Start: Padstow Finish: St Ives
Make your own way to Padstow. The town is named after St. Petroc who came here circa A.D 500. The church of St Petroc is one of a group of three said to have been founded by the Saint. It is quite large and mostly of 13th and 14th century date. The old harbour usually has a nice ensemble of boats including the old pilot vessels. Nice pub fayre and a Rick Stein restaurant.
Leaving Padstow’s busy little tourist harbour, follow the shores of the picturesque Camel Estuary to Stepper Point. You'll likely have views to Bodmin Moor inland and to the ‘Doom Bar’: an offshore sand bar which has wrecked hundreds of ships over the centuries, largely because the surrounding cliffs take the wind out of the boat’s sails as they try to enter the harbour.
More coves pass by until you see the limestone and slate Porthmissen Bridge natural arch with colonies of Razorbills and Guillemots. From here continue on to Trevone Bay, a beautiful sandy beach, popular with surfers and onwards to Harlyn, another surfer’s paradise, once famed for fishing pilchards. The South West Coast Path reaches Trevose Head where on clear days you can see both St.Ives and Newquay. There is a lighthouse, which may be open in the afternoon. You'll then turn south and cross more sandy beaches around Constantine, passing Trethias Island nature reserve, and threading your way through coves to descend to Porthcothan Bay.
From the bay the path climbs up to Park Head. From here you'll have wonderful views of Bedruthan Steps, a set of rock stacks that have been a popular tourist feature since the railway reached Newquay in 1875. Pass the village of Mawgan Porth and the route takes you to the cliff top above Watergate Bay. Approach Newquay and the path arrives at Trevelgue Head and the largest Iron Age fort remains in the county. Continue over Barrowfields, with its three Bronze Age barrows, then descend to Newquay. This is quite a shock after the day’s peaceful walk. Nevertheless, the town overlooks fine golden sands, which cushion the Atlantic rollers and make this Britain’s surfing capital. Before surfing fame, Newquay was another famous fishing port, seining out the millions of pilchards that arrived every July. It was also a silver and lead mining centre.
Leaving the harbour, the path climbs up Towan Head past the whitewashed Huer’s Hut, where lookouts would shout the arrival of the pilchard shoals to waiting fishermen. You'll then follow the cliffs around Pentire Point to take the ferry across the Gannel River. The path winds around headlands and coves to Kelsey Head, the site of an Iron Age promontory fort, and then descends to the village of Holywell, named after an ancient well and equally aged inn called ‘Treguth’. Following golden sands along Perran Beach, pass the tiny ruin of St Piran’s Oratory, said to be oldest church in Cornwall (8th century) but reburied to protect it from erosion. Depending upon tide levels, you reach the village of Perranporth either by the beach or the cliff.
A fairly easy stretch of walking today on well used paths occasionally dipping into valleys. The South West Coast Path follows the cliffs around Cligga Head, past mineshafts, now home to horseshoe bats, and the remains of tin mines. There are dramatic views of the mine buildings and chimneys dotting the landscape further on around St Agnes. Enroute you drop into Trevellas Porth and then Trevaunance Cove, which has a waterside pub. It is then pleasant ascending to St Agnes Head past bird nesting cliffs, to the little village with the same name and terraces of miners’ cottages including an interesting little museum in an old chapel. The path descends past the ruins of Wheal Coates Mine to the sandy inlet of Chapel Porth.
Then back up to the cliff tops, the path goes past the Wheal Charlotte Mine, drops down to the beach at Porthtowan and then follows the cliff top path to the harbour at Portreath, from where minerals were exported from the mines at Redruth.
Leaving Portreath, there is a strenuous climb up Tregea Hill and 10 km/6 miles of National Trust land. Continue high above the sea along Carvannel and Reskajeage Downs. You then reach a rather sensational breach in the cliffs called Hell’s Mouth. At Navax Point, you might be lucky enough to see grey seals. Walking on to Godrevy Point you will see the lighthouse perched on Godrevy Island, probably the inspiration for Virginia Wolf’s ‘To the Lighthouse’. The lighthouse marks the landward end of a treacherous line of reefs, called The Stones, which have claimed many wrecks. Many of their victims are buried in the churchyard at Gwithian, a sleepy thatched cottage village with an interesting old pub, The Pendarves Arms. The path then meanders through the Towans sand dunes to the busy port of Hayle.
A short day which should give you enough time to discover beautiful St Ives, with its museums and galleries. Skirting the Hayle Estuary, which is noted for its seabirds and waders, the path passes along the dunes above Porth Kidney and then passes beautiful Carbis Bay to reach the town.
St Ives dates back to AD460, when the missionary St. Ia, daughter of an Irish chieftain, landed here and gave her name to the settlement. Protected from Atlantic storms, St Ives was once the most important fishing port in Cornwall. Like elsewhere on the surrounding coast, by the beginning of the 20th century, the fish stocks became depleted and the fishing fleet largely disappeared. However, as early as 1811 Turner visited to paint the seascapes and by the late 1880s there were several artists installed and the town became famous for its vibrant artists’ colony. This perhaps reached its heyday during the late 1940s and the 1950s. Today their work can be seen in the St Ives Tate Gallery, the Barbara Hepworth Museum, and the Bernard Leach Gallery. A great place for fish 'n chips.
Arrangements end after breakfast.
A connection to Charles Dickens, set in seven acres of beautiful Cornish countryside, overlooking the Camel Estuary, 9 luxury rooms with floor to ceiling glass doors opening out onto a private balcony: the award-winning Pickwick Inn is one of Cornwall's hidden gems.
The Great Western Hotel in Newquay, Cornwall, is set right in the heart of Newquay, with a superb sea view, restaurant and bar, cliff top garden and terrace and only a few steps from the golden sandy beach and the sea.
St George’s Country House Hotel is a 180-year-old former mine captain’s home with walled gardens and panoramic views.
The Portreath Arms is a family owned and run bar, restaurant and 7-bedroom hotel located in the centre of the village just a short walk away from Portreath’s harbour and beach. The newly refurbished accommodation is modern yet quirky and each room is individually decorated to suit a range of tastes. The restaurant provides a varied selection at breakfast for hotel guests, afternoon cream teas (summer months only) and evening meals. The menu features good home cooked food with ever changing specials and daily, locally-caught fish dishes.
In Foundry Square, in the middle of Hayle, you will find the elegant building of the White Hart Hotel, constructed in 1838 by the shipyard and foundry owner, Henry Harvey. The White Hart Hotel today boasts 26 en-suite bedrooms, an attractive bar and restaurant with some original wooden 'patterns' for making moulds for the old foundry, displayed on the walls.
Coombe Farmhouse sits in a secluded valley with sweeping views across the beautiful, unspoilt local farmland.
This program can be booked any day between Late March and mid-October, subject to availability.
The nearest international aiports to fly to are Newquay, Bristol, Exeter
Getting to Padstow
You can get to Padstow from London (and connecting places in between including Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol) by train to Bodmin Parkway then connecting bus. Then its a short taxi to your guesthouse.
Overnight trains are also possible - see www. nationalrail.co.uk
You can also fly to Newquay Airport (though a limited range of flights) and then take a coach or taxi to Padstow.
Return from St Ives
You can get back from St Ives by train to London and other major cities (travel via St Erth). Coach or taxi to Newquay Airport is also possible.
GPS tracks are available on request.