Walk - Portreath to Hayle

11.7 miles (18.9 km)

Portreath Hayle

Moderate - Moderate

After leaving Portreath the Coast Path follows the cliffs with some beautiful views of rocky coves, such as the wonderfully named Ralph’s Cupboard, apparently a favoured smugglers spot for stashing loot. After just a couple of steep climbs the Path soon levels and walking becomes fairly straightforward. As you follow the sheer cliffs, surrounded by brightly coloured spring and summertime flowers, such as blue sheep’s bit, primroses and yellow rattle, look down to the contrastingly raw, jagged reefs below.

Seals are a common sight around the waters of Godrevy and Gwithian and sunfish and basking sharks have been spotted from the North Cliffs. The dunes behind the spectacular beach which stretches from Godrevy Point to the entrance of the Hayle estuary are also rich with wildlife.

Interactive Elevation

Highlights

  • The views from the top of Western Hill down to the harbour of Portreath and to Western Cove and the cliff paths ahead.
  • The contorted rock strata of Greenbank Cove.
  • Crane Castle: standing on the site of an Iron Age cliff castle, almost entirely lost to erosion, you look out to Crane Islands and to the Path ahead along the Reskajaege Downs, which are covered in swathes of wildflowers and heather in spring and summer.
  • The overwhelming mass of cliff and sheer drop to the sea at Hell’s Mouth.
  • Seal spotting from Navax Point, which is covered in wild flowers, pink heather and gorse in the summer months.
  • The National Trust have brought in a small herd of Shetland ponies to graze at the Knavocks and help maintain the habitat favoured by small birds and butterflies.
  • Godrevy Island and octagonal lighthouse (now solar-powered) is three and a half miles across St Ives Bay, and is thought to have been the inspiration for Virginia Woolf’s novel `To The Lighthouse'. The island is covered in bright flowers in springtime.
  • Spotting the guillemots, razorbills, fulmars and cormorants from the North Cliffs.
  • The Red River which once carried the red iron oxide residue from the tin mines up the valley out to the sea at Gwithian.
  • Gwithian and Hayle Towans: the second largest dune system in Cornwall is home to hundreds of different species of plants, butterflies, moths and glow-worms. Apparently, St Gothian's Chapel has been buried three times under the shifting sands.
  • The 100 year-old swing bridge at the entrance to Hayle harbour.
  • The birds of Hayle Estuary.

Places of interest

  • There are 250 acres of woodland and lakes to explore in Tehidy Country Park.

Shorter option

Walk to Gwithian (7.6 miles, 12.2 km).

Longer option

Continue to Carbis Bay (an additional 4.5 miles, 7 km) or St Ives (an additional 6.1 miles, 9.8 km).

Nearby refreshments

Portreath has a small selection of shops and cafes. There are cafes at Hell’s Mouth and Gwithian as well as a selection of pubs, shops, restaurants and cafes in Hayle.

Public transport

The nearest train stations are Hayle and Redruth, and from both you can catch buses to Portreath. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the train station and bus stop symbols, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

Parking

Portreath (Postcode for Sat Navs: TR16 4LN), Crane Castle, North Cliffs, Godrevy Point, Gwithian, The Towans and Hayle.

Nearby Events

  • St. Ives & Hurling the Silver Ball

    8th February 

    The St Ives Feast is an ancient tradition that celebrates the anniversary of the consecration of the Parish Church of St Eia in 1434 AD and offers a rare chance to watch the game of Hurling the Silver Ball, a centuries old form of rugby.

    The feast day falls on February 9 and starts off with the mayor’s civic procession for the blessing at St Ia Well near Porthmeor Beach followed by the start of the boisterous hurling of the silver ball when participants attempt to win the ball off each other around the town. Whoever returns the ball to the mayor on the steps of St Ives Guildhall on the stroke of midday receives a silver coin. In the afternoon, pennies are proffered from the balcony by town councillors to the waiting children on the Guildhall forecourt.

    Visit the website for more information.

  • Oyster Gathering & Cornish Produce Festival

    25th March 

    The first 'gathering' in Cornwall's food festival calendar is also the celebration of the end of the Fal Oyster fishing season and having travelled from its home in Mylor Yacht Harbour, via Flushing Quay it is hosted for the second year on the Prince of Wales Pier, Falmouth. The Fisherman's Mission will be shaking their buckets as the nominated charity!

    Find out more by visiting the event website.

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