Walk - Padstow and Stepper Point Walk

5.8 miles (9.4 km)

Padstow Harbour - PL28 8AF Padstow Harbour

Moderate - The walking is on tracks and footpaths on mostly level terrain. Bring a picnic if the weather's good.

A headland walk giving far-reaching views over the mouth of the River Camel and the Doom Bar, where mermaids wait to lure sailors to disaster! Features include sandy beaches, secluded coves, holy wells, a daymark tower, some stunning rock formations, and an abbreviated route for those looking for a shorter walk. An excellent walk for children and a good route in spring, when the bushes are decked out in sharp new leaves and luxurious blossom, and whistling whimbrels fly up the estuary in flocks of as many as a hundred birds.

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Cornish Horizons

One of Cornwall’s leading agencies with nearly 700 cottages in popular locations including Padstow, St Ives, Looe and Fowey. Book online today!

South Quay B&B

A house on the harbourside in Padstow. 2 double rooms, the en suite top bedroom has a tiny terrace under the gable of the house.

Coswarth House

A beautifully furnished boutique hotel in a listed building with breakfast served at Rick Stein's Cafe. Each room has a luxury bathroom.

Dennis Cove Campsite

Closest campsite to the harbour,10min walk from the Path via the Camel Trail. Serene site bordering the Camel Estuary. A perfect base to explore the Cornish coastline & beaches.

Mariners Lettings Ltd

Mariners Lettings - seven self-catering properties in Rock ranging in size from two to five bedrooms, 500 metres from the SW Coast Path

Sunny Corner

Close to the sandy beach. Double/twin bedrooms both ensuite £85 per room (£60 single occupancy) includes full breakfast, wifi, parking

Linhay Cornwall

Attractive cosy cottage in a tranquil location, just a short drive from foodie haven Padstow and close to many beautiful beaches.

Moyles Farm

Amazing views over open farmland, a perfect retreat to relax and unwind after a day on the Path. Range of accommodation including Shepherds Huts

Penhalonga B&B

Family run B&B, full English breakfast. Single nights. Dogs welcome. [email protected] T:01841 521122/ 07815833158

Carnevas Holiday Park

Located in unspoilt countryside bordering the North Cornish coastline, a short distance from Padstow and wonderful beaches. Bar serving food available at certain times and shop.

Penlan B&B

Situated 250 m from Porthcothan Bay beach close to the coast path. We have 2 double ensuite rooms and­ a room with 2 single beds and a private bathroom. Free wifi. Dog friendly and can help with kit transfer.

Old Macdonalds Farm

Small family run Farm Park, B&B plus Campsite just ½ a mile from beautiful Porthcothan Bay, along the coast between Padstow and Newquay.

Cornish Traditional Cottages

Cornish Traditional Cottages offer self-catering holiday lets throughout Cornwall. Find your perfect base for exploring the Cornish coast.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

There are two ways to get to the start of this walk. On the Padstow side, you can park in the Harbour car park and walk up to the start of the walk keeping the sea to your right. Alternatively, you can drive to Rock and use the Rock Quarry car park. From here you can walk to the Padstow Rock Ferry terminal, which is situated across the road from the main entrance to the car park.

Please note that the ferry runs to Padstow harbour at high tide but stops further up the path towards Stepper Point at low tide, where you can join the walk at (2).

  1. From the harbour take the Coast Path northwards, up the ramp, and follow the path through the park to the memorial, ignoring the steps up to the left.
  2. At the memorial, continue along the Coast Path and follow it along as it runs above the beach to Gun Point. If you want to go down onto the sand there are numerous small paths leading to the beaches along the way to Harbour Cove, but for this walk, stay with the main path around the dunes.

St George's Well, supposedly off the path above the beach, is one of many holy wells in Cornwall. In early times, sources of water were highly prized, especially by travellers, and the Celts and Roman ascribed healing properties to their springs and wells, and saints arriving by sea a few centuries later would have had cause to bless these as welcome drinking fountains.

There is said to be another well, dedicated to St John, near the daymark tower later in the walk. This one is believed to have been marked by a beacon chapel, although nothing now remains of either.

Rather more recent (from the start of the nineteenth century, in fact), are the ruins of a Napoleonic gun emplacement and fortifications at Gun Point, a little further on from St George's Well.

Looking out across the estuary, at low tide the sand on this side of the water extends almost to Doom Bar. According to a traditional ballad, the Mermaid of Padstow fell in love with local lad, Tom Yeo, who mistook her for a seal (or so he said), and shot her. In the awful rage of a woman scorned, she called up a mighty storm, wrecking all the ships in the harbour and throwing a huge sandbar across the river to imperil all future sailors venturing in. Look out for her on the rocks at Hawker's Cove...

  1. From Gun Point the path turns slightly inland around the edge of Harbour Cove until it reaches a small inlet, where a track joins it from your left.

(For the short version of the walk, turn left onto this track and follow it back to Padstow, dropping onto the road southwards at Tregirls Farm and ignoring the tracks leading away on both sides shortly afterwards. When you come to the houses, follow Tregirls Lane around to the left as it becomes Church Street and then turn right down Duke Street to reach the centre of Padstow again).

  1. For the longer walk, turn right to follow the track towards the beach for a short distance, until you come to a small gap in the bushes ahead of you, with the Coast Path acorn waymarker in among the vegetation. Follow the narrow footpath through the bushes, emerging a short while later onto another path which again hugs the shoreline above the sandy beach. Follow the path northwards to Hawker's Cove.

At the back of the 200-year-old ‘Coastguard Houses’ at Hawkers Cove is the Rest a While tea garden.

The first Padstow lifeboat, built by the Padstow Harbour Association, was stationed here, before the Padstow branch of the RNLI was formed in 1855. In 1931 a new boathouse was built, and a roller slipway, but by 1967 silting up became a problem and the lifeboat was moved to Trevose Head, a few miles to the west.

  1. Ignore the road to your left and follow the Coast Path waymarkers between the houses until you are on the footpath on the far side of the settlement. Carry on along this towards the point.
  2. At the quarry, a path joins from your left. Ignore this and carry on along the Coast Path as it heads uphill to the point. Carry on along the path around the point to the daymark tower.

The other path to the left at the quarry, heading uphill, leads to the lookout station and a World War II pillbox beside it. If you walk this way, the path continues over the headland and will return you to the main path at the daymark tower.

The daymark tower was built, probably in the early nineteenth century, as a maritime navigational aid, designed to guide sailors into the River Camel.

From flint tools found on the headland it appears that people lived in this part of Stepper Point as far back as 6000 years ago, and possibly even earlier.

The dramatic headland at Stepper Point marks the entrance to the Camel Estuary and features prominently in the opening episodes of Poldark.

  1. Carry on along the Coast Path as it heads south above the sea, dropping downhill, until you come to the place where it turns sharply left around a rocky cove.

As you walk along here you will hear the hollow boom that tells of caves in the rock below your feet. These are carved out by the sea, which exploits weaknesses in the rock and then enlarges them with the power of its waves as they wash around the cave. Sometimes these collapse, leaving a sinkhole. Pepper Hole, Butter Hole and Fox Hole along this part of the coast were formed in this way; and at Roundhole Point, to the south of this walk, there is a tremendous example of this. Note the other dramatic rock formations caused by wave erosion here too.

  1. Leave the Coast path here, forking left to the track ahead and turning right on this track, following it around to the left shortly afterwards to join the road at Lellizzick.
  2. Turn right on the road and then pick up the track on your left a moment later, which will lead you quickly back to (4), at Harbour Cove.

From here, there is a choice of routes back to Padstow: either along the shoreline, the way you came; or take the track to the right  on the far side of the inlet and follow it back to Church Street, past Tregirls Farm, as detailed in the shorter route after (3) (above).

Public transport

The Western Greyhound 555 bus runs regularly between Bodmin and Padstow, via Wadebridge, stopping at Padstow Bus Terminal, on the main road above the town. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

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