Walk - Porthkidney Sands

2.0 miles (3.2 km)

Carbis Bay Station - TR26 2NN Carbis Bay

Easy - There is not too much ascent or descent but the path can be exposed to sea winds so wear warm clothing.

A short walk alongside the railway line high above St Ives Bay, through an area noted for rare wildflowers and migratory birds. A number of Celtic saints are said to have established chapels here in ancient times, and the old pilgrim route St Michael's Way follows a parallel path across the railway, while an eighteenth century St Ives mayor set up his own eccentric tradition at an obelisk along the way.

Porthkidney Sands is a dog friendly beach. Have a look at our Top Dog Walks on the South West Coast Path for more dog friendly beaches and pubs. 

This walk requires a train journey to or from Lelant Station on the St Ives Line. Either begin with a train journey to Lelant Station and reverse the walk directions or complete the walk as directed and catch the train back from Lelant.

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.

Penhayl Cottage, Lelant, St. Ives

Very quiet 5 star house with full central heating. 2 bedrooms/2 bathrooms, parking, lounge overlooking Hayle Estuary RSPB reserve & SSSI. 10 minute walk to bus & inn.

Beachpads

Three stunning holiday homes (2 x 4-Bed & 1 x 2 Bed) located on the Coast Path, at Lelant in St Ives Bay with absolute sea and beach front position, unrivalled vista.

Creekside B&B, Hayle

Creekside B & B in Hayle welcomes you warmly with ensuite rooms, free wifi & a tasty breakfast. Transport links, cafes, restaurants & shops are nearby.

Carlill, St Ives

Highly recommended licensed accommodation with sea view, ensuite bedrooms, central heating, wifi, close to Path. 5mins walk to beach,town,bus and rail. Parking available.

The Western Hotel, St Ives

Situated in the heart of St Ives, The Western Hotel offers you comfortable accomodation for your coastal stopover.

Cohort Hostel, St Ives

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

Ayr Holiday Park, St Ives

We offer luxury holiday caravans, self catering apartments and touring & camping pitches with some of the best views and facilities you will find.

Tamarisk, St Ives

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.

Sandbank Holidays, Hayle

Nestled in the sand dunes of St Ives Bay, surrounded by National Trust conservation areas, with direct access to the coastal road and the A30, sandbank is an ideal location, whatever your personal holiday passion.

Sandbank House B&B,Upper Towans, Hayle

Nestled in the sand dunes of St Ives Bay, surrounded by National Trust conservation areas, with direct access to the coastal road and the A30, sandbank is an ideal location, whatever your personal holiday passion.

Nanterrow Farm, near Gwithian

Found in the heart of a 100 acre farm, this charming late Georgian farmhouse sits within a traditional country garden in a quiet, traffic free valley.

Lamorna House Homestay

Charming king-size room in lovely home with exclusive use of family sized bathroom and light, healthy breakfast.

What is on your list of things to do when you visit the Path? From walking companies, to help you tailor your visit, with itineraries and experts to enhance your visit, to baggage transfer companies and visitor attractions there are lots to people and places to help you decide what you'd like to do. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Explore In Cornwall

We provide guided day and half day walks on the South West Coast Path across Cornwall and other parts of the Trail. These are guided by Steve Crummay who has 30+ years experience of working in Cornwall's amazing coast and countryside.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. Park your car in the fee-paying car parks at either Carbis Bay beach or in Porthrepta Road and make your way to Carbis Bay beach. Walk steeply uphill above the beach to pick up the South West Coast Path on your left towards the top of the hill. Drop down the steps and follow the footpath around Carrack Gladden.

The 60-metre cliffs around the headland at Carrack Gladden are of metamorphosed Devonian slate, and the acidic soil above them supports a range of vegetation, including grassland and scrub, and the nationally scarce maritime heathland, a habitat of gorse and bracken srrounded by ling and bell heather, giving a brilliant vista of purples and yellows during the summer and autumn. A number of rare plants grow here, including soft-leaved sedge, ivy broomrape and the delicate, vividly green maidenhair fern. The whole area has been recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest as a result of the biodiversity of its species, known as the Hayle Estuary and Carrack Gladden SSSI.

Looking up from the headland at Carrack Gladden you can see the 50-foot granite pyramid of Knill's Steeple on Worvas Hill above you, used by ships as a landmark. John Knill was a lawyer and a collector of customs, and he was mayor of St Ives in 1767. He had the monument built as a personal mausoleum in 1782, and he had the word 'Resurgam' ('I shall rise again') inscribed in bold relief on one of its faces. On the second face he added 'I know that my Redeemer liveth', and the last side bore the Knill coat of arms and his personal motto, 'Nil Desperandum'. There were problems with consecrating the ground, however, and in the end he was buried in St Andrew Holborn in London. In his will he left instructions instead for a bizarre ceremony to take place at the monument on St James's Day (25th July) in the second and seventh year of every decade. Ten girls dance around the obelisk, to music played by a fiddler, and two widows have to be in attendance.

  1. The path approaches the railway line above Porth Kidney Sands. Carry on along the Coast Path above the beach and stay with it as it winds through the dunes.

The long stretch of golden sand at Porth Kidney can be reached around the point from Carbis Bay at low tide, but be aware that the tide comes in very quickly, and strong currents make the water unsuitable for bathing near the estuary. It is backed by a large area of dunes, dune grassland and dune scrub, again exhibiting a wide range of unusual wildflowers, thanks to its sand being rich in lime from crushed seashells, with traveller's joy and wild privet ranging through the widespread marram grass. Other particularly important plants include mountain St John's wort and the Hebridean orchid with its lavishly speckled pink flowers.

On the far side of the railway line is St Michael's Way, a 12½-mile coast-to-coast walking route, which starts in Lelant. This was a prehistoric route allowing sea travellers to avoid the treacherous currents around Land's End by crossing the peninsula overland instead. Later it was used by pilgrims on the network of routes leading across Europe to one of the world's most important Christian places of pilgrimage, the Cathedral of St James in Santiago de Compostela in north western Spain. It is the only British footpath to be designated a European Cultural Route in modern times, and it ends at St Michael's Mount by Marazion.

  1. Towards the end of the dunes cross the railway on the footbridge and follow the path up through the golf course to St Uny Church. Stay on the marked path and watch out for golf balls.

The area's SSSI designation also recognises its importance as a feeding and roosting habitat for a wide variety of birds. The Hayle Estuary is Britain's most south-westerly estuary adjacent to the important bird migration routes traversing the peninsula, and its mild climate provides feeding grounds for flocks of wildfowl and wading birds when other estuaries are frozen.

The West Cornwall Golf Club is the oldest golf club in the Duchy and was established in 1889. It has spectacular views across the water to Godrevy Lighthouse and a prevailing wind which gives players a range of challenges. It is especially known for the warm welcome it gives to visiting players.

The earliest written reference to St Uny church was in 1170, when it was mentioned as 'The Church of Saint Euni' by Thomas Becket, Archibishop of Canterbury. Built of granite, it replaced an earlier wooden structure and was extended during the fourteenth century, when the present nave and south aisle were added. Like many other churches in Cornwall it displays a letter from King Charles thanking the parishioners for their staunch support during the English Civil War. There is also a fine east window depicting Cornish sea birds as well as Cornish saints.

There is much debate about the Celtic saints who arrived here during their rush from Ireland, Wales and Brittany to support their fellow Christians in Cornwall, beleaguered by incursions of the pagan Anglo-Saxons. The patron saint of Saint Ives, St Ia, is said to have established a hermitage locally which later became the Parish Church of St Ia in St Ives; but some commentators believe that it was St Uny who brought the religion to the district. There again, Lelant is named after Saint Anta, whose name is given to the Church at Carbis Bay, and it is said that she had a chapel on the rocks at the entrance to the estuary.

Look out for several medieval crosses in the churchyard. There are many of these throughout Cornwall, and they were widely used in the Middle Ages to mark the way to holy places, although sometimes they were simple waymarkers at the junctions of ancient paths or even simply boundary markers. They usually appeared in the form of the Celtic ‘wheeled’ cross, thought to have been a way of incorporating the pagan sun motif into the Christian cross, and they were used by the Celtic missionaries to attract pagan sun worshipers to the new religion.

  1. Carry on along the path through the churchyard, bearing left at the gate to follow the road downhill towards the railway, passing the old station house in its Great Western livery of cream and brown to turn into the station beyond.
close
close

Walk Finder

Find...

Postcode, placename or click the icon to use current location

Click/hold and drag the map to set the centre point of your search location under the red crosshair

from this location

Difficulty

Length (miles)

Themes

close

Find somewhere to Eat & Drink, Sleep or Do

Find...

Postcode, placename or click the icon to use current location

Click/hold and drag the map to set the centre point of your search location under the red crosshair

from this location
close

Interactive Map