Walk - Carbis Bay and Porthkidney Sands circular walk

3.1 miles (5.0 km)

Hendra Parc car park - TR26 2TT Hendra Parc car park

Moderate - There is some ascent or descent and the path can be exposed to brisk sea winds so wear warm clothing.

A short walk either side of the railway line high above St Ives Bay, through an area noted for rare wildflowers and migratory birds. The route returns along the old pilgrim route, St Michael's Way, which follows the footsteps of one of many ancient saints who visited these shores. Children will love the beach and the burrows and the fascinating obelisk where an eighteenth century mayor of St Ives set up his own eccentric tradition. 

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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

Stylish modern ensuite rooms. Few minutes to coast/amenities. Long 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

Nestled in the sand dunes, surrounded by conservation areas, with direct access to the coast road and A30, we are in an ideal location whatever your personal holiday passion.

Trevalgan Touring Park, St Ives

Located just 2 miles from St Ives town centre, in an area of outstanding natural beauty, with a wondrful peaceful atmosphere. Ideally situated to explore the delights of the West Cornwall peninsula.

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.

Mount Haven

19 beautiful en-suite rooms, restaurant, treatment room, and Terrace Bar with sea views across Mount's Bay

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.

Walk Kernow Nordic Walking

Walk Kernow provides Beginners Workshops, weekly Nordic Walks and Nordic Walking weekend breaks.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From Hendra Parc car park in Carbis Bay, return to Porthrepta Road, turning left to drop downhill past the station.
  2. Reaching the the South West Coast Path on your right above Carbis Bay beach, turn onto it, heading towards Hayle.

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. Above Porthkidney Sands you come to a railway bridge. Cross the bridge to turn right on the far side, heading back towards Carbis Bay on the other side of the railway line. Carry on past the small footpaths in the burrows, until you come to a sharp left-hand bend which leads you to a T-junction.

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.

The return route 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 once 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. St Michael the Archangel is said to have appeared to some Cornish fishermen on St Michael's Mount in the year 495.

  1. At the T-junction turn right to carry on along the hedge, towards Carbis Bay. Keep going ahead past the lane on the left, just before the first houses on Headland Road.
  2. When the lane opens out into a road, carry on ahead along Headland Road, turning left on the main road to return to Hendra Parc. Alternatively, take the footpath to the right, turning left at the bottom, for a more picturesque route back to the main road, again turning left here to return to the car park.
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