The Wild West Coast

West Cornwall: Mounts Bay to St Ives

Ideas for a seven day trip (but can be shortened) exploring (by car or bus) the coastline of West Cornwall from Mounts Bay to St Ives.  This rugged coastline is teeming with wildlife, steeped in legend, and punctuated by dramatic granite cliffs and crumbling engine houses.

Whether you want to spend a day or week exploring West Cornwall, this is the trip for you. With the help of local experts we've pulled together ideas for days out on this wild and rugged coastline. These combine walks taking in the local highlights of the world renowned South West Coast Path National Trail and the Cornish Mining world Heritage Site with visits to local museums and galleries.

St Michael’s Mount and the Marazion-to-Penzance walk

Morning

In arty Marazion, five miles (8km) from Penzance, browse the town’s seaside galleries before casting away to the sea-bound St Michael’s Mount. At low tide you can walk across the causeway in the footsteps of pilgrims and a legendary giant. At high tide, hop aboard a boat or amphicraft to the island fortress where you can hunt for the giant’s stone heart; be spellbound by storytellers, stand in the firing line of bygone battles and explore subtropical gardens.

Afternoon

Whether you fancy a cream tea, crab sandwich or classic fish and chips, there are plenty of places to dine while drooling over views of Mounts Bay. Then amble the easy-peasy two miles (3.2km) from Marazion to Penzance in time for a fish supper, freshly caught by neighbouring Newlyn’s fishing fleet. “We land monkfish, turbot, brill, pollock, ling, hake and haddock,” says local fisherman James Bosustow.

Legendary Mousehole and Pilcher’s Lamorna Cove

Morning

Dinky Mousehole (3.4 miles/5.5km south of Penzance) was dubbed the ‘loveliest village in Cornwall’ by Dylan Thomas. Fortified by artisan produce from the harbour-side deli, strike out on a five-mile (8km) circular walk to Lamorna Cove – a remote artists’ colony and the film set for many of Rosamunde Pilcher’s novel adaptations. On route, pause at Point Spaniard (where 400 Spaniards landed during the Anglo-Spanish war in the late 16th Century). Peer out to seabirds nesting on St Clement’s Isle and wander through the woodland and wildflowers of Kemyel Crease Nature Reserve.  

Afternoon

Dip into Mousehole’s galleries, dine in a waterfront bistro and brush up on the legend of the Mousehole Cat – said to have braved treacherous seas on a fishing trip with its owner, Tom Bawcock (a fisherman who saved the village from starvation one stormy winter). Choose a less stormy day for a boat cruise to encounter seabirds, seals and dolphins while your skipper regales you with tales of smugglers, shipwrecks and pirates. 

Poldark and time travel — the white sands of Porthcurno

Morning

Porthcurno (3.7 miles/6km south east of Land’s End) scored a huge role in the BBC TV’s famous adaption of Winston Graham’s Poldark novels. Toss a coin to decide which Poldark film set to visit after tackling three miles (4.8km) of Coast Path above which peregrine falcons, shags and herring gulls soar. Will you head west to Porthgwarra with its slipway tunnel, or east to Penberth, past the 80-tonne hulk of Logan Rock teetering above Pedn-Vounder beach?

Afternoon

At the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, step back to a time when this beatific beach was at the forefront of global communications (the first undersea communication cables were laid between the UK and America from this very beach). Then take a cliff-side pew at the famous Minack Theatre for an alfresco performance, or just to admire the sublime views, sub-tropical gardens and exhibition centre.

Land’s End, Sennen Cove and the Song of the Sea

Morning

At Land’s End, the most westerly tip of England, pose for the customary souvenir picture. If you don’t care for the ‘theme park’ attractions that have cropped up at this popular landmark, backtrack one mile (1.6km) along the Coast Path to the serene beauty of Nanjizal. With any luck you’ll be the only soul here, staring out to the rock formation of the Diamond Horse and the sparkling waters slipping through the narrow ‘Song of the Sea’ rock arch.

Afternoon

Carve out at least an afternoon to spend in Sennen Cove, an easy mile’s walk (1.6km) along part of the South West Coast Path (or a two-mile/3.2km drive from Land’s End). Here you can take a surf lesson, visit the Lifeboat Station or dive into the local art scene at the Roundhouse and Capstan Gallery. A very short climb above the town takes you beyond the former coastguard lookout to the cliffs overlooking Gamper Bay and the wreck of RMS Mulheim. End the day with fish and chips on the beach or seafood in Sennen’s swanky surfside restaurant. 

Cornish mining heritage at Cape Cornwall

Morning

Just under six miles (9.3km) north of Land’s End lies St Just. From here, embark on a five-mile walking loop via Cape Cornwall – an iconic promontory where the Atlantic currents divide. Gaze out to seabird breeding colonies on Brison Rocks and enjoy panoramic views to Land’s End and some of the Cornish Mining World Heritage coastline, before sipping local ale in an atmospheric 14th Century pub.

Afternoon

Park a couple of miles from St Just at Pendeen (or take the No.7 bus, or the No. 300 during summer) for an easy three-mile stroll (4.8km) around some of the key monuments of this granite and mining coast. With every footstep you can imagine the camera rolling from scenes in Poldark and steam coming from the mining chimneys. Clap eyes on the sea-lashed engine house at Botallack mine, go underground at Geevor Tin Mine and see a working beam engine in action at Levant mine.

Zennor’s mermaid, wild food and an Iron Age fort

Morning

Beguiling Zennor is just 4.4 miles (6.4km) from St Ives. It’s where DH Lawrence once lived and a legendary mermaid is said to have lured a local chorister into the cobalt seas. Witness the fabled 15th Century Mermaid Chair in St Senara Church and hunker under the low, granite ceilings of the historic Tinners Arms, before striking out along two miles (3.2km) of Coast Path to the site of an Iron Age fort on Gurnard’s Head.

Afternoon

A few minutes’ jaunt inland from Gurnard’s Head, take a pit stop at the bright yellow inn (dogs and walking boots welcome) for a dish of finger-licking food, including wild ingredients plucked from the surrounding coast and countryside. If food is your passion you can hook up with Fat Hen’s Caroline Davey for a wild food walk. “I want to show people the potential of wild ingredients and how to use foraged foods like any other ingredients you would buy from the supermarket,” says Caroline.

Arty St Ives and the pearly sands of Carbis Bay

Morning

The fishing town-cum-artist-colony of St Ives has grown into one of the UK’s most popular seaside destinations. If you’ve got a car, the best way in and out of town is via the park and ride train service from Lelant Saltings. Whether you hop on here or from St Ives, take a seat on the coastal railway to soak up the seascapes that inspired John Miller’s internationally renowned paintings. Disembark beside the pearly sands of Carbis Bay and take a tour on a Hawaiian outrigger canoe before a gentle mile-long (1.6km) stroll back to the arty hub of St Ives. 

Afternoon

Take in the highlights on the St Ives Town Trail (1.9 miles/3km), from the sands of Porthminster to surfy Porthmeor, overlooked by the world-famous Tate St Ives. Other must-see hotspots are the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Leach Pottery. But don’t miss out on the littering of lesser-known galleries where you can meet local artists. Get in touch with your creative side on a ‘sketch and stroll’ or try all sorts of craft activities at Barnoon Workshop before a sundowner in one of Cornwall’s oldest inns and dinner at one of the many fine eateries. 

 

While Penzance and St Ives have the widest selection of accommodation, there are plenty of cosy inns with rooms tucked away on this part of the coastline. There are also well-equipped campsites just footsteps from the South West Coast Path. If you want a single base for the five days, opt for a self-catering cottage within easy reach of the main town hubs. 

The businesses shown below are supporters of the Coast Path and welcome walkers. Additional listings can be found on the Visit Cornwall website. If you would like to have your accommodation and luggage transfer arranged, Contours Walking Holidays and Encounter Walking Holidays can create your perfect package.   

The Old Forge - Sykes Holiday Cottages

One of many exceptional holiday cottages across the whole of the South West

Bosavern House

Quality B&B accommodation on the dramatic Lands End peninsula. Close to the historic mining town of St Just. An ideal base to explore the beautiful surrounding area.

The Old Post House B&B

The Post House in St Just retains many original features. The rooms are comfortably tranquil with a classic French vintage style. Facilities include free wifi, flat screen TV, hairdryer, tea and coffee facilities and bottled water.

Sunnybank House B&B

Comfortable B&B close to SWCP. Free WiFi. Sea Views. Packed Lunches with prior notice. Refreshment trays. Hair Dryers, TV

Lamorna Pottery B&B

We offer an en-suite family room sleeping 4 as well as double & twin rooms available. Single night stays. Evening meal by arrangement. Seating area and outlook onto patio and woods.

Bosula House

Bosula House, set in a peaceful location. Val & Paul offer a warm, friendly welcome, comfortable night’s sleep, ensuite rooms and a good breakfast to start your day.

St Johns House B&B

B&B accommodation in the centre of Pendeen-2 mins walk to pubs,shop,bus. 2 double rooms (1 with ensuite shower),1 twin shared bathroom. Rates charged per room basis.

Chy Lowena Holiday Cottage, Boscaswell

Chy Lowena is a large granite cottage in Boscaswell sleeping 6, with beautiful mature gardens and sea views and only a footstep from the Coast Path.

Gypsy Caravan B&B

A genuine gypsy caravan.  Sleeps 2.  Private garden and adjoining shower and toilet room.  £28 pppn, 300m from the Coast Path.  Single sup if 1 night stay.

The Studio, Treen

The architect designed Studio is located on the west side of Penberth valley in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 8 mins walk from the Path

Treen House B&B

Newly renovated vegetarian/eco-friendly B&B in an unspoilt, magical location.  All rooms en-suite. Use of guest lounge.

Lands End Hostel and B&B

Family run boutique Hostel and B&B, 1/2mile from Lands End. Great for walkers, cyclists, Lejog. Close to The Minack, St Just Airport & Sennen.

The Tremont Hotel

The Tremont is approx. 300 metres from the South West Coast Path offering quality bed & breakfast, packed lunches and drying facilities. Walkers welcome.

Keigwin House

Popular 'home from home', 5 minutes from the Path and town centre. Great breakfasts and a warm welcome awaits. 2 x standard single and 2 x family ensuite rooms

Sea View House

Long standing B&B offering comfortable accomodation, conveniently situated for Coast Path.

Glencree House

We're a friendly, award-winning B&B located 50 yards from the Promenade. Cozy beds and great breakfasts in an award winning B&B

Number Nine B&B

Number Nine offers extremely comfortable accommodation in a lovely Georgian house in central Penzance. Conveniently situated for the South West Coast Path.

Cornerways Guest House

Close to the Path & bus/rail stations, Silver/Breakfast/Rose Awards. All rooms ensuite. Ideal touring base.

Honeydew Guesthouse

5 mins from the Coast Path, bus/train stations, town centre, pubs, and restaurants. Ideal location. We aim to make your stay a comfortable and memorable one. Dog friendly.

Porthgwarra Holiday Cottages

Six holiday cottages in and around Porthgwarra. Porthgwarra Cove Cafe open 10-3pm daily.

Boswednack Manor B&B

Spacious granite farmhouse Bed and Breakfast in unique and unspoilt surroundings on the beautiful north coast of the Land's End peninsula.
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Mountview Hotel

Ten minutes from the Coast Path. Open all year. B*B includes a full Cornish breakfast. Dogs welcome and free of charge.

The Tinner's Arms

Built in 1271, The Tinners Arms has been at the heart of Zennor for over 700 years. Pub, restaurant and small B&B.

Mount Haven

19 beautiful en-suite rooms, restaurant, treatment room, and Terrace Bar with sea views across Mount's Bay

Trevalgan Touring Park

Located just 2 miles from St Ives town centre, in an area of outstanding natural beauty, with a wondrful peaceful atmosphere. Ideally situated to explore the delights of the West Cornwall peninsula.

Polmanter Touring Park

1.5 miles from St Ives, we offer the perfect base to explore West Cornwall offering award-winning camping facilities and 2 luxury apartments.

Tamarisk Guest House

Tamarisk is only 10 minutes' walk from Porthmeor Beach and Town Centre. Away from traffic and situated on a delightful lane leading onto the cliffs carrying the south West Coast path.

Ayr Holiday Park

We offer luxury holiday caravans, s/c apartments, touring & camping pitches with amazing views and facilities. Less than half a mile from beaches, town centre & harbour. Town centre 10 minute walk from the park or a short bus/taxi ride.

The Painters Cottage

Small friendly guest house set in historic former artist's residence with arts and crafts period features. Ideal for exploring West Cornwall and the South West Coast Path. One night stays, 4 full ensuite rooms. Evening meal available

Cohort Hostel

Newly renovated hostel: Centre of St Ives & minutes from the coastal path. Dorms & private rooms, free WiFi, kitchen, TV room, lounge & bar.

Carlill Guesthouse

Stylish modern ensuite rooms. Few minutes to coast/amenities. Long parking available

The Western Hotel

In the heart of St Ives with good breakfasts, comfy rooms and live music at night. Just steps away from the harbour, local art galleries and Coast Path. Baggage transfers.

Newlyn is home to Cornwall’s biggest fishing fleet, so whether you fancy fish and chips or a seafood feast, fish lovers will be in foodie heaven. Penwith is also home to an abundance of wild ingredients from samphire to three-cornered leeks, as well as locally-reared meats.  

The businesses shown below are supporters of the Coast Path and welcome walkers. Additional listings can be found on the Visit Cornwall website.

Godolphin Arms

Located on the beachfront. Large restaurant with sea view terrace and 10 x en-suite rooms.

It’s best to have a car if you want to explore the nooks and crannies of the area, but the hubs of St Ives and Penzance have excellent rail links. There are also bus services that link Penzance and Land’s End (No. 1/1A), Penzance and St Ives (No. 16/16A) and St Ives and Pendeen via Penzance (No. 17/17A). During summer the West Penwith Community Bus Association runs a bus service (No. 7) between Zennor and Land’s End, which is particularly useful. Visit www.travelinesw.com for public transport timetables and route planning advice. For Baggage transfers visit...www.lttaxis.co.uk

From Dover it is 354 miles (570km) and approx 6 1/2hrs drive to Penzance.  From Harwich it is 398 miles (641km) and a 7 hour drive.