On this section of the South West Coast Path, you explore dramatic headlands, picturesque cliffs, hidden coves, sleepy fishing villages, and some of the finest beaches in Britain.
In this Collection, part two, you hike from the charming harbor town of Padstow, all the way to Lizard Point, the southerly most tip of Britain. On this first six routes, you head west into a landscape of rugged coastline, surf beaches, and river estuaries filled with birdlife.
The latter six routes take you around the tip of Cornwall through the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site. From the picturesque fishing harbor of St Ives, the coastline becomes wild once again and affords a real sense of solitude, even in peak season.
After passing Land’s End, the landscape has a sub-tropical feel as white beaches, turquoise seas and palm trees flourish. As you continue onto the Lizard peninsula, you will notice the landscape has a character all of its own.
The trail started life as a patrol route to stop smugglers in the 19th century. These days, the old patrol path comprises all 630 miles (1,014 kilometers) of the South West Coast Path, making it the longest waymarked trail in the UK. Visiting every hidden cove, cave, cranny, and picturesque harbor in Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset, it is an epic long distance route to complete.
There is no set itinerary to complete the trail. However, in this series of Collections we will conquer the trail in 52 days, split over eight weeks, starting from Minehead and finishing at South Haven Point. As always, of course you can split up each stage to as many days as you are comfortable with.
If you are using public transport to undertake the routes in this Collection, you will need to catch a train to Bodmin Parkway railway station, which has direct trains from London and has connections around the country. From there, you need to catch the hourly 11A bus service to Padstow.
To get home, you will need to catch the L1 bus service from Lizard to Redruth railway station, then catch a train to Plymouth railway station, which has direct connections to London and has connecting services to the entire UK.
If you are planning to arrive by car, your best bet is to negotiate with a hotel or B&B a rate to stay for a night either side of your hike in Padstow and to park your car for the duration. From Lizard, you would need to catch the L1 bus service to Redruth railway station, then the National Express 503 coach service to Newquay, then the A5 bus service to Padstow.
For more information about the South West Coast Path, visit: southwestcoastpath.org.uk.
For the 11A bus service timetable visit: bustimes.org/services/11a-bodmin-padstow.
For the L1 bus service timetable visit: bustimes.org/services/l1-redruth-helston-mullion-the-lizard.
For the A5 bus service timetable visit: bustimes.org/services/a5-newquay-st-mawgen-constantine-bay-padstow.
For National Express coach timetables and tickets, visit: nationalexpress.com/en.
For train timetables and tickets, visit: thetrainline.com.
In order to see the whole South West Coast Path, click the links below to see more Collections.
Part 1: komoot.com/collection/887617/conquer-britains-longest-trail-south-west-coast-path-part-1
Part 3: komoot.com/collection/887746/conquer-britains-longest-trail-south-west-coast-path-part-3
Part 4: komoot.com/collection/887875/conquer-britains-longest-trail-south-west-coast-path-part-4
This leisurely stage of the South West Coast Path explores a landscape of glorious golden beaches, crystal-clear seas, hidden coves, and rugged headlands.
From the picturesque harbor town of Padstow, the trail winds around the headland of Stepper Point, where you are afforded breathtaking views over the coastline.
Trevose Head affords extensive views over Pendeen Watch and Hartland Point. It is one of the most prominent headlands on the north Cornish coast and is home to many species of birds, including skylarks and linnets.
Around Constantine Bay, the path can get narrow and rocky. As such, it is a perfect excuse to stop for a rest.
This stage finishes in Porthcothan which has a range of accommodation, as well as places to eat and drink.
This stage of the Coast Path veers into holiday heaven. In high summer, it is easy to forget you are in England.
Whilst it can feel crowded in places, especially around Newquay, you will still find plenty of serenity and solitude as, like always, the trail takes you where many tourists do not tread.
From the weathered headland of Park Head, you experience magical views out to sea and over the Bedruthan Steps below. In summer, blooms of wildflowers cover the headland.
Whilst there are some steep steps to climb in places, the hike is leisurely overall and explores some magical spots.
This stage finishes in the town of Newquay, which has a good range of accommodation and places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
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This stage gives you the opportunity to explore hidden caves and see some spectacular wildlife.
From Newquay, the trail clings to the cliffs of Towan Head and then crosses the famous surfing spot, Fistral Beach.
Holywell Bay is a real treat along this stage. With a dramatic and beautiful beach landscape, complete with ship-wreck, there are also caves to explore here at low tide, most notably Holywell Cave.
This stage is rich in wildlife. Keep a look-out for razorbills, guillemots and kittiwakes nesting around St Agnes Head, and seals around Newdowns Head.
The River Gannel crossing varies depending on the season, tides, and weather. It is advisable to plan this section ahead of travel.
This stage finishes in the town of Perranporth, which has a good range of accommodation and places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
After a few leisurely stages, you will find this hike more challenging as the route tackles rugged cliff tops and craggy coves.
The trail explores a landscape of ancient mining works along this stage; the evidence of which is evident today, especially as you explore the iconic Wheal Coates.
The Coast Path is challenging in places with some hefty ascents and descents. However, there is some leisurely above the cliffs with fantastic views over the coast.
This stage finishes in the town of Portreath, which has a good range of accommodation and places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
This stage explores a dramatic coastal landscape where nature flourishes in hidden coves and on sheer cliffs.
From Portreath, you follow cliff-tops past the hidden-gem that is Porthcadjack Cove and onto the more sinister cove that is Hell’s Mouth, a foreboding beach backed by cliffs.
The trail winds around Godrevy Head, which is home to much flora and fauna and is a great place for seal-spotting, onto St Ives Bay.
The stage finishes in the town of Hayle, which has a good range of accommodation and places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
Along this leisurely stage, you have the opportunity to take your time and look-out for the wildlife.
At Hayle Estuary Nature Reserve, which is managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), you can see birds such as curlew, little egret, oystercatcher, teal, and wigeon.
The birdlife is visible as you continue along the Hayle estuary, especially during the winter when you can see a vast flocks from North America.
The trail continues past the enchanting St Uny's Church with its glorious views and onto the golden and turquoise Porthminster Beach, where palm trees blow in one of the warmest climates you can find in Britain.
The stage finishes in the picturesque town of St Ives, which has a good range of accommodation and places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
With plenty of ups-and-downs, and a rocky, often boggy terrain, this stage of the Coast Path is challenging.
As ever, when the walking is tough, the scenery is magical, the crowds are distant, and the highlights come thick-and-fast.
Whilst the landscape offers up plenty of scrambles, ascents, and descents, it also affords some real interest. Along the way you explore the rocky outcrop of Man’s Head, visit the mythical Mermaid’s Cove, and the weathered headland of Gurnard’s Head with its ancient castle ruins.
Close to the end of the hike, you pass the ‘ghost’ Geevor Tin Mine, which only ceased production 20 years ago.
The stage finishes in Pendeen, where there are a few accommodation options and places to eat and drink.
This stage explores an area of the Cornish coast that is rich in mining heritage and is packed with wildlife.
As the trail follows the rugged granite coast, you pass the enchanting St Helen's Oratory, a tiny chapel that is thought to date back to the earliest days of Romano-British Christianity.
The Coast Path winds around the distinctive headland of Cape Cornwall, which meets the ocean where the Atlantic currents split, and eventually leads to the geologically-important Porth Nanven, often referred to as ‘Dinosaur Egg Beach’ due to the strange deposit of egg-like rocks from its wave-cut cliffs.
The stage finishes in the small coastal village of Sennen Cove, where there are a few accommodation options and places to eat and drink.
The Coast Path on this stage is especially beautiful and takes you to very the western tip of England, Land’s End.
As you follow the cliff-top trail to Land’s End and beyond Minack Theatre, the summer crowds disperse into the breeze. Soon, you are left with nothing but the serenity of the South Cornwall coastline; a place rich in wildlife, geology, and beauty.
Along this stage, you are afforded breathtaking views out to Wolf Rock Lighthouse and the Isles of Scilly. Keep a look-out for birds including rock pipits, fulmars, and even peregrine falcons.
You will see fascinating geological formations, on this stage including offshore rock stacks and rippling cliffs.
The stage finishes in the small village of Lamorna, where there are a few accommodation options and places to eat and drink.
After some challenging recent stages, you will find this hike to be very leisurely, giving you ample opportunity to admire the spectacular scenery.
From Lamorna, the path winds around the coastline through Kemyel Crease Nature Reserve; a small woodland of Monterey pines and Monterey cypress trees, as well as lots of exotic fungi.
The trail becomes more challenging as it crosses rugged cliff-tops on the way to Mousehole, described by the poet Dyland Thomas as the loveliest village in England.
The hiking turns leisurely through Newlyn to Penzance, allowing you to savour that British seaside nostalgia and admire the turquoise coastline.
The impressive sight of St Michael’s Mount dominates the view as you continue onto the ancient town of Marazion where this stage finishes.
Marazion has a good range of accommodation and places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
This leisurely stage explores an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for the most part and affords wonderful views over Mounts Bay and St Michael’s Mount.
From the historic town of Marazion, which dates from 308BC and is said to be the oldest settlement in Britain, the trail gently undulates to the infamous smugglers port of Prussia Cove.
As the trail takes you past tantalizing sandy beaches and clear seas, you will not be forgiven for taking a dip, especially if the sun is shining.
The scenery becomes more rugged as the stage progresses. The landscape changes from granite turns to slate, resulting in breathtaking vertical cliffs.
This stage finishes in the picturesque fishing town of Porthleven, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. There is a good range of accommodation and places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions, in the town.
This stage of the Coast Path is wild and beautiful with a wonderful character of its own.
After a leisurely stroll out of Porthleven, you soon arrive at The Loe, the largest natural freshwater lake in Cornwall, which is separated by the shingle bank of Loe Bar from the sea.
The trail continues onto Gunwalloe, which is home to a beautiful beach, wildlife-rich reedbeds, and a medieval church. The path then becomes more challenging with some narrow passes, strenuous climbs, and technical descents.
After some effort, you eventually arrive at the white sands and stunning turquoise waters of Kynance Cove, the largest outcrop of serpentine rock in Britain, and a wonderful place to be.
To finish this stage, you stand proudly at the most southerly tip of Britain, Lizard Point, looking out to sea and enjoying the unique flora and fauna.
The Lizard peninsula has a good range of accommodation and places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.