Walk - Bowgie Inn - Kelsey Head & Holywell

5.3 miles (8.5 km)

The Bowgie Inn - TR8 5SE Bowgie Inn

Moderate -

Featuring a sandy beach, caves and a holy well, this is a relatively gentle stroll in an area particularly important for wildlife. Watch out for seals around The Chick and check out the prehistoric cliff castle on the headland.

Checked by SWCPA Volunteer Sheila Russell - June 2018

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.

Trevornick Holiday Park

Trevornick offers a range of 5* accommodation from camping to luxury lodges, onsite restaurant/cafe and bar, entertainment, golf courses, fishing, swimming pool and more.

Parkdean Resorts Holywell Bay Holiday Park

Whether you want peaceful relaxation or family fun, you’ll find it all here. Located just 10 minutes stroll from the beach.

Parkdean Resorts Crantock Beach Holiday Park

Overlooking the sea, the caravan park is just 5 minutes’ walk from the beach, the Path and the village of Crantock. A fantastic location with brilliant facilities.

Pentire Hotel Ltd

•Award-winning breakfasts and 75 rooms, some with Fistral Bay views. Relax in our indoor pool. Enjoy a drink with dinner. Some rooms are dog-friendly, so all welcome!

Fistral Studio

Minutes from the SWCP section Crantock across the Gannel Estuary to Newquay, Fistral Studio is a self catering chalet with shower room, parking and a private garden.

Blue Room Hostel Newquay

Hostel located near Grear Western Beach. Great access to the Gannel and/ or coast to Padstow. Dorm beds or double rooms.

Porth Sands Penthouse

Porth Sands Penthouse is a beautiful romantic beach apartment, situated right on Porth Beach in Porth, Newquay, Cornwall, with stunning views across the bay

Coastal Valley Camp and Crafts

Gold award winning rustic family eco campsite. Woodfired Horsebox catering Food and Cocktail barn. Holistic yurt. Topped off with Platinium awarded toilet and showers

Parkdean Resorts Newquay Holiday Park

An action packed site with 3 outdoor pools. Close to Newquay's 11 unforgettable beaches.
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.

Bowgie Inn Ltd

With unrivalled sea views, lots of seating inside & out, The Bowgie Inn & the surrounding area is the perfect place to explore all year round!

The Garden Cafe

Great coffee, cakes, traditional Cornish cream teas & light lunches in award-winning gardens

Beach Box, Morgan Porth

situated by the beach, we welcome you year-round with locally-made food and drinks from our St Minver prep kitchen. Enjoy a variety of options indoors or outdoors with stunning views. We offer vegan and GF options. so, come and say hi.

Jampen Cafe Newquay Football Golf

Licensed on the cliff Cafe on Trevelgue Head. Surrounded by beaches. Beach huts also available from £10.00 per day. We also have football and crazy golf for the energetic

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.

Visit Newquay Tourist Information Centre

We are dedicated to both the promotion of Newquay and to help you make the most of your visit to Newquay and Cornwall! Open 7days a week.


Nordic Spa - Wood-fired Sauna, wood-fired hot tubs and cold baths, changing facilities. Open Tuesday - Sunday

Paul David Smith Photography Courses

Improve your photography whilst taking in some of Cornwall's best views with Paul's range of photography courses.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the Bowgie Inn walk down through the car park to join the South West Coast Path turning left.

Listen out for the Gannel crake, a mythical bird whose desolate howl has been heard all around Crantock Beach. The name is attributed to two brothers who were once working beneath West Pentire, gathering seaweed to use as fertiliser. One of the brothers described the sound, which frightened their horses into galloping away, as 'like a thousand voices in pent-up misery with one long-drawn wail dying away into the distance.'

  1. Follow the South West Coast Path as it travels towards and around Pentire Point West.

At Vugga Cove, en route to the headland, there are a few rusty mooring pins and rings leaded into the rocks, evidence that the cove was once used by boats. There are also twin grooves where massive timbers once lay across the narrow channel, possibly to enable local boatbuilders to scrape the bottom of a boat.
The lower path on Pentire Point West leads to a collapsed sea cave, a common feature on the North Cornish coastline. The cave was carved into the rock by the erosive action of the waves, which then washed around inside it, causing such a build-up of air pressure that the roof fell in.

  1. Beyond the headland descend to the beach at Porth Joke and keep on the South West Coast Path and follow it around Kelsey Head and on to Holywell Beach.

Known to the locals as 'Polly Joke', the beach was originally called Porth Lojowek, meaning 'plant-rich cove'.
Kelsey Head is a Site of Special Scientific Interest with a wide range of habitats, the most extensive being the sand dune system and the maritime grassland which has grown over wind-blown sand around the fringes of the headlands and on Cubert Common.
Conservation methods used by the National Trust around Kelsey Head ensure that no fewer than 154 different species of plant thrive here today, and in the summer it is a riot of colour. Other important wildlife areas are the wet meadows alongside the stream as you walk to Porth Joke and the brackish marsh at Holywell Bay.
A number of rare plants grow around here, including sea holly in the sand dunes and Babington's leek in the area of marshland. The particularly unusual and beautiful Silver-Studded Blue butterfly has also been seen at Kelsey Head. The stripe-winged grasshopper spotted here is one of only three sightings in Devon and Cornwall in recent years.
The headland and the offshore islands are also noteworthy for the colonies of breeding seabirds including the guillemot, shag and razorbill. The small island just offshore as you round the Kelsey headland is known as The Chick. At low tide, look out for grey seals and maybe even dolphins.
Evidence of human activity has been found around Kelsey Head dating back to the Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) times around 4000-8000 BC. This includes flint tools, as well as shells and bone in what is thought to have been a midden, suggesting that there was a settlement here. There are also tumuli, or burial barrows, dating from the Bronze Age.
Archaeologists have found two cliff castles here. Cliff castles date from the Iron Age, generally between 100 and 200AD. They are coastal enclosures making use of the natural defences of steep cliffs around a headland. The prehistoric inhabitants would fortify the landward side of the headland by means of ramparts and ditches. The low bank and shallow ditch across Kelsey Head can still be seen. The area enclosed is much smaller than it originally would have been, since the north and west sides are assumed to have fallen into the sea.
Holywell Cave can be seen at low tide beneath the southern cliffs of Kelsey Head. Although it seems to be no more than a slit from the beach, on entering the cave it is possible to make out some slimy steps leading up a series of pools to a hole in the roof of the cave. The rocks forming the cave are tinted red and blue, with the edges of the pools encrusted with calcareous deposits formed by water rich in minerals dripping from above. The cave was seized upon by Victorian Romantics as the holy well after which the bay was named. However, it is likely that it is an entirely natural feature, and the real well of Holywell is St Cubert's. This is found, midway between the village and the coast, in the Trevornick Valley on land which is now part of the Holywell Bay Fun Park. Thought to be fourteenth century, the well was discovered in a ruined state in 1916 and has been restored by the Newquay Old Cornwall Society.

  1. Stay with the Coast Path as it leaves the beach and travels through the sand dunes to Holywell.

Cornish crime writer W.J. Burley, who was born in Falmouth, lived in Holywell until his death in 2002. Best known for his detective novels featuring Charles Wycliffe, televised in the mid-1990s, Burley won a scholarship to study zoology at Oxford after the Second World War and was Head of Biology at Newquay Grammar School until he retired in 1974, by which time he was well established as a novelist.

  1. Approaching Holywell carry on into the pub car park, turn left passing the public conveniences, and then take the footpath signed on the left in front of the shop. Bear right keeping on the seaward side of the golf course. Cross the track at the far end to continue straight ahead. Ignore the path which branches off to the left and drop gently downhill to the stream.

  2. Carry on ahead again to cross a track and continue along the footpath over Cubert Common as it goes over the brow of the hill and descends to another track.

On the far south edge of the common is a large round barrow with excellent sea views towards Castle an Dinas to the north east and St Agnes Beacon to the south-west. Because of these, it is believed to have been a particularly important burial site in the Bronze Age.

  1. Turn right on the track to Treago Farm. Take the path to the left through the campsite heading north east towards the West Pentire to Crantock road.
  2. Reaching the road, turn left and follow the road back to the Bowgie Inn.

Walk Finder


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


Length (miles)



Find somewhere to Eat & Drink, Sleep or Do


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

Interactive Map


Latest news