Walk - Trethias Farm - Bedruthan Steps

6.4 miles (10.2 km)

Trethias Farm Trethias Farm

Moderate - A circular walk (including the bus journey) passing sandy beaches and dramatic cliffs.

A circular walk (including the bus journey), passing sandy beaches and dramatic cliffs before reaching the iconic Bedruthan Steps.

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.

Old Macdonald's Farm, Porthcothan

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

Bedruthan Hotel & Spa

Bedruthan is set on the doorstep of the stunning Cornish coast. Serving locally grown food and hosting annual events throughout the year.

Penlan B&B, Portcothan Bay

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.

The Scarlet Hotel

The Scarlet is a luxury eco hotel and Ayurvedic inspired spa just for grown ups, set on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

Carnevas Holiday Park, Porthcothan

Located in unspoilt countryside bordering the beautiful North Cornish coastline, a short distance from Padstow and wonderful beaches.

Penhalonga B&B, Constantine Bay

Family run B&B with full English breakfast. Single night stay. Dogs welcome. Contact: [email protected]  T:01841 521122/ 07815833158

Dalswinton Guest House

Why not break up your journey with a night or two at Dalswinton Guest House. We have a selection of rooms available all year round, each has its own characteristics and charm.

Sunny Corner, Trevone

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

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. Coming out of the Trethias Farm campsite, turn left and follow the path towards the coast, turning left on the South West Coast Path.

Due to the active erosion of the cliffs on this walk, it is advisable to stay away from their edges, as they may be undercut. At Fox Cove, the remains of a tanker are visible, 'Helmsley I', wrecked on its way to a breakers yard in 1969.
Here and further along this coastline you may see seals hunting for fish. This section of coast is unusually indented with narrow coves formed as the sea has eroded the weaker bands of rock, leaving the harder rocks as headlands.

  1. The Coast Path continues straight ahead past the series of headlands, but detouring on the smaller paths hugging the coastline gives an interesting view of the dramatic formations caused by the pounding of the waves.

The landowners here are working with the RSPB to protect the corn bunting, which features on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species as a bird in danger of global extinction. Intensive farming operations in the past destroyed vital habitats and food sources. Traditional methods of land management are being used in many places along the Cornish coastline to restore the corn bunting population. It is a stout, dumpy brown bird which flies off with a fluttering flight and with its legs characteristically 'dangling'. Look out for them in the fields on your left, foraging for food or singing from the fence posts.
There is a network of paths through the heathland here, but the Coast Path continues around the coastline, with more examples of spectacular coastal erosion.
Please keep dogs on a lead along this part of the walk. There are often sheep grazing here as part of a conservation strategy employed by the National Trust to control the aggressive rank grasses and scrub that would otherwise smother the important maritime grasslands.

  1. Passing more small islands and coves, the Coast Path descends into Porthcothan, goes along the road for a short distance to cross the stream, and then returns back onto the cliff tops. After about a mile you reach Porth Mear, owned by the National Trust.

Close to the path between here and Park Head are six Bronze Age burial mounds that probably date from 1200 BC and 2500 BC. Across the neck of Park Head is a cliff castle, with its two defensive banks separated by a ditch.
Note the traditional 'curzyway', or 'Jack and Jane', stone walls along the way, where the slates have been stacked in a herringbone pattern before being populated by delicate lichens and stoneworts. Clumps of the pink-headed thrift grow from their tops like thatch, and in places the hedge consists of tamarisk, a feathery-leaved Mediterranean plant which loves dry sandy soil.
Most perennial, slow-growing maritime species occur on sea cliffs. This is not because they need any specific characteristic in this habitat, such as salt, but because further inland they are easily smothered by more vigorous, faster-growing species. The high salt content of the air this close to the sea discourages or kills the terrestrial plants, giving the competitively inferior maritime species a better chance of flourishing.
Unusual plant species occurring along this section of the coast path include the tree mallow, with its massive pink flowers, and the golden samphire an edible plant looking a little like a handful of dwarf beans dotted with tiny yellow flowers. Rock sea lavender also thrives here, resembling heather with its lilac flowers, as does betony, whose purple heads are often humming with insects.
Park Head has fantastic views. It is a prominent windswept greenstone headland which is the site of an Iron Age cliff castle. You may see oystercatchers from here.

  1. As you head south from Park Head you get your first view of the rock stacks known as Bedruthan Steps.

These take their name from a giant called Bedruthan who used the stacks as stepping stones forming a short-cut across the bay. However it is claimed by some, that this is just a story made up in the late 19th century when it first became a tourist attraction, and 'the steps' actually take their name from the cliff staircase used to access the beach. Swimming here is hazardous.
Bedruthan Steps was a popular holiday location during the Victorian period. One of the stacks is named The Samaritan after the cargo ship of the same name which was wrecked here in 1846, providing the locals with barrels of food and silks.

  1. Just before Carnewas Island take the path inland to the National Trust carpark. Stop for refreshments or walk along the lane leading to the main road ( the B3276) At the end of the lane is the bus stop (by the Bedruthan House Hotel). From here catch the Western Greyhound 556 Padstow bus back to Portcothan.
  2. Get off the bus at Porthcothan Bay Stores. Walk gently uphill to the road leading off to the left, towards Treyarnon.
  3. Turn left onto this road and follow it past Carnevas on the right.

Under your feet at the top of the hill above Carnevas, although you won't see it, the bedrock contains rocks formed from mobile magma, a fluid lava brought to the surface by the eruption of volcanoes at the time that the slate beds were forming.

  1. Turn left at Trethias Farm and walk down the road back to the campsite.

Public transport

This walk includes the use of the relatively frequent Western Greyhound bus service number 556 that links the coastal villages between Newquay & Padstow. The bus stops at Porthcothan Bay Stores and Bedruthan House Hotel.

Please check timetable details by visiting Traveline (www.travelinesw.com) or phoning 0870 6082608.

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