Walk - Penzance to Marazion seafront walk
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2019. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- The path starts at the car park just seaward of the bus and railway station.
Leading off from the car park is Albert Pier, built in 1845-7 to provide shelter from south easterly gales. During a visit to Cornwall in September 1846, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Cornwall and landed at Penzance on the new pier, which was then still uncompleted. Hence the pier was named 'Albert Pier'.
- From the car park the Coast Path heads east along a footway (shared with the National Cycle Network) inland of the sea wall, (the path along the sea wall itself is a dead end) alongside the railway.
Penzance is the most westerly and southerly railway station in England and was opened by the West Cornwall Railway in 1852 as the terminus of its line from Redruth, but was subsequently incorporated into Brunel’s Great Western Railway linking through to Paddington. The arch that is blocked up in the wall that retains the hillside behind the platforms was used by the railway as a coal store. Freight traffic, especially the busy fish trade, was handled in a goods yard where the cars are now parked adjacent to the bus station.
- After a few hundred metres the path rises up from behind the sea wall and the views open across Mounts Bay to the famous St Michael’s Mount (managed by the National Trust) linked to Marazion by a natural causeway passable at low tide. The path continues along this sea wall for the rest of the walk.
In Cornish St Michael's Mount is Carrack Looz en Cooz, which translates as "the grey rock in the wood" and this may represent a folk memory of a time before Mount's Bay was flooded. Certainly, the Cornish name would be an accurate description of the Mount set in woodland. The Cornish legend of Lyonesse talks of land being inundated by the sea, and there is strong evidence of sea levels being much lower in the past, with the channels between the nearby Isles of Scillies only being inundated around 400–500 AD. Remains of trees have also been seen during low tides following storms on the beach at Perranuthnoe just a few miles further along the coast from here.
As you continue along the sea wall, your peace may be briefly disturbed by the 30 seater Sikorsky helicopters taking visitors to and from the Isles of Scilly. This service was started in 1964 and is the longest running scheduled helicopter service in the world and operates every day apart from Sundays.
During summer the boulders forming the sea defences are full of wild flowers such as the pink mallow whose waxy leaves help conserve moisture in the harsh dry, salty conditions, that would kill most other plants. There are regular paths off the sea wall down onto Long Rock Beach, and dogs are allowed on this beach all year.
- The walk ends at the car park at the edge of Marazion. For a longer walk, see the Marazion Marshes Walk.
In the winter, thousands of starlings roost in the marsh, and at dusk you can the spectacle of watch huge flocks swooping across the sky as the gather for the night.
Marazion itself is an attractive small town that is well worth exploring and has an active artists' community who produce and sell paintings and pottery in the numerous art galleries.
Both Marazion and Penzance have a selection of pubs and cafes that serve local food.