu, Mullion Cove and the magical Kynance Cove.
There are many parts of the Cornish coast where you can be alone, but this is perhaps the loneliest stretch of all. It is a superb section of isolated villages nestled into steep sided coves and separated by mile after mile of towering cliffs.
Leaving behind the charming harbour town of Porthleven (with some of Cornwall's lesser know best restaurants as well as one of the U.K.'s best surfing waves), the coast path runs along the narrow shingle bar at Loe, trapped between the Atlantic Ocean and one of Cornwall's largest fresh water lakes. It's then only a short distance onto the charming Church Cove where the lovely Norman Church of St Wynwallow is tucked into the sand dunes behind the beach. Via Poldhu, where Marconi conducted his famous wireless experiments, the path continues towards Mullion, marking the start of an empty and wild coast, bold and unrefined in its beauty.
Start Point: Lizard Head
Finish Point: Coverack
Distance: 10.5 miles | Height gain: 2146 feet/654 metres
Time walking: 5 hours excluding breaks
Difficulty: Generally moderate with several difficult sections (hills and slippery path).
Highlights: Lizard Head lighthouse, Cadgwith and The Devil's Frying Pan, Poltesco, Porthbeor beach.
Moving away from the most southerly point with its cafe and gift shop, the path dips down into the steep sided Housel Bay and by the time it reaches Church Cove, a sense of isolation has returned. Through deep coves sheltered from the prevailing Southwesterly winds, the path winds on to the exceedingly pretty Cadgwith Cove – a great place to take a break.
From here until Coverack is an empty section of coast, with the marked exception of Kennack Sands. Verdant cliffs and bamboo lined valleys merge into low moorland as the path heads eastwards and away from the shelter of Lizard Head and Bass Point. In this wild region, the hiking can be difficult but the views are stunning.
Coverack is a welcome site and yet another lovely fishing village nestled into one of Lizard Peninsula's many coves. Charming and quiet, Coverack has avoided the commercialism that has infiltrated many other Cornish fishing villages.
Single Walker Price: £905
Easier Alternative Itinerary:
Start at St Just to avoid most difficult sections
*Price per person based on two people sharing a room. Prices may vary depending on availability and room requirements. A supplement may apply for those who require a room for one person only.