St Ives to Marazion
The far southern tip of Britain, known as Land’s End, offers stretches of the most spectacular coastal walking in the entire British Isles. This is an area that is remarkably rich and diverse with its history and natural beauty; from ancient stone circles & burial sites, tiny fishing ports, surf beaches, tin mines, cliff top theatres and art galleries, seals and basking sharks, this corner of Britain offers so many unique experiences in a compact area.
The South West Coast path traverses the contour lines of this rugged and dramatic coast, following paths originally used by smugglers and their nemesis, the customs and excise men who chased them. Along the way you’ll see beautiful coves and towering cliffs, some sheltering the remains of Cornwall’s once thriving tin mines, with their chimney stacks perched perilously close to the cliff edges. The walk is not an easy one as it plunges up and down the many inlets of the coast, and is best suited to more experienced walkers. The daily distances may not look far but the trail conditions underfoot and ascending and descending track ensure enough challenge in the average day.
Get Ready For
- Follow remote isolated pathways through dramatic coastal landscapes
- Stroll through the charming cobbled laneways of artsy St Ives
- Be charmed by delightful fishing villages with their busy colourful harbours
- Discover the history of the tin mining industry and Celtic church ruins
- Relish spectacular coastal views of impressive, towering cliffs and wild seas
- Zennor’s 12th-century church with its unique roof and 16th-century pew
St Ives to Marazion
Arrive into St.Ives and transfer to your accommodation in this beautiful seaside town and fishing port. St. Ives was once known as a Pilchard fishing town and later became famous for being an artists haven and holiday town. Stroll through its charming, narrow cobbled laneways with many artists studios and shops selling local produce delights. Its walled harbour is the focal point of the town and the quay is lined with pubs and cafes overlooking the fishing boats. Look for grey seals in the waters alongside the harbour wall and climb on the hill behind for great views over the town. For artistic inspiration visit the renowned Tate Gallery and for a taste of English eccentricity at its best, the brilliant but tiny Richard Burton museum held in a private house is recommended.
- Total ascent: 576m
Your first day’s walk out of St. Ives really introduces you to the dramatic and isolated nature of this coast and is probably its most challenging section because of the rocky path underneath and sections of boulders you need to scramble over (don’t worry, it definitely gets easier as you go on!).
Today’s walk soon takes you away from the busy enclave of St. Ives into what soon feels like a remote and rugged landscape. All evidence of human habitation is left behind and you must make sure to bring enough food and drink as you’ll find none en-route. Ahead of you stretch the weathered granite headlands of which you’ll walk over and down on today’s route. The path is easy to find and stays close to the coast edge. The view down the coast is very dramatic watching the Atlantic waves battering against the cliffs. Keep an eye out for Grey Seals, which are a common sight along the coast.
Eventually you’ll have a last climb up to Zennor Head where you turn off the path and inland to reach the tiny hamlet of Zennor with its 12th-century church. Be sure to call into the church and see the unique roofing style unique to this area, resembling the timbers of an upturned boat and the 16th-century pew carved with a mermaid. A good day’s walking is rewarded by a hearty dinner in the atmospheric Tinners Arms (1271).
- Total ascent: 395m
More craggy coastline and stunning views await you today as the coast path winds its way past hidden coves and headlands. There are a number of historical points of interest from ancient iron-age ruins to 17th-century industrial ruins of the tin mining industry, of which you’ll see much more in the coming 2 days. You’ll pass the dramatic promontory of Gurnard’s Head which sticks out boldly into the sea on a long finger of land and is named after a type of local fish. Gurnard’s Head also contains the remains of iron-age fortifications.
This morning after passing Porthmeor cove the next place of interest is Bosigran, where the cliffs are usually alive with climbers. The granite walls provide perfect grounds for climbers of all levels from a nearby school. A good place to sit and eat lunch is on the Commando’s Ridge (named after a WWII training ground) where you can watch groups ascending the steep cliffs opposite.
Later in the day you’ll have a steep descent into Portheras Cove, which reveals a lovely sandy beach where on a warm day you might find people swimming. On the climb out, you pass the Pendeen Watch Lighthouse on your right before turning inland to the village of Pendeen itself, a former mining community ( the last mine closed in 1991). Your accommodation is a pub in the centre of the village.
- Total ascent: 580m
You might like to start your day with a visit to the Geevor Mine and Museum in the village, where you’ll be taken underground to visit the original 18th-century tunnels. Today’s walk will take you into the heart of ‘Poldark’ country, the TV series that dramatised the local tin mining industry in the 1700’s. After leaving Pendeen you will soon see spectacular ruins all along the coast in an area listed as a World Heritage site for its industrial archaeology. Chimney’s and stone buildings dot the landscape and unseen below is the deep mining shafts that extended out beneath the sea and made the skill of the miners world famous – many came to Australia during the gold rush and were highly sought after. The walking along the narrow paths by the sea is really spectacular as you head towards the Crown and Bottallack Mines, the latter perched on the side of a sea cliff and a famous sight of Cornwall.
There are a few difficult sections today with hills and rocks slowing progress long the way, so although it seems a short day it may take you longer than you think. One of the reasons is the interesting sites you’ll pass such as the ruins of Kendijack Castle, built on the site of an iron-age fort. Dropping down from this hill you find more abandoned machinery from the tin mining days and a steep climb out. You’ll soon come to Cape Cornwall, once believe to be the most westerly point of Britain until Land’s end took that title. The old chimney on top of Cape Cornwall draws visitors and provides splendid views along your route today.
The last section of today’s walk drops down and hugs the shoreline on the approach to Sennen Cove, a renowned surf spot and arguably one of Britain’s best beaches. The small town here hosts a few pubs and eateries and is a popular spot on a summer’s day.
- Total ascent: 565m
It’s hard to beat the spectacle of today’s walk along the towering jagged cliffs of Land’s End – this really is the highlight of the walk for most people. As you walk out of Sennen Cove and along the coast you first see the jagged Wolf Rock and Long Ships Lighthouse out to sea, often battered by high seas and storms. There are numerous offshore rocks that give this coastline it’s wild and spectacular appearance and even on a mild day the sea looks quite dramatic. In clear weather you can see the Isles of Scilly 40km offshore, and there is a small airport near Land’s End where you can take a helicopter ride out.
You’ll pass a cove with the wreck of a sizeable ship below, a German freighter, RMS Mulheim, that ran aground here in 2003. Land’s End itself is marked by a grand hotel and a rather tatty and over-commercialised area behind it (best avoided!). Many people cycle or walk here from the other end of the country at John O’Groats in Scotland, so it has a special significance for many visitors. The grandeur of the scenery is undeniable and you quickly lose the other visitors as you walk a kilometre or so away from the hotel area. There is a breathtaking section of weathered granite cliffs along this section that are worth veering off the path to see.
You’ll notice jagged stone walls running across the path, these are ancient iron-age field systems which indicate how well populated and significant this area was at those times. You’ll also pass some standing stones in a small valley, all reminders of the ancient Britons who lived here thousands of years ago. Towards the end of the day, you’ll get your first sight of the Lizard Peninsula on the southern side of Cornwall. There is a delightful tea-house stop at Porthgwarra, popular with walkers for a Cornish cream tea and painters from the Newlyn School often found down at the tiny cove. The narrow path winds its way through gorse bushes on the hills to Porthcurno. As you arrive at Porthcurno, you will pass the amazing clifftop amphitheatre of the Minack Theatre, hewn into the rock of the cliffside – it is truly one of the most unique settings for a theatre anywhere in the world. There are regular performances throughout the months of May to September. The village is tucked away in the valley to the right where you’ll find your accommodation.
- Total ascent: 520m
Leaving Porthcurno the path continues up and down along the low hills and cliffs of Boscawen, passing the small Tater-Du Lighthouse before arriving at the delightful Lamorna Cove. From here you start to round the coastal headland that eventually brings you to the bay of Penzance and the dramatic sight of St. Michael’s Mount, standing like a sentinel on an outcrop of rock. Your next encounter is the wonderful port village of Mousehole, a great spot to break and take your lunch overlooking the lovely harbour.
Further on the trail you’ll find the Penlee Lifeboat Station, once the scene of a dramatic rescue attempt and loss of the crew’s lives which made it famous all over Britain. The next town is Newlyn, home to one of the biggest active fishing fleets in the UK and a very busy harbour. The town is also renowned for its artist colony, the Newlyn School. Walking from Newlyn to Penzance is through a fairly continuous built up area. Penzance itself is a lively town that is worth some exploration and the Egyptian House on Chapel Street is a remarkable building. Penzance has long been established as a working port, but in more recent times it was the railway to London, opened in 1852, that made the town prosper and its fame was further enhanced by the Gilbert and Sullivan opera ‘The Pirates of Penzance’!
- Total ascent: 15m
It’s an easy and short walk today as you follow the promenade of Penzance towards Marazion and St. Michael’s Mount which is clearly visible further along the bay. The path sticks to the beach next to the road so it is easy to follow and you soon arrive at Marazion. The village used to provide accommodation for the pilgrims who had visited the mount when it was a monastery.
If you time your visit right you can walk out on the narrow causeway at low tide to St. Michael’s Mount, otherwise you’ll need to make use of the boat service from Marazion. Whichever way you arrive there, St. Michael’s Mount is a stunning sight and a fitting climax to your walking adventure on the South West Coast Path. It has a beautiful little harbour and houses with the towering castle and church above it, now all managed by the National Trust and the St Aubyn family who still reside in the castle.
As far back as 495AD, tales tell of seafarers lured by mermaids onto the rocks, or guided to safety by an apparition of St Michael, the patron saint of fishermen. A series of miracles were said to have happened here during 1262 and 1263 would have only added to the religious magnetism that drew pilgrims from far and wide. People say its unique energy is thanks to age-old ley lines which course under the sea, and cross at the heart of the Mount. These legends have drawn pilgrims, monks and spiritual seekers to the island ever since.
At the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066, St Michael’s Mount came into the possession of the monks of its sister isle, Mont St Michel in Normandy. In the 12th-century it was these monks who built the church and priory that still lie at the heart of the castle today. The castle has experienced many periods of conflict, starting from 1193 when the mount was seized by a Lord who disguised his men as pilgrims through the Wars of the Roses in 1473, to the English Civil War when royalists occupied the castle and held back the forces of Oliver Cromwell. The church tower was the first beacon that was lit along the coast that warned London of the approach of the Spanish Armada.
After your visit to the mount, amble through the quaint streets of Marazion to your hotel and a a well earned drink to celebrate the completion of your walk.
On the trail
The Walking Experience
The South West Coast path in this area is quite rugged and you are often following a narrow but spectacular trail which hugs the coastline tightly. The trail roller coasters up and down as it crosses various headlands, so there is quite a bit of descent and ascent each day. Sometimes you walk through open heathland, at other times rocky ledges with exposed boulders, so some care has to be shown. The video shows a selection of trail around Land’s End.
- 7 nights quality accommodation including historic B&B’s, guest houses and small hotels
- Daily breakfast of fresh fruits, yoghurt, cereals and/or a hearty, cooked English breakfast to support your day on the trail
- Pack free walking with luggage transfers on each hiking day (1 x 20kg bag per person)
- Hassle-free walking with exclusive use of RAW Travel’s specifically designed navigational hiking App
- Comprehensive information pack including detailed walk notes and OS map, luggage tag and laptop case
- Pre-trip guidance and planning from experienced and dedicated RAW Travel staff
- Single supplement $720
- Travel insurance
- Train tickets
- Lunch and dinners
Cornwall – a romantic county on England’s rugged southwestern tip – has much to offer the adventurous hiker. This place is home to the iconic South West Coast Path, England’s longest waymarked trail (1015km), and the lesser-known but no less compelling routes of The Saints Way and Saint Michael’s Way.
A Cornish Camino – Cornwall
- Travel the path of Saints and pilgrims along the Cornish coastline
- Wander along cobbled streets past pretty whitewashed cottages
- Follow the path through tranquil woods and country lanes
- Walk the ancient cobbled causeway to St Michael’s Mount
South West Coast Path: Padstow to Falmouth – Cornwall
- Be charmed by Padstow’s village and delightful fishing harbour
- Discover the history of the local tin mining industry
- Indulge in home-made ice-cream and Cornish cream teas
- Relish spectacular coastal views, towering cliffs and wild seas
South West Coast Path: Padstow to St Ives – Cornwall
- Enjoy warm Cornish hospitality and quality B&B accommodation
- Savour an area of rich and diverse history and natural beauty
- Relish impressive coastal views towering cliffs and wild seas
- Explore St Ives’ laneway-filled artsy galleries and museums
South West Coast Path: St Ives to Falmouth – Cornwall
- Discover aquamarine smugglers coves and wind-blown beaches
- Embrace the solitude and beauty of the wild remote landscape
- Be charmed by delightful fishing villages and colourful harbours
- Experience warm hospitality and quality B&B accommodation
The Saints Way – Cornwall
- Discover Celtic crosses, churches and rich religious heritage
- Tread a path once walked by drovers, pilgrims and missionaries
- Enjoy a relaxing walk to Padstow harbour for fresh fish and chips
- Pass dramatic Helman Tor on your way to pretty Fowey village
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