Walk - North Cliffs
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2022. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- This walk joins the four informal cliff top car parks, which are just off the B3301 Portreath to Hayle road. Start in the first car park at Reskajeague Downs and turn left out of the car park on to the Coast Path, so that you’re heading in a westerly direction. The route takes you through a mixture of maritime grassland and heathland.
From early spring onwards, this gradually comes alive with the colours of the wild flowers, culminating in the late summer patchwork of purple, green and yellow of heather and gorse. Look out for plants such as dog violet, kidney vetch, tormentil, honeysuckle and wild carrot.
On a calm, warm summer day you may see butterflies such as the speckled wood, wall brown, small heath or even a common blue. Make sure that you don’t get so engrossed with the wildlife that you miss the view across the cliffs to the headland of the Knavacks and Navax Point!
- A bench, shortly before you reach the second car park would be a good point to stop and admire the view.
If the tide is low enough you should be able to make out the reef of stones which runs out from Godrevy Island. According to a local legend this reef of stones was made by the giant, Wrath, who lived further east on the coast at Ralph’s Cupboard. If any of the ships bound for St Ives were sailing too far out for him to catch and bring back to his lair, he would throw rocks to sink them and these rocks make up the reef of stones. Today ships are warned of this reef by a buoy at the outermost end of the reef and Godrevy Lighthouse, which shines over the ‘stones’ from Godrevy Island. The lighthouse is also reputed to be the one on which Virginia Woolf based her modernist novel ‘To The Lighthouse’.
- As you pass alongside the third car park you’ll notice that the path has been diverted and a fence put up along the cliff.
This is to keep cars and people away from the cliff edge after a large cliff fall over the winter of 2006.
- When you reach the fourth car park you’ll find a bench at the western end – a good spot for a rest before you make a return journey.
You may see a kestrel at eye level as it hovers at the cliff top searching out its prey, or hear the deep ‘prruk, prruk’ call of a raven overhead. While you’re gazing out to sea it’s worth keeping a look out for sea birds such as fulmars, shags, cormorants, razorbills, guillemots and gannets. Diving gannets are often a sign that there’s fish about, and can sometimes mean that there’s dolphins about too. If you’re lucky enough you may even see a basking shark or sunfish!
On the way back you can take in the views up the coast to St Agnes Beacon and beyond to Trevose Head with its lighthouse. Inland, you can see Carn Brea rising up behind the towns of Redruth and Camborne. The giant Bolster, who blighted the lives of the villagers of St Agnes, could stand with one foot on Carn Brea and the other on St Agnes Beacon. He had many stone throwing fights with the giant of Carn Brea and the boulders around Carn Brea are said to have come from these fights. He met his end at Chapel Porth, where he was tricked by St Agnes into proving his love for her, by filling a hole in the cliff with his blood.
Portreath, Hell’s Mouth Cafe.