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.

Creekside B&B

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

St Ives Holiday Village

Set over 100 acres of woodland, the park is a haven for nature. Accommodation ranges from woodland chalets to luxurious lodges. Ideal for nature lovers and families who want to explore the great outdoors,the Path and nearby beaches of St Ives

The Painters Cottage

Small friendly guest house set in historic former artist's residence with arts and crafts period features. Ideal for exploring West Cornwall and the South West Coast Path. One night stays, 4 full ensuite rooms. Evening meal available

The Western Hotel

In the heart of St Ives with good breakfasts, comfy rooms and live music at night. Just steps away from the harbour, local art galleries and Coast Path. Baggage transfers.

St Ives Holidays

St Ives Holidays is one of the leading holiday cottage specialists in St Ives with nearly 250 cottages in and around the area.

Tolroy Manor Holiday Park

With an Old Cornish Manor at its heart, the Park is a haven for wildlife & nature and a charming base for your walking holiday. Stay in a cottage or house and eat out in our conservatory style restaurant. Just 1 mile from Hayle Towans beach

Cohort Hostel

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

We offer luxury holiday caravans, s/c apartments, touring & camping pitches with amazing views and facilities. Less than half a mile from beaches, town centre & harbour. Town centre 10 minute walk from the park or a short bus/taxi ride.

Sandbank Holidays

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.

Nanterrow Farm

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.

Mount Haven

Located on the outskirts of Marazion, the Mount Haven has 20 beautiful bedrooms, an excellent restaurant and a contemporary Terrace Bar with sweeping views of Mount’s Bay.
You'll be spoilt for choice for where to eat and drink along the Path. With lots of local seasonal food on offer, fresh from the farm, field and waters. Try our local ales, ciders, wines and spirits, increasing in variety by the year, as you sit in a cosy pub, fine dining restaurant or chilled café on the beach. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

The Hoxton Special Cafe

(In)famous “Life Changing Coffee” an epic selection of Ice Cream, Cakes, Cream Teas in vintage china and one of the best views in Cornwall.
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

Guided walking with a qualified Mountain Training Instructor and professional ecologist exploring everything about the path

The Hoxton Special Watersports

We offer Kitesurfing, Paddleboarding, Kayaking, Yoga Sessions and Coffee right on the beach. Everyone is welcome at our Watersports Cafe.

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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