Walk - St Levan

1.6 miles (2.5 km)

Porthgwarra car park - TR19 6JP Porthgwarra car park

Easy - Some ascent and descent, with steps, and the path is rough in places.

An easy walk eastwards from Porthgwarra through the heathland to St Levan, where the medieval church perches high above the fifth-century saint's original chapel and the bracken-clad hillside plunges to the tiny beach with its white sand and turquoise water. A lovely walk in spring, when the bracken is fresh and the gorse flowers are bright and the blossom-covered bushes ring to the call of newly-arrived migrant birds. Children will love the beach and the ancient well above it. If the weather is fine, bring a picnic and make a day of it!

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.

The Studio, Treen

The architect designed Studio is located on the west side of Penberth valley in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 8 mins walk from the Path

Porthgwarra Holiday Cottages

Six holiday cottages in and around Porthgwarra. Porthgwarra Cove Cafe open 10-3pm daily.

Sea View House

Long standing B&B offering comfortable accomodation, conveniently situated for Coast Path.

Treen House B&B

Newly renovated vegetarian/Vegan, eco-friendly B&B in an unspoilt, magical location. All rooms en-suite. Use of guest lounge.

Lands End Hostel and B&B

Family run boutique Hostel and B&B, 1/2mile from Lands End. Great for walkers, cyclists, Lejog. Close to The Minack, St Just Airport & Sennen.

Sunnybank House B&B

Comfortable B&B close to SWCP. Free WiFi. Sea Views. Packed Lunches with prior notice. Refreshment trays. Hair Dryers, TV

Bosula House

Bosula House, set in a peaceful location. Val & Paul offer a warm, friendly welcome, comfortable night’s sleep, ensuite rooms and a good breakfast to start your day.

Lamorna Pottery B&B

We offer an en-suite family room sleeping 4 as well as double & twin rooms available. Single night stays. Evening meal by arrangement. Seating area and outlook onto patio and woods.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the Porthgwarra car park turn left, bearing left at the gift shop, and turn right on the road beyond to pick up the South West Coast Path on the right, through an archway formed of the feathery fronds of the Mediterranean salt- and sand-loving tamarisk bushes. Carry on through the heathland, forking left to stay high when the path splits.
  2. When it forks again, bear left to visit St Levan's Church and then return to this spot to take the path downhill towards Porth Chapel.

St Levan was born near St Buryan in the sixth century and was one of numerous Celtic saints who established hermitages around the Cornish coast when Christianity was under siege by the Anglo-Saxon pagans who flooded into Britain after the Romans left. These tiny chapels were usually near a beach (many of the saints arrived by sea from Brittany, Ireland and Wales) and were always near a spring which provided the hermit's drinking water. St Levan's chapel was near the beach at Porth Chapel and linked by about 50 stone steps to the well on the hillside above. The name Levan is a corruption of St Selevan, the Celtic form of Solomon.

The St Levan Stone, on the south side of the church in the medieval churchyard, was considered to be a sacred monument by the pagans worshiping here before the saint arrived. They believed that it was a source of mystical power and used it for their fertility rites. 

On the south side of the Parish Church is the St Levan Stone, considered in pagan times to be a source of mystical power, especially in fertility rites. Nowadays it is in two halves, which is said to have happened when St Levan struck the rock with his staff after resting on it following a day’s fishing. There is a local tradition that says that when a packhorse with panniers can ride between the two halves, then the world will end.

The tall cross beside the St Levan Stone is thought to have been erected in medieval times to sanctify the pagan site. There were at least five more Celtic crosses in the area around the church, marking the various paths to it. One still stands at the northeast corner of the churchyard, and another on the footpath towards Rospletha.

  1. Reaching the South West Coast Path on your way down to the beach, turn right to follow it back to Porthgwarra and the car park; but before you do, take time to visit the tiny hermit's cell a few steps down towards the beach, carrying on down this path if you want to visit the beach itself before returning to Porthgwarra.

The granite steps between the chapel and the well are very old and were restored in 2003, more than 60 years after they were rediscovered.

Public transport

Buses run regularly on the B3315 between Penzance and Land's End, stopping at the top of the road above Lamorna and at Polgigga above Porthgwarra. For details visit: www.travelinesw.com or phone 0871 200 22 33

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